12 High Torque Motorcycles

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We often focus too much on horsepower figures, forgetting that torque is where we get to feel speed and acceleration. Here are 12 motorcycles offering the most torque available for every version of speed freak.

What’s torque and how is it different from horsepower? Power, measured in horses, is a rate of work. Torque, measured in lb.-ft. is the work; it’s the force the engine produces. Clamp a one-foot-long bar to an engine’s crank and if it can push a pound with that bar, then it’s producing one pound-foot of force. Torque is quoted at the crank because gears are designed to multiply the amount of force an engine can apply to the wheel. The more torque an engine produces, the more potential it has to perform work through those gears. It’s also what you feel when you open the throttle, it’s what shoves the bike forward.

Adventure

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2014 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure
The 2014 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure makes 92 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,000 rpm, 4 lb.-ft. more than it’s predecessor. At 573 pounds (wet), the GS has a torque/weight ratio of 0.16 lb.-ft./lb. That torque helps make this one of the most capable of the large adventures bikes available to date.

 

ktm 1190 adventure
2014 KTM 1190 Adventure
The 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure makes 92 lb.-ft. of torque at 7,5000 rpm. While you have to rev a little higher to access the full reach of the torque curve, the 1190 Adventure comes in at 55 pounds lighter than it’s German competitor making it feel a little punchier. At 518 pounds (wet), the KTM has a torque/weight ratio of 0.18 lb.-ft./lb.

 

Sport

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2014 EBR 1190 RX
The all-new 2014 EBR 1190RX makes an unbelievable 102 lb.-ft. at 8,200 rpm. This blows pretty much everything else completely out of the water, except our next bike, which is over 100 pounds heavier. The 1190 RX weighs 446 pounds (wet), giving it a torque/weight ratio of 0.23 lb.-ft./lb.

 

zx-14r
2013 Kawasaki ZX-14R
The 2013 Kawasaki ZX-14R makes 115 lb.-ft. at 7,600 rpm. The ZX-14R, in all of its 582 pound glory, is more of a sport touring bike than a pure sport bike; but it’s no wonder you see a lot of these at the drag strip. The 14R has a torque/weight ratio of 0.20 lb.-ft./lb.

 

Naked


2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
The 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R makes 106 lb.-ft. (rpm figures unreleased). That’s more than pretty much every super-sport available, all without a fairing or tucked riding position. Absolutely mental. At only 446 pounds (wet), the all-new Super Duke has a torque/weight ratio of 0.24 lb.-ft./lb.

 

Cruiser

ROCKET-III-ROADSTER-2
2013 Triumph Rocket III
The 2013 Triumph Rocket III makes an obscene 150 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm. I don’t even understand how these numbers are possible, it’s just silly. At 807 pounds (wet), the Rocket III has a torque/weight ratio of 0.18 lb.-ft./lb.

 

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  • maxkohl

    “Torque, measured in lb.-ft. is the work”. Are you referring to torque as the work in technical terms? Because torque and work are two different things.

    Even though they have the same units (both in terms of the force times distance) torque is a vector quantity which means it has both a magnitude and a direction.

    Work on the other hand is a scalar quantity which means it doesn’t have a direction. Only magnitude. That’s why the unit is often Joules while torque is either in Nm or lb.-ft to differentiate the two.

    And yes power is the rate of work per unit time which has unit in horsepower or Watts (1 watt is 1 Joule per second) and it is not the torque per unit time.

    • 200 Fathoms

      I was just saying this yesterday.

  • bammerburn

    How could you forget the venerated SV650, the introduction of many contemporary motorcyclists to the glorious kingdom of torque?

    My SV650 with 14/47 sprocket gearing is sinfully silly, and is conducive toward me leaving my Ninja ZX-6R in storage.

    • Mykola

      It’s only got a 650cc motor, and the fundamentals of the internal combustion engine being what they are, almost the only way to get torque is through big displacement or forced induction (basically the same thing, forcing a larger volume of air/gas into the displacement you’ve got). It may be snappy, but it won’t match the brute force of the bikes listed above.

  • Grant Nicholson

    GSX1400. Enough said.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      93 lb.-ft.

