Back in 1939, Harold Willis’ answer to BMW (whose motorcycles were dominant in racing during that period) was an engine for the Velocette Roarer with contra-rotating cranks, because he thought that BMW’s longitudinal crankshaft setup affected handling. This engine was essentially a 498cc twin cylinder, but, only one of the cranks drove the clutch and the gearbox. The pistons in both cylinders rose and fell together, but one cylinder was used for supercharging the other, and its crank was used to cancel the gyroscopic effect generated by the other. When I read about this bike, I wondered why there are no engines with contra-rotating cranks anymore, until I stumbled upon the following engines…
the Motoczysz C1’s engine
I think there might be more of these kind of engines which I haven’t found yet.
What I find really disappointing with the current state of motorcycles is that most of them use the tried and tested formula – twin spar aluminum frame, inline-4, telescopic front suspension and a swingarm on the rear. Exceptions, if any, are rare… What is even more disappointing is that BMW is following this path with the S1000R, in spite of having a reputation for doing things their own way. Come on BMW, we need something different ! How about companies going their own way and coming up with innovative and competitive designs like Norton did with it’s rotary engine?