Are Super Valves Headed for Motorcycles?

Calvin Kim
by Calvin Kim
Rumors have it that Renault is using electro-mechanical valves for their Formula One effort (Renault is the engine supplier to the Benetton team). After all, the advantages to electro-mechanical systems are obvious. Without a camshaft and its related parts, there is tremendously less friction. No valve springs of any sort mean no valve float. Also, each individual valve could be timed optimally for its respective cylinder.

While we're not deriding the claim, we'd like to know the specifics of how they work. What kind of electro-mechanical system are they running? Are they using solenoids to activate traditional valves? Or perhaps they could be using an unconventional piezo-electric arrangement.

Regardless, the implications are immense...

With the advent of pneumatic valves (another Renault development) engines have been able to send the crankshaft to speeds never before seen. After all, the faster the engine can turn, the more power is potentially accessible. In essence, with electro-mechanical valves, the only moving parts in an engine will be the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons and the valves themselves. Amazing.

What sort of possibilities does this provide for the motorcyclist? As of yet, that is to be determined. While pneumatic valves are somewhat ungainly for a motorcycle, what with their high-pressure nitrogen tanks, related plumbing and what-not, electro-mechanical valves seem to be just the ticket.

Undoubtedly, more power will need to be generated from the alternator, and having an electrical problem with your bike will mean more than diagnosing a faulty brake light. But the advantages are simply too great to ignore. Imagine never having to adjust a valve, simplified engine maintenance and, of course, more power from the engine.

Granted, we don't have all the answers, but maybe you do. Let us know what you think of this burgeoning new technology and its application in various motorsports -- especially motorcycles.

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Calvin Kim
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