With the price of fuel as unpredictable as ever, many people have opted for driving hybrid gasoline-electric and fully electric motorcycles. Many advances have been made in electric vehicles and motorcycles in recent years, but they all have problems with range limitations and there currently are not many charging stations available. One possible alternative to standard gasoline motorcycles and electric bikes is the diesel motorcycle.
Many motorcyclists today are switching out their gasoline engines for diesel engines. This is not an inexpensive switch to make, but by changing the original engine to a new fuel-sipping diesel one, the fuel savings alone could pay for the modification in very little time. Today, diesel engines in general are more reliable, have longer lives, and get better miles per gallon than their gasoline counterparts.
Why is a diesel engine better than a gasoline engine? Diesel technology has come a long way in recent years. Diesel engines are no longer the loud, knocking, smelly engines we remember from years past. They are now very quiet and require less maintenance than standard gasoline engines. Diesel engines don't have complicated ignition systems like gasoline engines do. This means that they don't have any spark plugs or spark plug wires which lowers the cost of maintenance and increases reliability. Diesel engines burn cooler than gasoline engines resulting in a longer engine lifespan. It is not unheard of for a diesel engine to last 100,000 or more miles longer than a gasoline engine and realize up to 40% better fuel economy.
Today, a handful of motorcycle companies are realizing the benefits of diesel engines and are beginning to incorporate them into their motorcycle designs. The Indian-based company, Hero, is developing a diesel-electric motorcycle for use in cities where the major mode of transportation is the motorcycle. The Hero diesel-electric RNT is a concept bike developed for rural areas and developing nations. It was designed as a utility vehicle with a wide range of uses. It can pull a plow, carry heavy loads, and even operate as a generator.
Hayes Diversified Technologies is another company currently developing diesel powered technology for the motorcycle industry and is the only company that currently produces them in large numbers. Unfortunately, the Hayes diesel motorbike (M1030B1 Marine Corps Motorcycle) is currently only sold to the military. The United States Marines needed a bike that would meet the battlefield requirements of using only one type of fuel, diesel. For the practical purpose of relying on one standard fuel for all military purposes, all military vehicles are now required to be powered by diesel, including motorcycles. The company has stated the bike may be sold to the public sometime in the future.
With diesel motorcycles getting over 100 miles per gallon on average, why wouldn't more companies work on developing this technology? Simply put, they don't have to. Large motorcycle manufacturers really aren't that concerned with creating a bike that gets amazing gas mileage since most people who own the large cruisers have quite a bit of extra expendable income. As long as the big bike companies have people who will pay big bucks for gas guzzling bikes, we may never see diesel motorcycles rolling off the assembly line in the United States.
About the author: Alex B. Vanover has been writing about the advancements and new technologies in the auto industry for many years and is also the owner of Motorcycle Trading Post. When he is not writing, he can be found riding his Harley-Davidson on the winding roads of the Appalachian Mountains.
Image Credit: Julian Correa via Flickr Commons