Motorcycle vs Motorbike – What’s the Difference?

Most people who are just starting out often confuse different biking terms. Some of the things that get mixed the most are motorcycle and motorbike.

The two terms are quite similar, so it’s easy to see why people mix them. Some people think they are two completely different vehicles that differ in size and horsepower. However, other people believe the two terms have the exact same meaning but range from country to country.

It’s an ongoing argument with people trying to prove whether the two vehicles are the same or not. We suggest you check the article below as we try to get to the point of this dilemma.

The Myths

Right of the bat, you should familiarize yourself with some of the most common myths. As we mentioned, the battle between these two terms has been going on for a while. As a result, we now know of quite a few myths.

One of the most common myths is that a motorcycle is bigger and has more power than a motorbike. Though it makes some sense as to why people would think this, there’s no product specification or legislation to back the claim up.

While this might be the truth, it might be false as well. At this point, nobody has proven the case, which is precisely why we view it as a myth.

For this reason, we suggest you don’t take it seriously when someone says that a particular vehicle is one of these terms and not the other, and vice versa.

Brief History of the Terms

The two terms are actually interchangeable and used to describe the exact same type of vehicle. While the motorcycle is a combination of motor and bicycle, the motorbike is a combo of motor and bike. Essentially, they mean the same thing, which is exactly why you cannot go wrong using either one of them.

Still, you might notice how the two words are used differently in various contexts. The word motorcycle is more formal like the word bicycle is more formal than bike. In comparison, motorbike is less formal and should be used as such.

Even though it’s less formal, it’s less used than the other term. In most cases, it’s due to official publications such as insurance, legal documentation, journalism, product description, etc. These documents use motorcycle only.

However, the most significant difference comes down to global use. Though the two words mean the same thing, people across the English-speaking world use them in various ways.

In the UK and Australia, people use motorbike though you might hear the other term here and there as well.

UK and Australian Flag

In North and South America, you’ll hear people use the word motorcycle. You might hear other terms such as a hog, for example. Still, it’s unlikely you’ll hear anyone use the word motorbike.

Where "Motorbike" is Used

In most cases, the term is used in the United Kingdom and Australia. You might also hear it in America, but it’s unlikely since American use the other term more frequently.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a motorbike?

Essentially, a motorbike is a motorcycle. It can be completely the same vehicle but called differently in various countries of the world.

Do they have less power?

Not necessarily. Both terms mean the exact same thing, which is why you can hear people use different terms to refer to it.


At this point, we concluded that the two terms refer to one product. One is a bit more formal and used across the English-speaking world than the other. Still, they mean the very same thing.

However, some people are quite passionate about the topic and might argue on it. Some riders think that motorbikes are smaller and less powerful, and it’s often nearly impossible to tell them otherwise.

The truth is – you cannot go wrong using either one of them. Some people might find your choice of words funny depending on where you are, but essentially, they’ll understand what you’re referring to.

Additional Resources

The team at Road Racerz aims to be a source of knowledge for all riders, whether they are beginners, intermediate, or have been riding for 20+ years. We want everyone to enjoy safer rides and have access to rider-specific content to get the most out of every mile.

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