Kawasaki’s New Supercharged Motorcycle Engine

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Kawasaki Supercharged Motorcycle Engine

What you are looking at here is the first production motorcycle engine from a major manufacturer to be fitted with a supercharger. The idea is more power from a smaller motor. The Kawasaki supercharged motorcycle engine was unveiled today at the Tokyo Motor Show.

“Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. also has a long history of developing technologies for turbine engines,” states the company. “The lifeblood of these turbines is their blades, which need to be able to cope with extreme heat and vibration while spinning at high speeds. Know-how from years of designing turbine engine blades was instilled in the first supercharger developed by a motorcycle manufacturer. And of course, designing a motorcycle-use supercharged engine in-house means that maximum efficiency could be pursued.”

Kawasaki, of course, also has experience producing supercharged Jet Skis. Their Ultra 300 range makes 300 bhp from just 1,498cc.

No further details of the motor are currently forthcoming, but England’s MCN reports that the engine is said to be “close to 1,000cc” and could power the next generation ZX-14R.

Related Links:
Four-Wheels and a Shark Fin: Kawasaki Concept J
Yamaha’s New 250: Yamaha R25 Concept
Honda’s Big Cruiser: 2014 Honda Valkyrie

  • Rob

    Nice, we’ve seen turbos, now lets do superchargers

    • runnermatt

      Same idea, different execution. Supercharging historically referred to belt-driven superchargers and exhaust-driven turbochargers. Today, generally speaking supercharging is used only to describe belt-driven superchargers and not turbos.

      Sidenote: Suzuki has produced the only rotary engined motorcycle that I know of.

      • Daniel Borrego

        Norton made a rotary engine as well

        There are superchargers for honda cb 750 you can watch them on youtube

      • KevinB

        Crighton makes one now….it’s nasty

      • Chris Davis

        In this context are you talking about a twin-rotor supercharger a la Corvette ZR1?http://bit.ly/17qslEo

        Motorcycle superchargers and many aftermarket car superchargers tend to be the centrifugal style which Kawasaki is employing here — essentially a belt-driven turbo. The characteristics are typically right in between a twin-rotor supercharger and a turbo regarding both lag and efficiency. They are easier to package without the need for all that exhaust tubing.

        I would like to see an L-twin with a twin-rotor nested between the cylinders. You like torque?

        • runnermatt

          My understanding is belt driven is a supercharger regardless of compressor style. The twin-screw rotor style superchargers tend to increase power at all rpms. The centrifugal superchargers tend to make more power at higher rpm with the differences between the centrifugal supercharger and turbos being boost lag (almost none existent on current turbos) and efficiency.

          I like the idea of a twin-rotor supercharger nested between the cylinders of an L-twin.

          Oh and superchargers don’t muffle the exhaust sound the way a turbo will.

          • Piglet2010

            Quieter exhaust is a benefit, unless you like being anti-social.

            • runnermatt

              True, but sometimes I like to be a little anti-social. A lot of times I am anti-social because of someone else’s driving habits, i.e. slow in the lane, talking/texting on cell phone while driving.

              • Piglet2010

                The only time I wish for a loud exhaust is when there is a Prius in the adjacent lane.

          • Mykola

            Not too many WRXs round here with piddly exhaust notes… compare them with the flatulence issued forth from the Civics and I would’ve guessed that a turbo enhances the exhaust note.

            • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

              Full disclosure: WRX owner.

              Not to dork out too much, but that distinctive WRX/STi burble you are hearing caused by the unequal length exhaust set up to the turbo. I’ve run into a couple of crazies that have done all sorts of work to extract power from these engines, and once you get equal length headers feeding into a turbo, that certain, almost agricultural sound, goes away.

              At what price, power?

              Okay, so I dorked out too much there.

              • runnermatt

                I always assumed the WRX/STi’s distinctive sound was because of the firing order of its 4-cylinder boxer engine as opposed to the firing order of an inline four with a crankshaft designed for smooth running instead of power and rev-ability (flat plane crank).

  • Scott Sweeney

    I hope the tech is downsized as well. Imagine 600cc size and handling with near 1000cc power and the low end torque that comes with it. Yes please.

    • Corey Cook

      Not sure if you’ve noticed, but 1000cc bikes are the same size as 600cc bikes these days… They even weigh just about the same in most cases. Lets not quibble over a few pounds and an inch of extra plastic here and there.

