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A single cylinder engine is the most basic piston engine configuration of an internal combustion engine. It is often seen on motorcycles but has many uses in portable tools and garden machinery. It has been used in cars and tractors.

Pros and cons

Single cylinder engines are simple and compact, and will often deliver the maximum power possible within a given envelope, though they are less suitable for the biggest and most powerful engines. They require more flywheel effect than multi-cylinder engines and the rotating mass is relatively large, restricting acceleration and sharp changes of speed. They are prone to vibration (though this can be controlled with balance shafts). Cooling is simpler than with multiple cylinders, potentially saving further weight.


Early automobiles and motorcycles were all single cylinder, as were engines for marine use. The configuration remains in widespread use in dirt bikes and is almost exclusively used in portable tools, and garden machinery such as lawn mowers.

Racing classes


  • Enduro, Hare scrambles, Motocross, Rally raid, Track racing


  • Supermono, Supermoto, Super single


See Also

Piston engine configurations
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Type BourkeTemplate:· Controlled combustionTemplate:· DelticTemplate:·OrbitalTemplate:· PistonTemplate:· Pistonless (Wankel)Template:· RadialTemplate:· RotaryTemplate:· SingleTemplate:· Split cycleTemplate:· StelzerTemplate:· Tschudi
Inline types H · U · Square four · VR · Opposed · X
Stroke cycles Two-stroke cycleTemplate:· Four-stroke cycleTemplate:· Six-stroke cycle
Straight Single · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 8 · 10 · 12 · 14
Flat 2 · 4 · 6 · 8 · 10 · 12 · 16
V 4 · 5 · 6 · 8 · 10 · 12 · 16 · 20 · 24
W 8 · 12 · 16 · 18
Valves Cylinder head portingTemplate:· CorlissTemplate:· SlideTemplate:· ManifoldTemplate:· MultiTemplate:· PistonTemplate:· PoppetTemplate:· SleeveTemplate:· Rotary valveTemplate:· Variable valve timingTemplate:· Camless
Mechanisms CamTemplate:· Connecting rodTemplate:· CrankTemplate:· Crank substituteTemplate:· CrankshaftTemplate:· Scotch YokeTemplate:· SwashplateTemplate:· Rhombic drive
Linkages EvansTemplate:· Peaucellier–LipkinTemplate:· Sector straight-lineTemplate:· Watt's (parallel)
Other HemiTemplate:· RecuperatorTemplate:· Turbo-compounding

External links