The engine size of the motorcycle, measured in cubic centimeters (cc), is usually one of the most frequently discussed topics about motorcycles.
Knowing how many ccs the motorcycle’s engine has is important. It can give owners a lot of information about the motorcycle and what they can expect from it. However, the engine size alone cannot provide all the necessary information in terms of top speed, acceleration, and overall performance.
Nonetheless, the cc of the motorcycle can provide the rider with some valuable information. And this is what we will focus on here.
So how many cc do you need for highway riding?
In many countries, motorcycles below 50cc are not allowed to go on highways. However, most motorcycles below 250cc are usually not powerful enough to keep up with highway traffic which can be unsafe. This is why many riders recommend motorcycles with 250cc or more for highway riding.
Below I go into more detail, further breaking down the different motorcycles in cc categories and discussing how well they tend to fare on the highway. And what can be expected from them.
How the different cc motorcycle perform on the highway
Can a 50cc motorcycle go on the highway?
Although in many countries 50cc motorcycles are allowed to go on highways, this does not mean they are powerful enough to keep up with highway traffic in a safe and comfortable manner.
Many 50cc motorcycles have top speeds between 30mph to 70mph depending on the type of motorcycle, the rider, and whether it has been derestricted or not.
According to the laws in many countries, 50cc motorcycles can go on the highway. However, because of their lower top power, they are not considered enough for highway commuting by the vast majority of riders.
Such motorcycles are usually fairly slow and cannot keep up with the highway traffic. They can also become uncomfortable when ridden at higher speed, and because they are very light will be affected by the winds a lot more. Shifting can also be a problem as the rider will be going through more gears, generally speaking.
Can a 125cc motorcycle go on the highway?
Usually, 125cc can go on the highway. However, most 125cc motorcycles will not be able to comfortably keep up with the speed of other vehicles on the highway, making them less safe for highway travel and commuting.
Often 125cc motorcycle will max out at around 50 to 75mph. They are great for general backroad and city trips, but on the highway, they certainly lack power—after all, they are built for city riding.
Compared to 50cc motorcycles, 125cc motorcycles will definitely fare better on the highway as they are faster. Nonetheless, they are still very underpowered, and many riders will consider them not enough and for highway travel and commuting.
Can a 150cc motorcycle go on the highway?
Usually, 150cc motorcycles can be taken on the highway. However, 150cc motorcycles are not fast enough to keep up with highway traffic in a safe manner. And because of that, they are not recommended for highway travel or commuting.
The top speed most 150cc motorcycles can reach is between 40 mph and 85 mph, depending on a number of different conditions and factors.
Although more powerful and usually a little heavier than most 125cc motorcycles, 150cc motorcycles are still very light and will not fare well if there is too much wind.
That being said, 150cc motorcycles are incredibly nimble and perfect for general city and backroad riding.
Can a 250cc motorcycles go on the highway?
Usually, 250cc motorcycles can go on the highway, and most of them are fast enough to be used for highway travel and commuting relatively safely and comfortably.
The average speed of most 250cc sport bikes is about 65 mph. However, most 250cc motorcycles should be capable of comfortably reaching speeds of 70 to 85 mph, depending on the type of motorcycle, although they tend to be close to the redline. That being said, 250cc cruisers are a little underpowered and slower.
Some 250cc motorcycles like the Ninja 250, for example, can cruise comfortably at 70 to 80 mph and even reach 100 mph if necessary. The CBR250 is another 250cc motorcycle that can do pretty well on highways, capable of reaching top speeds of 87 to 91 mph.
However, 250cc motorcycles tend to struggle once they reach around 70 to 80 mph, and accelerating at these speeds usually takes more time. This means the rider will be riding the motorcycle at or near its maximum capabilities, and may have a harder time accelerating out of danger.
They are also very light, which can be a problem at higher speeds.
Overall modern 250cc sport bikes are definitely a step up from 150cc motorcycles. And many riders have used a 250cc motorcycle for short highway trips and commuting.
Can a 300cc motorcycle go on the highway?
A 300cc motorcycle can be taken on the highway. Normally 300cc motorcycles are going to be fast enough to allow riders to travel at or near highway speeds and keep up with the highway traffic in a fairly safe and comfortable way.
Most 300cc motorcycles can reach top speeds between 85 to 120 mph, depending on the riding conditions and motorcycle. For example, the Yamaha YZF-R3 is an excellent highway commuter capable of reaching 110 mph, and when ridden on highways, will comfortably sit at 60% to 70% of the throttle.
This means that 300cc motorcycles will usually be enough for both short and long-distance highway travel and commuting. That being said, the acceleration still leaves a lot to be desired as it is not the greatest when cruising at around 70 to 80 mph.
Can a 400cc motorcycle go on the highway?
Most 400cc motorcycles can go on the highway and be used safely.
Most 400cc motorcycles have an average top speed of around 110 mph. But depending on the motorcycle, riding conditions, and other factors, 400cc motorcycles usually have top speeds ranging between 80 and 135 mph.
