Based out of Bloomfield, CT, Liquidpiston designs and develops compact, high efficiency, high power to weight, quiet, and low-vibration multi-fuel internal combustion engines. With a horsepower output range from 1hp to over 1000hp. The team continues to do R&D out of their very own state-of-the-art facilities specifically designed and tailored to creating their LiquidPiston engines.
Among many attributes these engines have, the first that comes to mind is the engine’s award-winning efficiency. As EV vehicles progress combustion engines will naturally see a decreased demand. However, the team at LiquidPiston has created an innovative technology that may just prolong the life of internal combustion engines. It may appear to be loosely based on a rotary engine but the similarities end at the surface.
LiquidPiston’s Combustion cycle –
At the heart of LiquidPiston’s engine technology is the reason for its high power density. they have a proprietary combustion cycle call HEHC (High. Efficiency. Hybrid. Cycle).
Air is compressed to a high compression ratio, fuel is then injected and compression ignited (CI-HEHC). The X Mini utilizes a spark-ignition (SI-HEHC) version of the cycle with a lower compression ratio standard for gasoline engines.
A dwell near top-dead-center forces combustion to occur at nearly constant-volume conditions.
Combustion is over-expanded using a larger expansion volume than compression volume, as in the Atkinson Cycle.
Cycle-skipping power modulation allows high efficiencies while cooling the engine’s walls and providing partial heat recovery. Water can be injected internally to cool the engine. Some of this cooling energy is recuperated, as the water turns to steam, increasing the chamber pressure.
LiquidPistons advantages –
These engines have many advantages, from reduced weight to reduced Engine manufacturing costs. The efficiency of the vehicle Goes up directly resulting from engine efficiency and the weight savings. Plus with the ability to run different fuel sources the carbon footprint of these engines becomes negligible.
LiquidPiston is currently doing R&D on their mini-x engine, a version they claim will weigh 3 pounds and produce over 5 hp at 15,000 RPM. The size of this engine would work well in the handheld combustion segment. Another current engine model in R&D is LiquidPiston’s 40hp diesel engine. Weighing a fraction of its standard combustion counterpart.
Time will tell whether or not LiquidPiston’s engine is capable of the service intervals required by the riggers of day-to-day use, With durability testing currently underway
We can see how this engine design would thrive between the frame rails of a modern motorcycle. Our industry thrives on both the pursuit of power and weight loss to which LiquidPiston offers both, Efficiency being the bonus.
BMW Files Patent for Innovative Lightweight Frame Design
BMW recently filed a patent for a novel lightweight frame concept that maximizes the role of the engine as a crucial component of the motorcycle’s framework. The concept, which is more advanced than previous iterations, utilizes large bolts that attach directly to the engine to create a more compact and lighter design than traditional frames.
The patent drawings demonstrate a half-frame directly bolted to the engine of a traditional transverse engine design, replacing the typical steel or aluminum structure. This innovative cast-alloy front chassis offers a direct connection to the steering head and lets the swingarm pivot directly on the gearbox, effectively transforming the engine into the main frame. While similar designs have been seen in Ducati’s Panigale models and from other manufacturers, BMW takes a step further by using cylinder-head bolts to attach the frame to the bike.
This design significantly reduces the motorcycle’s width, a common issue for bikes with transverse-mounted inline engines. Despite the additional complexities associated with V-twins and V-4s, these models often benefit from their narrow width, particularly in terms of aerodynamics. BMW’s novel design combines the best of both worlds, offering a narrow bike that is also lower in cost due to its inline engine.
Another aspect of the patent relates to the potential use of a three- or four-cylinder engine in the new chassis design. While BMW already has a reputation for four-cylinder engines, a triple would be narrower. It’s been several decades since a production triple has been part of the BMW motorcycle lineup, although the K75 model was notably a three-cylinder BMW.
More recently, BMW explored the three-cylinder layout for its cancelled MotoGP project in the early 2000s. A bike was indeed built and tested by Luca Cadalora and Jeremy McWilliams but the project was eventually dropped. This prototype, despite its issues, did contribute to the development of the S 1000 RR model.
Rumors about a three-cylinder BMW sportbike have been circulating since then, with regular online speculation of a smaller machine potentially an S 675 RR. This patent, with its explicit mention of a three-cylinder engine, may just be the first solid evidence that such a machine is under serious consideration.
Ducati’s Leading Role in the Tech Evolution
The landscape of motorcycle technology has experienced significant transformations in the 15 years since Ducati launched their 1098R superbike, providing riders with the first truly effective traction control system designed for the road.
