3 Cylinders? Why... - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-04-2006, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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OK, not being an engineer but being cursed with curiosity, I need to know this...

Why does an in-line triple produce the power delivery that it does?

It's often said that they have the torque of a big twin but the revability of an in-line four.

I've owned a LOT of motorcycles over 40 years and this bike is like nothing I've had before.

The engine configuration is obviously important in the way the power is delivered but on a technical level, why?

Anyone know?

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-04-2006, 05:52 PM
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there is a lot of tech. factors .....the in-line 4's have smaller pistons that are able to be spun up to a higher rpm. the big v-twins have huge pistons that cant live at high rpm's. those huge pistons have size that weight gets transfered into torque...that is what makes for a great around town and slower speeds machine. now don't get me wrong....twins can and do win on the track...but in general...they are a definite purpose bike, the smaller piston 4's are a breeze on the track because they like to be revved and thats what they are designed for.....out on the real world thats not fun, to have to rev the bike everywhere you go....kinda to much work for me. i love the triple because its pistons are sized in the middle of the t-win and 4 banger. they have that great mixture of torque and top end rpm's. to me the torque is what is the most usable that i spend the most time using....stopping/going and in the twisties in the local mountains...i like being able to put it in 3 gear and just twist the throttle and have the bike pull in a huge range of mile's per hour.
i kinda got off track...like i said there are may factors....the difference of a 1000cc bike being a 2,3,or 4 cylinder have huge differences...to me it boils down to the piston size which in turn reflects on how much torque the bike makes. torque is what makes the world go around.
you also asked about the way the power is made....the twin fires every 180 degrees...360degrees/2pistons....... the triple fires once every 120 degrees...360degrees/3pistons.......the 4banger fires every 90 degrees......360degrees/4pistons......that in turn determines how the power is put to the ground..the smaller pistons of the 4 banger have a smoother more forgiving power delivery....because it is firing more often it isn't putting down huge amounts of power every time it fires like a twin would. so the 4 banger makes less power with its smaller piston but it makes up with having more of them going at once. so to see the difference between the twin and the 4 banger...it is apparent the the triple lives in the middle of the other 2 engines. it have the best of both styles of engines...a little larger piston and the ability to rev also...

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-04-2006, 11:46 PM
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Linz, Really a pretty good question. I think there's a couple of answers. First is that there is a tie to the 'Old' Triumph and the T140 triple so it has become an 'associated' Triumph characteristic...similar to Ducati's desmo valve train.

In motorcycles the first triples I remember are the Kawasaki two strokes. Suzuki came out with a water cooled two stroke triple and Yamaha had an air cooled 750. The design pretty much died out in the '80s, AFIK...the HP wars were on.

The four cylinder bikes could make more HP because of their lighter reciprical weight (valves, connecting rods) allowed higher RPMs. Torque suffered somewhat, however.

The twins make more torque because they simply have a bigger bang. They can't rev like a four cylinder because their thrashing parts are just too heavy. (Yeah, race versions of twins like the RC51 spool very high, but they're made of pure unobtanium.)

The triple is a mixture of both, a compromise.

FWIW, there are fours being tested as twins...two cylinders firing at the same time in a 'Big Bang' config. Still not quite as bike friendly narrow as a triple.


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