What is "bhp" ? Let's Talk

what is bhp

Welcome Everyone to our Machine Talk Blog

We Present you some understated yet important topics in the world of two wheelers in the form of Short blog. (Need not worry we will not bore you guys with tech talk, we provide knowledge in a very simple, short, rational form).

Before we start, a weird anecdote, we would like you all to remember your science class. Remember when your teachers used to give scientific jargon. Most of us never listened to them, those who did, scratched their heads. I used to do that as well. 

When you grow, if you need to learn something today, You read newspapers. You check blogs. Read weird info from variety of sites. You come across the same scientific jargon eveywhere, What do you do then?

Simple answer: You search for the term in Google or Wikipedia. Once you find it, it is all written in a form which looks like scientific jargon, once you stare at the words, not able to follow, lose interest and move on to something entertaining.

From your Childhood till now, most of things you are in some Weird Jargon which you may or May not Understand. If we talk about our two wheeler industry, if you try to find out about something, wherever you look, you will more jargon written in a way most of us won't understand. 

Let's say you want to know about something, but with an interesting twist, What if we tell you, we can make the jargon interesting for you, With this series of blogs, We discuss some awesome motorbiking terms/topics in a fun and quirky way,

Let’s start off this quirky series with one such term, You must have heard this while discussing motorbiking with you friends, family etc. Motorcycle enthusiasts don't hide.

Let’s Talk Bhp

Usually, when you read content in international motorcycling websites, you do come across a lot of familiar terms. One such term that appears again and again is “Bhp”? Few sites mention it as “hp” while others mention it as “ps" or "Whp”.

So many acronyms to define one term, Confusing. Right?

This provides us an opportunity to launch our series with a perfect term? Let’s begin with a simple full form of the abbreviated word -- “Bhp” – “Brake horse power”.

Bhp is the most common term used to define pure engine power of a machine. When we talk about the power of any engine its measured in Bhp. According to Wikipedia: -

Brake horsepower (bhp) is the measure of an engine's horsepower before the loss in power caused by the gearbox, alternator, differential, water pump, and other auxiliary components such as power steering pump, muffled exhaust system etc.    

In our case, it’s two wheelers, in very simple terms: - Bhp is the unit to measure the amt of power generated on the wheel of the two wheeler before its loss. Hence, when 'n’ amount of work is done by an engine, measured with Bhp. 


How did this term come into existence? Let's rewind to the days of British Enlightenment.

History of Measuring Power - hp

It all started with a bumbling Britisher named Mr. James Watt wanting to measure the power of the early steam engines. Mr James Watt was quite an observing person. Once he saw his granny's pot boiling to a point where its lid started floating. Reason? The steam itself. The power of the steam revealed its true face and Watt capitalized on it, wanted to measure it.

He Decided to compare the power of a horse with that of a steam engine, During his analysis, he calculated the amount of movement a horse makes to pull a 100 pounds of strapped weight and came up with a conclusion.

It was further calculated; a horse would be able to lift the weight at the rate of 330 feet per minute.


Going by the formula:  Work Performed = Force(Power) + displacement of the body(Mass).

He calculated the work performed by a horse as: 1Hp (Horse Power) =33000lbs (pound mass)  per minute.

In his honour, the unit of power became “Watt”.

This experiment led to the “Hp” became the standard unit  widely adopted to measure the output of  piston engines, electric motors, and turbines.


Let’s move along further and Explain the Reason, Why and What is the “B” of HP?

Use of Brakes:

If you question your own psyche, you realise that people outside US, especially India, are obsessed with brakes.  If you’re riding a motorbike, suddenly you see some mishap on road, your reflex action is to... BRAKE. Initially, horsepower was calculated by using a horse as an indication of power, later on we started using a simple brake unit connected to the engine. This process was done so that we could measure the exact output of power produced by an engine.


A device called Brake Dynamometer:

The manufacturers decided to measure the engine's power using brake as the unit. This was done with help of BRAKE DYNAMOMETER (DYNO in simple terms). The Brake Dynamometer is not an accurate device per se, it gives you an estimated power output at engines crankshaft, athough the results are not accurate, it helps the engine manufacturers to create more efficient engines.

Hmm, so,

Two simple factors led to existence of the term Brake Horse Power. Our obsession with the brakes and due to the first Name of a Measuring Device.

Considering this, the Official definition now would be: "Brake horse power" (BHP) is power (in imperial units) calculated by measuring the torque of a loaded engine (the brake part) such as during a dyno run. It is often abbreviated to horse power or "hp".


Before we close, a miNUTE info, here are some other Terms Used to Measure Power:

PS ( pferdestarke) – A German term, same as bhp.

Whp (Wheel horse power) – power measured at wheel instead of a crankshaft.



A general understanding of Bhp is the key to mapping the efficiency of an engine, since brake horse power is calculated as a capacity of an engine to derive maximum power output at the crankshaft in an efficient way, it can provide enough output of power to run the motor as well as other components.

After going through the article, you must have understood the concept behind 'Bhp'. You see, channelizing your inner motopsychcle is our aim and making motorcycling simple is our motto. We will keep bringing more write up in this section. Ride safe, ride head held high and stay tune for more motopsyche.


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