Wakan 1640 – New French V-Twin Motorcycle

Wakan 1640 by Wakan Motorcycles

Wakan 1640 by Wakan MotorcyclesA new motorcycle company from France? It looks that way and their first bike is pretty sweet. Wakan Motorcycles has produced the Wakan 1640, a single seat, V-Twin powered sport bike built around the AC Cobra idea of dropping a big American powerplant into a sporty European frame.

Joel Domergue, the man behind Scorpa, a company known for some excellent trials motorcycles, and an expert trials rider himself, figured it was time to sell the company which left him with some cash in his pocket and ideas in his head. Actually, those ideas had been floating around for years but, busy with Scorpa, he didn't have the time to do anything with them. Now, with free time and a bit of capital, he went to work.

The Wakan 1640 starts with a single spine oil carrying frame, a 54 inch wheelbase, with inverted Ceriani forks mounted at 22 degrees. Power comes from a 100 cubic inch S&S V-Twin producing 115hp and 115 foot pounds of torque and those horses are moving a motorcycle that weighs only 390 pounds with oil, no fuel. The engine sports a single Keihin flatslide carb that gets ram air through a blower type scoop situated above the airbox cover. The fuel tank is below the seat, molded to double as a sort of rear mudguard with the filler mounted on the tailsection.

The engine has been dynamically balanced to reduce vibration plus the bar end weights help and the result is a much smoother bike than you might expect.

Braking chores go to a single 340mm front disc with a six piston caliper, which first road tester, Alan Cathcart, calls, "OK" but which might need to be tweaked a bit for serious stopping power. Cathcart also says the handling is similar to the Buell Firebolt XB12R but performance from the S&S V-Twin is definitely a step up.

The first 15 bikes are scheduled to be produced by October for €28,000 ($35,000),but as production ramps up the price is expected to fall quite a bit. The next 100 bikes for 2007 will retain the Keihin carb but afterwards, fuel injection will be necessary to meet Euro 3 emissions requirements in 2008.

This is no prototype bike, it's ready for production now and pre orders are already trickling in. They've kept the bike totally under wraps during the three year development time and these first stories show a complete bike.

This is another move, now by a European, in the same big torque, sport bike direction we've been talking about for the past year. If you're a bike builder starting out, you might want to forget the chopper direction and think sport bike. The Wakan 1640, ... I like it.

Link: Wakan Motorcycles

Wakan 1640 by Wakan Motorcycles

Wakan 1640 ram air scoop

Wakan 1640 racing version


  1. Bryan says

    Wow this is a great bike…I love originality and this bike oozes with it. I cant wait till the price drops and I can pick one up.

  2. aaron says

    I would have expected this from the french, for one…. (see lazareth, voxan, and a billion awesome v-maxes and streetfighters

    this is also something you can expect from the americans – now that the french have done it… ladies and gentlemen, I present the new look 2010 buell fireass XB-XXrr sp.

    elements of it are very monsterish…

  3. Sport Bike Rider says

    This bike looks great! Not only that it handles great as well! I agree, lets hope more custom bike builders design bikes with sport bike performance and handling in mind. The tank scoop is very cool!

    One gripe though…$35,000!…..and for performance only on par with a Buell! For that amount of money it should at least be on par with a GSXR 1000 or a ZX 10. Originality is a plus but there is not enough originality here to justify $35,000. Lower the price! Otherwise I like where they are headed though.

  4. mark says

    It’s cool, but not for the long-bearded. Would be most unfortunate to get it sucked into that air intake…

  5. Reg Lawson says

    This is clearly the direction of at least one genetic line of the custom builder: A sport type bike with a big American V-twin, but in a very light package and top notch suspension. One idea for somebody: Drop an S&S 114″ into a Spondon frame with top shelf suspension, dual front radial disks. Clean lines. Lower seat height – and a price that the rest of us can afford. $35K doesn’t cut it.

  6. Dodgy says

    Looks like a great way of WAKAN up the neighbores LOL…
    Love it, nice lines, like the rear filler, the race version GP pipe looks awesome…

  7. chris says

    perhaps streetfighter is becoming too tame a word. “Streetbrawlers” may be the next step. so much torque in such a tiny package. . .two please.

  8. The Ogre says

    Enh. I can’t find myself excited. Yes, it is very pretty, and very light. And likely, if it is ever available in the US, very very expensive.

    And it has pushrods and carbs. I could not see myself paying the kind of premium that it would likely take to buy one of these for an outdated driveline.

  9. Earl says

    Looks like a dream – but that engine! The V-twin is part of the look, an I4 just would look so good, but why not a Suzuki TL1000 engine, f’rintsance? Or Ducati? Otherwise, they can customise my SV for me.

  10. aaron says

    I used to be an ogre – I still loathe the viper for pretending to be a supercar with its initial specific power of 50 hp/L. but it seems to me that an ohc motor tuned for the same characteristics would be larger, more complicated, and – it would have the same characteristics…..

    I still like complicated, but for simple low to midrange blasts this is a better choice than something like a 6-valve desmo with Variable valve timing, variable exhaust backpressure, and variable intake lengths…

  11. Dodgy says

    Now let’s see Aaron, big (1600cc) air cooled pushrod motor, 115 Hp at about 5,000 rpm? Huge torque at 3,000 rpm?
    Or somewhat more highly tuned (but lower stressed) water cooled DOHC motor developing the same power and torque? Maybe 1,000 cc? And just set it up so it does it at the same revs… Lets not kid ourselves, more complexity means higher efficiency and greater output from the same capacity…
    I wonder what Ducati or Suzuki could get out of a 1600cc V Twin with all their technology thrown at it??

    But that’s not really what it’s about is it?
    It’s all about the grand statement, “we can take this big American lump, and turn it into a real performance thing…”
    It’s all been done before (mainly with cars), look up Iso, Jensen and of course AC. Carroll Shelby couldn’t get the performance out of a pushrod Ford V8 that Ferrari could out of a SOHC V12, so he just used a really big one, and it was great…
    GT40 or 275GTB4? Hmmm….

  12. sfan says

    Very cool. Looks like it may have been influenced or inspired by Yamaha’s MT-01… although Wakan makes the Yam look like a wallflower. The french have quite an interesting small-run specialty bike cottage industry.

  13. hoyt says


    Coho, I’d like to add to Aaron’s list of fine French engineering and design… the French “Dollar”, a longitudinal V-4 with a 15 degree “v”. This was made in 1932. A narrow, v-4 mounted longitudinally….sounds familiar.

    Check out the book “Guggenheim – Art of the Motorcycle” or google it.

    I like the debate between the old tech, Big American lump vs. complex, high tech….

    i know the buells are not the same big twin, but people still consider that push rod outdated, inefficient tech. 50-60 mpg when ridden easy on the freeway is not efficient?

    There also is something intelligent about nearly service-free valve adjustments and a market full of factory-endorsed mechanics & parts suppliers. In addition, there are countless independant wrenches that can keep this type of motor running for miles.

    Dodgy, would those higher tech engines setup to produce the same power at the same revs really produce the same type of performance? Maybe on a dyno or looking at a number chart, but what about from the saddle? (considering different types of engine braking, different strokes, flywheel mass inertia, etc.)

    Torque for the street has got to be measured from the saddle, too (on winding roads), not just a spec sheet. I believe Moto Guzzi has a kind of torque that is very difficult to quantify, but I know I love it when riding roads with endless 25-30 mph curves.

    I hope to ride an American big twin sport bike soon….maybe one from “Big Twin Racers” or Wakan to determine if this torque performance is as awesome as it appears to be.

  14. says

    No doubt about it thats one realy cool piece, much better looking than a Buell. The only thing I would change would be the motor. Not because its a Harley but because its a Sportster. Slap in a big twin and now you have some real torque, just like Hoyt says, 25 to 30 mph curves and 100 plus ft. lbs. is insane.

  15. Dudel says

    Beautifull bike.

    But I wouldn’t buy it even if it was a reasonable price. They need to build bikes with properly designed integrated windshields (not ugly bolt-on crap) unless it is a sub-400cc bike that won’t be taken on the highway.

    My 2-cents.

  16. hoyt says

    i just keep coming back to this post…..what a beauty !

    And talk about mass centralization with the petro right behind the engine down low by the rider’s lower legs.

