5 Best American V-Twin Engines Ranked By Power - SUV VEHICLE

5 Best American V-Twin Engines Ranked By Power


In the realm of motorcycles, few things evoke the same sense of awe and admiration as the thunderous roar of an all-American V-Twin engine. These iconic powerplants are renowned for their commanding presence, signature rumble, and unparalleled torque delivery. Dating back to as early as 1889, the V-Twin was initially included in cars and boats before becoming a staple in the motorcycle industry. Indian Motorcycles introduced the first V-twin-powered motorcycle in 1906, followed by Harley-Davidson, who brought it into the fold in 1909 with its series of F-head motorcycles.




Since then, the V-Twin engine has evolved into a symbol of American craftsmanship and engineering prowess. Every vibration of its signature rumble resonates deep within the heart of the motorcycling community. As major manufacturers continue to push the boundaries of innovation, a growing selection of V-Twins emerges each year, each raising the bar of unrivaled performance. Among this vast array, a select few rise above due to their sheer potency and high-end power delivery. These engines are the results of decades of innovation and refinement and serve as perfect symbols for the motorcycle industry’s unwavering pursuit of innovation. Let’s check out some of the finest ones on offer today.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including
Harley-Davidson
,
Indian Motorcycles
, and
Buell Motorcycle
.


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5 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121

Horsepower: 115 HP

The power generated by the Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight 121 VVT engine may well be the new standard for bragging rights among Harley riders. Boasting a displacement of 121 cubic inches (1,984cc), this powerhouse was engineered to deliver an unparalleled riding experience. Available only with the CVO Street Glide, CVO Road Glide, and CVO Road Glide ST, riders don’t just get a rare, flashy motorcycle, but they also get a stock engine with a power output unseen on a factory-built Harley-Davidson.


One of the key highlights of this V-Twin engine is its ability to consistently deliver power throughout its entire RPM range. Whether you are cruising on the highway or navigating the tight confines of the city, smooth acceleration and responsive throttle control are constants. It is also designed with rider comfort in mind. By cutting down on vibration levels, this V-Twin contributes to a smoother ride to minimize rider fatigue after many long hours on the road. This key design element shows that Harley-Davidson keeps its customers’ happiness in mind.

Rider mounting a 2024 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide
Harley-Davidson


One particular feature that sets this V-Twin apart from the crowd is its Variable Valve Timing (VVT) technology. By broadening the overall powerband, there is a noticeable improvement in torque management and fuel efficiency. Especially when compared to similar V-Twin engines with fixed valve timing. Another notable feature is its improved cooling system found on the exhaust valve area of each cylinder head. Able to regulate its temperature during low-speed rides, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and hot weather conditions, you’ll feel a sense of comfort knowing that your bike can handle itself in these sorts of situations without overheating. This is accomplished via an electric pump that distributes a coolant solution from the rear cylinder head to the front cylinder head, and then to its new heat exchanger found at the front of the frame.

Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 Specs

Displacement

121 cu

Horsepower

115 HP (127 on ST)

Torque

139 lb-ft (145 on ST)


Key Features

  • Variable Valve Timing (VVT)
  • Improved cooling system
  • New cylinder heads
  • High-performance camshaft
  • New airbox
  • High-performance exhaust

4 Indian Thunderstroke 116

Horsepower: 122 HP

The next V-Twin boasting some extra all-American muscle is the mighty Thunderstroke 116 from Harley-Davidson’s arch-rival, Indian Motorcycles. Making its debut in 2019, this V-Twin was initially offered on select models as an upgrade to the stock Thunderstroke 111. It’s a staple in the company’s selection of motors now, and serves as a new standard for heavyweight Indian offerings.


At its core, the 116 engine follows the classic V-Twin configuration, but with its own distinctive rumble and character. However, it’s not just the sound that has Indian riders in love with this engine; it’s the unforgettable riding experience that it provides. With its ample torque output, you get instant acceleration and impressive performance across a wide range of riding conditions. Whether it’s hitting the highway, cruising along some twisting back roads, or navigating through city streets, this engine thrives in any environment.

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One of the defining features of the Thunderstroke 116 engine is its smooth power delivery. Included in flagship models like the 2024 Indian Roadmaster Elite, the company engineered this V-Twin to provide linear power throughout its RPM range. This results in a more refined riding experience, where you can confidently take advantage of the engine’s power without any abrupt surges or dips.


Of course, it isn’t always just the power inside the engine that makes it a hit. In the case of this V-Twin, it’s designed with longevity in mind. Meant to be as reliable as it was powerful, Indian Motorcycles made sure that the Thunderstroke 116 would be held to high-quality standards so that it could perform for many years. Thus, allowing customers the satisfaction of long-term ownership knowing that their motorcycle’s engine will still be on top of its game mile after mile.

Indian Thunderstroke 116 Specs

Displacement

116 cu

Horsepower

122 HP

Torque

126 lb-ft

Key Features

  • Smooth power delivery
  • Hefty amounts of torque
  • Precision cooling system
  • Minimized vibrations
  • Customization options

3 Indian PowerPlus 108

Horsepower: 122 HP


Because innovation never rests, the latest V-Twin to come out of Indian Motorcycles is also its most powerful to date, the PowerPlus 108. This liquid-cooled powerhouse is capable of delivering 122 horsepower, just like its air-cooled sibling mentioned above. However, it edges it out in terms of torque, by raising the bar to 128 lb-ft, making it the leading stock performance engine in Indian’s inventory.

