A Viable Two Wheel Alternative

We are all forced to endure it, and there is little we can do about it. Whether it is the war in Iraq or the effects from Hurricane Katrina, gas prices are continuing to rise with no real relief in sight. Although most motorcycles are much more fuel efficient then their four–wheeled counterparts, riders are still feeling the pinch. Alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles are starting to become more common and motorcycle builders are starting to follow suit. A viable alternative may very well be a high performance diesel engine. Before you start thinking of a slow moving, smoke belching dump truck with a line of traffic behind it, Europe has a long history of high performance diesel engines in automobiles; it seems only natural that motorcycles may evolve into diesel power.                          

Star Twin, a Holland based manufacturer has recently introduced the Thunder Star 1200 TDI sportbike. .Using a 1200 cc three cylinder turbocharged direct injection motor taken from a Volkswagon Lupo, the bike has an estimated power output of 60 bhp and 165 foot lbs of torque. By remapping the controls this is increased to 120 bhp and 250 ft lbs of torque at 5500 rpm. With a Yamaha FJ 1200 five speed transmission and weighing in at 450 lbs, the sleek looking machine has similar looks to other sport bikes on the market today. Early estimates put the fuel mileage at 150 mile per gallon. Star Twin is presently exploring the possibility of marketing the bike and while top speed is not at par with the many gas powered motorcycles on the various race circuits, Star Twin may very well have their sights set on the race track in the future.           

The American and British Military have also noticed the advantages a diesel motorcycle may offer. F1 Engineering has developed a diesel powered dual purpose motorcycle. Using a Kawasaki KLR 650 modified to run on diesel, the bike puts out 24 hp and gets 25 miles /gallon with a top speed between 80 to 100 mph. At the Bonneville Salt Flats, F1 Engineering took two bikes for testing; a civilian issue model and a military model with a small turbocharger. Each bike made 2 passes with the civilian model averaging 84 mph and the military model averaging 92 mph. “This is a high performance enduro bike that will run over 100 mph, revs over 7000 rpm and will climb the proverbial brick wall.”           

The obvious advantage for the military is the diesel fuel itself. The bike is able to use the same fuel that tanks, trucks and other military equipment use. A logistics problem is slowly being eliminated as more military vehicles start using diesel and less are using gas.           

Canada is slowly starting to add bio-diesel to the local gas bar. Bio-diesel is diesel made with recycled vegetable and animal fats. It is clean burning and does not add to the global warming problem and can be burned in any diesel engine. Bio-diesel may very well be eliminating a disposal problem; used oils from French fry fryers can be converted to bio-diesel very easily.           

 The day is fast approaching when there may very well be a diesel powered sportbike making a victory lap at a track as its gas powered cousin begins its final days before being retired. Let’s just hope the fast food joints will share their fuel.                                                                                 

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~ by cdnrider on June 16, 2007.

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