      • Chris Reedy

        The extra gyroscopic inertia of the 1000cc rotating assembly (crank, rods, pistons, clutch, etc) is what makes the difference in handling. While the the difference in weight between the parts isn’t huge, usually only a couple kg, the effect is amplified by the intertia created at the high rpms. This effect can create a significant difference in side to side transitions.

      • Scott Sweeney

        Chris reedy gets it, but thanks for coming off as a wise guy. Schooled me good.

  • Steven Mansour

    Procharger’s been making them for a while for Harley and Victory motorcycles… http://www.procharger.com/supercharger/blog/?p=493

    • Brian

      usually see those fitted on drag set-ups though.

    • Pablo Perez

      I worked at a dealer that had a customer running one. It’s an interesting setup.

  • Brian

    as car manufacturers are using forced induction to create power in place of displacement and still give fuel economy, it seems logical that this would be the next evolution for motorcycles. keep the tiered or lower displacement riders interested in staying in that market share while still stepping up in power and growing up in model through the brand.

  • DLShow

    I put a jet engine on my CB750K…wanna race? LOL

  • Justin McClintock

    Looks to be a centrifugal unit. While it’s neat I suppose, I’d rather see a roots-type supercharger. Otherwise, just turbo the thing. Turbo would be more efficient too.

    • therubbersidedown

      But with a turbo you’d miss all the low end power and probably worse throttle response.

      • PDXGSXR

        Centrifugal superchargers don’t make any low end power. They’re very peaky. All the downsides of a supercharger without the major benefits. But since bikes rev anyway it might work well.

      • Justin McClintock

        PDX already covered it, but you’re not cranking out low end turbo with a centrifugal s/c. A roots type twin scroll setup will, but I don’t think we’re gonna see that on a motorcycle anytime soon.

        • therubbersidedown

          Well you don’t get loads of low end but you do gain some. You’re still driving the compressor at idle and still creating a small amount of pressure. Much more so than you see from turbos.

          • runnermatt

            The power delivery depends on the setup. Modern turbos deliver good low end torque. My 2009 VW GTI has the 2.0L turbo engine and it makes 207 lb-ft. of torque from 1850-5000 rpm. I’m not sure what it makes below 1850 but newer turbo engines from VW/Audi, BMW, M-B, and Ford make peak torque below that. A large portion of this is turbo design, but some of it can be attributed to lower redlines than old turbo engines. If the engine has a lower redline they can spec a smaller, faster spooling turbo without worrying about overspeeding the turbo.

            • Piglet2010

              The effects of turbo lag when getting back on the power while exiting a corner could well lead to a high-side fall. One reason why turbocharged bikes have been little more than curiosities (the ones from Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha only sold in small numbers for a few years, as most know).

              • Justin McClintock

                Indeed. The automotive industry may say that turbo lag is almost non-existent in the current generation of turbos, but that’s really not true. It’s simply not as bad…but it’s still there. The best way to check? Look at the 5-60 mph times of the new batch of cars. Cars are always slower 5-60 than 0-60 because the drivetrain is already engaged and can’t revved up ahead of time (or pre-torqued in the case of a slushbox). The 5-60 time of many a naturally aspirated car is typically around a half second more than their 0-60 times. For the turbo cars, it’s usually much closer to a full second longer. The difference you’re seeing there is turbo lag, and it’s far more noticable at lower RPM than at higher RPM.

              • runnermatt

                True, but the from what little I know of turbocharged bikes the production ones were all from the late 70′s and early 80′s right. Turbos back then sucked compared to turbos today. That said, my GTI builds boost pressure so quickly of idle I regularly get a fraction of wheel spin when turning from a stop.

        • Grimbo

          Variable geometry turbos http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable-geometry_turbocharger being all the rage in the automobile industry these days, turbos might be a viable alternative. Connected with a proper ECU it might even be a smooth ride. Finding the space to fit it on a motorcycle engine however… :/

          • Justin McClintock

            Yeah, a variable geometry turbo could definitely work from a power standpoint. Problem is, it greatly adds to the complexity of the system and takes up even more space than a traditional turbo. Those turbos are great when you’re trying to get more power along with better fuel economy in a car…but a motorcycle already excels at both of those. That’s why I’m generally leery of the idea of forced induction on a motorcycle to begin with. It solves a problem that isn’t really there.

  • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

    I wonder if they could put one on the Ninja 650R motor to make a lower-weight Ninja 1000?

    • Mark D

      That 650 engine is built to a certain performance spec. Making it so it wouldn’t grenade when producing 110+ hp would require new pistons, rings, con rods, crank, cam profiles…pretty soon, you just made yourself a whole new engine. I’m sure you could bolt on a supercharger and ride around with your nuts on fire for a couple hundred miles, but it wouldn’t be “market ready.”

      • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

        Fair point. I should have said “a” 650R motor.

      • Don Fraser

        Plenty of people are using forced induction on snowmobile engines to double and triple their horsepower. The torque gains at low RPM means you don’t have to spin the engine as high and as long as detonation is controlled, these things stay together, even using stock rods, cylinder studs, cams and head gaskets.

  • John

    Meh. Motorcycles don’t have a lack of power problem.

    • Deeds

      I think it’s more of a issue of size. Engines can be of smaller displacement while still putting out the great power we are used to now.

      • Stuki

        Can they be lighter weight fro the same power, cost and reliability, though? Smaller displacement isn’t really a goal in and of itself.

        • Justin McClintock

          Exactly. Smaller displacement but adding something to provide forced induction isn’t necessarily a step forward. You just took engine size and weight and moved it from one area (the block) to another area (the turbo). You didn’t necessarily gain anything there, particularly when working with engines the size of those in motorcycles. In the meantime, you DID manage to add complexity to the system. I wouldn’t call that a win at all.

    • Heath Collins

      That’s like saying, ” You have enough freedom, you don’t need anymore.”

      • John

        No it isn’t. It’s like someone saying “hey, fat guy, you don’t need so much food”.

        Unless, of course, you think engines were born with unlimited power and the government took it from you.

        • Heath Collins

          I agree that modern motorcycles are very powerful… I’m just saying, that doesn’t mean new technologies should be halted. What’s wrong with wanting more?

          • John

            Not saying it should be halted. I’m just saying it doesn’t attract me as a consumer. For one thing, we’ve forgotten how important torque is and only focus on HP. For another, any 500cc twin will take you faster than is safe or sane. And it just wastes fuel for the most part. Also, people die all the time because they can’t handle the speed and power of their motorcycles. And that’s fine, Darwin always wins in the end. If Kawasaki want’s to attract me, they might bring out a smaller ZRX or a 350cc-450cc KLX or a 650 twin KLR. I prefer quality over quantity and “just right” to too big or too small. That’s something that has been lost during the 90s and we’re only now finding our way back.

            • Heath Collins

              I agree. On the street torque is king; on the track horsepower is king. I love bikes like the Triumph Triples because of that. I don’t live near dirt that can ride legally on, so adventure bikes and dual-sports don’t appeal much to me. I commute all year on a Z1000 – essentially a stripped down version of its sport-touring sister bike, the Ninja 1000. The Z’ is a big bike, but it doesn’t feel like one from the saddle. I like that
              Kawasaki decided to go with a supercharger over a turbo. Hopefully that means
              they will be focusing on low RPM power.

              • Kaizad Vajifdar

                Supercharger over a turbo so there’s no lag. Linear, predictable acceleration is important for stability.

      • appliance5000

        Usually when people talk about “freedom” they want to do some dumb*ss sh*t that’ll screw someone else. Until that moment the concept never seems to occurred to them.

    • appliance5000

      I agree – after a liter who really cares. It would be a lot more interesting if it was a 250 with the power of a 500 – or a 500 with 800 power in a sport touring frame.

      • Justin McClintock

        Direct injected two stroke. Done. The patents are expiring soon enough. Chances are we will see them on the street once that happens.

        • appliance5000

          You got my attention. I found this article : http://www.cycleworld.com/2012/08/13/two-stroke-resurrection/

          It’s interesting that these engines are used in skidoos and snowmobiles. It also has interesting info on the 4 stroke cycle.

          It seems digital tech could iron out a lot of the issues (oiling etc) – interesting.

          • Justin McClintock

            I was more referencing a host of patents held by Polaris and Evinrude…all of which should be expiring over the next few years. Those patents specifically cover DI technology as it is applied to two stroke engines.

