Performance Times

    Picking The Right Cam For Your Motorcycle

    by Bruce Tessmer / January 4, 2018
    Performance camshafts are one of the most effective tools  for increasing the performance of an engine. It doesn’t matter if it’s a car, truck, or motorcycle. Unfortunately camshafts are also one of the most misunderstood performance components in the entire history of engines.

    S&S, and every other company that makes camshafts, publishes the specifications for each of their cam grinds so customers can make an appropriate selection for their particular application. The problem is that although these numbers are telling us a story, you have understand the lingo. Do you need to be an automotive engineer to select a cam? No. A basic understanding of what cams do and how they do it will get you a long way toward selecting the right cam.

    Our Tech department gets a lot of questions about cam selection so we have produced a video series to simply lay it out. There was a lot of ground to cover, even though we kept it as basic as possible. There is some math in these videos for inquiring minds, but you don’t need to fully understand that part to get the basic idea. Numerous animated illustrations and real life demonstrations make it easy to understand the ideas and, as a result, what the specifications are telling you.

    One key point we try to get across in this video series is that bigger is not always better. The biggest cam we make is not necessarily going to be the best choice for your bike and, just as importantly, your riding style. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and aggravation by selecting an appropriate cam grind the first time, and you’ll be a lot happier with the results.

    Video 1 explains how an engine works and details the role of the camshaft in the process.
    Video 2a, 2b & 2c explores the “Big Three”, the three most important specs to consider when selecting a cam grind. This is the longest (we’ve actually broken this into two segments for those with weak bladders) and the most tech heavy of the videos, and if you only watch one of the videos, this should be the one.
    Video 3 covers some of the lesser known specifications that cam manufacturers sometimes present. It’s good to know what these are, but the “Big Three” specifications in the second video are really the ones you really need to select a cam grind.

    Tags: How-To / Tech

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    Bruce Tessmer

    Bruce Tessmer

    Bruce Tessmer is a Marketing Projects Coordinator at S&S Cycle Inc. in Viola, WI. He has been with S&S for over 28 years. During that time he has worked in shipping, production, and R&D. He was also the original head of the S&S Tech department when it was formed in late 1995. He later moved to the Marketing department. Bruce received a degree in broadcasting from the University of Wisconsin in 1973, and has never worked in the broadcast industry. Personal interests include motorcycling, travel, and playing the blues.