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Diesel engines were initially popular after their introduction. However, their success quickly dwindled when installed on motorcycles. There are several reasons why the diesel motorcycle trend was short-lived. Only a few motorcycle companies produced diesel-powered motorcycles that became hits among motorcyclists. Read this article to learn about the seven best diesel motorcycles of all time.
1. 7 Best Diesel Motorcycles of All Time
1.1 Sommer Diesel 462
Photo Credit: @Wikimedia Commons
The Sommer Diesel 462 is a German motorcycle whose look drew inspiration from the classic British motorcycles of the 1960s. The Sommer 462 is a bobber-style motorcycle with a round headlamp, chrome side mirrors, a classic solo rider seat, and a single tube-shaped exhaust pipe. It shares a close resemblance with the Royal Enfield due to being built around its frame. It is only manufactured in small batches.
The Sommer Diesel’s 462 cc single-cylinder diesel engine is capable of a horsepower of 11 hp at 3,500 rpm and a torque of 26.25 Nm at 2.000 rpm. The engine is heavy and accelerates slowly with a top speed of 65 mph. However, despite being fitted with a small fuel tank, the Sommer 462 has a fuel economy of 84.12 mpg. A rider can cover 300 miles on a single tank of diesel. It also has a four-speed transmission with a clean belt drive.
The Sommer 462’s engine is its heaviest part. Despite being fitted with a diesel engine, it is a lightweight motorcycle weighing only 165 kg and is available for $13,000.
|Sommer Diesel 462
|462 cc, Single-Cylinder Diesel Engine
|11 hp at 3,500 rpm
|26.25 Nm at 2.000 rpm
|Fuel Tank Capacity
|13.5 L / 3.56 gal
|165 kg / 363.76 lbs
1.2 Royal Enfield Taurus
Photo Credit: @Bike-Urious
The Royal Enfield Taurus was one of the most successful attempts at building a diesel motorcycle by a notable motorcycle manufacturer. This vehicle has a classic look reminiscent of the motorcycle it is based on, the Royal Enfield Bullet. The Royal Enfield Taurus came with a round headlight with a nacelle, integrated gauges, and an extended drag exhaust pipe with a narrow end.
The Royal Enfield Taurus was powered by a 325 cc diesel engine capable of a horsepower of 6.5 hp at 3,600 rpm and a torque of 14.9 Nm at 2,500 rpm. This was not adequate to accelerate a motorcycle weighing 432 lbs at a moderate speed. It could only reach a top speed of 40 mph and had a fuel economy of 200 mpg. Despite being a motorcycle with a simple design, the engine produces excessive vibrations. The Royal Enfield Taurus was discontinued in 2000 due to failing to comply with the latest emission regulations.
|Royal Enfield Taurus
|Royal Enfield Bullet
|325 cc Diesel Engine
|6.5 hp at 3,600 rpm
|14.9 Nm at 2,500 rpm
|196 kg / 432 lbs
1.3 Hayes M1030
Photo Credit: @Diesel Army
The Hayes M1030 draws inspiration from the Kawasaki KLR650 in its design. Manufactured by Hayes Diversified Technologies (HDT), the Hayes M1030 has a fuel economy of 96 mpg and can reach a top speed of 90 mph. The idea of producing this motorcycle for civilians was rejected due to its high demand amongst the military. This two-wheeler is used by the U.S. Marines, British Military, and NATO forces.
In 2010, the company produced an upgraded model known as the Hayes HDT 1030M2, powered by a 670 cc engine capable of producing 20% more power. With its MAC-C1 technology, it can run on almost all types of fuel, including biodiesel, jet fuel, petrol, and truck diesel.
At the Ohio Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge in 2011, a Hayes HDT 1030M2 with a fairing won second place and a standard Hayes HDT 1030M2 won fourth place.
|HDT (Hayes Diversified Technologies)
|Kawasaki KLR 650
|Hayes HDT 1030M2
|670 cc Liquid-Cooled, Diesel Engine
|Truck Diesel Biodiesel
1.4 Track T800CDI
Photo Credit: @Motorcycle News
The Track T800CDI was one of the few diesel-engine motorcycles with a modern and sleek look. It was an adventure motorcycle capable of long-distance travel. Created by a Dutch company, Evaproducts, the company started its operation in 2009 and closed in 2012, selling only 50 Track T800CDIs.
The Track T800CDI shares a close resemblance with the Yamaha Tenere but with a sportier look. It was fitted with Brembo brakes, a trellis frame, and long-travel suspensions to ensure better off-roading performance. The Track T800CDI was powered by an 800 cc turbocharged, three-cylinder engine capable of horsepower of 45 hp at 3,000 rpm and a torque of 100 Nm at 1,800 rpm. It could attain a top speed of 110 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 miles in less than four seconds. Being a high-performance diesel-engine motorcycle, the Track T800CDI had a fuel mileage of 140 mpg.
