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Boxer engines got their name because each pair of pistons moves simultaneously in and out rather than alternately, like boxers showing they are ready by clashing their gloved fists against each other before a fight. Boxer engines of up to eight cylinders have proved highly successful in automobiles and up to six cylinders in motorcycles and continue to be popular for light aircraft engines.
Boxers are one of only three cylinder layouts that have a natural dynamic balance; the others being the straight-6 and the V12. These engines can run very smoothly and free of unbalanced forces with a four-stroke cycle and do not require a balance shaft or counterweights on the crankshaft to balance the weight of the reciprocating parts, which are required in other engine configurations.