The idea of adding forced-induction devices to a motorcycle's engine is nothing new. In fact, during the 80s, Japanese manufacturers toyed with the idea and produced several motorcycle models with a factory-installed turbocharger. These notable motorcycles are the Honda CX 500/ 650 Turbo, Yamaha XJ 650 Turbo, Suzuki XN85, and Kawasaki's legendary GPZ750 Turbo. Unfortunately, these bikes were all discontinued after a short time in the market.
Fast-forward to 2015, Kawasaki introduced the Ninja H2 and the H2R. These are supercharged motorcycles producing more than 200 Ps of power. The H2R has also set the world speed record for production motorcycles, reaching 400-kilometers per hour in a one-off test run.
But did you know that before Kawasaki's Ninja H2, there was already a backyard-built, forced-induction motorcycle here in the country?
Motorcycle mechanic, Loddy Orquina, one of the well-known mechanics for big bikes in Metro Manila, has told MotoPinas.com that he was fascinated with the idea of a turbocharged motorcycle since the early days of his motorcycle mechanic career. With his then-motorcycle, a 1994 Honda CBR1000SF “Hurricane”, he began experimenting with different turbochargers salvaged from different passenger cars, and eventually, SUVs.
“I tried a couple of turbochargers until I found that the turbocharger from a Mitsubishi Pajero (Montero in other regions) produced the power that I was looking for,” said Orquina in Filipino. It wasn't easy, taking him almost 2 years of trial and error, as well as 3 blown engines before perfecting his build.
For his setup, he attached the Pajero 4D56's turbo onto the Hurricane's 4-1 headers (4 pipes merged into 1 final pipe). Then directed the compressed air from the turbo into the airbox. In he airbox, he installed a check valve to manage the air intake. Compressed air then travels to the four carburetors and into the combustion chamber. He even added an intercooler, also from a Pajero SUV, that he cut in half to fit the smaller bike.
All the pipework to connect the turbo and intercooler was custom-built from his specifications. Naturally, all this added power makes the bike run hotter. So for the cooling system, he salvaged a larger radiator from another Honda CBR model that was about to be scrapped.
“Power from the turbo will not kick in until after reaching 4,000 rpm,” said Orquina. The bike was so powerful, he says, that he had to upgrade the Hurricane's rear wheels into 18-inches. He also changed the sprockets to a 39-16 rear-front combination to handle the power delivery.
Since this is a 1994-model motorcycle, it had no Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), nor traction control. Running with four carbs and a turbo, his average fuel consumption was also comparable to a Pajero at only 7 kilometers per liter.
Orquina described riding his turbo Hurricane as “wild”, and that it can be a "widow-maker" even if ridden by an experienced rider. “The bike's character is very unpredictable. Power is still present even after you let go of the throttle. That bike was crazy.”
Nonetheless, he certainly put it through its paces. Loddy entered his turbocharged Hurricane in the 2014 BOSS Ironman Motorcycle Challenge where he was a finisher. Unfortunately though, because of the bike's sheer power and unpredictability, he decided to dismantle it, instead of using it more or selling it to someone. After all, that much power can be a risk in itself.
Loddy Orquina at the starting line of the 2014 BOSS Ironman 24-Hour Motorcycle Challenge.
These days, devices like the supercharger (as found in the Kawasaki H2, H2R and Z H2) and turbocharger, are now a common part of modern vehicle engines. They help the engine produce more power from a smaller displacement, allowing them to meet tightening emissions regulations. The few motorcycles that still have them make use of technology like ABS, traction control, and ride-by-wire to make that power more manageable. However, in most motorcycles, new technologies like variable valve timing, new cylinder linings, and lighter construction have allowed new engines to make similar power figures without the need for a turbo.