Cooling system is critically important for all the engines, whether it’s a motorcycle engine or that of a car or truck. If there is no functional cooling system used with the engine, then in simple words, engine cannot work. The excess heat generated during the working of an engine is removed using the cooling system, it keeps the engine working on its most efficient temperatures.
A motorcycle engine converts fire into speed, when fuel is burned in the engine chambers, and as a result, it generates a lot of heat. While air-fuel mixture is burnt, this heat can reach up to very high temperatures like 4,000 degrees F. And when we are talking about normal working temperature of an engine, it operates at about 2,000 degrees F.
We can divide the energy derived from the burned fuel in three ways:
- About one-third of the energy in the fuel is converted into power
- The half of the remaining moves out the exhaust pipe unused
- The remainder of the engery becomes pure heat.
Uptil now, we have been discussing that cooling system is important for an engine’s life, but the question is, WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT??
Here is an answer - A cooling system, as aforementioned, removes a lot of heat generated when engine is working, however, in case the cooling system fails, the engine will heat up so much that parts would melt from the heat of the burning fuel, and the pistons would expand upto an extent that their action would be seized in the cylinders. You must have heard the term 'Engine Seize' previously. Though the exhaust tunnels out massive heat from the engine, however a good amount of heat is still absorbed by engine parts such as the cylinder walls, pistons, and cylinder head. And in the meantime, if some part absorbs too much of heat, the oil film fails to protect it and lack of lubrication will result in engine failure. As simple as that!
Enough of talking about the working of a cooling system, now let’s look into what does a cooling system generally made of. There are two types of cooling systems - Water Cooled and Air Cooled. The cooling system of a water-cooled engine consists of:
- Engine's water jacket
- Water pump
- Radiator and radiator cap
- Cooling fan (electric or belt-driven), hoses
- Heater core, and usually,
- An expansion (overflow) tank
As long as the liquid cooled engine runs, coolant flows through passages for the liquid, or coolant, through the cylinder block and head. And while it flows through the engine, it absorbs the heat from the engine parts and the going back through the radiator cools it. This process is repeated until the engine shuts down.
There is one more important thing that must be mentioned here, remember why old folks tell you to warm up your engine before you ride? It is simply because when the engine starts it is at a low temperature and it is inefficient. The oil gets dirty (adding wear and subtracting horsepower), deposits form, and fuel mileage is poor. For all these reasons, you must warm up your motorcycle properly before you start riding it. All the cooling systems are designed only to start working when an engine is properly warmed up to maintain the best possible temperature for its working.