  17. Hollis Shrader says

    This is my first time to see this bike. It reminds me first of Yamaha’s MT-OS concept bike. I really like this type of scoot but the price on this one is way to high. Next spring I’m adding another to my stable. The Dicati Hypermotard or the KTM 990 Adventure. There is an American Company in Colorado producing this type of bike, it is also very pricy. I can’t remember the name.

  18. Hollis Shrader says

    Yep thats it Doug, the Ecosse. I think American riders (excluding posers) will eventually tire of the cruiser style bikes and bikes like these will be more sucessful in the USA. I would love to be able to buy an Mt-01. I’m leaning towards the Ducati Hypermotard but really prefer liquid cooled engines on motorcycles so am waffeling back and forth. The big twin racers are slick.

  19. pete coshall says

    I did hear all the french motorcycle press were
    invited to a press day at the lauch of this bike.
    unfortunately the bike backfired, and they all layed down their pens an surredered.

  20. says

    It amuses me when some of the responders comment negatively about the use of the Harley motor.These morons should use there time to stare at pictures of thier beloved Jap bikes instead of critsizing the craftsmanship of people who actually design and build with thier own hands a motorcycle to thier own tastes instead of going to the store and buying it.

  21. Michael Dobbie says

    Magnificent; but it still needs tweaking. How about a 6 speed box, EFI, braided stainless oil lines, analogue tacho and a lower price tag please. Nonetheless, very desirable.

  22. says

    Gentlemen, let me tell you as an American who rides both Big Twins and hotted-up Sportsters/Buells, this thing will eat a LOT of Jap crotchrockets for breakfast in the twisties! TORQUE – no real powerband, just TORQUE !!! Acccessible everywhere in the rev range, and easy to get about 150 ft. lbs. of it from a 1600 Sporty engine ! (with an easy 140-150 HP) Try to get that kind of grunt out of any short stroke DOCH wunder motor…
    The price is a bit out there, but it’s French… Go figure.
    I’ll have one instead of a new 1098 Duc, thanks – MUCH better street ride and occasional track-day scalpel.

  23. Geo says

    Cool bike! $35000.00? It doesn’t look a lot different than my 96 s1 lighting.
    It looks to have a lot of the same flaws as well. If the frame is as capable as the buells, its easy to overheat the rear cylinder.(I’ve popped 6 motors so far). I don’t see any ducting to direct cooling air to it. (new buells have them)
    I’d buy an early buell roller, that some mutant stole the motor for a chopper ,About $1500 on ebay,add a S&S 100″ $9500, Baker XL6 Tranny $2000 Clutches Etc $2000= $13500 + Ducati 1098 $15000 + Nice used R6 $6500 =$35000 P.S. My Modified S1 (74″115rwhp) will beat up my R1 on the right (tight)road, But gets slaughtered on fast sweepers. Different strokes for different roads. Broad useable tork, agility and soul vs Horsepower, stability ,aerodynamics and reliability.

  24. Frank says

    390 lbs.?!!!…..ain’t no way! In my experience ALL manufacturers lie about weight, claimed horsepower, etc. I remember Buell had a bike that claimed to weigh 375 lbs. dry and 425 lbs. wet when the actual weight as majored by a magazine found the weight to be 475 lbs.(wet, full tank of gas) Honda claimed their 900rr weighed 390 lbs. dry and 420 lbs. wet when the actual weight ended up being 460 lbs.(wet, full tank of gas). And to top it all off, the big S and S engine in this bike weighs a ton in the sport bike world.

    People can talk about usable torque through out the power band from vtwin motors, which is true, but the weight of these engines is a huge hinderance. The HD vtwins in particular turn sport bikes into porkers. The HD motor is too big and heavy.

    And yes, I’ve read other riders experiences of the rear cylinder over heating on Buells as well. And the bike wasn’t ridden hard…..just regular every day riding. The motor had to be rebuilt MORE THAN ONCE.

    Air cooled vtwins are big behemoth engines that are unreliable and slow. HD needs to experiment with water cooled engines so they can play with closer tolerance, smaller, and more powerful engines.

  25. Tom Smith says

    I am told that the motor started life as a HD Sportster engine and has been modified by S&S to the current specs.

  26. Tim says

    I like what I see and read, both here and from Mr. Egan of CycleWorld. I have long been waiting for a bike with a high powered torque monster American twin motor with the front wheel in the same county as the rear wheel. The style is excellent and the potential power figures are raucous. The price is stiff but I suspect that will come down with more interest and production increases.

    If this idea catches on there will be more choices and options, like X Wedge motors, etc. And why not try some alternate thinking, such as a transverse mounted X Wedge motor and a paralevered shaft drive…sorta like my Guzzi LeMans. The sky is the limit as far as this concept could go. Torque makes the world go round, baby! Let’s see more American Vtwin sport bikes!

  27. Frank says

    Torque without horsepower is nothing. A bicycle has an average of 150 lbs. of torque yet only has 1/2 horsepower. American Vtwin bikes that have a lot of horsepower are deceiving. What the makers don’t tell you is that that horsepower is in a very narrow power band.

    American vtwins are very limited as to what can be accomplished. Because of their 45 degree angle one cylinder cuts out the power pulse of the other cylinder and therefore the engine needs huge counter weights in order to keep it turning. This makes for a slow revving engine.

    The minimum angle needed where one cylinder will not cut out the power of the other cylinder is 60 degrees. I believe the German designed Harley Davidson VROD engine is a 65 degree vtwin. The Honda rc51 vtwin and the ducati vtwins are also at least 60 degrees.

    So until Americans get away from the ancient 45 degree air cooled vtwin, everything they do and say is just smoke. I ain’t interested!

  28. RH says


    While consistent with the rest of your technical analysis, your statements regarding the “limitations” surrounding 45 degree cylinders are the funniest load of nonsense I’ve ever read.

  29. Frank says

    You take an “air cooled” 45 degree vtwin and you are limited. For one, the air cooling sucks. Your rear cylinder is constantly over heating and blowing up. You are also limited to how you can increase horsepower. The only way to get any real horse power out of the air cooled 45 degree vtwin is too bore it or stroke it into the stratosphere. This makes for a very big, heavy engine. Not very useful on a sportbike. If the engine were at least water cooled this would allow for closer tolerences to where you could maybe produce a higher revving and also more powerful engine while not increasing the size.

    As I also said earlier, the power pulse from the first cylinder firing, kills the power pulse of the second cylinder. Very large counter weights are needed in order to keep the engine running.

    The only reason the Harley Davidson engineers don’t move into the modern age, meaning water cooling and 60+ degree vtwins is probably because of the “potato potato” sound that Harley Davidson fans love. Whenever I hear that sound I think ancient, air-cooled, big, heavy, and inefficient. I do not hear a cool rumble as some people do.

    Where is the future in air cooled 45 degree vtwins? How can they outperform the other vtwin configurations?

  30. RH says

    Frank says:

    “As I also said earlier, the power pulse from the first cylinder firing, kills the power pulse of the second cylinder. Very large counter weights are needed in order to keep the engine running.”

    You have no clue what you are talking about. Among other things, you obviously don’t know what the degrees between firing are on a 45 degree twin. But that’s OK – there are plenty of other engines out there from which you can choose which won’t mind how little you know.

  31. says

    Frank – you state “Torque without horsepower is nothing”.

    Not necessarily true. Have you ridden well-tuned Guzzis, air-cooled Ducatis, BMWs, Buells, etc. on mountain roads where there are endless 25 mph suggested curves?

    My V11 Sport does very well on these roads while riding with liquid-cooled high hp race replicas. (no problem staying with them or putting distance between – it varies per rider). Why? Low-end, slow revving torque. With the mods. my bike is making ~ 95 crank hp (not sure, but the stock bike is rated at 90 crank hp). This bike will continue to run for years too even though you state air-cooled engines are unreliable.

    You also say 45-degree twins are “inefficient”. In what aspect? A Buell gets mid-50s mpg or higher when not flogged. That is Efficient.

    You also seem to think air-cooling is horribly wrong. Again, it depends on the application. BMW boxers & Guzzis do quite well in performance and styling without that funny noise comng from your fan. They also do not have the un-sightly plumbing & “black box” hanging off the front. Let’s face it, the Wakan is a street-bike and styling plays a big part in these bikes. Air-cooling wins everytime against a liquid-cooled bike in terms of styling (until radiators are designed differently).

