Bodging up a diesel motorcycle

[Alex] has been working on a diesel motorcycle project for a few months now, and the project is finally bearing fruit. It’s quite an accomplishment for something [Alex] describes as an industrial Chinese engine, a modded Honda Superdream, and a few Royal Enfield parts thrown in for good measure.

[Alex] bought his Honda CB400 from someone who had already done a diesel motor conversion; a 200cc single-cylinder motor provided just enough horsepower to putt around town. [Alex] wanted a bike that could keep up with highway speeds, so he replaced the wimpy 200cc motor with a 406cc diesel engine used for industrial purposes and an amr500 supercharger.

Although we’ve seen a few insane motorcycle builds, most of Hackaday’s bike builds focus on electric or scavenged parts motorcycles. If you’ve got an awesome motorcycle build you’ve been working on, send it in on the tip line.

You can check out the video of [Alex] testing out his new motor with vegetable oil (for him, it’s easier than getting diesel fuel) after the break.

34 thoughts on “Bodging up a diesel motorcycle

  1. The video might as well be a soundtrack its worthless as you see one red lght and a puff of smoke and thats about it….

    Why does it take so long to start?

    1. does it have glow plugs? otherwise, cold starts will be painful.

      otherwise, his webpage is maxed out on BW and his host is blocking requests

      1. All fixes, Its direct injection, so cold starts shouldn’t be a problem as long as the engine is stopped and started on diesel. It does have a port at the top for injection a small amount of oil to increase the compression to aid cold starts, but once the fuel system is bled its much better.

      2. Alex, I was thinking that the VW TDI has glow plugs, though it may not matter much as motorcycles are warm weather transportation.

      1. That engine has a tapered shaft (for generator applications, not the more typical keyed straight shaft). How are you getting the clutch worked out so it fits up?

  2. Royal Enfield (India) used to build Diesel bikes till few years ago. It sounded like a generator and was good enough for 160 miles to a gallon. I wonder if direct injection technology can revive diesel motorcycles. It is perhaps the only classic motorcycle still being manufactured today.

  3. I really wish my state were more amenable to custom creations. As it is I don’t think I could get something like this to be legal on the roads even though I’d love to have a 160 MPG bike.

    1. Depends on what state you’re in, but there’s two ways to do it.

      The first way is to just not tell the government that you’ve made it a diesel. In most states, that works quite well. Even in the states that do care, if you’re careful with your engine choice, it’ll probably slip under the radar. (Hint: the Ruggerini MD150/151 and MD190/191 are far better engines in every way than the Chinese Yanmar clones popular for diesel motorcycle swaps – barely any more weight, and nearly twice the horsepower in some cases – while looking like an actual (old, but still) inline twin motorcycle engine once the shrouding is removed.)

      The second way is to use an EPA rule, that allows anyone to build a single non-compliant motorcycle in their lifetime.

      1. Alexander: True, there is the cost factor.

        (Availability is a problem in the US, too – it took me months to find the MD150 I have lying around for a future project… and then in the end, that project might work out better based on a 300cc Kymco fuel-injected gas scooter driveline, due to size and power considerations…)

      2. It is a shame they insist on calculating emissions-per-gallon instead of emissions-per-mile.

        Diesel is the future though. It is a hell of a lot easier (cheaper) to make a diesel fuel substitute than it is to make a gasoline substitute.

  4. Great project, but from the looks of things the glow plug and starter circuit need a looking after. Should be cranking faster and a good plug will light things off very quickly. If necessary you can use the Norwegian Fishing Boat method – heating the cylinder head with a torch.

    1. None of the wiring is connected up so I was using a jump start, although that’s the normal starting speed, high compression and one cylinder make that odd sound :)

  5. In the near future, where all personal transportation are diesel motorcycles running on the new and improved organic fuel called “soylent diesel”, an innovative young man makes a horrifying discovery….

    “Soylent Diesel, it’s made out of PEOPLE!!!!!!”

    1. Hey, as long as we aren’t eating it I’m all for Soylent Diesel
      Actually that sounds like a great idea too.
      Think about it eventually we are bound to run out of places to plant dead people and cremating them creates pollution anyways so might as well get to the store a few times with grandma AFTER she dies haha

  6. The 10hp Chinese Yanmar diesel clones are expensive ($>500) as well as unusually loud and smokey, even for a diesel. They’re OK for a tractor, but not the best for a bike.

  7. Hey, as long as we aren’t eating it I’m all for Soylent Diesel
    Actually that sounds like a great idea too.
    Think about it eventually we are bound to run out of places to plant dead people and cremating them creates pollution anyways so might as well get to the store a few times with grandma AFTER she dies haha

    1. I wonder how long it will be before people realize that all the best remaining land, (the scenic parks, open areas, etc.) are full of carefully-preserved corpses in guaranteed-watertight coffins?

      Suddenly doesn’t seem like such a good idea, preserving our remains and giving each body 24 square feet of real estate until the second coming?

  8. I would go for Smart 0.8 diesel engine.
    65kg+clutch with good ecu remap(80hp).
    If lucky enough to find it in junkyard then it shouldnt be expensive.

    1. Ideally, I would have done, but being my first build, I wanted to keep it simple. That engine would fit well into a Tiger chassis but not so well into my Honda CB chassis :)

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