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Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useability

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September 26, 2011

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useability

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In a raft of announcements, Honda has developed a highly fuel-efficient, very torquey 700cc twin cylinder engine with a second-generation Dual Clutch Transmission which it will show in three different motorcycle designs at the EICMA 2011 International Motorcycle Exhibition in November in Milan, Italy.

The motor will also be paired with a manual six-speed transmission in at least one of those bikes and as it delivers better than 3.7 l/100km and and its motor is designed for on-road usability, it is almost certainly the first bike designed for western markets to take advantage of the world's coming gas crisis.

Also on display will be Honda's new 125 engine which will be used in its 125cc scooters around the world starting next year and contains an idle-stop system and delivers 25% better fuel economy than current generation scooter engines. Both the 700cc and 125cc engines contain considerable technological wizardry to achieve their goals.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

Let's look at the 700 twin motor first. The new engine is a 700cc, liquid-cooled twin with its cylinders angled well (62º) forward. The biggest advantage delivered by the motor will be at the gas pump thanks to its 3.7 l/100km efficiency - that's 27 km/litre, 63.5 mpg (U.S.) and 76.35 mpg imperial. That makes for very cheap running costs.

The motor will be shown in three different designs at the EICMA 2011 International Motorcycle Exhibition in November in Milan, Italy. Only one of those designs has been released at this stage - a 700cc super-commuter with Dual Clutch Transmission and the same maxi-scooter styling Honda has long flirted with in its concept machinery.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

The DCT is the second-generation of the transmission first developed for Honda's big V-twin, and the emphasis of the DCT's design has been compact and light.

At least one of the bikes to be seen at EICMA using the new 700 parallel twin motor will have a six-speed manual transmission.

For motorcyclists, the 700-twin engine will be an interesting new alternative as the engine reportedly delivers powerful torque in the low- to mid-speed range, something that makes riding a joy around town, and something that is much rarer than it should be with modern motorcycles. Over the last forty years, motorcycle magazines have concentrated on horsepower and lap times, which are largely immaterial for machines not at the sporting edge.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

Honda is beginning to bring more relevant values and emphasis back to motorcycling.

Now we're working from a lot of Japanese documentation in delivering this report, but the gist of the information seems to be that Honda has used a host of technologies to give the engine a "delightful pulsating feel". We suspect from the press material we have seen that this is more than just the delightful rorty rumble of a crank with a 270 degree throw (a faux v-twin), but some characteristic that makes it feel particularly satisfying to ride.

The engine is also described in the press releases as having a "pleasant throbbing feel" and that the overall package has reduced vibration. It seems that we're going to need to wait to see what they've actually achieved in terms of engine character, but one hopes it is good, because they've gone to a lot of trouble to achieve it.

The properties of the engine have been achieved by the combination of half a dozen technologies, beginning with Honda's PGM-FI electronic fuel injection system, a 270 degree offset crankshaft, and a uni-axial primary balancer.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

The engine uses branch intake ports inside the cylinder head so there is only one intake channel for both cylinders. It is designed to create deliberate interference between the intake processes of the two cylinders, and the rest of the engine is designed to use this to give it the above-mentioned engine character which sounds like it might be something special. Apart from varying the combustion timing in each cylinder, there are also changes to the valve timing between the two in-line cylinders. In deciding this was necessary, Honda then used one camshaft deliver two timing routines for the intake valve.

