What Is CC In A Car/Bike?

  • Jun 17, 2022
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'CC'- you've heard the term being thrown around a lot when talking to petrolheads, but what does it mean?

What is CC in a bike/car?

Confused about what the most commonly used acronym in automobiles means? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered

What’s in a cc?

First, let’s get the acronym out of the way. CC stands for cubic-centimetres, which is basically a measure of volume of a given space. 1cc or 1 cubic-centimetre is the volume occupied by a cube with each side measuring 1cm (i.e. a cube that’s 1cm x 1cm x 1cm). The unit cubic centimetre also translates directly into the unit for measuring the volume of liquids (litres). One cubic centimetre equals one millilitre. So 1000 cubic centimetres equals one litre.

What does that mean for bikes (or cars)?

Ok now that we have a firm understanding of the acronym itself, what does it represent in an automobile. Well, the term CC is used to denote the capacity of an engine. But what does “engine capacity'' actually mean? For that, we need to understand how, basically, an engine works.

To put it simply, an internal combustion engine burns fuel in the cylinder/s to turn the wheels and make your vehicle move. Inside an engine cylinder, you find a piston which moves up and down, which essentially rotates the crankshaft, which in turn, rotates the wheels through the gearbox and driveshafts. If you’re having difficulty understanding how up and down motion of the piston makes the crankshaft rotate, then just imagine an old school sewing machine. When you pump the footboard up and down, it rotates the large wheel under the sewing machine using a rudimentary crankshaft. The same thing happens inside an engine.

The engine sucks in a mixture of air and fuel particles into the cylinder, and as the rotating crankshaft moves the piston up inside the cylinder to compress this fuel-air mix, the spark plug ignites that mix and the resulting explosion pushes the piston down again, turning the crank some more. And so the cycle continues.

So what does this have to do with CC then? Well, the total volume inside the cylinder is measured in cubic centimetres or CC. If the engine has multiple cylinders, you just add up the volume of all cylinders to get the total engine capacity.

So what does more, or less, CC mean?

If an engine is of a higher cubic capacity, it can suck in more fuel and air to combust at any given time, hence producing more power and torque. A smaller cubic capacity won’t suck in as much fuel and air, and won’t make as much power or torque, but will burn less fuel, making it more efficient.

How do you calculate CC?

Let’s geek out a little, shall we? This is just simple geometry really. To calculate the volume of a cylinder, you use the formula pi x radius^2 x height. In the case of an internal combustion engine, we need the radius of the piston (since it fits exactly in the cylinder), i.e. ½ times the bore. Height in this case is simply the total distance the piston travels up or down inside the cylinder, or in other words, the stroke.

Cubic capacity (in CC) = 3.14 x (bore in cm/2)^2 x (stroke in cm) x no of cylinders

For ex, the CC of a 2 cylinder engine having a bore of 80mm and stroke of 55mm would be as follows.

CC = 3.14 x (8/2)^2 x 5.5 x 2 = 552.64cc

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