      • contender

        Apparently it was said louder by the kawasaki.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          i shoulda used all caps

  • imprezive

    A Boss Hoss LS3-SS has to easily win here with 445ft-lbs of torque. Granted they are an over the top niche product but it’s a legitimate manufacturer and you can go buy one today if you want. One of my coworkers has one and it’s pretty insane. I can’t imagine riding one but he rides his pretty regularly. I’d like to see a review of one when rideapart tv reappears.

    http://www.bosshoss.com/view_bike.asp?x=BHC3LS3SS

    • Justin McClintock

      Boss Hoss builds bikes for people who want a penis extender and and not a motorcycle.

      • Pablo Perez

        Geez Justin, I went and took a look at their marketing materials and couldn’t find anything about extension or girth. Turns out you’re just a negative elitist creep.

        • Justin McClintock

          Eh, I’ve been called worse.

          • Pablo Perez

            Yeah, you don’t care that motorcycles are about having fun, and skidmarks like you take all the fun out of it. Grow the fuck up.

            • Justin McClintock

              Wow, it seems I’ve struck a nerve between my opinion of Boss Hoss’s products and my lack of caring for what you think. Interesting.

              Just for the heck of it, I’ll go ahead and explain my point of view. Boss Hoss motorcycles don’t excel at ANYTHING. They’re not actually all that quick, they don’t handle well at all, their brakes aren’t particularly good, they’re not nearly as comfortable as (insert just about any other cruiser or touring bike here), they’re horribly inefficient, they weigh an epic shit-ton, they take considerably more resources to manufacture than just about everything else built (this goes back to that point about weighing and epic shit-ton as well), they’re not even remotely good looking, and they’re pretty darn expensive. What about that is supposed to make me even want to entertain the idea that they make a decent machine? The fact that their engine is bigger than anything else out there, and that’s a bragging point? Because that’s pretty much all they’re working with. And I gotta say, it leaves me pretty unimpressed.

              • Chris McAlevy

                tl;dr “stop liking what I don’t like”

                Sure typed a lot for not caring what anyone thinks.

                • Justin McClintock

                  Just trying to explain to him my reasoning for my opinion. It seems he cares.

              • CruisingTroll

                “Wow, it seems I’ve struck a nerve between my opinion of Boss Hoss’s products and my lack of caring for what you think.”

                No, you’ve parroted the idiotic perspective given by so many anti-motorcycle activists, THAT’S what’s earns you an A-hole Award. Everything you say about the Boss Hoss is right on, if someone gave one to me, I’d only have it long enough to sell it so I could buy something I like. There’s a line though between criticizing/bagging on a bike, and viciously insulting those who like the bike. Not knowing the line, and crossing it, makes a person an A-hole. Knowing the line, and crossing it, makes them a D-bag.

                • Justin McClintock

                  Like I said, I’ve been called worse.

      • Richard Gozinya

        Are they really any less of a penis extender than a Panigale or ‘Busa?

        • Justin McClintock

          Touche!

  • ThinkingInImages

    Torque is one of the reasons I like singles. They’re light, torquey, engines. Makes me wish there was a KTM dealer nearby.

    • Reid

      I do so love that my little 690 Duke makes just about 1 lb/ft of torque and wayyyyy more power with wayyyyy less weight to push than all these “cool dudes” around my hometown riding Sportsters. Jerks won’t even wave at you or speak to you in a parking lot.

      • ThinkingInImages

        The 690 Duke is on my perpetual “someday” list, along with the new 390. I hope KTM has it at the Expo in December.

        • Piglet2010

          I am hoping for the Duke 690R – full suspension adjustment ability is a good thing.

          • Stuki

            And a bit more travel and plusher action than the standard 690. Always a good thing when sitting bolt upright on a light bike over bumpy terrain……

            Quite a few dealers (as in, by KTM standards…) in CA discounting the regular 2013 right now, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for a $2500 more expensive one coming across.

            Conceptually, I do think cylinders larger than 400cc has no place on a “performance” motorbike, and doubt a 5-700 paralell (or 75 degree…..) twin built with KTMish weight obsessiveness would make the bike all that much heavier. And whatever weight it would gain, would probably be offset by the lower rotational momentum crank on a twin of similar capacity. But some of the elementalness, as well as some response carryover from KTMs dirt bikes, may be lost.

      • Randy S

        Oh, don’t take it personally. Obviously, they just can’t see you.

        If they could they might be curious and wind up trying a KTM. At that point they would no longer be on a Harley.

  • HammSammich

    RE: Rocket III – “I don’t even understand how these numbers are possible…” One word…”Displacement.”

