Straight-twin designs are mostly used on motorcycles, but in the past they have also been used in very small cars. No current production car uses a straight-twin; even the smallest displacement cars now use at least a straight-3 because of its superior vibration characteristics.
Most of the British four-stroke cycle straight-twin engines had a crank angle of 360°, which means that both pistons have to be in the same position and move in same direction all the time. This leads to a working cycle every 360°. The mechanical balance of this design is no better than that of a similar displacement one-cylinder engine, because the forces of both cylinders add up. The advantage is that the firing is regular, with one cylinder firing each revolution of the crankshaft.
With the two-stroke cycle, the crank angle is generally 180°, and a working cycle every 180°. Such an engine will produce fewer vibrations.
Ferrari briefly considered creating a straight-twin engine for Formula One use in the 1950s. Aurelio Lampredi worked with Enzo and Dino Ferrari on this design but abandoned development due to unsatisfactory balance. It is believed that all the prototypes built simply exploded during the tests.
- A detailed analysis of the effect of different crankshaft offset angles on the engine balance of a straight twin engine.
- Shaking forces of twin engines, with examples of three different crankshaft offset angles for straight-twin motorcycle engines.
|Piston engine configurations|
|Straight||Single, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14|
|V||2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24|
|Flat||2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, H|
|W||8, 9, 12, 16, 18|
|Other inline||H, VR, Opposed, U (Square), X|
|Other||Hemi, Radial, Rotary, Pistonless, Deltic, (Wankel)|