Are single-cylinder engines basically dead? Maybe not, if these patent drawings from Suzuki mean anything.
These sketches filed with patent officials in the US show a very interesting design that recalls the glory days of supermono racing—specifically, the Ducati Supermono.
Supermonos are single-cylinder sportbikes, and once upon a time, there was a racing scene built around these machines. Many of these bikes were bodged-together combinations of single-cylinder trailbike engines with custom frames from outfits like Harris—lots of fun to ride, and high torque, but lacking a certain element of refinement. Then the Ducati Supermono came along, purpose-built to tackle the track.
The Ducati Supermono had very trick chassis and running gear, but the single-cylinder engine was the highlight of the design. Basically, it was a V-twin engine with one cylinder removed; in its place, Ducati installed a counterbalancer system.
For years, Yamaha’s also had a similar system in some of its T-Max scooters, using a counterbalancer installed in place of a second cylinder to keep both costs and vibration down.
Lo and behold, that’s what we see here in this Suzuki patent (see the original here). It looks an awful lot like a V-twin engine with the front cylinder removed, with a counterbalancer placed there instead.
Of course, this patent in no way guarantees we’ll see a motorcycle using this design in the near future, or ever. Suzuki still hasn’t brought the Stratosphere six-cylinder behemoth to market after teasing it on the show circuit years ago, and that bike surely had more design costs sunk into it than this thumper has. In recent years, Suzuki seems to be most interested in consolidating its production into a single plant, with new motorcycle development restricted to simple warm-over treatments on older tech, at best. For the most part, Suzuki’s been selling the same bikes with different paint for a long, long time.
However, with the new plant in place, the time for Suzuki to overhaul its lineup is now, and a supermonoesque design would certainly excite the masses.