Classic Motorcycle Mechanics

TURBO TIME!

The 1980s was a special time for motorcycling, but the years that interest me the most are 1982 – 1984, the turbocharger era…

It was an era when the Japanese went nuts over forced induction. Yes, the machines that the short-lived bikes were based on were largely old tech: push-rods, air-cooled, two-valves per pot and carbs. Soon they would be replaced by normally aspirated machines with better performances.

You’ll spot below that the machine missing from my test is the Suzuki XN85. In my opinion the Katana-styled 673cc 85hp bike was an epic fail and the most unreliable and poorly selling turbo bike ever. They used to break down all the time and the turbochargers would seize, with a replacement cost almost as much as a new bike! I had one for the test and it was there on the day, but (you guessed it) the immaculate example, with only a few thousand miles on the clock, broke down before I got to ride it.

The Japanese manufacturers went about building their turbo bikes in vastly different ways and none were truly dedicated models, but the Honda CX 500 and 650 could be considered to be the closest to a dedicated platform, despite being based on the CX. This was because a huge amount of testing and development went into the CX500 and 650. The engines were heavily modified and the 500 was the first ever bike with a dedicated computer-controlled engine management system and it worked well. The CX was fuel-injected and had multiple sensors measuring boost, air-flow, air temperature, engine temperature, rpm, throttle

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