This means that 400cc motorcycles are powerful enough to be taken on highways. However, even 400cc motorcycles can get a little sluggish at higher speeds between 70 to 90 mph, which means that accelerating out of potential danger while cruising at highway speeds can be a little slow.
Usually, 400cc motorcycles can still be considered on the lighter end, which makes them a little less safe when it comes to wobbling issues and very windy weather.
Can a 500cc motorcycle go on the highway?
Most 500cc motorcycles are enough to go on the highway. Usually, 500cc motorcycles can reach top speeds of around 80 to 120 mph depending on a number of different factors. A 500cc motorcycle is enough to keep the rider moving at good speeds while also being capable of safely passing and keeping up with the traffic.
They are also a little heavier on average, meaning they will handle better in the wind and are usually considered very good for people that are going to commute on highways.
Overall 500cc motorcycles are the ones that will allow for comfortable highway cruising at good RPMs.
Can a 650cc motorcycle go on the highway?
Most riders will find 650cc motorcycles ideal for highway trips and commuting. A 650cc motorcycle is powerful enough to allow the rider to move at adequate speeds and allow them to keep up or pass traffic safely and quickly.
Most riders doing plenty of highway miles feel the most comfortable when riding a 650cc motorcycle.
Most 650cc motorcycles have an average top speed of 100 to 135 mph, meaning these motorcycles will be powerful enough to allow the rider to respond appropriately if they need to get out of a dangerous situation. Some can even reach up to 150 mph.
On top of that, a riding a 650cc motorcycle, you will not have to shift gears as often, which is another advantage when riding on highways.
Can a 1000cc motorcycle go on the highway?
There should not be any questions or second thoughts here.
Motorcycles between 650cc up to and above 1000cc are perfectly capable of being ridden at highway speeds. They have plenty of torque and power and will allow the rider to accelerate out of danger in a very quick and efficient manner.
Of course, these motorcycles are considered very powerful and not particularly beginner-friendly.
What is the minimum cc motorcycle allowed on the highway?
In most countries, motorcycles below 50 cc are not allowed to go on highways. However, in some countries, motorcycles may have to be between 125cc to 550cc in order to be allowed to go on highways.
And in some countries, all motorcycles, regardless of their cc, may not be allowed to go on highways. In others, the regulations may not state anything about the cc. In these cases, the motorcycles are required to be capable of reaching a certain minimum speed, which is usually between 38 to 50 mph. (Or about 60 to 80 km/h).
For example, in the USA, the minimum cc motorcycles allowed to go on highways are 50cc. However, in some states, motorcycles below 125cc or 150cc are not allowed to go on the highways. In other instances, motorcycles below 5 hp, or ones that cannot reach a certain minimum speed—which can be anywhere from 45 mph to 55 mph—are also not allowed to go on highways.
(That being said, there may also be other requirements.)
Usually, riders do not take smaller motorcycles on highways because of safety concerns and not necessarily because of legal concerns.
This brings us to the next topic.
What is the minimum cc to go on the highway?
For highway trips and commuting, it is not recommended to go with a motorcycle below 250cc. Most modern 250cc motorcycles can be taken on the highway and perform fairly well. The rider will be able to move at speeds, allowing them to keep up with the rest of the highway traffic.
However, there are a lot of factors that will impact how well the motorcycle performs. For example, the engine, the motorcycle, the motorcycle’s and the rider’s weight, the road and weather conditions, performance upgrades, and more will all play an important role.
Usually, heavier riders can impact the ability of the motorcycle to accelerate and its top speed.
In addition, for two riders, a 250cc motorcycles may not be enough, in which case upwards of a 400cc motorcycle may be more suitable.
As you can see, although generally as small as 50cc motorcycles may be allowed on some highways, they will simply not be enough for comfortable and safe highway trips.
About 250cc is the minimum riders should go, which can be very useful for short highway trips. Riders that are spending a lot of time riding on highways should definitely consider motorcycles with bigger engine capacity.
What is the best cc motorcycle for the highway?
Motorcycles between 500cc up to 1000cc and higher are enough for highway trips and commuting. The best cc motorcycles for the highway are 650cc motorcycles. These motorcycles are powerful enough to provide plenty of passing power and prove to be the most comfortable at highway speeds.
When it comes to cruisers, about 750cc cruisers seem to be the best ones for highway trips.
The general rule on highways is bigger is better. And you want a motorcycle that does not max out around the same speed as the speed of the traffic flow. The motorcycle should be capable of accelerating faster in order to allow the rider to get out of trouble if they need to.
Motorcycles above 650cc can be considered a little too overpowered and too big by some people, but the extra torque and power are necessary if the rider wants to feel safe while riding on the highways.
Highway traffic can move at high speeds of 70 to 80 mph (if not more) and can be very unpredictable at times. Drivers may not notice motorcyclists while merging lanes or overtaking or may be staying in the wrong lane.
As a result, the motorcyclists may have to take different precautions to get out of danger and remain safe—precautions that can be done a lot more effectively and safely on a motorcycle with more ccs, torque, and hp.