Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine?

01/28/2014 @ 7:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine? Nissan ZEOD DIG T R 06 635x388

Nissan Motor Company is better known for its four-wheeled vehicle pursuits, so it might surprise you to see its name mentioned here on Asphalt & Rubber. To front load the answer to your most pressing question, no the Japanese marque is not getting into the two-wheeled universe.

However, Nissan has been doing some interesting work, ever since it took over the DeltaWing project. In a nutshell, the Nissan DeltaWing was a failed IndyCar replacement race car project that aimed to push the boundaries of light, aerodynamical, and efficient vehicle design.

It found new legs in the endurance racing arena though, and participated in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans — however it didn’t finish the iconic race, when a competitor crashed into it 75 laps into the race.

Nissan and the DeltaWing team have since parted ways collaboratively, but the Japanese car maker has clearly learned something from the process. Returning to Le Mans for the 2014 season, Nissan will field a very similar design, which it has dubbed the Nissan ZEOD RC.

A hybrid race car (Nissan hopes to complete its first lap at Le Mans solely on electric battery power), what tickles our fancy most is the 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine, which weighs a featherlight 88 pounds. Twenty inches tall, eight inches wide, the Nissan DIG-T R engine is small, though mighty. How does 400hp grab you?

In terms of power per cubic centimeter, the DIG-T R rises to the top-end of the MotoGP engine spectrum, where one-liter four-cylinder engines make near 260hp at the crank. Nissan of course has the advantage of forced induction, but you still have to appreciate 400hp in such a small form factor.

It will never happen, but we would love to see what a good chassis company like Bimota could do with such a lump at the their disposal…actually, maybe not.

The ideas here are sound though, and with the current trend of OEMs exploring the use of forced induction for motorcycles, maybe something similar will come to the two-wheeled world. Hey, there’s nothing stopping us from dreaming. We now return you to your regularly scheduled two-wheel programing.

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine? Nissan ZEOD DIG T R 01 635x388

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine? Nissan ZEOD DIG T R 02 635x388

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine? Nissan ZEOD DIG T R 03 635x388

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine? Nissan ZEOD DIG T R 04 635x388

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine? Nissan ZEOD DIG T R 05 635x388

Did Nissan Just Make the Ultimate Motorcycle Engine? Nissan ZEOD DIG T R 07 635x595

Source: Wired

Comment:

  1. Coreyvwc says:

    Yup, I was thinking the same thing! You’ve quashed my pseudo intellectual instagram post for tomorrow morning…

    By the way, this photo better illustrates how much this thing is actually motorcycle engine sized. Nuts.

    http://www.autoblog.com/photos/nissan-zeod-rc-1-5l-three-cylinder-engine/#photo-2175201/

  2. paulus says:

    It is Awesome!

    Unfortunately, it is probably made of pure unobtainium, costs multi-million Euros and has a ’24 hour’ service interval.

    I longingly look forward to 10-20 years in the future when nearly all new (non-electric) vehicles hopefully will have something similar… and another 5 years after that when China/India/Manufacturestan is knocking them out for under 50 euros :)

    Then I can build that project lawn-mower I have been dreaming about

  3. paulus says:

    PS – it will need a gearbox :)

  4. Need might not be the right word…

  5. coreyvwc says:

    in reply to @paulus.

    With 280 ft. lbs. of Torque, you wouldn’t need a gear box.
    Just 1 gear and a clutch would do just fine… haha

  6. Ian John says:

    The car, looks like there be a Batman fan in the design team.

    Com’on Nissan, i dare ya! make a sportbike……..pussies.

    BMW, did’nt the F1 team help develop the S1000?

  7. Andrew says:

    How does 400hp grab me? Not at all – I think there is only so much power you can put to the road through a tiny contact patch of one tire, and we reached saturation point long time ago. What would grab me however is 100hp and the engine quarter of the size…

  8. Rad Rage says:

    Turbo lag……sucks.

    I know that Porsche has developed a number of technologies to tame this problem, but on a bike the effect of turbo lag would be much more pronounced and frustrating.

