No, don’t rush down to your local Kymco dealer - they don’t have diesel bikes in stock, and probably never will. Indeed, they are hard to come by even in western countries. But they do exist. I WISH I could buy one, and I’d even be tempted to build one, though I’d never be able to legally register it here because you’re not allowed to swap out engines on cars or bikes in Taiwan. But I can dream.
Why diesel? It might be better to ask, why not? Diesel motorcycles have been built in the past, often for military use. Traditionally, the military doesn’t care about hot performance (diesel engines are not known for their rapid acceleration). The military likes the ability to use the same fuel on ALL their vehicles (tanks, trucks, cars and motorcycles). And diesel fuel doesn’t spoil like gasoline does - you can keep it around for a couple of years and it won’t turn into varnish. Plus gasoline trucks are explosive, not the sort of thing you want to have around in this era of roadside bombs (also known as IEDs).
Why the military doesn’t like to transport gasoline
Diesel, on the other hand, burns like vegetable oil.
But diesel has its downside. I’ve already mentioned poor performance, but also hard starting in cold weather (not a problem in Taiwan). Definitely doesn’t lend itself to scooters.
I did some googling, and found out that the bikes do exist. Difficult to buy, but not impossible.
I do not see a kick starter on these bikes, and wonder if such a thing is possible with a diesel. I would guess probably not, but I’ve seen that in the USA bikes are no longer sold with kick starters (maybe somebody got hurt and sued?).
Diesel bike forum
Some interesting web sites to salivate over:
Taiwan’s experiments with building electric motorcycles didn’t get too far. We had those for a few years, but once the government cut off subsidies, the market collapsed (as far as I know - someone correct me if I’m wrong). Diesel, on the other hand, could possibly be financially viable if the bikes were exported too (the domestic market loves scooters, not motorcycles).
Am I crazy for wanting one? Is anyone else there a potential buyer/builder of diesel bikes? Any interest in a cooperative venture to build one at home?