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6 Reasons Why Motorcycles Don't Use Diesel Engines

6 Reasons Why Motorcycles Don’t Use Diesel Engines

Why is it that motorcycles run on gas, and not on diesel? Sure, we’ve seen some Diesel motorcycles in the past from Royal Enfield, and other more recent military motorcycle experiments. In most cases however, you’ll find that motorcycles are run on petrol, despite the fact that gas is more expensive than diesel in many parts of the world.

The automotive industry counts on diesel – from cars and trucks all the way to other locomotives. The military uses diesel in a number of their on road applications and even certain jets. Motorcyclists could potentially save each time they gas up.

So, why is it that diesel engines aren’t used in motorcycles?

1) Weight

For starters, diesel engines tend to have compression ratios of 24:1 – which is way above the compression ratio on gas engines (11:1). As such, diesel engines have to be bigger and made from heavier material to handle this high compression rate. Such massive engines would not work well on small vehicles like motorbikes.

This is one of the reasons why most bike manufacturers prefer using petrol engines. If they were to use diesel engines, then they would have to create bikes so bulky that riders would have a hard time trying to navigate the roads and highways on their vehicles.

Porsche-derived V-Rod Engine

2) Noise and Vibration

Second, the high compression ratio means that diesel engines tend to produce more noise and vibration in comparison to their petrol counterparts. Light vehicles like motorcycles are not designed to handle this noise and vibrations – which is why diesel is not used in motorbikes.

Petrol engines, on the other hand, come with low compression ratios. This means that they produce comparatively less noise and vibration. As a direct result, they are better suited for use in motorcycles where the vehicles are lightweight and ride smoother with petrol engines than they would if diesel engines were used.

3) Initial Pricing

The heavy engine and the high compression ratio means that diesel engines tend to cost more – at least initially – than gas engines. This high price difference compels most manufacturers to opt for petrol engines.

To ensure that the original investment in the bike’s design and development does not get out of hand, manufacturers try to cut down the cost of creating new models. If they were to use diesel engines, they would need to put a lot of money down for each model – which would have to be passed on to the riders. Needless to say, fewer people would be able to afford motorcycles if diesel engines were to be used.

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3 comments

  1. A Kawasaki KLR with a diesel would be the best, as the Army found out. Diesel’s wear out fast??? Check with VW owners or Long haul truck drivers on that. Slower yes. But 100mpg with a 6.5 gallon tank on a KLR, it would go 600 plus miles between service stations.

    • I don’t think the author knows of what he speaks. Diesel engines last so much longer than gas engines. The weight and size is the only real problem

  2. i would have thought that the image of riding a motorcycle, the rattle of a diesel would be off a ie – harley rider. image and tradition come first i would presume?

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