What Does It Mean When an Engine Is a ‘Stressed Member’?

The design of a car or motorcycle goes far beyond its appearance. The suspension, the transmission, the engine – all this and more is part of the vehicle design. And when it comes to the engine, it’s not just about the number of cylinders or their relative position. It is also possible to use the bike as a load carrier. But what exactly does that mean, and why is it often considered an advantage?

You will often see motorcycles with reinforced frame parts

2021 Monster Ducati | Ducati

The result: Modern frames are considerably lighter and stiffer than conventional frames. Especially as aluminum and carbon fiber begin to replace heavier steel. But while the Ducati Monster will no longer have a trellis frame as of 2021, the new Panigal-built frame is still essentially a series of interlocking tubes, BikeDekho says. And from a purely physical point of view, the engine is essentially a metal tube, explains Revzilla.

That’s what it means when a bike is described as a stressed-out competitor, Cycle World explains. Instead of being attached to the motorcycle frame with engine mounts, the engine is part of the frame. It literally withstands some of the stresses of the frame, according to CarBikeTech. This makes the frame stiffer, making it sharper, Cycle World explains. And as a bonus, these benefits are achieved without sacrificing weight.

But an engine can be loaded into more than just a motorcycle frame.

Power source for the 1967 Lotus 49 R3 DFV | National Automobile Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

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The idea of the bike as a load carrier is not limited to bikes. Although less frequent, car engines can also be stressful. It is often found on race cars, such as the Lotus 49, or race car inspired vehicles.

For example, the Ferrari F50’s 4.7-liter V12 is bolted directly to the carbon fiber tube via metal subframes, Automobile reports. And in the case of the F50, it’s not the engine, it’s the transmission. The Bugatti Thoroughbred, like the originals, also uses the engine as a load carrier, reports Autoweek. So too is the Aston Martin Valkyrie, according to Autoweek.

2013 Tesla Model S map | Tesla

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And it’s not just internal combustion engine cars that benefit from this idea. The Tesla Model S’s battery acts as a stress reliever, according to MotorTrend. This not only improves rigidity, but also lowers the center of gravity of the electric vehicle, further improving handling.

It has some drawbacks.

A motor as a tension component has many advantages, but also some disadvantages.

For motorcycles, this often complicates certain maintenance tasks, users of the subreddit r/motorcycles report. And if you apply too much pressure, you can damage the engine sump. In addition, these bikes are also more expensive to build.

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These problems also apply to internal combustion engine vehicles operating under load, even with limited access, according to the Road & Track report. Cars also face a more intense version of another problem: Vibrations. The lack of rubber engine mounts means there is nothing to absorb engine vibration. Therefore, according to Petrolicius, the F50 is not the best choice for people with sciatica. Excessive vibration can be a problem on some bikes, but designers often take countermeasures to eliminate it.

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