|800 cc Turbocharged, Three-Cylinder Engine
|45 hp at 3,000 rpm
|100 Nm at 1,800 rpm
|0-60 miles in Less than Four Seconds
|Fuel Tank Capacity
|22.5 L / 5.94 gal
|225 kg / 496 lbs
1.5 Neander Turbo Diesel
Photo Credit: @Bike.Net
The Neander Turbo Diesel is a performance cruiser that balances power and comfort. It has a simple cruiser design with wide buckhorn-style handlebars, a solo rider seat, a round headlamp, and a compact engine. The Neander Turbo Diesel is one of the best diesel motorcycles of all time due to having style, power, and comfort. It is powered by a 1,340 cc, parallel-twin turbo engine capable of a horsepower of 112 hp at 4,200 rpm and a torque of 195.24 Nm at 2,600 rpm. The Neander Turbo Diesel can attain a top speed of 136.7 mph and can accelerate from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. Due to being fitted with a powerful engine, a six-speed cassette transmission, Brembo brakes, and double telescopic forks, it is one of the heaviest diesel-engine motorcycles with a weight of 650 lbs. The Neander Turbo Diesel has a fuel economy of 52 mpg and is available at $133,000.
Also Read: TOP 10 FASTEST MOTORCYCLES IN THE WORLD 2022
|Neander Turbo Diesel
|Diesel-Powered Performance Cruiser
|1,340 cc, Parallel-Twin Turbo Engine
|112 hp at 4,200 rpm
|195.24 Nm at 2,600 rpm
|0-60 miles in 4.5 secs
1.6 Star Twin Thunder Star 1200 TDI
Photo Credit: @Star Twin Techniek
The Star Twin Thunder Star 1200 TDI was a prototype diesel-engine sports bike designed to produce a high power output. Though the prototype was launched in 2005, the final version never made it to production. It had a powerful engine, reliable brakes, high-performance suspensions, and carbon wheels. The Star Twin Thunder Star 1200 TDI was powered by a 1,200 cc, three-cylinder turbo diesel Volkswagen engine capable of a horsepower of 180 hp and a torque of 338.95 Nm. This motorcycle was expected to reach a top speed of 140 mph and have a fuel mileage of 95 mpg.
|Star Twin Thunder Star 1200 TDI
|Diesel-Powered Sports Bike Prototype
|Prototype Introduced in 2005 (Never Made It to Production)
|1,200 cc, Three-Cylinder Turbodiesel Volkswagen Engine
|205 kg / 451.95 lbs
1.7 Hero Motorcorp RNT
Photo Credit: @Shifting-Gears
The Hero Motorcorp RNT is a scooter with a unique design and hybrid technology. Introduced in 2018, it is a concept motorcycle that has not yet been launched. The Hero Motorcorp RNT is powered by a 150 cc single-cylinder diesel engine capable of a horsepower of 13.5 hp at 4,000 rpm and a torque of 35.25 Nm at 1,600 rpm. Being a hybrid scooter, it also comes with a 1.3 hp electric motor. The Hero Motorcorp RNT is a versatile scooter that can fit several luggage options for a better touring experience. The 150 cc single-cylinder diesel engine is also capable of acting as an electric generator.
|Hero Motorcorp RNT
|A Concept Hybrid Scooter with a Diesel-Powered Engine and Electric Motor
|150 cc Single-Cylinder Diesel Engine
|13.5 hp at 4,000 rpm 1.3 hp (Electric Motor)
|35.25 Nm at 1,600 rpm
|Can Work as a Generator Several Luggage-Mounting Options
2. Why Did Diesel Motorcycles Fail?
A few years shortly after their introduction, the shortcomings of diesel motorcycles became more evident, resulting in popular motorcycle brands like Harley Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki giving up on manufacturing diesel motorcycles.
Diesel engines have a high compression ratio, meaning they have longer engine strokes and cylinders that result in them being larger and heavier. Diesel engines operate under very high pressure because combustion only occurs by compressing the air, resulting in high temperatures and the diesel being burned without needing a spark plug. To ensure safe operation at high pressure and temperature, a diesel engine had to be built from strong heat-resistant, and heavy metal.
Modern motorcycles are lightweight to ensure better maneuverability, handling, and cornering. Though diesel engines produce good low-end torque, they cannot produce enough horsepower and acceleration. They also tend to produce excessive vibrations and noise that cause discomfort for riders.
Diesel engines are more fuel-efficient than gasoline engines, but they emit several toxic emissions in high quantities into the environment.
Diesel motorcycles failed to become mainstream for several reasons, including being heavyweight, having low ground clearance, producing excessive engine vibrations, and offering less maneuverability, poor handling, and slower acceleration. Only a few diesel motorcycles showed promising potential. However, it was not enough to ensure continued production due to their poor sales.
Despite their drawbacks, diesel motorcycles had a few advantages, including their simple construction and good fuel mileage. Diesel engines are also more reliable and require less maintenance. If you are looking to add a diesel motorcycle to your motorcycle collection, there are a few viable options mentioned in this article that you can buy. However, most of them have been discontinued due to poor sales or not meeting emission standards. Diesel motorcycles are also more expensive than gas-powered motorcycles, resulting in them also being more rare.
If you have a diesel motorcycle, it is possible to improve its performance and comfort or transform it into an ideal tourer by installing aftermarket motorcycle parts like the sissy bars, sissy bar pads, crash bars, handlebars, and fairings. You can also improve your motorcycle’s storage capacity by installing saddlebags, motorcycle trunk bags, tank bags, and backpacks.