    BMW’s air-cooled boxer sport is putting out performance numbers beyond many rider’s ability. In addition, “Performance Bike” magazine went around one of their tracks on this BMW within a fraction slower than they did aboard a liquid-cooled Ducati 999.

    OK, so now you say, “those bikes are 90-degree twins or boxers, not 45-degree”. The last 100+ years of the i-c engine has been about trade-offs. The 45-degree twin allows Buell to build the most compact bike (using an engine of that cc capacity) on the planet by more than 2 inches in wheelbase. Why? to ride roads very well where it matters most – in the curves, using torque & good handling.

    The air-cooled 45-degree will eventually be phased-out with a liquid-cooled version, but there will be trade-offs to get to that point.

    The current crop of Buells & this Wakan will have a great place in motorcycling history. In some respects both bikes have started that history already by impacting other OEMs decision to lower their exhausts and/or fuel tank.

    If I had millions to build a bike I probably wouldn’t choose a 45-degree twin, but that engine has its merits depending on the manufacturers’ goals.


    TIM – You let the cat outta the bag ! I want to emulate my V11 Sport Guzzi by mounting an X-Wedge ala Guzzi-style in a cafe chassis. That would look awesome and function very well mated to a BMW or Guzzi box and shaft-drive.

  32. Frank says

    On an HD twin one cylinder fires at 45 degrees after the first cylinder, then 675 degrees later the first cylinder fires again. This requires very heavy counterweights. Which makes it difficult for the engine to rev.

  33. RH says


    Thanks for proving that you don’t know what you are talking about. One cyclinder does NOT fire 45 degrees after the other. Now read and learn:

    1) The first piston fires (this is the 0° position)
    2) The other piston fires at 315° into the stroke
    3) There is a 405° gap (as both cylinders go through their exhaust stroke) until the first piston fires again.

    There are lots of high performance H-D engines with very light cranks. They idle and rev just fine. I’ve ridden and owned several built that way.

    45 degree twins do have their design flaws – you haven’t mentioned any real ones yet. And none of them matter in the real world on the street.

  34. todd says

    I can keep up with GSXR’s in the twisties on my bicycle because I can crank out 150 lb-ft of torque. It also helps me out accellerate them because I’m at like twice the torque of those bikes….

    Hogwash. Frank is at least right here. Torque is only a measure of twisting force. It does not take into account a crucial factor in determining POWER, and that factor is TIME. Horsepower is a very meaningful measurement as it considers both torque and time (RPM). The reason a “well-tuned” Guzzi can keep up with sport bikes in the twisties is because you are doing what, 50 mph? In those same twisties a good rider could keep up on a kitted GPR50.

    Ever look at zero to 60 times? A high revving motor can do that in first gear, they have a very broad power band (some bikes can do over 100 in first). On a typical push-rod twin I think you’re already in third gear at that point, they have a narrow power band.

    Here’s another way to look at the same aspect: Since a DOHC motor can rev into the teens the gearing can be substantially lowered compared to a motor that revs to, say, 6k. A typical DOHC motor has an overall ratio of 4.6 whereas a typical V-twin is around 3 or so. The DOHC motor has a 50% ratio advantage over the twin. Multiply that by the torque (150%) to compare with the twins numbers and we’re getting closer to apples-to-apples. Now figure in the power to weight ratio whereas a typical inline-4 has nearly twice the power to weight of a typical V-twin and usually a much lower first few gears.

    Do you see where this is all headed?


  35. says

    Todd – I mentioned the context of winding roads in terms of the Wakan’s intended purpose AND in terms of Frank’s comment “torque is nothing without horsepower”.

    The Buell, Guzzi, & Wakan are built to perform in specialized areas of riding. Erik Buell has been saying this for years. Many people don’t care about 13500 rpm when you are building a streetbike that is intended to have fun on winding roads. Be a “numbers” magazine-spec-sheet-reader & dream of straight roads all you want.

    Frank’s criticism & your argument about powerbands (in the context of a streetbike built to power from one corner to the next) runs wide.

    Your definition of a powerband & conclusion that v-twins have a narrow band is one-dimensional. To say a v-twin has a narrow powerband based solely on the rpm range (and time) is insufficient.

    A big twin has a huge powerband compared to an in-line 4 from 1000 rpm to 4500 rpm. The Wakan (street v-twins) are not about measuring the overall powerband on a spec sheet.

  36. RH says

    We’re NOT talking about the typical twins here now, are we? A LOT of DOHC 4s are duds as well. A custom H-D based sportbike below 400 lbs is not difficult to build. Mine was well below 400 lbs, ready to ride.

    I’ve owned, built, and ridden a number of exciting twins (2 and 4 stroke, “V” and opposed), fours, and a six. One configuration keeps my attention – the rest are fun in a fleeting way and get boring very quickly. I’m going by experience, not magazine charts.

    Yes, V-twins CAN be tuned to give narrow powerbands. They are no fun for me to ride on the street. A huge V-twin with a huge powerband is a different animal.

  37. todd says

    What makes you think I’m not speaking from experience? CC for CC a bike with more RPM and broader rev-range makes more power, period. Being able to rev to 13,500 means you have more choices of gears for a corner.

    For instance, a stock ZX-12R makes around 70 ft-lbs of torque around 4000 RPM, identical to a Buell XB12R at the same RPM. Whereas the Buell starts fading from there and cuts out at 6000 with 50 ft-lbs the Kawi continues to climb to well over 90 ft-lbs at 8,000ish RPM, and only trailing off to 80 or so near 12,000 RPM. To top this off, the Zixxer is geared 30% lower than the XB, affectively giving it 30% more torque.

    Now this is pure spec sheet stuff, yes, but I’ve ridden both and the difference is obvious. Simply put, the Kawasaki feels and behaves like it has twice as much power in all situations, straight lines, through canyons, passing in top gear, and -get this- it even feels more relaxed and understressedat 10k than the Buell does at half that. Not to mention it’s much smoother…

    I’d be more likely to compare that Buell with my buddies old F4i, at a stretch. I didn’t get to compare them back to back though, but from what I can recall, they were about the same performance wise. Of course the Honda got a little boring after a long day because it just did everything with so much composure and was very comfortable. Oh yes, even at 600cc I didn’t need to shift very often dispite having approx. half the torque because of that rev range and lower gearing. The Buell on the other hand did sound cooler (even with the stock exhaust, which I prefer) and I did feel more individualistic but it was uncomfortable, ran really hot, seemed like it was less sporty because it wouldn’t rev, and felt cheap and poorly finished.

    I’ve ridden plenty of other bikes too. My daily ride switches between a 50hp R75/5, a 35hp GB500, or occasionally my 35hp XR650L (I have 7 bikes currently to choose from). I can tell you one thing; inspite of their reputation, thumpers are not torquey. My GB is faster than the BMW because it revs and shifts quicker and higher and is geared lower. Not to mention it is 100lb lighter than the BMW’s 450lbs. I also have a bicycle (150 ft-lbs of torque) and a moped (.0005 ft-lb) so I think I know what I’m saying.


  38. RH says


    If you had any real world experience, you wouldn’t keep going back to the spec sheets. If your bicycle has 150 ft/lbs of torque, that would imply that you weigh closer to 300 lbs and should spend a lot more time on it. Or your math is wrong. Again.

  39. says

    what I’m saying (in the context of this bike) is that there is just as much usable power between a 1000-1500 rpm differential on this twin than there is on a high-strung in-line 4 when riding in the intended zone of the Wakan. (more depending on the in-line 4).

    Your response is going to be probably something like, downshift the “Zixxer” and get it to 9,000 – 10,500 rpm…..go ahead and do that on a series of 20-25 mph suggested curves. Many riders will be making corrections to their line & be through the corner (or off the road) by the time they find “that” sweet spot…..

    “CC for CC a bike with more RPM and broader rev-range makes more power, period. Being able to rev to 13,500 means you have more choices of gears for a corner.”….keep looking for your choice going through one corner & into the next.

    If that’s your type of riding enjoyment fine, but that doesn’t discount the attributes of v-twins & it doesn’t prove Frank’s point that “torque without hp is nothing”.

