When times are tough, look to the diesel. Right now, our most promising compression-spark alternative is the Track T-800CDI, built in the Netherlands by EVA Products. The rangy-looking, shaft-drive, adventure-tourer is powered by the same 800cc three-cylinder Daimler-Benz diesel used in the Smart ForTwo car, as well as various marine applications. Turbocharged and intercooled, the common-rail direct-injection engine weighs just 99 pounds. In this application it delivers an alleged 48 horsepower to the rear wheel at 2750 rpm, plus 88.5 lb.-ft. of torque between 850 rpm and 4250 rpm via EVA's own CVT transmission and shaft final-drive. EVA Products is about to start manufacture of the Track at a retail price of Euro 17,500 ($24,832).
Most motorcyclists take a dim view of diesel engines. Heavier, more robust construction has made them unsuitable for applications such as aircraft and, until now, motorcycles. Throw a leg over the Dutch diesel's 34.7-inch seat and the most obvious difference is its lack of a clutch lever. To get things going, turn the ignition key and thumb the starter button. Just don't blip the throttle or the Track will make tracks. This is a twist-n-go motorcycle. Settling into a lazy, 850-rpm idle, it's noisier than a gasoline engine, but significantly stingier. EVA claims a miserly 100 miles per gallon at 55 miles per hour, good enough for a range of about 560 miles from one 5.9-gallon tankful
The flat exhaust note makes you think there isn't much punch, but there is. Once underway, the distinctive three-cylinder lilt develops a rough edge, overlaid with the trademark whistle of its Garrett turbo. There's no throttle lag: that responsive CVT transmission helps to spool up the turbocharger as soon as you twist the right grip. Acceleration is surprisingly strong from 50 to 70 mph, and the ride-by-wire electronic throttle provides optimum response for any given condition. This is an unbelievably easy motorcycle to ride, especially at slower speeds. The turning circle is tight for a long motorcycle with relatively rangy steering geometry.
Track shaft final drive sits in the single-sided steel swingarm that makes wheel changes e
WP suspension makes easy meat of speed bumps, and ride quality is excellent. With very little engine braking, it takes a determined squeeze of the front brake lever to reign in 496 pounds of diesel from its 109-mph top speed, but the back brake is useless. There was an occasional loud grinding noise when I backed off the throttle: not enough clearance between the CVT belt and its metal housing. And you notice some vibration through the pegs under hard acceleration. The engine occasionally seemed like it was about to stall when braking to a halt; presumably an ECU mapping issue.
Apart from those relatively minor niggles, the EVA Track is an impressive package. I really enjoyed the bike's practical, real-world performance, coupled with ease of riding, economy and innovation. Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times on 100 percent diesel SynFuel. It's time for the motorcycle world to take notice, and the Track T-800CDI just might be the bike to make that happen.