  9. I see an endless number of possibilities for an engine like this, what a technical achievement. It could certainly be made to work in a bike like a Hayabusa, though you’d need to design a gearbox for it, and figure out where to place the turbo, but certainly doable for any good mechanical engineer. But given its size and weight, putting a normally aspirated version in say a Yamaha sport bike, already designed around a three cylinder, might be the most efficient engineering approach. And I’m sure you could easily get 270 reliable horsepower, and maybe 200ft/lb of torque out of this baby. Think of that in a 420lb motorcycle, with a lengthened swing-arm, and yes you’re going to need a little traction control intervention :) But just imagine what the acceleration between 70 and 240 mph would be like, effortless, effortless with a passenger, effortless with two passengers. Bugatti Veyron… bye-bye baby! :)

    This would make an excellent replacement engine for all kinds of small cars, particularly classic lightweight Japanese cars, like the early 70s 240z, which are around 2300lbs, with a much heavier original engine. Or a Mazda RX3, or even mid 70s Volkswagen rabbits which were about 1800lbs. All of those cars would become corner slashing screamers with this engine under the hood.

    You could mid-mount a couple with the driver sandwiched between, and make a serious all-wheel-drive racecar. How about combining two banks of cylinders creating a twin turbocharged 3 L V-6 with 800 hp that weighs under 200lbs, fucking frightening. Off-road applications, put that in your Baja buggy and smoke it. Nice narrow power plant for top end steamers, bikes making salt flat runs. Endless possibilities for a sweet little engine like this.

  10. I see an endless number of possibilities for an engine like this, what a technical achievement. It could certainly be made to work in a bike like a Hayabusa, though you’d need to design a gearbox for it, and figure out where to place the turbo, but certainly doable for any good mechanical engineer. But given its size and weight, putting a normally aspirated version in say a Yamaha sport bike, already designed around a three cylinder, might be the most efficient engineering approach. And I’m sure you could easily get 270 reliable horsepower, and maybe 200ft/lb of torque out of this baby. Think of that in a 420lb motorcycle, with a lengthened swing-arm, and yes you’re going to need a little traction control intervention :) But just imagine what the acceleration between 70 mph and 240 mph would be like, effortless, effortless with a passenger, effortless with two passengers. Bugatti Veyron… bye-bye baby! :)

    This would make an excellent replacement engine for all kinds of small cars, particularly classic lightweight Japanese cars, like the early 70s 240z, which are around 2300lbs, with a much heavier original engine. Or a Mazda RX3, or even mid 70s Volkswagen rabbits which were about 1800lbs. All of those cars would become corner slashing screamers with this engine under the hood.

    You could mid-mount a couple with the driver sandwiched between, and make a serious all-wheel-drive racecar. How about combining two banks of cylinders creating a twin turbocharged 3 L V-6 with 800 hp that weighs under 200lbs, f–king frightening. Off-road applications, put that in your Baja buggy and smoke it. Nice narrow power plant for top end steamers, bikes making salt flat runs. Endless possibilities for a sweet little engine like this.

    Oh Jebus Chris Christie I can’t use cuss words here now, how quaint.

  11. Damn says:

    realy andrew? must be working at nasa then witn 10.000.000 hp engines then. but then again weve seen this alot of time right 1.5 litre and 400bhp.

  12. jeran says:

    Aaron, why fantasise about putting this motor into a habausa engine and adding a gearbox? it seems a little silly

    Just bore/stroke your hayabusa to 1600cc for a reliable naturally aspirated 260hp and to make 400hp add a turbo and run the 1600cc bike it at 8lbs boost.

    much simpler than this gearboxless nissan motor

  13. Phill Rogers says:

    I believe it is probably designed to run at a more or less fixed RPM as an electric generator. Hence no gearbox, no turbo-lag and also how they can get such a high output. Normal engine design is a compromise of power, torque, drivability (flat-ish curve), responsiveness etc. If it’s powering an electric generator then it doesn’t need any of the flexibility. Remember where it came from? A HYBRID car – probably exclusively electric drive train & motor(s), merely using the internal combustion engine as a generator / battery charger.

  14. JoeD says:

    It does not require 400 hp to drive a generator in the motive power world of small vehicles so what IS the purpose? Turbocharged engines do not work well with manual shifting but mated to a seamless shifting gearbox might be the best solution.

  15. Phill Rogers says:

    The purpose seems to be what it was built for – Le Mans racing, not a production motorcycle.
    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-01/28/nissan-3-cylinder-le-mans

  16. RC2 says:

    Just curious, regarding the 88lbs quoted figure for the powerplant – is this including the turbocharger, intercooler, ducting, etc? Because if it isn’t, I doubt this will feature on the radar of any motorcycle company.

