Suzuki flips the motorcycle on its head

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Words: Nile Bijoux
10 Apr 2019

Suzuki is trying its hand at something a bit off kilter. Instead of a radical new front end or a hideously complex engine, it’s rethinking the basis of motorcycle design.

Revealed in a patent (which should give you an idea of how much salt you should pinch), Suzuki’s goal is to essentially make all the pieces fit as closely together as possible. Others call it ‘mass centralisation’, which results in a much better handling machine. However, Suzuki is going a bit further than that. It wants to flip the whole engine and transmission over.

Instead of having the cylinders mounted vertically at the front with the crankshaft at the bottom, the cylinders now run horizontally below the tank. The cylinder head is towards the front, the crankshaft at the rear, and the gearbox beneath.

The engine would exhaust downwards, meaning the actual fuel tank would need to be shifted to make way for an airbox. That means an exhaust collector and catalytic converter could sit directly below the engine - in a similar style to a Panigale - and also allowing the front wheel to be moved backwards, shortening the wheelbase.

Repositioning the gearbox also means the swingarm pivot can be moved closer to the centre of the bike, allowing for a longer swingarm. That, plus the closer front wheel, should permit improved handling, stability and general rideability.

A side-mounted radiator could solve cooling issues, although there would have to be some design trickery to ensure it doesn't move the centre of gravity too high.

Given this is all just gathered from a patent image, don’t expect to see a revolutionary new engine anytime soon. But fingers crossed we do end up seeing it and this idea doesn’t disappear into the ether. BMW had such a design which made it into the G 310 R and GS (engine back to front) so Suzuki should just go ahead and built it to wow the world, gain some advantages, and get a whole lot more novelty sales.

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