Through these measures, "subtle combustion changes can be generated" to give the engine the aforementioned "delightful, pulsating feel". So it would appear that Honda is purposefully building "character" into its new 700, just as BMW and Husqvarna have done with the Rotax 800 parallel twin, and is evident on all motorcycles usually related to the architecture of the motor - just as Harley and Ducati have found in different ways with the V-twin design.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

Interestingly, Honda chose the announcement to include a couple of old patent drawings from a quarter century ago, showing its interest in 270 degree crank throws is not new.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

There's a degree of irony in this announcement as Honda's 1968 CB750 was the first "superbike" and its four cylinder motor had an order of magnitude less vibration than the bikes it came to market against - the Norton Commando 750, Suzuki T500 two-stroke, Triumph Bonneville 650 and Yamaha 650 parallel twins, BMW R75/5 flat twin, Harley Ironhead 900 v-twin, the three-cylinder two-stroke Kawasaki H1 500 and Suzuki GT750 and three-cylinder four-strokes from Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket 3. All were consigned to obsolescence by the CB750 and so began the escalation between the four Japanese manufacturers that gave us the untouchable but rather bland Universal Japanese Motorcycle - four cylinders, in-line and not much different to your friends UJMs, regardless of the badge.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

Now, Honda is leading the charge to use next-generation engine design and control software to build proprietary character into its motorcycles, not to mention relevant performance in the real world - there is a whole generation of people out there who have ridden motorcycles and an even bigger one which hasn't. As fuel prices inevitably rise over the next few years, Honda will have the perfect motorcycle for those people, and the Integra 700 superscooter looks to have all the commuter bases covered.

Its design offers the best protection against the elements, the most carrying capacity, remarkable performance and better fuel economy than anything that would come close to it in a straight line.

Indeed, given that the engine sizes aren't that much different, let's compare the Integra scooter and Honda's 1968 king-of-the-road, the CB750. The 1969 CB750 developed 68 bhp (51 kW) @ 8,500 rpm, 44 ftlb (60 Nm) torque @ 7,000 rpm, weighed 491 lb (223 kg) (wet). Though no figures have yet been released on the performance of the engine or the weight of the Integra, my guess is that the scooter will have a similar weight to the former "world's fastest" road bike, and though it will probably have less horsepower, it will run a quarter mile in a comparable time because of its strong acceleration.

If they make it fun to ride by giving it a pleasant throbbing feeling, it's a winner already.

Now for the 125 engine.

Honda announces next generation motorcycle engines with outstanding fuel economy and useab...

It seems like a return to old values to be talking about enhanced durability, quietness, and fuel economy, but Honda has gone all-out to build the next 125 world motor with those primary qualities.

The engine boasts fuel injection, a range of low friction technologies and an advanced idle stop system to enable fuel economy that is "approximately 25% better than that of conventional engines for scooters with the same displacement."

Any global engine needs to be very good, and a measure of the effort behind the motor is that Honda has exceeded the current PGM-FI 125 in all the important aspects - cost-to-run, fuel economy and low emissions.

To achieve the engine's excellent fuel efficiency, Honda incorporated a broad spectrum of new ideas to minimize frictional losses in the motor.

First up is the use of an offset cylinder which reduces friction caused by the contact between the sliding piston and the cylinder wall. The weight of the piston was reduced through computer analysis and a sleeve with minute spines on the outer surface of the cylinder sleeve has reduced oil consumption and improved cooling.

Low-friction technologies are everywhere - the first adoption of a shell-type needle bearing for the rocker arm shaft to reduce friction, smaller and lighter rollers together with an optimized cam profile and valve spring load. The bearings for each of the three axes in the transmission unit have been reevaluated according to the load they receive, then modified or replaced to minimize the rolling resistance inside the bearings.

Just how much energy can be saved by reducing the frictional losses of the engine? According to Honda, the new engine has 20% less frictional losses compared to the current engine when running at 50km/h. It should be noted that we have already waxed lyrical about the current engine, so it's clear that enormous analysis and critical thinking has been employed in the new design.

A highl;y efficient radiator core has been employed on the new 125, approximately 50% more efficient than the current engine, enabling a smaller and lighter cooling fan on the back of the radiator, which in turn has reduced frictional loss by approximately 30% in this area.