Since that pioneering move, Ducati, the iconic Italian brand, has remained at the forefront of the technological innovation race. From riding modes to radar adaptive cruise control, Ducati continues to be a driving force in advancements and shows no signs of halting progress.
“We invest considerable time in innovation, gaining a lot from both our funding in MUNER (the Motorvehicle University of Emilia-Romagana), and our racing department,” De Silvio informed Thehardtail. “Our Adaptive Cruise Control, for instance, involved the university from the predevelopment stage, which was immensely beneficial.
The undertaking started six years ago, and it took significant time to calibrate the transmitting antenna for every possible situation and ensure the elimination of false positives and negatives. New technology invariably poses challenges, such as tunnel waves causing false readings. Perfecting these systems requires immense time.”
In addition to universities, Ducati heavily leans on their motorsport division, which necessitates consistent innovation to stay competitive.
“Ducati Corse is instrumental for progression, especially as motorcycles continue to become more powerful,” De Silvio further commented. “In racing, an easy-to-ride bike translates into faster speeds; riders can focus on their lines rather than battling their motorcycles, a principle that applies to road riding as well.”
Always close to the next breakthrough, the company reveals they are developing a more sophisticated rider aid system. Mauro hinted, “Without revealing too much, we are devising a new generation of traction control that will be a complete transformation.
Our existing system is in its third generation and has received numerous updates due to our racing experience. However, we recognize that the current software falls short of our aspirations. Hence, we’ve decided to create a new version of the software in-house, employing our MotoGP technology, which has been astounding. We chose the in-house route because we can’t pass all this knowledge to another supplier.”
In addition to rider aids, Ducati is heavily concentrating on semi-active suspension. However, Mauro points out that it’s not a simple task. “We need to focus on hardware, particularly more development on the rear shock. However, we don’t yet have a solution for this.
Major modifications on hardware can create significant problems with the bike and can easily distort the machine’s feel and response. Consequently, the rider may lose the contact feeling, an essential part of riding a Ducati. Without divulging too much, we are intensively working on this and anticipate some news soon. Our aspirations for utilizing semi-active suspension technology are high.”
“Autonomous and artificial intelligence technology is another area we’ve explored, but the complexity of integrating it with a bike is challenging,” he continued.
The rider’s mass constitutes a significant proportion of the overall weight, and with just two wheels, it’s a balance problem.
“However, we are working on developing more functionalities for the algorithm, similar to our adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection. We’ve also tested and calibrated systems like collision detection and corner detection, but they aren’t refined enough to deliver flawless results consistently.”
The process of testing Ducatis to their limits Alessandro Valia, a former racer and factory World Superbike test rider, now Ducati’s Lead Test Rider, guides us through the process of testing and pushing new systems to their maximum…
“We conduct numerous simulations, but they can never truly replicate real-world conditions, especially when dealing with electronics. Our objective is to translate numerical data into tangible feelings, which can be a challenge because engineers typically struggle with concepts that aren’t raw data. Nonetheless, our goal is to develop predictive and consistent controls that feel intuitive and build trust with the rider.”
“Even when factory tests seem to indicate everything is set, there’s still ample time invested to ensure everything is as perfect as it can be. Gathering all the necessary data takes years, and we test in various locations – from test tracks to mountain passes, the autobahn, and all the highways in Europe. The more extensive our testing, the better the end result.”
Racing a Ducati Superleggera V4 around the corner But, do things ever take a turn for the worse? “Indeed! I recall the early days of testing cornering ABS – it was quite terrifying. Braking while maintaining lean angle and being one of the first to attempt this was a demanding task. It required many laps and various different actions: smooth maneuvers, panic braking, roll-ins – anything a rider might do. All this was necessary to calibrate the function. I even had to jab the brake to simulate a panic brake, at an angle, mid-corner, which required me to close my eyes. However, I later performed some regressive trail braking, which the software wasn’t prepared for, and I ended up in a serious crash. After this incident, Bosch had to upgrade their software to cope with such scenarios.”
“I take great pride in our accomplishments, and I like to believe that we’ve prevented numerous crashes and helped riders become faster. Our Racing front ABS only software is exclusive to Ducati and is designed specifically for racing, providing a little aid if you’re on the verge of crashing. Even MotoGP riders like Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini utilize it on their practice bikes!”