  17. Norm G. says:

    re: “Com’on Nissan, i dare ya! make a sportbike……..pussies.”

    just got a text in. whoa, I don’t usually hear from these guys…? anyway, here’s their response…

    We have received your request. However after a brief review, our accountants indicate that we are a FOR-PROFIT entity.

    Thank you for your interest in Nissan Motors., Innovation that Excites.

  18. Jake says:

    Lop off a cylinder and you’ve got a 200HP 58 pound parallel twin.

  19. mudgun says:

    Please, just give me one cylinder with 100 horse power with the whole thing weighing in at about 305 lbs.

  20. mudgun says:

    No wait, give me one cylinder with 1110 horsepower with the whole thing weighing in at 285 lbs.

  21. mudgun says:

    No wait, give me two cylinders with……

  22. mudgun says:

    wait, thats supposed to be 110 horsepower, my finger was shaking at the thought…

  23. MikeD says:

    TRULY A MASTERPIECE and a thing of mechanical beauty. I would use it as living room ornament/centerpiece.

    @Phill Rogers: I thought the same thing. Like a Diesel Electric Locomotive or Jaguar’s “Micro Turbines paired with Gens” sports car.

  24. Steve says:

    @Jensen
    “Nissan hopes to complete its first stint at Le Mans solely on electric battery power”

    Of interest for the electrically minded, a correction:
    “The ZEOD – which stands for zero emissions on demand – has been designed to complete one lap of the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe purely on electric power during each stint between refueling stops.”

    Source: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/112296/

  25. Kylewwh says:

    Anyone else wondering what this motor makes n/a??

  26. Wayne Thomas says:

    Kylewwh,

    No. No, you’re not alone in wondering this. Nissan my have found access to a a market that it never considered before.

  27. Just a Dog says:

    I cant believe all the hype.
    A turboed `busa 1400cc can and does make 500hp, not that amazing. 88# ya its light, but it doesnt include alot of things. Likely just the engine, no computer intake, exhaust, injectors etc. Just the basic pistons and cases. Maybe one or two belts.
    400 HP, how many pounds of boost? I think thats one of the real questions that should be asked. Guessing at the amount of torque, theres quite a bit of boost….If you take Kawi’s 1L output at ~200hp then 300hp out of 1.5 isnt that amazing. 400hp isnt that much of a stretch. Its all the engine dynamics….

    What is interesting is there doesnt appear to be head gasket. Does this mean its similar to the OLD Ford flat head (I think thats the engine, please correct me, its cylinder didnt have a head seam, just the lower block and the upper block {the upper block had the valves and the combustion chamber}, it is popular with the rodding community for its reliability).

    Realise too its a shopped image. Thats the president of Nismo. Does he look like a muscle bound roid weenie? No, hes not straining under the weight of lifting the engine. AND there are no real handles…. Lifting an engine with no handles, no matter how light, aint easy. My guess that engine is about half of his weight, the pic aint real.

    Just sayin it isnt that amazing….

    Remember it was released as a PR exercise not a tech bulletin…

    Cheers

  28. Just a dog (with the intelligence of the average dog)

    Certainly all eminently ignorant uneducated people don’t get what an accomplishment this engine is. The heavily modified Suzuki engine you speak of has a running life of about 9 minutes before it has to be rebuilt or explodes.

    This engine is a Le Mans prototype, designed to run at max output for 24 hours, which means its design is based on engine meant for production. And that means is you’re likely to see this Nissan engine, or a very close facsimile, in a production vehicle within 3 to 5 years.

    I realize you probably can’t lift 88 pounds, given your obvious weenie status, and given your dumb ass racist remarks you’re probably 12 years old, and were wanking off while you wrote this, so maybe you should stick to what you know, your left hand and Tosh .0.

  29. Just a Dog says:

    Mr. Brown,

    When an argument falls upon insults, its obvious whom the victor is.

    With respect to your opinion, I still stand by my statements and observations. I may be wrong, yes, but I am willing to admit that.

    My experience is not based upon fact, but a set of hard lessons, and observations.. I own a motorcycle that has been designed for land speed racing. Its shakedown run was in excess of 2000 miles. Yes Thousand. In the high desert. I rode it home. Its a project that has been on going for 4 years. Lots of lessons and engineering there. I do not profess to know it all, but share what might be a different view. Maybe I saw something that was not seen by others. Le Mans or not, I dont see whats so special with this motor.

    If you wish to contribute something; an observation on this topic, please do. If you wish to continue this prolonged useless barrage of insults, please be aware, it reflects more upon you than me.

    Good day Sir!