Hooniverse Asks: Has Every Possible Motorcycle Engine Configuration Already Been Tried?

One thing that both motorcycles and automobiles share is a penchant for a variety of different engine layouts. For both types of machines you can find inline engines, V-units, and horizontally-opposed. With the death of the Wankel in production guise that pretty much covers all the forms available today. That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some brave souls who have attempted other layouts in the past, and that seems to one area where motorcycles might just have the edge on the car.
Can you think of any engine configuration for a production motorcycle that hasn’t ever been tried? I guess we’ll first off have to make a compendium of all those that have.
Image: AuTo CaR

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19 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Has Every Possible Motorcycle Engine Configuration Already Been Tried?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    And I’m pretty sure that all of them have been tried in British bikes. Square Four, the thing above, Wankel, various U and H configurations. Brings back memories of my trip to the Motorcycle museum in Birmingham, UK.

  2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    To my knowledge, no one has ever built a motorcycle with a rotary radial engine, à la the Adams-Farwell. There is good reason for this.

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      You mean a rotary radial where the 5 blocks and pistons all rotate around the “crank”?
      I give you, The Megola.

      1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

        I stand corrected. Now that I’ve seen this, I’m almost certain that I’ve seen it before, but how could I have forgotten such a glorious machine?

      2. Alff Avatar

        Putting the engine in the front wheel seems an odd choice, as if nothing else on this is.

  3. Jofes2 Avatar

    I was going to say steam, but then I googled just to be sure.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    Diesel 2-stroke?

  5. Batshitbox Avatar

    After reading about the DKW Ladepumpe, three-piston single combustion chamber supercharged two-stroke I figured everything had been run up the flagpole at some point.

  6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    I can’t think of a case-reed inducted, four-cylinder, horizontally opposed, water-cooled two-stroke.

    1. Monkey10is Avatar

      Well then, you have just decided your next project bike.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        Well, I’ve already spitballed an air-cooled version based on Yamaha PW80, which would yield a 316cc four-cylinder putting out about 14-16 HP. If you built one based on the 2002-04 Honda CR250 motor, you’d have a 1000cc, watercooled monster. I’d design it to bolt into a BMW R65 transmission and chassis.

  7. crank_case Avatar

    I would have thought the idea of a steam boiler between your legs would have been a terrible idea, but I underestimated motorcyclists willingness to ignore obvious risk. http://ic2.pbase.com/o3/36/309636/1/125030419.jrDK7Hjm._U3V0225copy2.jpg

    1. Hillman_Hunter Avatar

      “I said I wanted to order the bike in anthracite…”

    2. jeepjeff Avatar

      Uh. It’s motorcycling. The whole sport self-selects for “willingness to ignore obvious risk.”

      1. DoctorNine Avatar

        It’s why we love it, after all.

  8. AlexG55 Avatar

    For one that *has* been tried, but deserves a mention- the Anzani 3-cylinder. An ancestor of the radial, originally built for motorcycles, that also powered the first aircraft across the channel.
    Here it is in a bike ridden by Mr. Anzani himself.