Motorcycle torque vs. horsepower?

I'm trying to decide if I should buy a 83 Yamaha maxim 650 or a 82 Yamaha virago 750. The maxim has inline 4 that makes 71 horses and 42 pound feet. The virago has a V-twin that makes 60 horses and 48 pound feet. The virago has a bit more torque but considerably less horsepower, while the maxim makes more power but less torque. I'm not super interested in top speed, more cruising comfort.

Jay P

Very generally speaking, torque gets you off the line while horsepower is for the top end. For cruising around, torque is what you want. The other thing to consider is not just peak power but what the torque and horsepower curves look like. Again, very generally speaking, small displacement I4 engines make most of their power at the top end of the rev range while a V-twin will make the power lower down in the rev range ( but usually have a lower engine speed redline ). Then there is the gearing but that's a whole other animal...


Max power is only used less than 1% of the time (unless you're on a race track) Of much more value is rider comfort. Take both for a ride & see which feels better to you.

Tim D

A lot of those horses will have left the stable in the intervening years. You need to factor in weight too. But with bikes of this age you cannot judge them just by published figures, there is a lot more to consider.


Those horse and torque numbers are *peak* at just on point in the power band. (try to find a Dyno Chart for either or both motorcycles.) How much torque or horsepower you have depends on the RPM. Horsepower pushes the wind, horsepower gives you speed. Generally, the more cylinders for a displacement the faster the RPMs the more horsepower -- for top speed. Torque is what accelerates you. Generally, the less cylinders for a displacement the more usable torque. I don't need speed, I do need acceleration when the traffic signal goes green -- which is why I rode a Single. Bottom line -- there is a GOOD reason that the vast majority of cruisers have v-twins... cruising comfort.


With bikes that old buy the one with the best restoration / tires / electrics / etc.



Candid Chris

You need to look at where the torque is on both for your needs. The Maxim delivers more ponies but also needs to be at higher RPM to do so, that is where inline-4s work best. The Virago's V-twin has more grunt due to less moving parts, so instead of powering itself it sends that power to the drive chain. That's a simple way to explain it, I know, but my typing finger gets tired LOL! I don't hate any motor design as each has its own merits but do stay away from inline-4s as they don't have the grunt where I need it most. Do love my Triumph Tiger 955i as it has smooth torque and horsepower from low to high RPM with a three clylinder.