    • Justin McClintock

      A little surprised the Vulcan 2000 wasn’t mentioned at the end there. Yeah, they don’t make it anymore…but they don’t make the VTX anymore either. And the Vulcan 2000 was the largest displacement production V-twin for a while.

    • runnermatt

      Yeah, I think the rocket has a 2.3. liter engine. I actually thought it was a V6 for the longest time. It wasn’t until recently that I found out it was a inline triple.

      • Brett Lewis

        Same here, most people think it’s a six, and look at you in momentary disbelief when you say “triple”. 2300cc/2.3l/140ci

  • BryonCLewis

    Just a few comments cause I own a few Torque monsters (B-King, vtx1800c).
    I think your VTX1800 number should be 120 ft/lbs not 100. The VTX1800 has 100 hp not 100 ft/lbs of torque. That information is from all the reviews of the bike.

    While it doesn’t have that lust worthy torque to weight ratio of the 1290 super duke R, the B-King is a naked (although overweight, eww) bike rated at 108ft/lbs of torque at the crank.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      ah, my mistake.

      part of the reason we created the whole buyers guide was because there is SO much conflicting information out there on bikes, and no one is using the same measuring systems. even the manufacturer sites don’t have them (though our US sites are the most anemic). took me the better part of a day to just come up with torque figures and wet weights for each of the bikes listed, so we definitely appreciate any help getting it right.

      • JP

        This is very true. Even the definition of “wet weight” can vary it seems.

  • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

    I found very conflicting info on the B-King from numerous trusted resources. I tried to call the guys over there and get an official word, if they get back to me I’ll update.

    • BryonCLewis

      I understand the confusion. While I’ve never actually thrown my B-King on a dyno I’ve looked at a lot results on the forums. Typically the stock guys are getting around 96-97 at the wheel. That hard part about the King and looking at reviews is that even their bikes sometimes don’t have the stock exhausts on it. Those exhausts are like Zooey Deschanel, either the most adorable thing on the planet or an alien you need to kill with fire. Even if the B-King by some stretch of physics created 115 lb ft I still think putting the Super Duke up there was the proper call.

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

        it’s listed at 95 most places.

        • Hans

          Thanks. I totally agree on the Duke’s place on the list. Just wanted an adition to the naked section. And thanks for a greate site with good artickles and plenty of reader interaction.

  • Fresh Mint

    “Clamp a one-foot-long bar to an engine’s crank and if it can push a pound with that bar, then it’s producing one pound-foot of force.”
    Uh….. NO.
    Generally speaking the CG of a bar is located at the center of the bar – if the bar happens to weigh a pound (which depends on its dimensions, material, ect) then your engine is more accurately producing about 1/2 lb-ft.
    To say “if your engine can spin any bar” it produces at least 1 lb-ft is horribily inaccurate. What if that bar weighs 15 lbs?

    • runnermatt

      Engineers, always gotta be correcting people. Just messing with you and your extreme correctness.

    • Brendan Kirkpatrick

      The way it’s worded implies a mass-less bar pushing a 1lb weight at the end. Not a 1lb bar.

  • Stuki

    And if I stand all my 200lbs on my 2/3 foot bicycle pedal, I produce more torque than even the fastest sportbike on the market. And, the fatter I get, the more torque I produce. Which says about all there is to say about the usefulness of torque in isolation, as a measurement of anything performance related whatsoever.

    Rear wheel torque is what you feel when you twist the throttle. And obtainable rear wheel torque is a function of engine power, not engine torque by itself.

    • Blu E Milew

      ^this. Finally.

    • Justin McClintock

      While that’s true, and you could in theory go ahead and build a more powerful cruiser with a 1000cc inline 4, it would totally defeat the purpose of the bike. And more importantly, it would greatly increase the maintenance requirements. 18 wheelers only make 500-700 hp. Many have less power than a Dodge Viper. Yet they use MASSIVE engines with MASSIVE torque for a reason. Cruiser engines are working on the same principles.

      • Stuki

        There are all kinds of reasons for having bigger engines. I’m just a bit befuddled that the myth about “torque is what you feel when you twist the throttle” still persists. It rear wheel torque you feel; which has only the most indirect relationship with engine torque.

