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Motor - Engine Off-road buggy and sand rail engine discussion.

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Old 05-22-2010, 03:53 AM   #1 (permalink)

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Default What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

Hey guys 1st post, nice to see a forum just for building mini buggies. I built my first mini buggy in 1980 long before anyone else I believe. I designed it from a clean sheet of paper with nothing to reference because they did not exist yet.

Anyways, my first buggy was a lightweight single seat. Double a-arms, FOX air shox, 10" travel, Greeves 360 w/ wide ratio 4-speed. Had 13" Centerlines custom made because you could not buy ATV tires or wheels yet. And used the smallest snow tires I cold find.

It was light and fast. ~300lbs. Loaded it into my mini pickup without a ramp, just lifted it in by myself.

I later designed and built a full size class 10 buggy and raced in SCORE 1987. It was the first ever buggy with double a-arms in the front to race. Drew big crowds of people taking pictures of it. By 1989, a few other a-arm buggies showed up at The Mint 400, then Jimco copied it in 1990. Now everyone has a-arm suspension on their buggies.

Easy to build them now with so many parts available and designs to reference. It was hard in 1985 when I designed it. No Internet yet, had to drive around to aircraft surplus stores and borrow parts like disc brakes from sprint cars. I'll have to scan some photos of it since there were no digital cameras yet.

Enough of the long history story.

I want to build a new mini buggy to have fun in. Want it to be super light like my old one (which was dismantled years ago).

So what would be a good, strong, light motor to use? Not afraid of 2-stroke air-cooled, but would not mind 4-stroke water pumper if they have something light. Needs only 40 HP or so. Want to keep the car under 400lbs.

-Glenn

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Old 05-22-2010, 10:55 AM   #2 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

300lbs is pretty light, that is less than the new performance ATV's.

That said, the new two stroke sled motors are hard to beat as far as power to weight.
You will get alot more than 40hp though.
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Old 05-22-2010, 12:54 PM   #3 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

Welcome to MBN!

Some of us were building MC powered cars in the 70's and surely some motorhead out there was doing it before then. The one I was involved with was really a 2 seat go-kart but it was rather large.

I think a snowmobile engine with CVT would be good or something like a Yamaha Raptor engine. The car will probably wiegh more than a quad.

Prtetty cool that you wee involved with the early design for off road racing.

Lots to see on this site to get ideas and constructive comments. We like to see builds too so post a Projects in Progress thread to show us what you are doing with the build.

Thanks!
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:19 PM   #4 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

I'm sure there were others building similar cars back then, I just never saw or heard of anyone doing so. No Internet back then, so unless you see something in person, you would never know about it unless it was on TV or in a magazine. BTW, my car was in one of the first issues of Dirt Wheels in the early 80’s. It was not a feature, but on the last page.

I actually built my first motorcycle engine buggy in 1971. It was a rigid frame with balloon rear tires and go cart front tires powered by a Hodaka 100 and later a Bultaco 250. I only drove it off road. It looked like an Odyssey, except this was before the Honda Odyssey came out in 76. My first full suspension buggy I described above was designed in 79 and completed in 80.

Has anyone compiled a list of motors with power and weight specifications? A snowmobile motor and CVT drive train seem heavy? I'm thinking a motocross bike engine and gearbox. Those seem to be the most advanced as far as power/weight. But being in so. Cal., I've never seen a snowmobile up close.

My other cars were kick-start, which was a pain, but does reduce weight. I would consider a light motor with electric start or design my own starter.

Do you think a snowmobile engine with CVT is lighter than a street bike engine/gearbox?

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Old 05-23-2010, 05:08 PM   #5 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

A two stoke sled engine will be less than half the weight of a streetbike motor
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:32 PM   #6 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

IMO if you can find one the best power to weight engine out there wold be "Quadzilla"... the old Suzuki quadracer 500 engine, its light and incredibly strong, I used to race modded banshees and i ran up on a 500 every now n then, they are baaaad!
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:37 PM   #7 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

The 500 Quadzilla motors had a horrible list of problems that cost a fortune to fix just to make it reliable even in stock form.

The Hond CR500 was three times the motor (reliabilty wise) if you feel like dealing with a kick start and a clutch.

But as mentioned a twin cylinder sled engine is pretty light and cheap to find with good power. Liquid cooled will of course weigh more. Buit those few pounds of liquid are well worth the added weight IMO.
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:31 AM   #8 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

A 2 stroke snowmobile engine would be lighter. the cvt is all aluminum where the trans in the MC engine is all iron and you have to add in the iron in the valvetrain as well. There is also the weight of the clutch in the MC engine. Now if you get a snomo engine with plated cylinders they are even lighter yet. Another thing is the cvt is always in the right gear where as you have to shift the mc engine and well u lose speed everytime ya shift. Mini Buggys are very busy vehicles to drive so the less things to do while operating the better IMO
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Old 05-25-2010, 01:40 AM   #9 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

The snowmobile engine sounds pretty good. What would be some good models that have been around awhile? One that has a lot of 3rd party support for either stock replacement parts and upgrade parts.

In the past I have dug myself into a hole by using non-standard motors and end up replacing the whole motor because parts were either not available anymore or way too expensive.

I know what you mean AtvNut. These little short wheel base cars really bounce you around, so a CVT is a good choice. I have done the gear shift thing for a long time and won't miss it.

Has anyone calculated the power loss with a v-belt compared to gears in this application? On this light car it is not going to matter. I think the CVT would have an advantage on a 2-stroke since you could tune the drive to match the powerband.
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:12 AM   #10 (permalink)

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Default Re: What engines have the best power to weight ratio?

Polaris , Bombadier, Artic Cat and Yamaha sled motors all have a great deal of aftermarket support, factory replacement parts etc.

The problem I ran into, is that since I live in the South (warm climate) there was NO local knowledge of these machines, exhaust, or clutching.

I had problems tuning all of the above and eventually went to a MC engine.

That said, the power to weight is incredible on these motors and I will likely build a car with one in the future.
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