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is there a big difference between air cooled vs liquid cooled? the 97 gsxr has liquid cooled and the 97 katana has air cooled, does this matter?
 

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"Newer" bike engine designs mainly use liquid cooling complete with radiators, water pumps, expansion tanks, cooling channels, etc. just like cars. It allows for a more uniform engine temperature both at different spots within the engine and over time/weather conditions. Because of this, the tolerances can be tighter and performance a little better with the same displacement (600 gsx-r vs. 600 Katana).

Air cooled engine designs rely on air flow and cooling fins to regulate temperature. In order for an air cooled engine not to fry itself sitting in traffic in Phoenix in the summer, the tolerances have to be looser to allow for variations in metal expansion with temperature.

Liquid cooled bikes probably do a better job of temperature manangement, but then you have to be aware of and fix any coolant leaks that may develop.
 

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SACS cooling used on Katanas and early GSXR's are oil assisted air cooled. A seperate oil pump pushes engine oil through a cooler, up to the head , down through oil jackets in the block, then back into the sump. Quite efficent on the street even down here in AZ. But water cooled bikes make better power.


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