    The in-line advancements have made profound improvements for low-end torque, but that still doesn’t discount the v-twins attributes.

  40. todd says

    I won’t resort to arguing but you aren’t reading my posts very well. Both the ZX12R and the XB-12R that I rode have nearly identical torque curves from idle to 4,000 RPM or so. How would you then be able to suggest that the 4-cylinder Kawasaki needs to be revved to 9,000 – 10,500 to achieve the same results as the Buell? Since the Kawasaki had a 30% gearing advantage it had 30% more torque at the rear wheel at those RPMs than the Buell did, and it was very noticeable. The great thing about the Kawasaki is that I didn’t need to shift gears to be in the correct range through a corner as you suggest. If I came through a corner at 3000 RPM it would be the same as being at 4000 on the Buell. Then I would drive hard (well, fairly hard – I like to keep both wheels on the ground) up to the next curve without even shifting. As soon as I came through a corner on the Buell I would run out of revs by the time I got to the next turn and had to brake hard to get the revs down or shift up to have a decent drive out the other side. Did you miss the point at where I said the Kawasaki has over 90 ft-lbs of torque? I think the only time the 4-cyl Kawasaki has less torque than the V-twin Buell is at 1000 RPM. Who rides around at 1000 RPM? Considering that the Kawi has a 30% gearing advantage means it is never less than 30% more powerful than the Buell.

    Mind you, I never once felt there was a point when the Buell did not have enough power. There was plenty of power for any situation I could put it through in any gear I was in. I just felt it had a very short rev range. However, the Kawasaki felt like it had an easy double the power everywhere in its rev range and that range was twice as wide as the Buell (2k-10k vs. 2k-6k). I had to look up the specs after the ride to confirm my suspicions.

    RH, I have clips on my pedals and I weigh 190lb @ 6’3″. I have 6-3/4″ cranks so that means one leg provides 107 ft-lbs when standing and the other leg can pull up 43 ft-lb (76lbf). Of course, this is at “full throttle”…


  41. RH says


    I really can’t fault your analysis of the differences in feeling and performance between the 4 valve 1200 twin and the 16 valve 1200 four. But we are talking about the 1640 that is – or was – the subject at hand. I’ve owned an M2 Buell and a GSXr-1100 – they both did certain things very well and some things badly. I had the GSX-r prior to the M2 (with 2 BMWs in between) – and never missed the GSX-r, although it did provide many memorable rides that I didn’t want to repeat. Down the roads I call fun, the Buell was a better bike.

    Thanks for the bicycle clips explaination. But I highly doubt that anyone lifts their pedals at 43 foot/pounds, but bicycles provide enough stuff to argue about.

  42. todd says

    Yes, sorry to rant on. Kneeslider knows we beat this topic to death once a week.

    On the topic of the Wakan, 115 ft-lbs of torque is not a trifle. I don’t quite know how anyone would benefit from it though. At what point does the front wheel come off the ground and begin limiting accelleration? 40 ft-lbs in the lower gears and 60 in the top gears?

    -next topic-


  43. says

    i read your posts & i mentioned downshifting to point out other in-line 4s (not all of ’em have the power characteristics of the ZX. That is also why I mentioned that the in-line 4s are making impressive improvements in the lower end).

    You’ve mentioned in other posts about twins having limited power bands. I disagree when the topic at hand is a bike like a Wakan, a Big Twin Racer, Ecosse, (even my Guzzi) etc. when being ridden on roads where torque is emphasized. Yet, you always come back with talk about your bicycle & the digits on a tachometer.

    While riding on the street through the mountains, I’d much prefer the type of power made between 3500 rpm & 4500 rpm in 3rd gear on my Guzzi than the power from an in-line four at 7500-8500 rpm in 2nd gear

    Kevin Cameron put it well when he wrote about the X-Wedge. Something like: …many a sportbike rider have been humbled by v-twins in the 100-inch and up category….

  44. Frank says

    I haven’t mentioned any real design flaws? What the heck are you talking about? I told you….the 45 degree twin is the design flaw. It is a slow revving, horsepower robbing contraption. All of the major performing vtwin sport bikes utilize at least a 60 degree vtwin. Honda RC51 and the Ducatis, both of which have won numerous races both use a 90 degree vtwin. Aprilia, another high performing motorcycle uses a 75 degree vtwin. The one decent, high peforming motorcycle that HD makes, the VROD, uses a 65 degree vtwin.

    RH, you claim that their are many high performing HD engines that perform just fine that also have light cranks. In AMA when HD raced with the big boys(1000cc class), HD NEVER reached the podium. Today, HD is racing in AMA in the formula extreme class which consist of 600 cc motorcycles. HD uses a 1200cc motorcycle against the 600s and HD still has not yet reached the podium racing against the 600s. What high performing engines are you referring to?

    RH, a little history for you. HD’s first engine was a single cylinder engine. When HD decided to use a vtwin engine they wanted to use the same frame that housed the single cylinder engine. HD went with the narrow 45 degree vtwin because it fit in the same bicycle frame that orinally housed the single cyclinder engine. Ever since, HD, being the big innovators that they are not, has stuck to the 45 degree engine. If a bike maker is about looks and it sells their bikes, fine. But don’t try to tell me that these bikes designs are high performing.

    Part of why HD won’t change their design is because of looks. The narrow 45 degree engine looks better than say a 60 degree. For the old men that buy HD motorcycles that are concerned more with looks than performance this works out great. But to the young person interested more in performance, this idea doesn’t work. If you’re gonna build a sport bike….ditch the 45 degree twin. INNOVATE!!!

    True, a 100 cu. in. vtwin will humble SOME sportbike riders. How much did this bike cost? Put half of that money into an inline 4 and no way the inline 4 will get spanked.

    If you’re going to build a sport bike put a high performing, fast revving motor in it. Especially, if you’re going to build a sport bike that cost 3 times more than the ultra high performing inline 4 and 60+ degree vtwins that are currently out on the market that do EVERYTHING(brake, accelerate, corner) well.

    RH, you haven’t answered ANY of my questions. What performance potential does the 45 degree vtwin engine have over other engines?

  45. Frank says

    True, the narrow 45 degree twin allows for a bike with a shorter wheel base. That is part of the reason Aprilia builds a 75 degree vtwin as opposed to a 90 degree twin. 60 degrees is the minimum angle where the one cycliner doesn’t cut out the power pulse of the other cylinder and Aprilia decided to cut the difference between the 90 and the 60 in order to utilize the benefits of both. However, HD, with their shorter wheel base, can’t seem to come close to the competition.

    When I speak of an engine being efficient I am referring to horsepower and torque. I am not referring to gas milage.

    How fun are the twisties while the bike vibrates to holy heck? More than a couple people have told me that the rear cylinder on their Buells had over heated and needed rebuilding. What good is having “intelligent” nearly service-free valve adjustments and a market full of factory-endorsed mechanics & parts suppliers if the bike is having other problems?

  46. RH says


    Stick with those inline 4s! They are idiot proof. They sound perfect for you. After you are old enough to get a driver’s license, that is.

    In the mean time, your gross ignorance of engine dynamics and complete lack of experience with anything you are talking about is getting really old.

  47. Frank says

    Answer the question…What benefits does a 45 degree vtwin have over the other vtwins?

    Short wheel base? The other bikes have a short wheel base. The other bikes are fast in the straights and the curves…..it may take some shifting but the inline 4s do provide gearing to go just as fast as vtwins.

    Explain why no 45 degree vtwin or anyone remotely respected in building sportbikes does not use the 45 degree vtwin.

    Answer some questions for a change.

  48. Frank says

    A bicyclist has to weigh 300 lbs. to get 150 lbs. of torque according to one of your above post. Wrong!

    Here is a web site that shows an average recreational rider achieves the 150 lbs. of torque. A track racer gets more. A 300 pounder as you put it a little less.


    To use your own words:
    In the mean time, your gross ignorance of bicycle dynamics and complete lack of experience with anything you are talking about is getting really old.

    Again…Answer some questions for a change.

  49. says

    I like how the French built a 72 degree v-twin, experimenting in increments of 1 degree until they finally arrived at the desired 72 degree angle.

