Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: California Central Coast
Which inline four and which V-twin?
I don't think there's anything inherent in the engine configurations that makes one or the other more difficult to ride. However, examples of each can exhibit vastly different torque characteristics, and that's the interesting question to me.
I find that 600 fours (talking about the four Japanese sportbikes here) require the most attention. Let revs drop below 7K or so, and torque falls off into an abyss. An unsuspecting rider who's not watching the tach might find himself without the power to get out of a jam.
Liter fours, OTOH, are wonderful. The 929, for example, has bags of torque from 4K, and even below that. I haven't ridden an R1, 9R, or GSXR1K, but on paper they seem just as good.
Twins, likewise, vary considerably. The Hawk GT, SV650, and air-cooled Ducati 750s produce torque similarly to the liter fours (though, obviously, not nearly as much)--over a nice, even band that extends into the low end of the rev range.
Though I haven't ridden one of the Superbike twins (RC51, 916/996/998, Mille R), they seem much less user-friendly than the all-around twins. The torque curves peak high in the rev range and fall off considerably if revs drop below 5K. The Motorcyclist "Hard numbers" page reveals that these supposedly "torquey" motors don't even match the 600s in a 60-80 roll-on (e.g., 4.12 for the F4i, 4.94 for the RC51).