Layout: Two cylinders opposed in a V formation. Benefits: Low and mid-range torque, narrow, cost effective to build.
V-twin motors started to spring up everywhere at the turn of the 20th century, with British firm Princeps being claimed to have produced the world’s first V-twin powered motorcycle in 1902. Just a year later, a whole host of other manufacturers were able to boast a V in their line-up, including Eclipse, Glenn Curtis and NSU.
Being both longitudinal and transversely mounted, V-twins can also be quite different owing to their angle of V, with 90˚ types being commended for their ability to achieve perfect primary balance, while narrower angled twins have more even firing intervals. Perhaps the narrowest engine ever built was the Matchless Silver Arrow at just 18˚, while Zundapp went to the other extreme with the KS750 and its 170˚ V.
A lot of American brands, such as Indian and Harley, have utilised the V owing to its delivery of big torque. In Italy, V-twins have played a key role with Moto Guzzi and Ducati (with a 90º design, also known as an L-twin) both achieving world titles on V-twin bikes.