Diesel Engines Invading Motorcycles

by Deepak on September 9, 2009

AVL, or Anstalt für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen List, may not be a name well known to people in general and so are the engines and automotive machinery that they manufacture. It is an Austrian-based automotive consulting firm as well as an independent research institute. It is also the largest privately owned company for the development of power train systems with internal combustion engines (ICEs) as well as instrumentation and test systems AVL are well known throughout the automotive world for their engineering prowess when it comes to engine design and manufacture. Chances are, you most probably have witnessed an AVL engine in action during recent times, prime examples being the engines of Mahindra Scorpio/Xylo, and more importantly, the Enfield Bullet. These were designed by AVL and as you may know they are examples or reliable, efficient and powerful engines.

AVL Diesel engine for Motorcycles

Here, we talk about a new kind of engine, one that has the potential to revolutionize the biking world. Yamaha has already applied a patent for it and AVL has almost completed the design and engineering phases of the same. Its the diesel turbocharged engine for bikes! The simple reason it’s going to be different is because of the fact that its a diesel engine. Yes you heard it diesel. You might be wondering what is so great about this because you already may have seen Enfield’s on the road fitted with diesel power plants. But there is a whole world of difference between an old age diesel engine and a new generation one.

You see, like all things, engines have gotten better and better over time and its actually rare for one to see a new bike or car with engine problems of any sort, anyone would know how silly the noises are from an old diesel engine but the fact of the matter is Yamaha and AVL are in no mood for old stuff, they’re focusing on turbocharged, lightweight, fuel injected or common rail systems for their diesel engines. The diesel engine on a Suzuki Swift is among the most technically advanced diesel engines in mass production, its silence, refinement, power, efficiency and size stands testimony to the fact that diesel engines can actually be as good as their petrol counterparts. Gone are the days when you needed twice the Cubic Capacity of a petrol engine to produce the same power from a diesel, with modern technologies like turbo systems, more power can be made from a lot smaller package.

Let’s move on to the details. We are focussing on the AVL engine as its the only one we have more information on while the Yamaha’s version is right now kept confidential. AVL has designed a 3 cylinder, turbo charged, common rail fuel injected diesel engine. These kinds of engines are widely used in the Indian automobile market because of their efficiency and the lost cost of diesel fuel. Also such engines generally have power in the low to mid range of RPM’s which make it much easier to drive than its petrol counterpart. Using this sort of engine on a bike would make perfect sense because of all the factors mentioned above. But there are certain problems like turbo lag and diesel smoke that make it a slightly worrying prospect; the folks at AVL managed to get past these hurdles with the use of a VGT (Variable Geometry Turbine) that adjusts the turbo blade angles to provide power in a smooth and steady manner, examples of this technology can be found in the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Hyundai Verna.

Variable Geometry Turbine

The AVL diesel engine and vehicle concept was performed as an internal research and development project. It is the first high performance diesel engine to be specially designed for motorcycles in terms of packaging and styling. The packaging of the engine in the vehicle was shown using a rapid prototype model. The engine design is based on AVL know-how from development results and measurement data of state of the art HSDI (High Speed Direct Injection) diesel engines, Also besides the packaging and design work, a 1D thermodynamic engine simulation system with AVL’s software code ‘BOOST’ was carried out in order to optimise the gas exchange of the engine including the VGT (Variable Geometry Turbine) turbocharger to predict the engine performance. To optimise the engine in terms of cyclic speed irregularity a torsion vibration system was set up using AVL’s software code ‘BRICKS’. This simulation included the variation of the flywheel mass and the analysis of different cylinder pressure and associated characteristics. Additional simulations of the entire motorcycle in order to determine the driving performance were carried out using AVL’s Vehicle simulation software ‘CRUISE’. The engine specifications were fixed under consideration of the required performance, emission, styling and noise targets. The table below gives an overview of the main engine specifications for the engine.

The crankshaft of the diesel engine was designed in order to achieve the required torsional rigidity with a minimum weight. Overall this is a promising development in engine technology and is one that will surely change the world of biking for some time to come. Yamaha has already filed for a patent for an engine with almost the same characteristics and its just a matter of time to see who comes out with the finished version first.

- Chinmay Dangre

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Deepak September 9, 2009 at 8:47 pm

I was never a big fan of diesel engines. I even bought my car with petrol engine. Though Yamaha may bring out such engines in future, the market acceptance of such bikes is questionable.


BikeBhp.com September 9, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Petrol engines are known as suicidal by nature, because of its performance delivery at very high RPMs, diesel engines are preferred world over because of its long life and reliability. Hence, success for these High-tech diesel engines either by AVL or Yamaha is inevitable.


AK Sharma September 10, 2009 at 10:34 am

it will not be a much successfull as diesel engine are even not favourite incars, because of higher maintenance and noise.


Motorbeam.com September 10, 2009 at 12:15 pm

If they are able to sort out the vibrations than this is gonna be one heck of a machine.


Tariqh September 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Like seen in cars, the maintenance will be the only issue of concern…as per the rest if, the engine packs enough power and economize on the fuel price…i think it’ll be great success among the Indian crowd.


Tam September 11, 2009 at 10:38 am

good and interesting info.
Only time can answer…


Chinmay September 12, 2009 at 8:59 am

all old diesel engines where vibration, noise, maintenance prone. But CRDI engines specially from AVL company are totally different. If make a comparison chart with old engines then not possible because of the technology.


RAMESH September 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm

i turbocharged my diesel bullet and also i submit it as a final year project in my college…. it give high pick up and mileage.


srinivas January 24, 2011 at 6:12 am

Dear Ramesh, I am looking at Diesel bulllet 1996 model used one,pls advice whether sincerely if I can go for the diesel one, since will the mainternance costs will be very high though the fuel mileage is said to be at 70kmpl. pls advice would be grateful as I do not have any idea or experience on diesel bikes so far I am looking at this option due to high petrol price rise now!


ayodhya ram October 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Hello ramesh i need a diesel bullet .Pls suggest me where can i get. Another is that is it true that it really give 70 kmpl


Chinmay September 24, 2009 at 7:27 am

good Luck Ramesh and let us know more from your end. Please send the pic of your bike to bikeadvice.in(at)gmail.com


daniel September 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

it is very timely to utilize diesel powered motorcycles . especially of this high price of petrol. diesel powered are ideal most likely during rainy days. how i wish this two wheeled motor be in my country (PHILIPPINES). I DO LOVE MOTORCYCLE…


vaibhav September 18, 2010 at 12:40 pm

how to make a diesel engine..!!!
please share some information on dis..!!


ganesh November 1, 2010 at 11:33 am

hi, is it possible to change the diesel engine, that is it would be long stroke, to short stroke. is it possible , if it is then wht is the pro’s n con’s


shaihum January 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Is it possible to convert motorcycle diesel engine???Plz upload some foto desel engine motorcycle…..Thank you.


steven murphy June 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

like the idea of retro fitting a diesel engine into a motorcycle frame…how much does one cost?


Ajit July 13, 2011 at 12:33 am

which type of turbo charger fited or connected to bulet diesel engine to improve bikes power and average


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