Why Isn’t Diesel Used in Motorbikes?

1 Jun by EMAM Team

Why Isn’t Diesel Used in Motorbikes?

Why Isn’t Diesel Used in Motorbikes?

At Essendon Motorcycles & Mowers, we’ve seen a lot of different kinds of motorcycles over the years. From touring bikes to heavy cruisers and from tricked out trikes to incredibly fast superbikes, we’ve been able to service and sell virtually every kind of motorbike in existence. However, there is one kind of motorcycle that is virtually nonexistent, but not for the reasons you might think: diesel-powered motorcycles.

We thought we’d take some time away from providing excellent customer service in our repair and sales departments to write an article about why you don’t really see any motorcycles that run on diesel fuel. In virtually every other vehicle that has four or more wheels, there are diesel options available. So, why aren’t there diesel motorbikes?

Reason #1: The Weight

In order to get the low-end engine power delivery that diesel engines are known for, the engine itself needs to be constructed with massively oversized bores and an extended stroke length. In order to achieve the right engine dimensions for an appropriately sized diesel motorcycle engine, the weight would be remarkably high.

That isn’t to say it can’t be done. In fact, the United States Marine Corps uses a custom-built Kawasaki KLR650 for special operations in foreign countries, so clearly there are some potential uses for the technology. But, by and large, you just don’t find production-level diesel motorcycles mainly because of the weight that is required for the engine to be viable in the form factor suitable to a motorcycle.

Reason #2: The Gearing

To get all of that juicy low end diesel engine torque to the wheels of a motorbike would also require a feat of engineering, indeed. Because diesel engines consist of multiple, large-ratio transmission gears, they need a lot more space to operate. This makes a motorcycle chassis simply not ideal to support a transmission that a standard diesel engine would require.

In fact, in order to have the transmission built to accommodate the diesel engine specifics, the gearbox itself might actually have to be the same size as the crankcase. The manufacturing cost alone would make a bike like this completely cost-prohibitive.

Reason #3: Fuel Efficiency and Availability

The third biggest reason why you don’t generally see diesel-powered motorbikes is the awful fuel efficiency that would result. Diesel engines require larger volumes of fuel in order to achieve even comparable engine outputs in comparison with petrol powered engines. For this sacrifice, diesel engines have a lot more heavy lifting capability, and are more suited to industrial applications (semi trucks, tractors, farm machinery, etc.).

This means that a diesel engine would total negate any fuel savings that a smaller engine like that of a petrol powered motorcycle would afford. Also, consider how much less available diesel is compared to petrol. Sure, you can find diesel on most major highways, but when it comes to backroads or rural areas, it’s not always a sure bet.

For Petrol Bikes, Choose Essendon Motorcycles & Mowers. To schedule service or repair for your bike, contact us on (03) 9351 0055 or email us today.


Essendon Motorcycles & Mowers is a company devoted to keeping motorcycles on the open road and your grass gardens neat and tidy.