    The Italians have 90 degree twins mounted in two different ways, an 87-degree twin, 60 degree twins, what is the new v4 from Aprilia? in-line 4s, etc.

    Germans have parallel twins, boxers, in-line 4s

    British have parallel twins, triples

    Japanese have twins, fours, V4s, even a V5 (triples may be on the way again)

    As much as I like the Wakan, Buell Firebolt, Big Twin Racer, Ecosse, Wraith, etc. Americans do need to add something besides the 45 degree twin.

    Thankfully there is Victory and HDs Revolution motor. S&S’s X-Wedge, too

    What about a v3 ? Similar to Honda’s V5, but more compact…. a parallel twin up front with the rear cylinder forming the “v”.

  50. RH says


    Ever see one of those Fueling (sp?) V3s? It was more or less a Harley with another cylinder sticking out the front. There was also Freddie Spencer’s Honda RS500 V3 triple.

    I’ll answer Frank’s questions if anyone else wants to know the answers. Otherwise, I won’t waste my time on Frank’s inability to comprehend anything technical.

    Hints: Honda RS750, Big Bang GP engines,,,,,,,,

  51. RH says


    Ever run a motorcycle dyno? I have. And a bunch of us lashed a bicycle on it for fun and we all took turns. My math agreed with what I saw and I posted.

    Get off the internet, off the fan boy sites, and get on a real motorcycle in the real world. Or go over to GopedNation.com , which is more your speed.

    I never saw a baked rear cylinder on a Harley or Buell when I was a factory certified mechanic at a top 3 Buell dealership.

    My Buell and FXRS-sp vibrated less than my GSXR.

    My old XR1000 virbrated, but never enough to notice when throwing it around in the mountains.

    What works best on the track doesn’t work best on the street – and vice versa. I’ve spent enough time on both to know the difference. What bikes work best for little boys on the internet doesn’t concern me.

  52. todd says

    typical Harley guy; resorts to name calling and belittlement when his conventions are challenged.

    I never heard an answer to a good question: “What benefits does a 45 degree vtwin have over the other vtwins? ” I extend the question: What benefit does any twin (accepting the inherent balance of a 90degree twin) have over a 4 cylinder other than complexity? More cylinders allow more efficient valve train exhibiting HIGHER TORQUE and HIGHER HORSEPOWER at nearly all RPMs.

    I think the problem is that some people are comparing 100ci (1640cc) twins with 36ci (600cc) inline 4s. Why do you think that Harley seldom shows engine capacity in cc’s, never advertises horsepower, or never posts weight? They always resort to claims of meaningless torque.
    How much torque would a 600cc push-rod 45degree twin make? I have a hankering it would be a fair bit less than the current 600cc “rice rockets” are putting out.


  53. says

    RH – yeah, I’ve seen & read about the Fueling W-3. And I know about the rumors of Honda possibly making a V3 awhile ago.

    I was speaking more about the fact that it is high time for the western hemisphere to step up & build a modern superbike engine, put it in a great sportbike chassis, & mass produce enough of them to compete with the Ducati 1098 price.

    The engine should compete, yet be unique.

    Todd – “meaningless torque”. ? uugh.

  54. Frank says

    You continually resort to name calling. In debate classes a big rule of thumb is that “name calling is almost always a sign of intellectual deficiency”. For the record, I do an awful lot of riding. So far, I’ve put 33,000 miles on my current sport bike. Most of these miles were done on twisty country roads.

    I agree with you that what works best on the track doesn’t work best on the street – and vice versa. However, the last motorcycle comparison I read involving the Buell, they were comparing the Buell to 600cc street bikes. The 600cc street bikes outperformed the Buell in all meaningful areas(0-60, 1/4 mile, top speed, braking, and handling) .
    I also read a comparison between two cruisers, the HD Road King and the Yamaha Royal Star. The comparo said that the smaller engine Royal Star pulled away from the Road King with ease. The magazine also said that even with the new bigger 96 ci(1600 cc) engine that is to replace the current 88 ci
    engine in the Road King that the Yamaha is still expected to out power the Road King. The magazine did say that the Road King sounded good!…no joke.

    The February 2007 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine proves Todds point well. Todd makes a good point about HD seldom showing meaningful numbers such as horse power and weight. In that issue of Motorcycle Cruiser, Honda, Hyosung, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, and Victory all had fuel milage and 1/4 mile time, measured by the magazine, posted for a few models of each make. All except HD. HD only had ONE model’s 1/4 mile time and fuel milage posted. That model was the 65 degree, er ah um, I mean the VROD. None of the other HD makes numbers were posted.

    Hoyt makes a good point in saying “it is high time for the western hemisphere to step up & build a modern superbike engine”. I mean, geesh, HD has HUGE money! Their stock price is high and they sell a lot of motorcycles. There is no reason that they shouldn’t invest in some R & D toward engine performance and come up with something decent. If HD is so great, as some of the fanatically loyal fan base believes, than why won’t HD build another engine configuration and offer some real variety in something other than looks.

    When Moto GP, the baddest class of motorcycle road racing, is on, I am always cheering for the American Riders. Last year, for the first time in many years, an American, Nicky Hayden, won the championship. I was happy for us American bikers. I would have been happier and prouder if he did it on an American motorcycle. He did it on a Honda. However, I am a realist and know that that is not happening any time soon. I applaud American K. Roberts Sr. for having the guts to have at least tried and build an engine to compete along side the super bad bikes of Moto GP. I am hoping that Moto Cyzst, Americas latest effort at an American bike in Moto GP, does well. I am dissapointed that HD is not interested in at least trying to enter a Moto GP bike, especially with their huge resources of engineers and money. Oh well, to each his own. I guess some people don’t like racing as much as others.

  55. todd says

    Yes, torque numbers are meaningless. They tell you nothing of performance or engine characteristics unless other factors such as RPM, weight, and gear ratios are also cited.

    Take the bicycle analogy for instance: You could get a bunch of overweight Harley owners to start riding bicycles if they only knew that you can get twice as much torque out of one as their beloved motorcycles. Little do they know that many 4-cyl sport bikes make more torque than their “Road King”.

    I understand the cruising thing, the relaxed ride, the classic styling, the pleasant sound (at least with stock exhaust). Heck, I don’t even like 4 cylinder bikes. I’ve never owned a bike with more than two cylinders, I prefer to wring the life out of singles and the occasional flat twin. I do, however, understand reality and engine dynamics; multi cylinder bikes will always be more powerful than fewer cylinders of the same engine capacity. I don’t really care. Anything that goes more than 75mph is fast to me. I’m happy with 50, even 25, horsepower. I could really care less but when someone says their harley is more powerful than a sport bike and spouts off marketing hype torque figures I just have to chuckle. I know better.



  56. Frank says

    Twins do have an advantage in that torque is accessible through out the rev range more so than an inline 4. Inline 4s advantage is that horsepower is accessible through out the rev range more so than a twins.

    Cycle World editor, Kevin Cameron once said: “In simple terms, the four-cylinder should slaughter the Twin in terms of power, but when can you use it? For a few seconds at the end of the straights? Meanwhile, the strong midrange of the Twin can allow its rider to get a better jump off most turns, which gives an advantage most of the way down the next straight.”

    However, I can only bet that Cameron is talking about high performing 60+ degree vtwins(Ducati, Aprilia, etc.) that hold their own against equally sized inline 4s. He is not talking about the twins compared to 600cc inline 4s.

  57. RH says


    I was responding at a level you clearly understand, since you don’t understand anything of a technical nature. Plus it matches your ignorant comments about “innovation” “vibration” “overlapping firing pulses” and other pseudotechnical babble. I could care less about your debate class nonsense.

    I have owned more “other” brand motorcycles than I’ve owned Harleys. I prefer BMWs myself.

    The benefit of a 45? Try “engine length”. The REAL downsides – which you never mentioned? Simple – the closer the cylinders, the higher the deck height to keep the skirts from crashing.

    Inline 4s have been built since Harley came out with their V twin. Scott came out with their liquid cooled multi two stroke about the same time. Ever see a Cyclone board track racing engine – from before WWI?

    You can find Harley engine sizes ALL OVER their literature, website, etc…

    Are they the ultimate engine? NO. They are a lot of fun to mess with. All you can do is repeat what others say. I’ve spent lots of time with supersport bikes and air cooled twins – the RIDER is what makes the big difference – and it is far more fun to kick some little punk’s butt on an “archaic” bike than whatever won the latest magazine shootout.

