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A Century of Supercharged and Turbocharged Motorcycles

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A Century of Supercharged and Turbocharged Motorcycles A Century of Supercharged and Turbocharged Motorcycles

A Century of Supercharged and Turbocharged Motorcycles

The impeller on the Kawasaki Ninja H2 spins up to 130,000 rpm, forcing air into the engine to produce more power. (Photo courtesy Kawasaki)

Contributor Erik Slaven takes us on a ride through a century’s worth of history on supercharged and turbocharged motorcycles, the Wonder Twins of forced induction. –Ed.

As a Kawasaki Z H2 owner, I can assure you that integrated superchargers are no gimmick. My Kawi is by far the fastest bike I?ve owned, and the sportier Ninja H2 is among the fastest street bikes ever produced. The BMW S 1000 RR, Ducati Panigale, and Suzuki Hayabusa show that naturally aspirated motorcycles are still ridiculously fast, but acceleration from the Z H2 feels faster because the engine doesn?t need to be revved out as much.

Kawasaki?s supercharger, which debuted on the H2 R at the 2014 Intermot show, is like an afterburner for the 998cc inline-Four. It helps the engine push out almost 200 hp and over 100 lb-ft of torque on the Z H2, while the Ninja H2 churns out as much as 228 hp and the experts-and-track-ready Ninja H2 R makes upwards of 300 hp.

Related: 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 First Look Review

2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 (photo courtesy Kawasaki)

Kawasaki reignited interest in superchargers, but the technology has been used on motorcycles for nearly a century. BMW was an early pioneer in the late 1920s, and other manufacturers followed suit prior to World War II. When motorcycle racing resumed in Europe in 1946, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) banned superchargers to reduce injuries and deaths, putting forced induction on the backburner until the late 1970s. Imagine going over 150mph with a supercharged engine on a prewar chassis and tires. Yikes.
The Golden Age of Supercharged Motorcycles

BMW WR 750 (photo by Lothar Spurzem, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons)

Born from racing, supercharged European motorcycles were the genesis for the evolution of high-performance bikes. American brands like Harley-Davidson and Indian were winning races at home with naturally aspirated engines. BMW started producing motorcycles in 1923, and by the end of the decade, it had developed the WR 750. Powered by a supercharged 4-stroke OHV 750cc boxer Twin, the WR 750 earned BMW a land-speed record at over 134 mph with German racing champion Ernst Henne at the controls.

Related: Riding the Motorcycle Century

BMW Type 255 racing at the Isle of Man (photo by Lothar Spurzem, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons)

The WR 750 was impressive but couldn?t overcome English dominance at the time, so the BMW Type 255 Kompressor was the next step. In 1939, Georg Meier won the Senior Tourist Trophy race at the Isle of Man on the Type 255, marking the first time a non-English rider had won since 1907. Using a Swiss-made Zoller supercharger, BMW?s 500cc Boxer produced around 60 hp and averaged 89 mph at the race. Meier won the Belgian motorcycle Grand Prix in 1939 as well, becoming the first ri...
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A Century of Supercharged and Turbocharged Motorcycles A Century of Supercharged and Turbocharged Motorcycles


Fuente de la noticia: ridermagazine
Fecha de publicación: 08-02-2023 22:37
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