Yamaha opt for car-like turbocharger

Yamaha turbo blown

Yamaha appears to be planning on a blown future with a turbocharger system similar to that used in many cars where the unit is next to the exhaust manifold.

The Japanese company filed a patent in April 2019 for a parallel twin with two turbo options, the other placing the unit inside the exhaust.

Now it appears they have opted for the car-like turbocharger system.

The original patent filing showed drawings (above) of a turbo in an MT-09 which is actually powered by a triple-cylinder engine.

However, the drawings don’t necessarily mean they will build the engine, the bike or use the MT-09 to house the engine.

If it’s the MT-09 engine with a cylinder lobbed off, it would be about 588cc which would be the same engine capacity as the Suzuki Recursion turbo concept unveiled in 2013 with a single-overhead-cam parallel-twin turbo engine.

Suzuki Recursion - Katana turbo blown
Suzuki Recursion

Blown era

Yamaha’s turbocharged decision follows the success of Kawasaki’s supercharged H2, patent filings by Suzuki and Honda for turbo engines and Ducati applying for a patent for an exhaust system turbine.

So it seems the future for motorcycle engines might be blown, either with forced induction or exhaust.

The switch to smaller, lighter, more powerful yet more fuel-efficient blown bikes makes a lot of sense given the stricter emissions rules in Europe and California, as well as tough imposts such as a charges for or restrictions on older bikes entering CBDs.

Turbo was the “next big thing” back in the ’80s with models from several of the Japanese manufacturers, including the Honda CB500 Turbo, Yamaha XJ650 Turbo, Suzuki XN85, and Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo.

They had manic light-switch power that made them not only difficult to control, but dangerous. They were also temperamental and unreliable.

However, modern low-boost mini turbos and superchargers which have revolutionised the car industry in recent years would be a lot more controllable and reliable than the temperamental rocketships of the ‘80s.

Turbocharger problems

Turbos and superchargers require a fair bit of plumbing and coolers.

They are easy to fit in a car where space is not scarce like on a motorcycle.

The Yamaha patent presented two different solutions to the problem.Yamaha turbo blown

In one filling, the exhaust headers merge into one to pipe the gas through an intercooler into a low-mounted turbocharger in front of the engine with the catalytic converter underneath.

The other filing (top image on this page) has the turbo upside down and closer to the headers, allowing the cat to be mounted in front of the cylinders.

It is not only more compact but would also heat the cat faster and decrease emissions. That’s why they have chosen to go with the latter.

3 Comments

  1. I also had a turbo bike. I bought a new Kawasaki GPz 750 Turbo in 1984 without even having a test ride. It was the BEST bike I have ever owned and I had 75,000 km of trouble free and fuel efficient touring and commuting. I would buy a new one now in an instant, if it were available. I have been amazed by several articles over the last few years that alleged that those turbo bikes were fire breathing – unrideable monsters. Mine certainly wasn’t. I had owned an old 750 Honda for 2 years and an XJ900 Yamaha for 11 months before buying the Turbo so I wasn’t exactly a highly experienced rider and I never felt was too much for me. They were certainly different in their power delivery and weren’t well understood by anyone who hadn’t ridden one. One observation about the current Supercharged H2 is that it is way too expensive. When I bought my Turbo it was $200 LESS than the then new GPz 900. I smell profiteering over exclusivity but haven’t seen any actually being ridden on the road.

  2. Interesting comments about the’80’s turbo bikes. I owned the Yammie XJ650 turbo for a number of years and covered over 80k with very few problems. Power delivery was akin to hitting a power band as boost kicked in and quite manageable. A lot of fun. Still wish I had it.

  3. I guess we should be grateful that Belgium lets us ride motorcycles at all. Or eat Big Macs. Or use arable land for beer and coffee crops.

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