While turbocharging and supercharging may be nothing new in the automotive industry, motorcycle engines are almost always naturally aspirated. But even that's beginning to change. At the Tokyo Motor Show last week, two major Japanese companies showed off new forced-induction motorbike engines.

Kawasaki rolled in with a supercharged four-cylinder motorbike engine. It offered little in the way of details, disclosing only that the turbine blades were developed in-house to withstand the heat and vibration of spooling up at motorbike speeds.

Suzuki is taking a different approach, however. Its Recursion concept bike packs a turbocharged 588cc two-cylinder engine with a turbocharger and intercooler. The compact package churns out just under 100 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque, packaged into a motorbike that weighs just 384 pounds dry.

It'll be interesting to see how this trend develops and how the reliance on forced-induction might change the character of the motorbikes in which they're installed. While we wait to see where this goes, you're invited to scope out the stock images of the Recursion concept in the gallery above and our live shots from the Tokyo show floor in the gallery below.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      thedriveatfive
      • 1 Year Ago
      Am pretty sure I remember both Honda and Kawasaki making turbo bikes in the 80's
        Hedo D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @thedriveatfive
        All Big 4 companies built turbo bikes in the '80s. However, for the cost of production, they weren't feasible because they thought it was easier to raise displacement with water or oil cooled engine for same performance.
        SpikedLemon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @thedriveatfive
        I recall insurers punishing turbo owners.
        Narom
        • 1 Year Ago
        @thedriveatfive
        Indeed. Honda CX500 Turbo in the early 80s
          rocker2229
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Narom
          the cx500 turbo later became the cx650 turbo. Ahhh, the 80's....
        S.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @thedriveatfive
        The 80s were a crazy (good) time for Japanese motorcycles. Honda also made an inline-six (the CBX1000). It sounds amazing btw...do some digging on Youtube!
        Israel Isassi
        • 1 Year Ago
        @thedriveatfive
        1983 Yamaha XJ 650 Seca Turbo
      tyscani5
      • 1 Year Ago
      I bought a Kawasaki 750cc Turbo new in 1985. It was turbo charged and fuel injected and ran a 10.71 second quarter mile, not too bad for a 750cc bike at the time.
        xturk937
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tyscani5
        Not too bad? A Busa barely breaks 10 sec.
        Hedo D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tyscani5
        Yes when it was introduced, it was the fastest production bike available at the time. And Kawasaki intentionally withheld its horsepower to 112 hp so it's still less than GPz1100. But the turbo was a lighter bike so it was still faster.
      Bungle
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm not sure I understand the advantages of this engine approach. It's the same displacement as a 600cc I-4, but it probably doesn't cost less or weigh less, and it's certainly more complex and probably at least the same size as an I-4. It also makes less power, albeit probably more at lower RPM. The only advantages I can see are greater torque, and possibly marginally better fuel economy. Are those, alone, worth it? Or am I missing something?
        John
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bungle
        Cheaper insurance is huge for me.
        Serge
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bungle
        Different bikes for different purposes, as far as I'm concerned... it's a pain to ride my R6 at low speed and/or in the city, definitely wouldn't buy one if that was my primary use for it. A high RPM I4 is good for high speed riding, be it on the highway or in a track/curvy road scenario - anything below 6k RPM is not really a lot of fun on those bikes.
      Finklestein
      • 1 Year Ago
      Forced induction from the factory would really open up the potential for aftermarket tuning.
      Mark Fergel
      • 1 Year Ago
      ...and let's not forget the Turbocharged Yamaha SECA 650. - http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/yamaha/yamaha_xj650_turbo.htm
      Mark Fergel
      • 1 Year Ago
      ...or the CX500TC - http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/asp/classics/bike.asp?id=33
      Psyclist
      • 1 Year Ago
      An alright restart of the turbo bike, I see many benefits of this if it can take hold. Allows for tuning for specific applications. I love my SV 650 for low end torque, but it lacks a little in the top end. A turbo would give more even power delivery across the rev range. Nice power in town, and then great top end power on the back roads as well. Combine the turbo and Direct injection, we will see some awesome engines develop! The current I4's are in such a high state of tune, it make this look bad on paper, but give it a few years and watch a turbo bike blow the doors off any I4. Having that high torque across most of the rev range will pull it out of the corners and up the hills much faster. Looking forward to what develops!
      Dmitriy Markelov
      • 1 Year Ago
      With a good tune I'm sure we'll be seeing 150hp+ out of these and crazy torque.
      Temple
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's a good looking bike
      George Krpan
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's about time. Engines can be smaller and lighter enabling the rest of the bike to be lighter as well. Forced induction has come a long way in the 30 years since Honda sold a turbo motorcycle.
      Jim Murphy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Turbo and direct injection are what the car makers are using to go to smaller motors (1.3L anyone?) for better gas mileage without losing power. I am curious - can direct injection fit in a 600cc 4 valve cylinder chamber?
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