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Honda and Ducati plan turbine futures

Honda turbo engine drawings turbine

Honda looks like following Kawasaki and Suzuki into a forced-induction future with turbocharged motorcycles while Ducati is also using turbine technology.

Patent drawings have surfaced on the internet which show a Honda (pictured above) with a supercharged engine and a Ducati with a turbine in its exhaust system.

Ducati with turbine exhaust
Ducati with turbine exhaust

However, it should be noted that the Ducati turbine system is not designed to boost power to the bike. Instead, it is possibly to meet stringent emissions regulations and/or as a wheelie control to modulate power deliver to the rear wheel.

The only forced-induction motorcycles currently on sale are the four-cylinder supercharged Kawasaki H2 and track-only H2R.

2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon turbine
2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon

However, Honda’s drawings appear to be of a small, possibly single-cylindered motorcycle.

Forced induction of small engines is the more likely direction for future production bikes because it means manufacturers will more easily meet emissions and fuel consumption regulations while also appeasing customers’ need for power.

That’s the course Suzuki is likely to take.

Although Suzuki is yet to release a turbo-powered bike, the company unveiled its turbo-charged 588cc parallel twin “Recursion” concept sportsbike at the Tokyo show in 2014 and the following year filed patents for several small turbocharged motorcycle engines.

Suzuki Recursion turbo - hayabusa turbine
Suzuki Recursion

Kawasaki and Suzuki won’t move the motorcycling world to turbines, but the biggest motorcycle manufacturer on the planet, Honda, just might.

All Japanese manufacturers had a short turbo period in the 1980s, including Honda with its CX500 and CX650 turbo versions.

Honda CX 650TC Turbo turbine
Honda CX 650TC Turbo

In those days, turbos were big and clunky with sudden power surges that made them difficult to ride. They were also unpredictable and unreliable.

The car world has led advances in turbo technology over the past dozen years with compact low-boost units that make them reliable, drivable and desirable.

That technology will surely flow through to motorcycles in coming years as authorities impose more and more stringent emissions and fuel economy regulations.

  1. I find the Honda drawing highly unappealing. They could not have made the installation look more tacked-on if they tried.

    Having the belt drive for the (what I suspect to be a twin-scroll) supercharger hanging out the side like that seriously compromises the left hand side cornering clearance.
    I’m used to hanging off while grinding the footpeg, sidestand and then centrestand on a 1985 CBX750F. It’s all part of the fun. I would definitely not want be grinding through a supercharger belt drive cover (not shown) and then the drive pulley, not even accidentally.

    I suppose Kawasaki won the patent race for a gear-driven supercharger on a bike. That must embarrass Honda who brought gear-driven cams to the mass market 30 years ago.
    This reminds me of the anti-dive wars of the 80’s. Suzuki bled off front hydraulic brake pressure to activate their anti-dive. Honda used torque reaction of a front caliper, Kawasaki used an electric solenoid triggered by the brake lever. I forget what Yamaha did. They all did pretty much the same thing which was increase compression damping on front brake application, they just couldn’t be seen to be doing it the same way as somebody else.

    I wonder which brand will be the first to incorporate a chain-driven supercharger.
    Hopefully Ducati has thought ahead and patented a bevel drive supercharger.

    At least turbos can have a little bit more flexibility in their location, although putting the turbo assembly as close to the exhaust ports as possible worked well enough on the GPz750 Turbo, that tactic is not so simple on a watercooled engine but it is an intriguing packaging puzzle.
    I suspect that normally aspirated engines still have a lot to offer to the majority of motorcyclists.
    So many engineering compromises, so little time.

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