    There’s a lot more, but I prefer messing with real hardware to internet hot air from children.

  58. kneeslider says

    OK, … EVERYONE here, keep things civil. Stick to the tech and not what you think of the other person or their views.

  59. Frank says

    Psuedo Technical Babble?……Without HEAVY counter weights on a 45 degree twin, the engine will not continue to run. I, myself, mentioned the length benefit of a 45 degree twin in one of my previous posts. Obviously to me though, a small benefit compared to other benefits loss. To each his own.

    The REAL down sides in my opinion are the slow revving nature and the loss of horsepower.

  60. savageibm says

    We all have one thing in common here TWO wheels. What exactly does it matter how fast you can go or how quickley you can get there. We all bleed red when you dump on the pavement. I Like the waken with the Vtwin i think it has alot of charater and would stand out in a crowd. I think it is engineered very well even though it is from the french, but hey to each his own (cant choose where we come from only where we are going). So to all of you out there keep on riding and keep the racing on the track where its easier to stack up the dead bodies.

  61. RH says


    First – I’ll stick to facts as long as you leave your opinions out – we’ll both have a lot more fun.

    Flywheel weight has NO effect on power. It DOES show up on inertial dynos, but on a brake dyno (which tuners generally prefer to develop engines) it doesn’t show up at all. But all of the “dyno shootouts” you see (as well as most magazine tests) use inertial ones like the Dynojet unit. That’s why things like lighter wheels and tires will show “more power”.

    When the Buell S1 came out, they lightened the crank wheels a lot. It ran no differently – but the throttle did feel a bit more snappy – in neutral – and it shifted smoother. But physics – and experience – teaches us that energy stored in a flywheel is never lost. it is gained back when you upshift. My Buell had the light flywheels – if I had split the cases, I would have put the heavy one in.

    One of the fun things was racing a buddy of mine on a fast 600 Yamaha something or another. He would pull away on the throttle – and I would catch back up on every upshift. We made about the same power – just different delivery. Oh yes – ALL of my riding buddies rode 4 cylinder bikes – we had tos of fun up in the mountains. They would rocket away in the straights (well. the guys with the 1100s did) and they would disappear in my mirrors when the road got twisty. The discussion at the table in the pizza house at the top was always a lot of fun.

    back to those flywheels. NO bike can use all of its power when driving out of a corner. And it is corner exit speed which pretty much determines lap times (or craziness up in the mountains). That’s where tractability comes from. It is extremely important – and can’t be measured in the spec sheet. Power you can put dwon beats power you can’t every time. That’s why a LOT of racers DON’T have the lightest flywheels possible. NO bike can accelerate as fast as the engine can rev.

    Firing pulses – ever hear of “Big Bang” engine theory? It is used in racing a lot. That’s where the degrees between firing is closed waaay up so the engine emulates………something like a 45 degree V twin. It is done for tractabilty – which doesn’t show up on a dyno or spec sheet.

    And guess which has a closer firing interval – a 45 degree twin or a 60+ degree twin? It isn’t the 45. We’re talking 4 strokes – where each cylinder fires every 720 degrees. For virtually all twins, the firing interval between cylinders 360 +/- the cylinder angle (+ crank pin stagger, if any). So that means, if your theory about needing heavy flywheels to run is correct, then a 60+ degree one needs even heavier ones. 60+ ones don’t – and neither does the 45.

    The real reason why Harley type 45 degree engines have huge crank wheels is because of the long stroke. Nothing more, nothing less. A short stroke 45 would have the same crank size as an identical stroke 60 or 90 or whatever.

    Ever hear of a “twingle”? It is a racing twin where it is re-timed to fire very close together, making it behave more like a single. It was done with British parallel twins and sometimes on Harleys for dirt track. Speaking of dirt track, Honda couldn’t win there until they copied the cylinder angle, bore, and stroke of the competition. Guess who that was. Then Commonwealth Racing took that Honda engine and roadraced it very successfully. So much for slow 45 degree twins that nobody else uses.

    A 60 degree is, in theory and practice, closer to ideal. But many (or most?) of them use balance shafts anyway – which work just as well in a 45. Sputhe sold a 60 degree Harley case for a while. It didn’t sell well.

    Back to bicycles. We all got the most torque reading when the cranks were almost stalled – maybe 20 RPM. That was a real world test – it didn’t match the internet chart based on who knows what. Do the math – I’m 160~ lbs and prefer a 165mm crank. It isn’t 150 ft/lbs. All of the cycle racers I know measure their power in watts using a Powertap hub. The fast riders I know spin rather than mash. I prefer to maintain a steady 80-90 rpm cadence, but will spin over 120 when it is called for.

    None of the “performance 45 degree twins” put out peak torque like bicycles do – it is an invalid comparison. I did ride a 1930’s Harley UL once – it DID put out peak torque just over idle. It was weird to upshift and accellerate faster – but with 3 speeds, there wasn’t much speed there. Not my idea of fun, but it was an interesting experience.

  62. says

    RH & Frank – this is good stuff – thanks for the info. & please continue…

    Maybe this is too much for this type of platform, but the Kneeslider is one of the better forums for open discussion so I’ll ask it anyway….

    Hypothetically…if you had a staff of engineers & a building full of machinery to tool up an engine that will be put into a great-handling sportbike, what would it be & why? The bike’s intent is to perform great as a streetbike & have racetrack performance potential. Should we limit cc capacity? 1200cc?


    “savageibm” – c’mon, man, you’re joking, right? The French have contributed a great deal to motorcycling:

    The French Dollar motorcycle is beautiful. A narrow angle v4 mounted longitudinally built in the 30’s. IMO, it is cleaner than the Brough Superior & we all know the clout that bike receives.

    The French continue to contribute stellar designs with the Voxan models & now the Wakan.

  63. todd says

    The great thing about multi cylinder bikes is that you don’t have to rev them – or you can if you want to. A 1200cc 4 has 8 relatively small intake valves and inlet tracts. Compare this to a 1200cc twin. It has two fairly large intake valves and tracts to match. Large valves and inlets (and carbs) do not torque make. A four valve four has the optimal set-up for both low and high RPM. All of those little valves add up to quite a bit of valve area. This means they flow better at low RPMs and at high RPMs and run cooler than the comparable two valve motor with fewer cylinders.

    Sure, a high revving motor will have more “peaky” power than a low revving motor. This is not to say that it has less torque. Look at my example way up the page comparing a 1200 kawasaki and a 1200 buell. Both bikes have the same amount of torque up to the Buells peak. Yes, the “peaky” inline 4 motor has just as much torque down low as the Harley derived V-twin. But it doesn’t stop there. When the rider on the Buell must shift up the Kawasaki continues to build torque for another 4-5000 RPM where it is now 130% of what the Buell can muster. This motor wasn’t even “tuned for torque”. This is the natural benefits of allowing a multi valve motor spin. Hence the conclusion: A V-twin has a broad, flat torque curve though it is limited in duration and magnitude. The multi has a steeper torque curve but is spread over twice as many RPM, never dipping below that of the twin but bettering it in both range and magnitude.

    If one wishes to utilize the bulk of an inline four’s power it is located in a relatively RPM range fairly high up – but lower down in the rev range the motor is still more powerful than the twin. Ergo my conclusion: A four cylinder bike has a broader power band than a push rod twin.

    Do not compare 600cc to 1200cc when talking about torque, save that for horsepower.


    p.s. a longitudinal inline 4 allows a shorter wheel base than a 45degree twin because it has a smaller diameter crankcase and allows the manufacturer to stack the transmission vertically where a twin’s cylinder would reside.
    Thanks for the fun.

  64. todd says

    Oh, I almost forgot.

    The Wakan is a beautiful design and I would love to have one for myself as long as it wasn’t too loud. The french are fabulous designers but have not proven to have the same capabilities in engineering – but only because it has not been as highly valued to them as to other continental countries in times of economic lows. I have a Peugeot moped. Despite the fact that I can pull off being a dork on a moped fairly easy the little french bike has seriously high levels of quality and finish compared to other mopeds of various nations. It also is great fun making it run well above the limits Peugeot and DOT ever intended it to. Viva la French

    -todd (french ancestry)…

  65. RH says


    The Wakan, and the Sportster/Buell engine on which it is based, have vertically stacked transmission gears. Yes, the 4s are shorter – but a 90 degree version of the Wakan engine would be immense. Check out a Hesketh some time – it is huge.

