BMW has always been unabashed about its ability to develop cutting-edge technology, be it in its cars or motorcycles. It’s this constant pursuit of all things revolutionary that has made the German company a force to be reckoned with in the business. Recently, BMW Motorrad once again gave life to that belief when it applied to get European patents to a three-cylinder pushrod engine that’s unlike anything we’ve seen from the company before.

Based on the patent drawings filed by BMW, it appears that engineers are working on trying to put three cylinders into the normal space of its own V-twin engines. Such an approach has been done before, but not, it seems, to the extent of the configuration BMW is using on this engine. It’s a strange-looking engine with two of the cylinders using just one crankpin and a third having its own, positioned just inside of the drivetrain’s V-angle. Look a little closer and you’ll also notice that the cylinders have a unique look that works with pushrods tasked to operate the valves.

In a somewhat nondescript disclosure to the World Intellectual Property Organization, BMW explained that this particular three-cylinder configuration “represents an as of yet unknown type of W-3 reciprocating piston internal combustion engine having cylinder angles which can be largely freely sized.”

I’m not quite sure what the future of this engine is going to look like, but others have speculated that it could be used on one of BMW Motorrad’s future cruiser models. I’m not entirely opposed to that idea because that would be a fresh approach on a future cruiser, a strategy that BMW seems to know all too well these days.

Click "continue reading" to read more about BMW Motorrad’s patent application for this three-cylinder pushrod engine.

Why it matters

This engine is interesting for so many reasons, none more so than how it’s going to be utilized when it’s fully developed. I personally think that this new engine will be used on a new cruiser, possibly one that doesn’t even exist yet.

What I do know is that BMW thinks highly enough of this proposed powertrain that it’s pulling out all of the stops to get it patented to ensure that nobody would be able to copy it. It’s a smart move that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

After all, the company has been at the forefront of innovation in a lot of ways so it’s no surprising that it’s protecting its own interests by getting this new three-cylinder engine patented. From the looks of these patent drawings, the engine might still be in the infancy stages of its development and BMW still has a lot of work to do to smoothen out all the kinks.

Hopefully, we see it sooner than later, even though such a request may fall on deaf ears. BMW will work on its own pace with this engine, as it should because the mere fact that it has some unique characteristics makes me believe that BMW will make sure that it’s running up-to-speed before using it on a bike.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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