Oil sloshing around inside the engine is another area that has come into focus. Transmission oil capacity was reduced 25% in order to lower the oil agitation losses. A wide-ratio continuously variable transmission with V-belt (V-Matic) utilizes a drive belt made of newly developed high-elasticity rubber. Both excellent fuel efficiency and quietness are achieved through the efficient transmission of driving force by optimizing the lateral pressure applied to the belt, along with the durability of the belt.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
17 Comments

The 700 cc engine's fuel economy isn't hugely remarkable - it's less than 10% better than what I get from my F800ST, which is ridden in a moderately vigorous fashion, and does without the complexities of variable valve timing. Nevertheless, the Honda is an interesting bike for what it sets out to be.

mokkybear54
27th September, 2011 @ 04:51 am PDT

I get 62mpg in my 1000cc CAR. How is this good for a motorbike?

James Tarquin Davis
27th September, 2011 @ 06:04 am PDT

My Burgman 650 Exec typically gives me between 5.0 and 6.0 L/100 km depending on riding speed. This sounds like my next bike if it is even half as good as it sounds.

Going into that equation is the fact that the Honda dealer is 3 km away while the Suzuki dealer, due to many shops going out of business, is now 35 km away.

rdinning
27th September, 2011 @ 08:50 am PDT

My 1986 Honda 500 Interceptor gets around 45 mpg in town, and I thought that was pretty good - I am talking real mileage as averaged over 20,000 commuter kms over the last 2 years, and now Iwant something considerably better, that will also give great riding fun - that is good acceleration with excellent brakes and super handling - I have ridden for over 40 years, and prefer the manual transmission (I tried the DCT 1200 Interceptor and it lacked character - I love shifting - more involving and more fun). So, for me, a sporty, lightwieght version with a manual gearbox is what I want to see - If it's as soulful an engine as I expect, with sweet handling, I will buy one! I love the character of the 500 V-4 in my Interceptor - smooth, torquey, and yet it revs out hard above 7000 rpm - really a treat to ride daily! I am counting the days now until I can try out one of these new 700 Hondas...

RXTR
27th September, 2011 @ 10:00 am PDT

re; James Tarquin Davis

The aerodynamics of a non backbreaking motorcycle is pathetic.

Slowburn
27th September, 2011 @ 01:35 pm PDT

Strongly reminiscent of the Pacifica of old, when Honda got TOO far ahead of the game. I'd have preffered the actual trunk of the Pacifica, as it seems more useful, but I'd trade my 2003 NSS250 Reflex AND my 1999 Kawasaki Concours in for one of these in a heartbeat (unless I finish the plans for a 250CC, 400 LB, single seat reverse trike designed for rapid urban commuting that I've been playing with!).

Mike Barnett
27th September, 2011 @ 04:01 pm PDT

It's interesting to hear that the BMW flat twin,the Harley Davidson V twin and the Triunph 3 cylinder bikes were consigned to obsolescence in 1968-CHAS

chascarter
27th September, 2011 @ 04:44 pm PDT

chascarter- All of the machines that you list feature Drum brakes at BOTH ends. Is this a feature that you do not consider obsolescent for a modern motorcycle? How many of those brands did not respond with their own Disc brake on the front wheel as they upgraded their product/s?

vortexau
27th September, 2011 @ 07:47 pm PDT

A fuel consumption claim means nothing without another reference point, such as speed.

75mpg at 30mph is nothing to shout about; 75mpg at 75mph would be very impressive.

Slowburn is absolutely right. Conventional comfortable bikes do tend to have lousy aerodynamics. I only get 42-45mpg Imperial from my Burgman 650, whereas my Feet First Genesis, with exactly the same power train, returns 50-65mpg overall and has achieved 63mpg at 90mph. See the video here:



And go to bikeweb.com for much more about FF motorcycles.

The annoying thing about this new Honda is that the frame gets in the way of converting it to FF whereas the engine layout is perfect for it! PNB

paulblez
28th September, 2011 @ 01:18 am PDT

My 2.2ltr Nissan Estate car does well over 45mpg [diesel], shouldn't a motorcycle be considerably more economical? The weight difference must be phenominal. Perhaps somebody could explain?

