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How to Build a vehicle with a motorcycle engine

How to Build a vehicle with a motorcycle engine?

This article will discuss if you can build a vehicle with a motorcycle engine. There are reasons it is not that easy to do. There are differences between a car’s engine and a motorcycle’s engine. The difference lies with what the engine is designed to really do, not how it is constructed or the power it produces. This article will in some detail tell you how an engine produces power.

Some details about engines

Both cars and motorcycles have engines that produce horsepower (hp). Hp is equal to about 746 watts in imperial measurement or 731 watts in metric measurement. One horsepower can move 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute.

The power of an engine is determined by the ability of the pistons to be pushed by air and fuel up the cylinders. The pistons are displaced from resting nearly on the bottom part of the cylinders. The amount of space a piston travels up a cylinder is measured in cubic centimeters (cc). So a two-cylinder 1000cc engine (that’s the total space in both the cylinders) will displace the equivalent of one liter of fuel. Each piston will move about 500cc of space when the fuel ignites. This blast in the cylinder forces the piston up producing the power to move the wheels at the end of the transmission or drive the spokes to move the chain on the motorbike.

The smallest engine for a city car

A 1000 cc engine is usually called a 1-liter engine. It’s the smallest type of engine a car can have to drive on roads. Toyota Aygo or a VW Polo has 1 to 1.2-liter engines.

General sizes of motorcycle engines

Motorcycles have engines with a capacity from 50cc engines to 150cc or about 0.1 liters if you are measuring it against a small engine capacity of a car. The smallest engine of a car uses at least 1000 milliliters (ml) or 1 liter. So one liter is 1000ml. 1,100ml is 1.100 liters or 1.1 liter. 1,200ml is 1.2 liters. But less than 0.1 liters is not considered as car engines.

So 50cc is 50ml and this is not enough power for the smallest car. 150cc is 150ml or 0.1 liter (the only 100ml is counted) is still not enough for the smallest car.

Horsepower considerations

2,400cc or 2.4 liters produce 150 hp. You multiply the hp by 16 to get the cc. Usually, for every 15cc or 15ml, one horsepower is produced. This is equal to 731 watts.

How much horsepower does a small car produce?

The smallest engine of a car needs 1000ml, so when we divide 1000 by 15, it gives us around 67 horsepower.

How much horsepower can a motorcycle with powerful engines produce?

Good engines of very good racing motorcycles can produce anywhere from 135 to 1200 horsepower.

The difference between a car and a motorcycle engine?

Basically, car engines produce their maximum torques/twist to produce low RPMs. While a motorcycle’s maximum torque/twist produces maximum rpm on their wheels. Both vehicles use liters and produce horsepower. There are motorcycles that produce more horsepower than cars, but they cannot be used in them. Even if they produce the same amount of horsepower.

The reason is a car’s engine is made to move heavyweight. A motorcycle engine is made to move the vehicle fast.  That’s why you do not see motorcycles pulling carts or any kind of trailers. Such actions by motorcycles would just spoil the engine.

Cars do not take-off fast like a bike. Motorcycles can move initially very fast because of the high torque produced to produce high levels of rotation per minute(rpm) that makes the back wheels move very fast.

How can you build a vehicle with a motorcycle engine?

Will it’s not that difficult if you can calculate the horsepower of the engine and make a small vehicle that’s not very heavy. People have done it. Just remember, motorcycle engines are designed to make fast strong twists to make the wheels move fast quickly. The engine is not designed to deal with heavyweights.

To build a vehicle with a motorcycle engine requires that you design the entire vehicle very light to use a motorcycle engine. This also depends on the power of the engine.

But never try to use a motorcycle engine in a small car, even if the motorcycle engine produces more horsepower. The engine will get spoilt, and the car could work for a while but might be hard to manage if it moves.

Certainly, you can build a vehicle with a motorcycle engine, but you are surely going to face a lot of maintenance-related troubles. Another route is customizing the engine of a motorcycle while considering the size and weight to build a vehicle that works.


Yes, a small self-made and light vehicle can be built with a motorcycle engine. After making many calculations and by professional engineers or expert mechanics or anyone who knows the technicalities involved.

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