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Motorcycle Motorcycle engines: the incredible resistance of the single cylinder


In 2022, we talk a lot about electricity for the motorization of our vehicles, but in the world of two-wheelers, this is not a reality to date. Let’s talk about heat engines and start with monos which are widely represented even if these engines are no longer necessarily dreaming by themselves.





Yamaha MT125

The king of small 125 cm3…

For small displacements like the 125 cm3 accessible with the car license, the mono is king. Almost all brands offer 125cc with a 4-stroke single cylinder. Some are cooled by liquid, others by air even if it is rare, some with 2 or 4 valves per cylinder for the most efficient.

The offer is quite wide with sports cars like the Suzuki GSXR 125, roadsters like the Yamaha XSR 125 or trail bikes like the Mash X Ride for example. Not all brands have all genres in the catalog, but the diversity remains very great for 125 motorcycles.

For their part, two or three-wheeled scooters are very largely powered by single cylinders, sometimes by twins like the essential Tmax which we were talking about recently, but this is still quite rare. The vast majority of scooters have a 4-stroke single cylinder, especially the 125 that you can drive with your car license. They flood the streets of big cities like the Honda Forza 125, which is the best-selling motorized two-wheeler in France, ahead of its eternal competitor the Yamaha X Max 125.

… and vintage motorcycles

We also find single-cylinders at the heart of so-called Classic motorcycles, motorcycles that smell of the spirit of yesteryear like the Royal Enfield Classic 350 which arrives on our roads to replace the indescribable mono 500. not for its performance but for the spirit behind the handlebars with 90 years of heritage all the same.

We can mention recent brands such as Mash, Brixton, Bullit, etc. which are made with this engine architecture for a very large part of their catalog which generally ranges from 125 to 400 cm3. It must be recognized that mono was very represented in past production so inevitably it is in these machines which are very strongly inspired by it.



Yamaha Xmax 125

Yamaha Xmax 125

Performance and 2 times, mono too!

Mono is everywhere and is not the prerogative of quarter-liters or low-performance motorcycles. It would be simplistic to think so since KTM, for example, still has in its catalog a big 690 cm3 mono of almost 75 horsepower. It is an exception and certainly the most efficient of the moment with its counterpart at Husqvarna.

This high-performance mono obviously offers unique sensations, far from what production generally offers and will undoubtedly remain a collector’s item for two reasons: first, it’s a mechanism that has never been widespread at this level of performance, then that will not pass future standards.

Even more performance? Yes with the 2 stroke which is still there. It has been a long time since you could buy a new car with a two-stroke engine, but it is still possible in a perfectly homologated motorcycle in 2022. Admittedly, enduro or trial motorcycles are not easily usable in the but they are homologated and allow you to drive on the road in complete legality. It can therefore be used outside the spaces dedicated to competition, unlike motocross.

Two-stroke engines can be found at KTM, Gas Gas, HVA and even the French brand based in Nîmes, Sherco. There are far fewer than before since the Japanese brands no longer offer them for Enduro, but there is still a plethora of them. If you had known the 2 or 3 cylinder 2 times, there are no more, only the monos still remain a little.



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