        Trucks have their engines tuned for towing, specifically for not bogging down on hills. Not for acceleration. If you tow heavy and reach a hill that starts slowing you down, you want your resistance to slow further (which is your torque) to increase as you start slowing. So, even if you cannot maintain 70 up the Grapevine, your rear wheel torque at 65 is higher than at 70, without a momentum sapping, efficiency killing, expensive (truck trannies are pricey) and uncomfortable downshift. So, placing peak torque low is the name of the game. Which requires a high peak torque number to achieve sufficient power to do any work. The same holds for cruisers. They may not accelerate much, but neither do they require downshifting an hills the way they would if engine speed at cruise was way below torque peak, the way it is on high performance engines.

        For trucks, there is also the added fact that diesel engines work more efficiently at lower rpm. Within reason, so does gas engines, but they are less finicky in that respect.

        For passenger cars, and even more so most bikes, engines’ peak power is there to generate intermittent acceleration, not hold gear uphill. In which case it makes sense to design an engine that is efficient in the general case of steady state cruising, while providing acceleration headroom by dropping a cog or two.

        On a 600, even going up the grapevine at 70 probably uses 1/3 of available power. the rest is available for (frivolous in trucking terms) acceleration. Unless you “need” that headroom, all you do by adding it is making things more fragile and expensive, and less efficient. The NC700 takes advantage of this, and uses what is pretty much a “truck” engine by MC standards. Still has more power than any 600 in common top gear cruising rpm range. Just lacking the ability to downshift to 3rd and lift off like a rocket if the pilot should so desire.

        • Piglet2010

          Where is this “Grapevine”?

          • CruisingTroll

            Interstate 5, north of Los Angeles, California.

  • CruisingTroll

    You think the Rocket III is obscene, you should see what happens when the guys at Turbo Connection get their mitts on one. 215ft-lbs of torque at 8psi boost.

    • Justin McClintock

      Are those the guys who posted the Youtube vids of one running around doing rolling burnouts and wheelies? Seriously, that’s complete overkill….and completely AWESOME.

  • Archie Dux

    “Fazes,” not “phases”

  • Piglet2010

    Why doesn’t this article show up when I go to the RideApart home page?

  • CruisingTroll

    Technically, you aren’t being a grammar Nazi. You’re being a Vocabulary Visigoth. Technically. :p

    • Herzenstube

      Good catch. You’re the best kind of correct.

  • Piglet2010

    The riders of the brand who are most judgmental about other brands, also are the most touchy about their brand being criticized.

    • Pablo Perez

      I’m not sure I follow.

  • Peitro Petrelli

    Yamaha MT-01 110ft# at ~3500rpm. Its a sport bike. Too bad you never got them in the US. But They do reside here in Canada :-D

  • Michael Howard

    Everyone knows “tuned for torque” is bullshit. I learned that here on RideApart/HFL. ;)

  • Paul Elliot

    Gosh, I am feeling so inadequate, I’m not sure if my Enfield Bullet even HAS any torque at all… :-)

    • Piglet2010

      My Elite 110 is rated at 6.9 lb-ft torque at 6250 RPM. :)

  • Howard Michaels

    2014 Zero SR: 106 ft.-lbs.

    • Doug S

      I’ve been riding mine for a couple of months now. It eats Hayabusas for lunch, while costing a small fraction per mile to drive what any ICE vehicle costs. It’s simply an unbelievable machine.

  • Steven Chapman

    Ummm, where’s the Star 113ci offerings (Stratoliner, Roadliner and Raider) with 124 lb/ft of torque at the crank at 2500 RPM.

  • Chris Ratliff

    I ride an ’08 Rocket III, and let me tell you it’s just as much fun as it sounds like! The addition of a Power Commander 3 and aftermarket exhaust has boosted dyno-tested specs to: 157 hp, 170 lb/ft of torque. Not only does it have the performance, but comfort is up there as well. 3 weeks after bring mine home my daughter and I rode 3,100 miles over 10 with zero complaints.

  • Literdude

    “Torque, measured in lb.-ft. is the work; it’s the force the engine produces.”

    Wow. Just, wow.

    • Doug S

      Yeah, pretty clear the author has no real concept of what torque is, isn’t it? It’s a shame.

  • Doug S

    Sorry, friends, my bike beats ALL of these in torque/weight. I have a 2014 Zero SR, which is rated at 106 ft-lbs of torque, and it weighs 402 lbs. That gives it 0.264 ft-lbs of torque per pound. That’s right, an electric bike beats out ALL of the gas-powered bikes. You’re officially now all competing for second place.