Is this proof a Honda V4 engine project is being revived with V2 tech?

Patents for a Honda V4 engine originating from 2013 have made a reappearance... is it simply Honda doing some filing, or is planning to revive it?

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It’s a story that hasn’t really gone away and one bosses have repeatedly fielded questions over but it appears this could be the proof Honda is pressing ahead with plans to develop a clever new V4 engine.

Patents have emerged that show Honda has registered ideas and innovations around a new V4 engine layout, raising anticipation that the Japanese firm hasn’t abandoned the idea of pursuing a new generation of units to replace tech that has powered many of its most iconic models since the 1980s. 

However, we must place a disclaimer here as, who first reported the drawings, points out they were filed to be applicable in Europe and are the same as those registered in Japan and the United States way back in 2013.

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So there is an argument that Honda is merely doing some admin and getting its records up to date just in case they do return to them in future... but it’s more fun to play devil’s advocate, so we’ll pursue that line of enquiry instead!

The V4 layout is certainly nothing new and while Honda has abandoned it in favour of inline architecture for many of its flagship models, there are many who argue a V4 would be better suited on certain motorcycles. Indeed, the launch of every Fireblade without its cylinders in a V has often been a disappointment to some fans.

But with Ducati and Aprilia certainly finding favour with the V-configuration in recent years, particularly on their range-topping Panigale and RSV 4 sportsbikes, Honda is unlikely to have not at least crunched some numbers.

What brings the V4 tech along with this patent though is the capability for the engine to switch between a V4 and V2 configuration by shutting off the rear bank, thus cutting down on emissions and improving fuel economy.

This itself isn’t a new idea by any stretch but what sets Honda apart from the Ducati for instance is the ability to do this at higher cruising speeds. Currently most V4s can only shut down the cylinders at low speeds or idle so as not to starve half of the engine of oxygen, but Honda has tried to develop a way to get around this.

The fact this is an eight-year old patent would suggest Honda never quite found the sweet spot, but that at the same time it is tech worth pursuing later down the line… so is ‘now’ further down that line?

As we say, there could be a simple (boring) explanation for these drawings to suddenly pop up in 2021 or there is something much more fun to consider. 

Rumours of a Honda V4 sportsbike have never ceased and for a manufacturer that opted to go from inline to V4 to start what would become a dominant era in MotoGP, it is surprising its crowning achievement hasn’t filtered down through the range more seamlessly..

If Honda has cracked the code to not only make the V4 powerful, yet more efficient, well that’s a win-won in our book… 

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