There are lots of misconceptions around air cooled bikes – with the most common one being “air cooled bikes have limited range and cannot be driven continuously”.

This is not true. Air cooled bikes do not have a limited range. They can be driven continuously for long range – provided that traffic is smooth (it’s not a stop-and-go situation). 

With enough air flow, air cooled engines will not overheat and can be driven for hundreds of miles (or kilometers). However, if  traffic is stagnant and you have to sit idle for some time, then air cooled bikes will tend to overheat.

Let me discuss a little more. Beginning with how air cooled engines work and exactly why they can be driven continuously (without range limit).

How Air Cooled Engine Works (Vs Water Cooled)

Motorcycle engines, as we know it, operate best at a certain temperature – not too cold and not too hot. Otherwise, symptoms like loss of power, decreased fuel economy and short engine life span can happen.

To combat overheating, manufacturers always have a cooling system in their motorcycles – these are air cooling or water cooling.

Water cooling systems are usually seen on high performance motorcycles like Kawasaki Ninja. They use liquid coolant to cool down engines and work well at any scenarios (even while the motorcycle is idle)

 However, they require extra components like radiator, water pump and coolant – causing them to not only cost more but also more complex to build and fix.

Water cooled motorcycle

Water cooled engines are not exposed because they don’t need external air

Air cooled engines on the other hand, do not require any fancy coolant, radiator or water pump. 

Instead, air cooled engines work by allowing outside air to flow into the engines – causing them to cool down. This is why air cooled engines always have air opening on their body called fins. 

These fins are essential and designed to let as much air into the engine as possible.

air cooled engine

Air cooled engines are exposed and have fins to allow air to enter.

Why Air Cooled Bike Can Run Continuously Without Limit

As I said, air cooled engines make use of external air flow to cool down. Which means, as long as you are riding with enough speed, the airflow will work its magic and cool down your engines – no matter the range.

Driving long distances on air cooled motorcycles is not new. A lot of bikers have been doing this since forever – some goes to even 100 miles without stopping. 

The only times they need to stop are to refuel, take a piss or take a break because they are sleepy – none which are related to overheating or air cooling.

Further Reading

Now that you know there’s no limit. It doesn’t mean that your air cooled engines will never overheat or break down. 

To know more about air cooled engines and overheating issues, I recommend you read my other articles. I talk about air cooled engines in more detail there.

Things like:

  1. Why do air cooled motorcycles overheat
  2. Full reasons why air cooled motorcycle may overheat & prevention
  3. Do engines lose power when overheating?

Do Air Cooled Motorcycles Overheat?

Ifandi S.

Ifandi S.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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