7 Best Diesel Motorcycles

Like four-leaf clovers of the biker world, the best diesel motorcycles are supremely hard to come by and cherished among the few who actually score one. And as hybrid powertrains and electric motors rapidly become the norm, diesel motorcycles will arguably continue their steady slide into obscurity, until one day you might only see them behind glass at an automotive museum, or when streaming old episodes of Diesel Brothers. Of course, scarcity is just one of diesel motorcycles’ many charms, whereas the best ones additionally tout invincible construction, extraordinary range and massive torque. That’s in no small part due to their primary use as military vehicles, which in and of itself should serve as a stamp of reliability.

As to why the concept never really took off, it’s mainly because diesel engines that deliver a desirable power-to-weight ratio are super tricky and expensive to pull off. Consequently, petrol-guzzling counterparts or modern electric hogs remain the go-to industry standards. Nevertheless, we’re celebrating the few and proud diesel motorcycles that have managed to carve out a respectable niche for themselves over the years. Each one has earned its place in history by way of distinction and durability alike. Hence, we present the 7 Best Diesel Motorcycles.

This article is part of our On the Road series.


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royal enfield taurus diesel motorcycle

Royal Enfield Taurus Diesel

Widely considered the most well-known diesel motorcycle off all time, the Royal Enfield Taurus pairs a classic aesthetic with a dependable 325cc four-stroke air-cooled diesel engine. This middle-of-the-road contender was actually among the few diesel motorcycles to be commercially produced, with a run that went from 1993 to 2001, thereby coinciding with the height of the (marginal) diesel motorcycle craze. Sold primarily in European countries, the bike earned itself a respectable cult following over the years, in part thanks to a power-to-weight ratio that wasn’t overly cumbersome. Hit up enough auctions and you might find one to this day.

hayes m1030 military diesel motorcycle

Hayes M1030 Military Diesel Motorcycle

The word “military” should be your first clue that the Hayes M1030 is a cut above the average fare. Built out from a Kawasaki KLR640 and dressed in tan shades, this trusty diesel motorcycle is equipped with a 670cc liquid-cooled engine. With top speeds of 90mph, the bike is surely impressive, but that’s not why it became the go-to diesel motorcycle for the US Marine Corps. What the military liked so much about M1030 was its versatility. More to the point, the bike utilised proprietary technology to be able to run on biodiesel, gasoline, truck diesel and five kinds of jet fuel. A mass production model was discussed, but never realised, meaning you have to go directly to the manufacturer to score one of these babies. Expect it to cost you.

sommer diesel 462 motorcycle

Sommer Diesel 462

From the discontinued parts of the aforementioned Royal Enfield came the Sommer Diesel 462. Hand-built in Germany and aimed squarely at the European market, this diesel motorcycle employed a 462cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine good for a meager 11 hp and 20 ft-lbs of torque. While that horsepower number is far from substantial, the bike does tout some truly impressive mileage, cranking 117 miles out of every gallon, which equates to 300 miles for every full tank. That means you could take this vehicle across the country and save tons of money on fuel, permitted you don’t mind a top sped of 65 mph. Truthfully, however, it’s more of a city bike for obvious reasons. Also featured is a belt drive and gearbox with four gears.

hero motocorp rnt motorcycle

Hero MotoCorp RNT

While the Hero MotoCorp RNT doesn’t offer much by way of design, the compact scooter does achieve a tier of efficiency and utility that you’re not likely to find on other diesel motorcycles. That’s because it’s actually a diesel-electric hybrid, equipped with both a 1.3 hp electric motor and a 150cc diesel motor that generates a surprisingly formidable 13.5 hp and 26 ft-lbs of torque. Throw in a turbo feature and plenty of luggage space and you get a downright functional machine that packs more punch than one would anticipate. Oh, and did we mention the engine doubles as a generator? Now you’re coming around.

track t 800cdi diesel motorcycle

Track T-800CDI Diesel Motorcycle

Not only does the Track T-800CDI hold up admirably over long distances, it looks downright sleek and modern while doing so. Bearing striking resemblance to the Yamaha Super Tenere, this top diesel motorcycle produces up to 45 hp and 78 ft-lbs of torque out of its turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, getting the bike from 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds. That’s joined by Brembo brakes, long-travel suspension, a trellis frame and an upright, ergonomic stance. Only 50 have been sold to date, and snagging one will run you about 25K. Worth noting is that the blueprints are also for sale, just in case you want to build your own.

neander turbo diesel motorcycle

Neander Turbo Diesel

Ladies and gentleman, for a mere 133K, you can grab yourself the Neander Turbo Diesel, easily one of the best diesel motorcycles ever made. In return for your investment, you gain access to a parallel twin cylinder turbo diesel engine with two meshed counter-rotating crankshafts. That engine delivers a whopping 112 hp and equally impressive 133 ft-lbs of torque. But that’s not all. Ensuring comfort and control is a hefty quad-mount, twin-fork body that weighs in at 650 lbs. The bike also comes equipped with double telescopic fork, Brembo brakes and a 6-speed cassette transmission. This one doesn’t get the greatest fuel mileage, but other than that it’s a high performance beast of a machine.

star twin thunder star 1200 tdi motorcycle

Star Twin Thunder Star 1200 TDI

Like a yellow jacket on wheels, the Star Twin Thunder Star 1200 TDI flaunts a yellow/black colourway and some serious speed. From its 1.2-litre 3-cylinder turbo diesel engine, expect a mammoth 180 hp and 250 ft-lbs of torque. Giving the top diesel motorcycle all the more appeal is top-shelf suspension, carbon wheels, performance brakes and some terrific fuel economy of 95 mpg. The prototype for this stunner debuted in 2005, and unfortunately the bike never reached full production status. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best diesel motorcycles ever conceived.

 

This article is part of our On the Road series.


You’ll also like:
Putting the Zoom, Zoom Into an Awesome Aussie Road Trip with the Mazda MX-5 RF
1967 Hodaka Ace 100 by Utopeia Moto Co. is More Spirit Quest than Motorcycle
Death Machines of London Airforce Motorcycle is the Devil’s Own


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