Air cooled vs Liquid Cooled Motorcycles: Which one is the Best?

When it comes to motorcycle cooling systems, both air cooled engines and liquid ones take a different approach. The debate between them is eternal. Some people prefer the air-cooled system for its low price and lightweight. In contrast, others go for the liquid-cooled ones as they deliver better cooling performance.

As both cooling systems have some advantages, they have some disadvantages as well. So if you’re a new buyer, choosing any one of them can be confusing.

That’s why today we’re going to provide a detailed explanation on air cooled vs liquid cooled motorcycles. We’ll be doing deep into their features and recommend one in the end. So read on.

What is an Air Cooled Engine?

air cooled motorcycle engine

We know you’re here mainly for the comparison part. But how can we compare between two things if you don’t know what they are actually?

You can already understand that air is the main component in air cooled engines by the name itself. In most of the motorbikes, air cooling systems are seen. The reason being, they have a simple build, and they are affordable.

As they are low on price, so air cooling engines are used in budget motorbikes. Besides, their simple construction makes them easy to install and use at the same time. They gives a stable performance as well.

The air cooling technology has a very basic construction. Here the air-cooled engine fans keep the engine cool. So there’s an air inlet valve that helps the air to get into the engine. The valve and the hotter part of the motorcycle engine remain on the same line so that fresh, cool air can enter directly into it.

Thin metal plates are used to make both the cylinder and cylinder head. These two-part experience more heat than other parts. As they are made with thin plates, they exit the engine’s heat along with the airflow. The air entered through the valve completely controls the internal temperature and heat transfer and makes it cooler.

Benefits of Air-Cooled Motorcycles

Air cooled Motorcycles

Air-cooled motorcycles engines provide several additional features to your motorbike. Some of the advantages of air-cooled motorbikes are-

  • Air cooled engines come at a lower price than liquid cooled ones. They are affordable.
  • The air cooled engines are light in weight. As a result, it helps in the handling of the motorbike.
  • Another important benefit of using air-cooled motorcycles is, they are affordable.
  • Air cooled motorcycle engines are easy to build and set. Besides, they require no or low maintenance costs. So it’ll save you some bucks!
  • Air cooled engines will be the perfect choice if you’re living in a cold area. Motorbike engines in cold areas face freezing issues. As air is used here, so there is no such issue in engines that are cooled by air.

So if you still want to know, are air cooled motorcycle engines reliable? The answer is, absolutely they’re reliable.

Air Cooled Engine Disadvantages

The air-cooling setup for engines has some disadvantages as well as advantages. The main disadvantages  of air cooled engines are-

  • Air-Cooled Engine technology might not be a perfect choice because the compression ratio is low. The low rev is one of the prime reasons behind customers not wanting them.

Yes, the high rev or compression ratio is achievable, but it’ll require more cooling fans. But cooling fans will increase the engine’s size as well as the weight. So handling the bike will be a little difficult.

In V-twin engines, cooling fans are used. So that’s why they are heavy in weight and big in size.

  • Engines that are cooled by air need a continuous airflow to cool down the engine. But it’s not achievable all the time as it’s a closed-loop sensor systems.

So the question stands, are air cooled motorcycles bad? Absolutely not. They have flaws just like any other system, and it’s quite natural!

What is a Liquid cooled/Water Cooled Engine?

Liquid cooled engines

Liquid cooled engines are another type of engine where liquid coolant are used to keep engine heat away and maintain temperature.

The water cooling technology doesn’t have any thin metallic plates or fins. Their design process is different Rather it has a straight, coiled structure that you can see from outside. Instead of metallic plates, it used water pipes or tunnels along the cylinder’s body.

The water pipes have access to liquid coolants and cooling radiators. A coolant pump is used to supply the coolant. So whenever the engine gets heated, liquid coolants flow through the water pipes. As the pipes remain connected around the cylinder, so it cools the cylinder eventually.

As there are water pipes connected to it, so it increases the overall weight of the bike. Moreover, liquid cooling technology is an advanced technology that is used in the high-performance bikes. So it is costly as well.


Benefits of Water cooled engines motorcycle

Liquid Cooled Motorcycles

The advantages of water-cooled engine are-

  • They are capable of producing higher performance in motorcycles by using quality coolant.
  • The liquid-cooled technology is a perfect choice for bikes having two or more cylinders.
  • Here, the temperature can be controlled precisely to acquire high rev. The water pump or coolant pump keeps the temperature low and helps to provide better performance.
  • The water pipes along the cylinder give the bike a sporty look. It also gives a compact feeling when you’re riding the bike. It is aesthetically appealing.

Water Cooled Engine Disadvantages

Just because liquid cooling technology gives a solid performance and enhances the overall look, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any disadvantages.

The drawbacks of using a liquid cooled engine are-

  • Using liquid cooling technology in your bike is expensive. There is coolant freezing issue as well.
  • The construction of the engine is complex. It also increases your bike’s weight and size.
  • Needs continuous maintenance, and the maintenance cost is high.

Air cooled vs Water cooled motorcycle

As you’re already clear about both air and water cooled bikes, let’s have a quick comparison. Is Water cooled better than air cooled? or Is air cooled better than liquid cooled? Well, let’s find out.

Air cooled engines are the most prevalent ones in the streets. Due to their easy construction, low price and overall satisfying performance, they are still used by the people. The low maintenance cost is like adding a cherry on the cake.

On the other hand, liquid cooling technology is mostly adopted by the young generation due to the attractive design feature. This gives a superb look to their bike. It increases the engine performance and keeps the engine cool at the same time.

Now we’ll be adding a comparison table where we’ll be comparing these two types of engines side by side.

Comparison table:

 Air Cooled EngineWater Cooled Engine
Build QualitySimple, easy to set upComplex and takes a lot of effort
UsesUses air to cool down the engineThe coolant pump provides quality coolant to keep the temperature low
WeightLightweight and easy to handle the bikeAdds more weight and gives a compact feeling
PerformanceLow rev, low performance. Perfect for single cylinder bikesHigh rev, high performance. Perfect for bike with two or more cylinders.
Thermal IssuesCan control the temperature inside the engine.Perfectly cools down the engine in a quick time.
Freezing issueNo freezing issueHas coolant freezing issue in a cold temperature
Maintenance costLow maintencance costHigh maintenance cost
AestheticGives a  normal, dull lookThe design process and look is aesthetically appealing. Gives the bike a solid sporty look.

I think that’s enough to let you know and choose between an air cooled and liquid cooled engine. Some people might have liked the liquid one more than the air cooled one. But it’s up to you to decide which one is better air cooled or liquid cooled motorcycle?


As a regular motorbike user, the cooling factor is not that essential for your to bother. Before using them on bikes, manufacturers do thousand of tests on them. But if you’ve got a specific preference, then that’s different.

As you’ve read far, you’ve already known about the different cooling engines in motorbikes. That’s it on our air cooled vs liquid cooled motorcycles article.

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