  66. Frank says

    Ducatis and the Honda rc51 have 90 degree engines and they weren’t immense. Of course, the Italians and Japanese have more technology concerning motorcycle engines and therefore can get more power out of smaller displacements. But Americans need to do something different so their 1200 twins can be compared and raced against something other than 600 cc motorcycles.

  67. RH says


    I agree completely. I was referring to the Hesketh because it was the closest example to what a 90 degree Sportster engine would look like.

    As much as I get a kick out of messing with old 45 degree pushrod twins, I’d be deeply disappointed if H-D/Buell doesn’t do something better & very soon.

    The new KTM Super Duke seems like the perfect bike to me. Given Hoyt’s development plan, I’d do a 1200 version of that.

    Sorry for the previous harsh comments – I have no doubt that my idea of fun might not make sense to many. I do understand the appeal of the competition well – and hope they keep competing.

  68. says

    That KTM engine makes a lot of sense with its compact, centered mass, and low c of g.

    A 1200 cc version would bump hp.

    The Aprilia twin makes impressive power.

  69. Frank says

    HD and Buell haven’t done much innovating in the engine department since their 45 degree vtwin was introduced back in 1920 or there abouts. Be prepared to be dissapointed. Well, on second thought they did come out with the vrod engine. Maybe you won’t be dissapointed. Two different engines in 80 years…..no imagination.

  70. Frank says

    The engine I would put into a great handling sportbike would be either a vtwin of at least 75 degrees. That way I get more hp for the straights and also the midrange vtwins are noted for. Or I’d get a v3 or v4 in the bike. That way I get a lot of hp that the inline 4s are noted for and the midrange that the twins usually get. With the way that the inline 4s are geared, I’d still be happy with an inline 4 as well. They still corner well although it takes more shifting and you still get a heck of a lot of very addictive hp for the straights.

  71. says

    A V3 is very interesting. It seems to hold a lot of promise for packaging, power characteristics, a bit lighter than a v4, & the sound would be truly unique.

    The next couple of years should be fun as Aprilia introduces their new V4 & possibly Japan will re-introduce their version of an in-lne triple.

    Anyone want 800 cc in-line triple in a chassis not much bigger than a 600cc?

    oops, this was about the Wakan.. Great bike & welcome to America ! I’m glad to have your great design & history of quality motorcycles. viva France!

  72. says

    interesting read. Trev Deeley has one of these in his museum outside of Vancouver, BC. As bland as the styling is, the bike is intriguing.

    couple of other notables from the article…

    -I didn’t know Porsche was involved back then.

    -A V6 was considered, eh? wow.

    -As a Guzzi owner, I got a chuckle out of the comment in the article that said the idea (about turning the engine sideways) was quickly dropped. Quickly? ha-ha.

  73. Frank says

    A very interesting read. A few interesting FACTS from the article:

    -HD “imported” performance just like the sport bike riders of today that buy the Japanese and Italian sport bikes. When HD wanted to build their high performing NOVA they went over seas to England and Germany. Why didn’t they go across the street to Chevy, Mopar, or Ford? HD has the most loyal fan base of any bike maker. HD fans even tatoo themselves with the HD logo. One of their chief reasons for liking HD they say is because it is made in America. It’s ironic that HD doesn’t share their fans loyalty to America.

    -The V4 engine in the NOVA was at a 60 degree angle. As I said earlier 60 degrees is the minimum angle where the firing of one cylinder doesn’t cancel the power of the other. Heavy counter weights are needed to keep the motors momentum turning and also to keep it from shaking to kingdom come. Some people will throw technical mumbo jumbo out there that doesn’t address any useful questions. Apparently HDs engineers saw performance solutions as I did. That’s no surprise as they are engineers and therefore understand the benefits and draw backs of different engine angles far better than I can. As I said earlier, if you want high performance the 45 degree twin has huge draw backs.

    -The engine in the NOVA was water cooled. I’ve read articles where water cooling allows for closer tolerances and high performance. The air cooled 45 degree twin needs to stay in the rolling sofas or in the bicycle frames from which it was born. It doesn’t belong in a sport bike. There are too many better alternatives available.

    In a previous post on here, under the name sport bike rider, I commented that I liked where the Wakan is going with their sport bike handling. That is more suited for me and other sport bike riders than the many chopper designs out there using vtwin engines. But at $35,000 I need a way lighter, more powerful, faster revving engine.

  74. Rick says

    I like it. It needs a pair of 320mm calipers, from my experience a single 340mm is okay for street use, but aggressive riding will tend to overheat it.

    Most people don’t understand the appeal of these motors. Sure they are a bit old tech and put out moderate HP numbers for their displacement, but they are dong it with only two heavy valves, a huge stroke, an inneficient intake tract, and half the revs of more modern designs. A big twin is a total riot to ride on the street compared to similarly powered I-4’s, with huge power available right off idle. To me it’s all about the fun, not the spec sheet. Like any other low production custom twin, it’s the price that is surely going to be truly outrageous, and that’s a shame.

  75. todd says

    Again, the “huge torque” comes from its displacement and not any magical cylinder configuration. A same sized I-4 will have even more power at those RPMs because of its greater number of smaller valves and lower gearing.


  76. Rudi says

    Love the raging arguments …………

    I have been riding since 1965 & buying new bikes every 18 months or so since. I still get turned on by interesting bikes (which always causes me to buy the next etc etc and alternate between sports bike, then a Harley or other tourer) – the Waken certainly caused me to respond emotionally and has generated much soul-searching as to what I now WANT out of a bike.

    Herein lies a possible counter-submission that does not stray into the turmoil of engine configurations from a technical standpoint, but rather looks at the matter of emotions which your discussions have to date overlooked.

    In reply to the fundamental question of why Harley/45 degree twins can survive and compete in this modern world I would say it is simply because they look and sound good; appear simple (though that is not true in this age of closed loop EFI, balance shafts etc.). Ah ha I hear you say, what purile arguement to pitch against our intellectual reasoning – well lets start with the analysis done just after the management buy-out of Harley when the 3 wise men got together to see where they must go next to survive, did they come up with optimal degree V twins – no; did they go for high revving multis with superior engine characteristics – no; did they even look for light weight and excellent handling – no. They went on building ‘Harleys’ and look how they took off once they had nailed reliability issues. I would argue the motorcycle business is about pleasing a majority of cutomers and we must recognise that fact when hammering Harley for inferior design, they are not building niche market superbikes and I would submit they know very well what they are doing and could build as good a supersports bike as anybody else if that was their brief.

    I want us to look at our emotional response to machines – a nerve Harley touch upon so well, when you look at their glossy catalogue you do not see a 60 bhp – 700lb monster, they just look good and well put together, Harley goes for our visual emotions.

    You can of course say that not all of us respond at this primative level but most do – for example I have a 1965 Austin Healey 3000 – its been in the family from new, yet every time I drive it I come back with a smile on my face, same for everybody else who drives or rides in it – this is an emotional thing as in every measurable facet the Healey would come up wanting against modern cars, the same thing applies to all machines, cars, bikes, boats, aeroplanes, locomotives and THATS where the Waken comes in, it gives us our vintage engine with its sycopatic rythem, easy ride and if the advertising is correct, all in a 400lb package – just wow!

    I would also have to say that a V twin (45 to 90 degrees) gives the rider a sense of relaxation, it doesn’t feel as if it is ‘frantic’ where a triple or 4 does, its just not about power figures, its as much about the riders senses that can be tweaked by things other than numbers – I know everybody says it but how many riders can even approach 100% use of todays super bikes.

    In 1950 the Vincent gave us 125mph on 55bhp and weighed some 420lbs.

    In the ’60’s a 750 Commando gave us 120 mph on 55bhp (though not for long!) and weighed some 400lbs. I could have sworn 400lbs and 80bhp would have been an ideal combination yet now, so many bikes are in the 100bhp + class but they also gained weight and size, somehow that old buzz is still missing. The Waken MAY recover that vintage combination of size, weight, engine type and mechanical CONNECTION.