A look back at Ducati’s development journey
2008:Introduction of traction control on the 1098R
2009:The first motorcycle with LED lights, the Streetfighter
2010: Riding modes debut on the Multistrada 1200
2011: Full TFT dash introduced on their Diavel super-cruiser
2012: Debut of engine brake control on the 1199 Panigale
2014: First bike with an integrated airbag, the Multistrada 1200 D|Air
2018: ‘Slide by brake’ makes its debut on the Panigale V4
2020: The Multistrada V4 features Radar Adaptive Cruise Control
2020: Blind spot detection introduced with the Multistrada V4
2023: Extended cylinder deactivation with the Multistrada V4 Rally
Introducing the Alpinestars Supertech R10
Alpinestars, a stalwart in the field of technical riding gear, is stepping onto the road helmet scene with their latest creation – the Supertech R10. This marks the Italian company’s first venture into producing a full-face road helmet in their six-decade history.
The Supertech R10 is a statement of Alpinestars’ continued dedication to safety, aerodynamics, and comfort. The helmet – engineered to meet ECE 22.06, DOT, and FIM standards – brings forth a host of innovative features aimed at enhancing protection, vision, and user experience.
This top-tier road and race helmet will be unveiled next year, starting with a limited-edition run of 200 “Launch Edition” specials, before moving into full-scale production. While pricing details remain under wraps, it’s expected to command a premium price point. Alpinestars also plans to release a range of sports touring, touring, and commuting helmets in the future.
Birth of the Alpinestars Supertech R10
The Supertech R10 was conceived and crafted over a span of five years in Alpinestars’ Asolo R&D helmet department, which was established in 2011. The helmet incorporates technologies previously used in their motocross helmets, tested by Alpinestars’ sponsored riders in 2018 and commercially available since 2019.
MotoGP legend Andrea Dovizioso also lent his expertise to the project. This high-performance helmet represents a clean break from tradition, fusing innovative design and state-of-the-art materials.
The R10’s multi-layered composite shell is designed to absorb and dissipate impact force. It’s comprised of a 3k carbon outer layer, followed by uni-directional carbon composite, aramid fibre, and fibreglass layers, all held together by an advanced epoxy resin – the same used for carbon race car chassis. The helmet also boasts collarbone-friendly lower edges, cushioned with soft rubber sections.
Inside the Supertech R10
Inside the protective shell lies an EPS liner composed of eight sections with six different densities, each positioned where it’s needed most. This liner is coated to allow the fabric interior to slide, thereby reducing rotational acceleration to the rider’s head during an impact – a feature akin to a MIPS system. Additionally, the helmet comes with cheek pads that have an emergency release system and a strap secured by robust stainless steel DD rings.
Maximum Strength and Fit
For enhanced safety, the visor is secured with a durable metal lock, and the quick-release visor mechanism is also metal for optimal strength. The helmet comes in four shell sizes (XS-S, M, L, XL-XXL) to ensure the best fit and weight.
The S-R10’s design took cues from racing cycle helmets and was refined using Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations and extensive wind tunnel testing with Alpinestars’ Moto2 machine. The result is a teardrop profile that reduces drag and enhances stability at high speeds.
First Impressions of the Supertech R10
Based on first impressions at the Vairano circuit near Milan, the Supertech R10 stands out for its exceptional ventilation and lightweight feel. It glides effortlessly through the wind, minimizing buffeting and offering superb vision. The visor is easy to change, though getting used to the robust visor lock might take some time.
Features such as the ‘A-Head’ for fine-tuning the fit add to the overall comfort, and the helmet seems to have an impressive build and finish. Stay tuned for a full review in the coming months as we put the Supertech R10 through its paces.
Key Features of the Alpinestars Supertech R10
Excellent Airflow: The helmet comes with passive intake and exhaust vents, adjustable top and chin vents, and extra chin vents under a removable rubber bung, ensuring optimum cooling.
Comfort-Oriented Design: The helmet features a soft, removable, and washable fabric lining. It comes with a removable chin curtain, wind, and breath protectors. Cheek pads are tailored to accommodate glasses and a hydration tube, adding to rider comfort.
Advanced Adjustment: Alpinestars’ ‘A-Head System’ allows for three-stage adjustment of the interior crown pad. This enables riders to modify the helmet’s height and angle for optimal vision.
Extended Field of Vision: The helmet’s design offers a panoramic view with 220-degrees of lateral and 57-degrees of vertical vision. The lower edges feature cutouts to further enhance rear and cornering visibility.
Innovative Visor Tech: The ECE 2206 visor comes with an anti-scratch and anti-fog coating. Its thickness varies – 2.6mm in the middle and 1.6mm on the side – for crystal clear vision. The helmet comes with a Pinlock and a tear-off.
Alpinestars has demonstrated a remarkable entry into the full-face road helmet segment with the Supertech R10. With its innovative design and state-of-the-art features, the helmet is set to provide riders with exceptional protection, comfort, and performance. We eagerly await further testing and a comprehensive review of this trailblazing helmet in the upcoming months.
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