Sloth Design motorcycle design magazine

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Analysis of contemporary motorcycle engines. The graph refers to the engines mounted on the bikes sold in Europe in 2015.

Type of engines shown in the pie chart:

  • single, single-cylinder engines have the cylinder vertical, inclined or horizontal;
  • parallel-twin, two-cylinder engine which has its cylinders arranged side by side;
  • inline-three, three-cylinder engines, normally mounted transversely;
  • inline-four, four-cylinder engines, normally mounted transversely;
  • v-twin (trans), two-cylinder engine in a transverse position arranged in a V configuration with angles less than 90°;
  • v-twin (long), two-cylinder engine mounted longitudinally arranged in a V configuration;
  • V4, four-cylinder engine arranged in a V configuration;
  • flat-twin (aka boxer), two cylinder engine horizontally opposed;
  • L-twin, two-cylinder engine in a transverse position arranged in a V configuration with angles of 90°;
  • other, types of engines rarely used, (e.g., inline-six).

Single

Pros: compact size, lightweight, inexpensive, high torque at low revs.

Cons: high vibrations, difficult balancing.

It's used in 10,68% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015, especially for small displacements and off-road bikes.

E.g., Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, KTM 690 Duke, Yamaha XT660Z Ténéré.

Parallel-Twin

Pros: comfort, fluid operation, high permormance, good balance.

Cons: high vibrations.

It's used in 26,41% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015, especially for medium and high displacements.

E.g., Honda NC750X, Triumph Bonneville Thruxton, Kawasaki Versys 650.

Inline-Three

Pros: comfort, fluid operation, high permormance, discreet balancing, low vibrations.

Cons: medium overall dimensions.

It's used in 10,59% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015, especially for medium and high displacements.

E.g., Yamaha MT-09 Tracer, Triumph 675 Street Triple, MV Agusta Brutale 800.

Inline-Four

Pros: comfort, fluid operation, high power, good balancing, very low vibrations.

Cons: large overall dimensions, heavy.

It's used in 16,06% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015, especially for high displacements.

E.g., Suzuki GSR750, Kawasaki Z800, Honda CB650F.

V-Twin (trans)

Pros: good power/size ratio, lightweight.

Cons: light vibrations, balancing (narrow V angle).

It's used in 8,49% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015, especially for high displacements, cruiser and touring bikes.

E.g., Honda Shadow, Harley Davidson Road Glide, KTM 1290 Superduke R.

V-Twin (long)

Pros: excellent air cooling, good balancing.

Cons: side dimensions.

It's used in 0,77% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015, currently mounted only on Moto Guzzi models.

E.g., Moto Guzzi MGX-21, Moto Guzzi V7 II, Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer.

V4

Pros: overall dimension, high performance, good balancing, low vibrations.

Cons: complexity constructive.

It's used in 0,58% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015.

E.g., Aprilia RSV4 RF, Honda VFR1200F, Honda VFR800X Crossrunner.

Flat-Twin (boxer)

Pros: excellent air cooling, good balancing.

Cons: limitation in the degree of lean angle.

It's used in 17,65% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015, currently mounted only on BMW models.

E.g., BMW R 1200 RT, BMW R NineT, BMW R 1200 GS.

L-Twin

Pros: good power/size ratio, lightweight, good balancing.

Cons: light vibrations.

It's used in 8,76% of motorcycles sold in Europe in 2015.

E.g., Suzuki SV650, Aprilia Dorsoduro 750, Ducati Scrambler 800.

Other engines

Types of engines different than the above listed are used by less than 0,1% of the motorcycles.

E.g., Honda Goldwing (1832 cc flat-six), BMW K 1600 GTL (1649 cc inline-six), Triumph Rocket III (2294 cc inline-three longitudinal).

Sources: Aprilia, BMW-Motorrad, Harley Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Suzuki, Triumph Motorcycles, Yamaha.