Designed as the mighty heart of the Challenger Elite and the Chieftain Elite (two of Indian’s top-shelf bagger models), the 108 integrates the latest in engineering prowess to create one of the most powerful all-American V-Twin engines to ever leave the factory. The name also serves as an homage to Indian’s early PowerPlus engine, produced from 1916 to 1924. Inspired by the liquid-cooled 1,133cc Indian Scout engine, it uses similar design elements such as an overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder in its construction. However, the main focus is to maximize its power delivery throughout the entire RPM range. So you get bigger pistons, greater torque, and ultimately, bigger smiles.


The PowerPlus 108 comes with a true overdrive and assist clutch, providing a greater sense of control. This reassuring feeling is coupled with its hydraulic valve lash adjusters and hydraulic camshaft chain tensioners, opening the door for easier maintenance. In its development, Indian Motorcycles claims to have clocked more than one million simulation miles, as well as an additional 250,000 on-road testing miles. Not only has Indian proved the PowerPlus 108 to be both a reliable and powerful V-Twin, it has all the tangible data to back it up. That would also include it being credited for the title of 2022 Champion in the King Of The Baggers championship.

Indian PowerPlus 108 Specs

Displacement

108 cu

Horsepower

122 HP

Torque

128 lb-ft


Key Features

  • Max Engine Speed of 6,500 RPM
  • Liquid-cooled
  • Crankcase features a high capacity semi-dry sump oil system
  • Four valves per cylinder
  • Electronic fuel injection
  • 52mm dual bore throttle bodies
  • Assist clutch

2 Harley-Davidson Revolution Max 1250

Horsepower: 150 HP

When Harley-Davidson unveiled the Revolution Max 1250 V-Twin engine in 2021, it set in motion one of the most significant milestones in the company’s history. It didn’t just mark the birth of one of the most powerful V-Twins ever produced in the US, but it was also the catalyst for a new direction that the brand is following today. A direction that marks the departure from its traditional use of air-cooled engines, embracing modern technology, and engineering advancements.


The Revolution Max 1250 has also become the beating heart for two of Harley’s more notable contributions to its inventory: the Pan America 1250 Special and the Sportster S. With exhilarating acceleration and a responsive throttle, it ensures both the Sportster S and Pan America 1250 are well-rounded to take on any riding environment. From tight city constraints to the open highway, the 1250 shines everywhere. Its versatile nature also explains why it is a hit among speed demons and urban commuters alike. Speaking of versatility, Harley-Davidson has since developed two versions of the Revolution Max engine: the Revolution Max 1250 and the Revolution Max 1250T.


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While both V-Twins share the same overall displacement and construction, they are tuned differently to adhere to particular riding styles. The 1250 is more geared towards riders that favor performance, speed, and instant acceleration on the Sportster S. Whereas, the Revolution Max 1250T on the Pan America 1250 prioritizes high touring speeds and linear delivery. Overall, the debut of this V-Twin serves as a bold step toward the future for Harley-Davidson. By embracing modern innovation and performance, the iconic brand will lure in a new generation of riders, and the Revolution Max 1250 is certainly expected to play a pivotal role in the process.

Revolution Max 1250 Specs

Displacement

1,250cc (76.27 cu)

Horsepower

150 HP

Torque

94 lb-ft

Key Features

  • Peak engine speed of 9,500 RPM
  • Lightweight Construction
  • Dual Overhead Camshafts (DOHC)
  • Liquid-cooled
  • Four-valve cylinder heads
  • Unitized powertrain


1 Buell ET-V2 V-Twin

Horsepower: 185 HP

The Buell 1190cc ET-V2 V-Twin motor represents a pinnacle of performance and innovation in the world of American motorcycles. Developed by Erik Buell (renowned for his pioneering approach to motorcycle design in partnership with Harley-Davidson), this engine is the ultimate culmination of power, agility, and rider-centric engineering. It generates off-the-charts horsepower and torque figures, providing riders with unmatched levels of performance from a V-Twin. From carving through twisty mountain roads to speeding along the racetrack, the Buell ET-V2 V-Twin motor offers the ultimate adrenaline-fueled riding experience.


The very design is a standout feature in itself. Whether it’s the compact dimensions or its lightweight construction, every detail has been carefully crafted to optimize performance and agility. The ET-V2 also incorporates advanced technologies that enhance its reliability and longevity. We’re talking about liquid cooling, dual overhead camshafts, and fuel injection, all of which contribute to high-end efficiency, consistent power delivery, and reduced emissions. Additionally, the engine is equipped with a robust gearbox and clutch system for putting all that power down effortlessly.

Outside its technical specifications, the Buell ET-V2 V-Twin motor embodies a spirit of innovation and passion for motorcycling rarely seen among other major manufacturers. It represents Erik Buell’s vision of creating motorcycles that offer a visceral connection between rider and machine, delivering an unmatched level of excitement on every ride. Whether it’s on the street or the track, this V-Twin has the tools to create an exhilarating ride that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Buell ET-V2

Displacement

1,190cc (72.61 cu)

Horsepower

185 HP

Torque

102 lb-ft

Key Features

  • Liquid-cooled
  • Dual Overhead Camshafts (DOHC)
  • Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
  • Lightweight construction
  • Ride-by-Wire throttle
  • Unmatched power



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