New Bikes

WATCH: Air-cooled, three-cylinder, inverted engine race bike

Yep, you read the headline correctly, Italian builder Nembo have thrown convention out the window in the quest for the ultimate race bike

BACK IN THE EARLY DAYS of motorcycle sport, people did all sorts of weird and wonderful things to get an advantage on the competition. Tiny capacity, multi-cylinder two strokes were common after the war for instance. But the powerbands were so small they required ten gears to get the most out of them and needed piston rings changes after every session.

In the late seventies Honda took a loony pill and got to work building the NSR500 oval piston wonder, and it raced with some success but eventually was shelved in favour of a more conventional route.

Petroleum giant Elf even stepped into the party with the crazy looking hub-steered bikes of the 80s, as they looked to pick a fight with every suspension manufacturer on the planet. Turns out forks are alright after all and the team from Elf took their bike, and the contents 90% of the gravel traps of Europe, back to the factory and got on with making fuel.

The thing is, I miss the batshit crazy inventions we saw back then, where are the Brittens and the Blata V6s?? MotoGP isn’t the exactly the innovation-fest it once was either. It’s more about laptops and algorithms, satnav powered traction control and having a big Instabook or Twatter following. Meh.

Well, until lunchtime today that is, when the deepest reaches of the dark web threw up this strange looking yet fascinating creation called the Nembo 32 Concept.

What we have is an Italian built and designed bike, with a two litre, three-cylinder engine used as a stressed member. The whole thing then gets a bit complicated because the engine in the Nembo is inverted, crank at the top, heads at the bottom. The idea is to get the heaviest chunk of spinning metal – the crank – as near to the centre of the bike as possible, it’s called mass centralisation, most of the mainstream manufacturers bang on about it on press launches but none go to these lengths.

It’s not as simple as just flipping the engine over and being done with it either, there are a few complications this will create. The oil, that normally sits in the sump around the crank, will run up inside the engine and starve the spinning crank and conrods of its lubricating loveliness. To cure this, the Nembo is dry sumped, like an F1 car, meaning the oil is stored in a separate tank away from the engine and remotely pumped to where it needs to go. The cylinders and pistons will also require careful consideration when being made, as a normal piston in a conventional cylinder would catch large amounts of oil which could seep around the rings when the engine isn’t running. The intake and exhaust will also need a rethink, the internal float bowls in carbs aren’t fans of the inverse universe and so electronic fuel injection is called for.

The technology and features on this bike are truly something to behold, it’s a bike that’s been designed and built with massive attention to detail and the guy is clearly passionate about his idea. And the sound of it on the track makes me want to bite the back of my hand…

The thing is, I can’t get away from the upside-down engine. Imagine you’ve gone to some famous art gallery to view the Moaning Lisa or whatever her name is. You’ve gone there, walked the whole gallery and the last exhibit is her smirking mush - you’ve waited your whole life for this, one, moment.

And some bellend has hung it on the wall inverted!

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