• Video: Why Are Parallel Twins So Popular Right Now?

  • 360° Crank Parallel Twin As found in nearly every British bike from the 1940's onwards
  • 1960's Triumph Bonneville Triumph was the first manufacturer to really embrace the parallel twin in 1938
  • 180° Crank Parallel twin Early Japanese twins used this configuration.
  • Honda CB450 Typical of the 1970's twin-cylinder Jap bikes
  • 270° Crank Parallel Twin The modern development of the twin. Gives the feeling of a v-twin but in a much more compact package.
  • KTM 890R 270° is the most common configuration now, as used by KTM, BMW, Yamaha, Honda, Aprilia and even Triumph

And what’s the difference between 360°, 270° and 180° firing order

LISTEN 01:44

Parallel twin engines are all the rage at the moment, with Triumph, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Aprilia, BMW, Suzuki, KTM, etc, all using or developing them. But why is this and what does it mean when they say it’s a 360° or a 180° crank?

Parallel Twin Engines Explained

OK, so this video is super nerdy and quite long, but it is strangely fascinating and I couldn’t stop myself watching to the end.

We have featured this guy’s videos before on topspeed.com. You can watch this video explaining Yamaha’s cross-plane crankshaft here. He makes everything really easy to understand, using simple language and some neat graphics.

Video: Why Are Parallel Twins So Popular Right Now?
- image 1025707
360° Crank Parallel Twin
As found in nearly every British bike from the 1940’s onwards

In this video, he delves into the secrets of the parallel twin engine, a configuration that is incredibly popular once again after falling out of favour in the early 1970s as the Japanese set the ball rolling with their multi-cylinder engines.

Video: Why Are Parallel Twins So Popular Right Now?
- image 1025708
270° Crank Parallel Twin
The modern development of the twin. Gives the feeling of a v-twin but in a much more compact package.

Now, almost every manufacturer has a parallel twin engine: about the only ones who don’t among the majors are Ducati, Harley Davidson and Indian.

The thing is, a parallel twin is actually a very good engine design, much better than a V-twin in terms of packaging and space. But what do they really mean when they talk about 360° cranks or 270° cranks and what difference do they make to the running of the engine?

Video: Why Are Parallel Twins So Popular Right Now?
- image 1025706
180° Crank Parallel twin
Early Japanese twins used this configuration.

This video will show you. It’s the perfect start to a weekend: you can dazzle all your friends at the bar with your knowledge on Saturday night.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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