            • appliance5000

              I hear you – it seems they’re using the tech on DI 2 strokes on their snowmobiles and jet skis. Environmental rules on those vehicles are lower than motorcycles.

              Polaris, being in the motorcycle business, might have something up their sleeves. The article implies that controlling the oil injection to minimize pollutants is the main issue.

              • Justin McClintock

                From what I’ve read and from the folks I’ve talked to who are more knowledgeable about two stroke marine engines (from the Evinrude side of things), the technology has definitely advanced enough to meet street restrictions for motorcycles (and quite possibly even automobiles). The catch is, Bombardier (Evinrude’s parent company), has no incentive to use a two stroke in something like the Can-Am Spyder while Polaris has no incentive to put a two stroke in a Victory or Indian cruiser. And since they hold respective patents that pretty much cover the spread of existing technologies that would be necessary, nobody else can use those technologies without paying whatever royalties those companies deemed sufficient.

                But as I mentioned before, those patents are soon to expire. And when they do, there’s a good chance we see a propagation of new two stroke motorcycles. And that is a wonderful thing.

                • appliance5000


      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        “after a liter who really cares.”

        I do, because it means that at 1HP/L all else proportional a literbike only makes 80% of the HP and torque of even a 1200

        and that’s assuming a similar state of tune, which is usually not the case…large-displacement engines are usually tuned to make more power at lower rpms than the engines in cammy literbikes

        a bike like the 14R makes 40% more power under the same assumptions, at the same RPM, but it weighs only 25% more, even less if you count the weight of a rider and load…meaning you get a bike that with the same gearing accelerates just as hard as a literbike but at a much-lower RPM and with longer gearing outruns the literbike at the same RPM

        of course you would have to actually care about this

    • the antagonist

      Agreed, but I’m excited about possible future applications if this is successful. A lightweight super-charged 350 with the power of a modern 600, that would be truly awesome.

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        …no it wouldn’t, because you’d save only a few pounds that way.

        The main component of your wish-list is “with the power of a modern 600″.

        So what do you do, design the rest of the bike for the power of a non-turbo 350?

        If you want to keep that low weight while designing it to handle that high power, you need to use advanced engineering, manufacturing, parts and materials, all of which drives up the price or the weight or both. I think this is why the sportbike market has gravitated towards literbikes away from highly-stressed low-displacement engines in the first place. Same theory with big-block V8′s. Relatively easy to make, long life, c heap and very powerful.

    • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

      actually they do…you’re focusing on peak power, which requires serious RPM
      the reason that bikes are developed to spin at such high RPM is that they don’t make much power or torque at low RPM

      forced induction will clear that right up

      • John

        Not necessary when you can pump out 180hp from 1000cc. And if you’re not a horsepower admirer, you can get a torquey NC700X.

        • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

          a: “not necessary” is relative
          b: read my post again
          c: 46 ft-lbs of torque that tapers off at 6k is not my idea of a decent for a motorcycle.

          • John

            So stick with short stroke gas engines. No one is stopping you, there are plenty.

            • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

              true, the technology is already on the market, and if the bike has only 200hp and 80ft-lbs of torque with a 12k redline vs 250 and 160 with an 8k redline, who really cares ;)

              and you know that will only get worse if you talk about turbo-gas engines vs turbo-diesels.
              Turbocharging a Ninja 300 is so easy that it’s already been done several times blindfolded.

              Sticking a turbocharged 500cc motor into a Ninja 300 chassis is almost as easy.

  • Mugget

    I hope the bike is extremely garish and rediculously fast.

    • John

      diculously fast….again? :^)

  • John

    Car manufacturers, I think, are making better use of this. VW has a TDI SMALLER than this – 800c turbo twin diesel. Would be excellent on a motorcycle. Big engines are powerful enough, but there is always the benefit of a very small, light engine that has all the necessary power, versus a large engine with unnecessary (though occasionally fun) power.

    • Justin McClintock

      Without looking it up, I’d venture that TDI would probably not work as well as you’re thinking in a motorcycle. Remember, in a car, 50 lbs. is nothing. Chances are that engine is extremely heavy and fairly large by motorcycle standards, particularly for something that’s 800cc.

      • John

        We don’t know. The TDI was developed for their ultra light hybrids that get 250 mpg. So it might be reasonably light. I doubt very much it is “extremely heavy” or they wouldn’t have used it.

        • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

          it’s a turboDIESEL it’s not designed for efficiency. it’s designed to use diesel fuel which is cheaper than gas in Europe.
          In Germany, 2012 fuel prices per Wiki
          €1.65/L (Super E5, 95 RON)

          €1.69/L (SuperPlus E5, 98 RON)

          €1.61/L (Super E10, 95 RON)

          €1.47/L (Diesel)

          you then boost it to get the power back that you lose from switching from high-octane gas to diesel
          as well as even-greater efficiency from energy-recovery…at mild boost-levels it’s more efficient than a NA gas engine

          In the US of course the opposite is true:
          $3.49/US gallon
          $4.01/US gallon (diesel)

          • John

            I know what a TDI is, having had a few. In any case, diesel has more energy per volume, can use multiple types of fuel, has a lot more torque for the size and requires less processing. Even with the price disadvantage, a diesel car will get more like 50-60mpg instead of 25-35.

            • Justin McClintock

              Dude, don’t argue with him. He’s either a troll on the dumbest person on the planet. Either way, it’s not worth it.

            • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong


              Based on EPA estimates and assumptions.
              Your savings, mileage and results will vary. For key info on fuel
              economy and assumptions, click here.

              Lower estimated CO2 emissions
              +21% “In addition to greater torque and fuel efficiency” (because practically no one cares about this), CO2 emissions are 12% lower.

              Highway Estimated fuel economy +15% With better fuel economy , you go farther-on less.
              Fewer estimated trips to the pump + 10% The time you don’t spend pumping fuel means more time doing, well, anything you want.
              Estimated fuel savings $1,908 Over a year, the money you aren’t spending on fuel can be used however you choose.

              Range Difference
              TDI® – 729.6 miles/tanks
              TFSI® – 653.4 miles/tanks

              This makes perfect sense as long as you drive according to the test profile and you live in a country where gas is more expensive than diesel.

              if you don’t…

              these are for turbo-diesel vs turbo-gasoline

              Power 240hp @ 3,500-3,750 rpm
              Torque 428 lb-ft @ 1,750-2,250 rpm
              Acceleration: 0 to 60 in 5.5 sec.
              Miles per gallon: 24 City / 38 Highway / 29 Combined

              Power 220hp @ 4,450-6,000 rpm
              Torque 258 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,300 rpm
              Acceleration 0 to 60 in 7.4 sec.
              Miles per gallon 25 City / 33 Highway / 28 Combined

              So, little if any real benefit except possibly in 1st and 2nd gear where you might save some real time, at full throttle.

              Which of course would destroy the fuel-economy profile.

              • John

                You’re missing the obvious part where the TDI is 50% larger and accelerates dramatically faster and has nearly twice the torque. And 800cc TDI would get ridiculously fantastic fuel economy in a motorcycle. Easily over 100mpg.

                • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

                  ….yeah, I’m definitely missing the part where TDI is “50% larger”. Maybe you can point that out?
                  I seem to have copied and pasted the part where the torque was almost twice as much, at least up to 2250 rpm.
                  And I know that I said..oh why bother

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        on a 500lb bike, 50lbs is nothing

        • Justin McClintock

          Holy crap, here we go again. Is your goal to give the whole world a migraine?

          • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

            no, but your goal certainly seems to be to make as little sense as possible

  • Donnie Byers

    Here’s an idea: How about putting motorcycles on a diet instead of steroids?

    It worked for the Yamaha FZR-400 back in the day…

    • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

      Yep, fzr-400, industry leading bike. Sure. The big upgrade was to stick a Fzr-600 engine in the frame as it would bolt right in.

  • Ronny R.

    Great, more horsepower for a sport bike. Big deal. Sport bikes are waaay too fast already.
    How about putting this engine into a real sport TOURING bike? Just about all sport touring bikes have too much sport and not enough TOURING.

    • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

      It’s not about speed, it’s about power or maybe you didn’t read the article

      People just don’t seem to get the simple basic fact that hp is a function of RPM as much as anything else.
      The point with forced induction can be either to raise peak HP or to broaden the powerband.
      People buy big bikes with big motors for the torque as much as for the peak MPH, and obviously for a road bike the torque is more useful than peak MPH.