    So in summary, for most of us we can be swayed by factors other than utimate power or speed, almost anything on the road is now fast enough so maybe other factors also come in play?


  77. Gerry says

    Hi Guys,

    I’m just coming in near the end of this back and forth and I have to say it’s getting rather pointless. In one of his first posts Frank proves he has NO idea how the firing order is or the power pulses are in any Harley I’ve know of in over 30 years. If his figures were correct, the bike would almost certainly throw the rider from the bike, that is, if the engine hadn’t self-destructed first!
    If that weren’t enough, after displaying little understanding about engines that have been around since dirt, he starts designing his own “great handling sportbike”.
    Continuing a conversation with someone who doesn’t know the basics is rather pointless. Frank’s the kind that has one burr under his saddle and he’ll continue boring others with it till he’s blue in the face.
    I’ve owned Bridgestone, (yes they built bikes at one time), Kawasaki, Bultaco, Triumph, Yamaha, BMW, and now Harley’s. They all have or had their own style and appeal at different times in my life. I’ve worked on BMWs and Harleys and used to race hillclimb and flat-track back in the 60s and 70s. I know a bit about motors.
    Frank, buy whatever pleases you. Then get off the GD computer and your silly rant and go ride the damn thing.


  78. thomas says


    The tank-top scoop is exceedingly cool.
    Who would expect that from the French?


  79. Olli says

    Comparing that Wakan to modern superbikes is like comparing a Porsche 911 to Subaru WRX STi or EVOs; sure latters are easier to drive and in most cases faster too but are they having soul?
    There’s just something nice in boxer-6s; just like there are in V-twins. Not dissing Japanese manufacturers (riding V-4 myself) but HD’s sound is still giving me a hard-on.
    Now Frenchies have married a “Fathead” TwinCam with good and stylish frame… well I’d like to have one; pretty please!

  80. Frank says

    Ok, so maybe I got the firing order wrong. However, everyone knows that there are far better engine configurations to put into a sport bike other than a 45 degree v-twin. Any modern sport bike uses at least a 60 degree v-twin.

    I’ve read enough articles and seen enough races to suggest, just like Mr. Honda of Honda motorcycles, that the v-4 is perhaps the best engine combo for a sport bike.

    If you know as much about engines as you say you did then you know that there are faster revving, smoother running, more powerful v-twin engines available(meaning 60 degrees or better).

    Look at the new Buell that came out, the 1125r. It uses a 72 degree v-twin. Its about time an American sportbike came out with something that puts up some kind of reasonable competition to European and Japanese bikes.

  81. Frank says

    I made this statement in an earlier post and it is wrong:

    “As I said earlier 60 degrees is the minimum angle where the firing of one cylinder doesn’t cancel the power of the other.”

    I left a very important word out of that statement. That word is “partially”. The statement should read:

    …… 60 degrees is the minimum angle where the firing of one cylinder doesn’t “partially” cancel the power of the other.

  82. Pete says

    Ducati 1098. 160HP, 381 lbs dry, and I could get two for that price. Not only that, it looks better, and it meets Olli’s soul requirement.

  83. Colin says

    I am not a sport bike rider, but I like this one more than most – the lack of plastic is a breath of fresh air.

    S&S have been in business for many years – first making carburettors and big engine accessories for H-D motors, and later making complete engines. I have only had good results with using their parts, which I have been running for 20+ years on my Harley.

    I wish Wakan success with their product.

  84. Rodney says

    Hello all….live in Milwaukee, worked in hd,s new r@d facility, saw all the test booths, all I can say is these guys know what they are doing, and have money. There is not a motorcycle built that they do not buy, and completely disassemble. All the plants are state of the art, they reinvest a lot of money, and when the time is right…trust me, they will be there. This is from a old biker with only 1 hd 1972 sportster which does not run. An old BMW r90, 14 other british bikes, 1 860gt duc..nice bike…1974 suz 500gt 2 stroke, a beautiful 1967 g15cs matchless 750cc, and 2 of my favorite bikes, a 1962 dbd clubman goldstar 500cc single, and 1955 cb clubman goldstar single. Now these are fun to ride. Weaklings and non mechanic types do not apply.

    It’s kind fun watching all the jap 2 3 year wunder bikes come and go…its like they can’t make up there mind which way to go..try to find parts for any of this jap stuff all of which was the state of art in its day, now zero factory support for your older bike. Funny, I just saw a 305 honda super hawk sell for $10,000 on ebay…now that is the top of motorcycle engineering..or is it one of 10 still running. Ahhh, the kawasaki z1 900, try buying a stock exhaust for one of these…last I saw was $3,500.

    I was looking for maybe a big touring bike, so I looked at some big ole kawaski I think..you know the one that had the plastic oil pump gear and would fail at something like 30,000mi and destroy the engine..or the I think big yamaha v twin bike, the one with all the second gears going out.. one guy in a ebay add said he did not miss the 2nd gear because of the torque his motor made..

    Only a fool will dismiss harley

  85. Koro-koro says

    Hello all,Wakan is a very good bike.I have a Honda CBR600 1998 and I wanna modified it to be like Wakan but I dont know how!can anybody help me?show me where can I get any spareparts or where can I find a tuner in Indonesia?!!!!!!Thanks to all brother….

  86. willie says

    this bike is an awesome machine i think its beautiful. with that said the frame inst designed to be fast on the twisty’s maybe a straight line. i guess it is muscle bike if they drop the price to under 20 call me

  87. tom clasenheimer says

    Why any clever individual would waste so much time on a decrepid design without addressing the essential valve train flaws only demonstrates how little enginuity is willingly indulged by so many for so long and to so little avail.

  88. motorjunkie says

    It’s really simple,HEAVY SPINNING MASS IS HARD TO STOP,HEAVY SPINNING MASS IS HARD TO SPIN FAST. That’s why 45 degree single pin crank motors have tons of torque from off idle up to around 2000 to 2500 rpm and then start dropping off,as opposed to other configurations that gain torque or at least are more linear. If you like the bicycle comparison ,cut one of your pedals off and weld it 45 deg. from the opposite then go for a ride. Personally I think the crankshaft configuration comes into play more than the cylinder spacing.It all comes down to what a person likes. I’m kinda partial to v-4s.The potato potato is what a lot of people like and most for the wrong reason,they associate the cadence to something like a cammed-out big block which couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually it comes closer to your washing machine when all those heavy wet clothes get slung over to one side during the spin cycle.Not being critical it’s just not for everyone.

  89. says

    Any of you ever heard of NHRA drag racing.Thats where the real hp is. Looks to me like Buells and the HD dominate over the only 4 cylinder Suzuki’s to even contend. The v twins kill em off the line with killer torque. Remember this is major drag racing and they will use what is best for the application.Results look pretty clear to me.

  90. Andy J says

    All of you who think that the Jap and china bikes are faster on the zero to sixty times, your wrong. V motors have much more torque, as proven in above posts. And whoever thinks V motors are so much hevier, your wrong as well. Look at the Ducati desmosedici rr. It is a V-4, pushing out over 200hp. Might i say it is 989cc motor. Dry weight is under 380. and that is no lie. When i visited a ducati dealer in a city near me, we tested everything on the scale and dyno. came out to 379 lbs, dry. Put out 205hp. Ducati’s have the best power to weight ratio v motors on the market. And you can rev them up to 14,000rpm. Not bad for v twins. Desmosedici zero to sixty time is 2.8 seconds. This is the ultimate street bike. They only made 1500 of them. all are sold and they went for a mere $74,338.00

  91. hh says

    Frank still doesn’t get it, even after “correcting” himself. If his theory of power pulse cancellation were true, the 60 degree v-twin would have worse cancellation than the 45. But of course, it’s complete BS. The power pulses don’t even come close to being at the same time, but they are slightly closer in any v-twin than in a parallel twin. The bigger the angle, the closer the power pulses are to eachother. It’s true that a 72 degree v-twin provides the perfect distribution of linear momentum of the pistons. One is reversing direction while the other is at highest linear velocity. The parallel twin is the worst where both pistons reverse direction at the same time, which results in its inherent vibration, especially at displacements over 500 cc. This is why some have fitted 72 degree cranks to their British twins.