Okay, now it’s a trend. First, Suzuki showed the Recursion with its just-over-500cc engine supercharged to give big-bike acceleration. Now, there’s talk of a supercharged Yamaha 250 twin and a blown Kawasaki four-cylinder of unknown displacement.
What’s going on here? In the car world, makers are staring at the problem of hitting the 2025 CAFE fuel-consumption standard of some 54 miles per gallon. One sure way to advance is to make engines smaller, reducing the friction of piston rings and bearings, and to recover big-engine performance by supercharging or turbocharging. This allows a smaller, lighter engine compartment and structure, helping to improve mileage further by requiring less power to accelerate a lighter car in stop-and-go driving.
On the bike side, there’s nothing like the CAFE standard, but you never know what EPA will do next.
Motorcycles do have a special problem of their own. The more powerful the model, the bigger and heavier its engine—until we get to power stations on wheels like the Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX-14R. These machines are greatly respected for pavement-wrinkling acceleration, but they will never beat the Ninja 300 through the slalom course.
But what if you could have both? Let’s start with a light, compact, small-displacement engine and then give it big-engine power by supercharging. That way, we retain the agility of a light middleweight, but with the power-to-weight ratio of a bigger machine.
This is an experiment in redefining high performance. Fascinating stuff!