Terotech
28th September, 2011 @ 04:16 am PDT

I think Blez makes the salient point about the Integra - it's not new, it's not innovative, and it fails to address the needs of the market

Quite why Honda think they can bolster a market by converting car drivers to two wheel use by making a scooter more motorcycle-like seems like aberrant behaviour bordering on the insane. The ergonomics are all wrong, making the aerodynamics all wrong. 700cc is all wrong (it's too big for learners, too small for motoryclists) and the design choices all shout compromise, not contemplation. If you want to open a new `motorcycle`market in the advancing decrepitude of the current generation of users, it needs to appeal not to the existing user base, but to the 97.99% who DON'T ride, because their perception is that motorcycles are heavy, dangerous and pathetically-equipped for the role of everyday transport.

And on that score the Integra really IS pathetic. 77mpg is not something to be proud about, it's something to be ashamed about.

snave
28th September, 2011 @ 01:15 pm PDT

i would be interested in the 125, if it was able to get as much as my sym citycom 300, at 6000rpm [approx. 56-60mph] i can get 100mpg! and thats using multimap & satnav data, and not the useless speedos we get on vehicles. i understand that sym has something to do with honda? i wonder if they will have any input on these new machines?

david_fenton_365
29th September, 2011 @ 06:44 am PDT

The Honda Elite gets around 100 mpg with a 108cc engine that tops out just over 50 mph. Wonder what their 125 will do? 25% better mpg, 90 * 1.25 = 112.5 mpg at a guess? Max speed around 55 mph or maybe 60 mph? Interesting. I would still prefer my commuting miles to be powered with electricity in the next year or two, but this is a nice way to use a lot less gas, but I hope they don't have those crappy little 12" wheels.

Florida Lemon Law
30th September, 2011 @ 10:19 pm PDT

I don't understand something here. It is horsepower that consumes fuel. About 1/2 lb of gas per hp per hour. In the Vetter Fuel Economy Challenges in the US, we have discovered that it takes about 16 horsepower to go 70 mph, into a 30 mph headwind, sitting up and comfortable, with a reasonable load (like 4 bags of groceries) if streamlined. See details on www.craigvetter.com. So far, it looks like the 16 hp a 250 cc engine puts out is the kind of power it takes to win the Challenges. It looks like 125-150 mpg is possible in Real American conditions.

Honda's new 125cc looks great because it is low, allowing us to sit low. But it probably does not have the power to go 70 mph, into a 30 mpg headwind, etc, etc. The 700cc engines probably have way too much power. I guess I will have to wait for the 250cc version.

craig
1st October, 2011 @ 05:15 pm PDT

Y'all that are 'complaining' about how this isn't a breakthrough for a Japan manufacturer, are missing the point. You are comparing apples with other apples.. All Japan motor industry is way ahead of the curve.. so try comparing with Detroit, instead. I know that the flaws pointed out are valid, and yes, they should correct them, but that is very likely to happen, as Japan designers are very excited about what they make.. they are their own biggest fans..

Just thought y'all would want to know...

Doc Rock
14th August, 2012 @ 06:59 pm PDT

Before we throw rocks at honda for their choices for displacements chosen for these new engines lets look at what other bike builders are doing, or failing to do to address the growing need for fuel efficiency. I think they deserve an attaboy instead of criticism.

Tom Womack
15th August, 2012 @ 07:35 pm PDT

I read the entire article, but haven't found out what is the fuel consumption of the new 125 cc range of bikes. Nevertheless it is a great news that at least one 1st world motorcycle manufacturer cares about fuel consumption.

What puzzles me the most is why aren't there any LPG powered motorcycles out there on the market, it would make a lot of sense cause bikes are mostly ridden in warm weather.

Andreja Sinadinovic Vijatovic
23rd March, 2013 @ 03:53 am PDT
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