Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cross-plane Crank For Next Yamaha R6?

Since the R1’s new firing order appears to be successful, it begs the question about whether this system can be incorporated into Yamaha’s 600cc sportbike, the YZF-R6. So we questioned the R1’s project leader, Toyoshi Nishida, about whether we might see this configuration in the middleweight screamer. The R1’s project leader hinted that the next R6 might feature new engine technology that will enhance a rider’s feeling for traction at the rear tire. He told us that because a 600’s power output isn’t nearly as potent as a literbike’s, racers in the smaller class usually apply only full power, so the cross-plane’s part-throttle benefits wouldn’t be so obvious. He added that the counter-balancer necessary with the cross-plane arrangement would sap some power, hence it wouldn’t be the most efficient way to provide that direct connection to rear-tire traction for a 600.
However, he hinted that there is another way to aid rear-tire traction, and one that doesn’t involve electronics. Curious about what he referred to, I asked if there was the possibility of using a single-plane crankshaft arrangement in which the two paired pistons fire at the same time (instead of 180 degrees apart), similar to a project used a few years ago in the British Superbike championship on a Yamaha R1. That engine proved to work well in wet conditions, but it was soon outlawed by race organizers. Nishida-san’s response indicated I was barking up the wrong tree, but any loyal engineer would naturally want to keep information like that to himself. Whatever the case, we may see something special in the engine compartment when the next R6 is revealed.

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