Yesterday we noted the pricing and ordering information for the new Bulldog diesel coming out next year and we’ve written many times about the Thunder Star 1200, an exciting and capable bike with great performance. There are a number of other small companies designing and building diesel bikes, too, but where are the major manufacturers? I really don’t understand their lack of interest.
Next year, ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) will be rolling out and by October 15th, all diesel fuel sold in the U.S. must have only 15ppm (parts per million) sulfur content compared to the 500ppm that has been the standard up to this point. Diesels designed to run this fuel are extremely clean and efficient and why there hasn’t been a push toward diesels to rival or exceed the push toward hybrids and fuel cells is beyond me.
At the Tokyo motor show we saw the Yamaha Gen-Ryu motorcycle designed with hybrid technology and others touting fuel cell capabilities that only work as concept vehicles in limited areas at great cost, surely those same companies could take advantage of the enormous progress in diesel technology to create a clean, powerful and high performance diesel motorcycle that would work right now instead of at some future date. No new infrastructure is necessary as it would be with hydrogen, diesel pumps are in place everywhere. Do I even need to mention the explosive growth of biodiesel? Almost every state in the country has plans for a biodiesel plant or even multiple plants of some sort and you can make your own if you’re so inclined.
If a small shop in Holland can build the Thunder Star and a company like HDT can turn out the Bulldog, you would think the large manufacturers would be all over this. There has been a divide for a while in the automotive world, hybrids come from Japan and diesels come from Europe. OK, where’s BMW? They have the financial and engineering wherewithal to develop a diesel motorcycle and could probably do so quite easily. Have you heard of one back in their shop somewhere? I haven’t.
Marketing types say the public won’t buy diesels in cars, let alone motorcycles, since diesels many years ago were loud, noisy and smelly low performers. Nonsense. If you can sell the public on hybrids or get people all whipped up about hydrogen cars which won’t exist for 20 years if ever, you could certainly advertise the new diesels with all of the benefits of clean diesel and high performance, not to mention the extreme durability of your average diesel engine. Saying no one will buy them and not making them is a self fulfilling prophecy. How can people buy what you don’t build and sell?
The motorcycle manufacturers should get on board with diesels as soon as possible. I think it’s a huge opportunity for the first company that comes out with a good one. ( A GOOD one, no junk just to prove people won’t buy.) I bet they would sell like crazy.
See also: Roush diesel quad atv