Mean piston speed

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The comparison of mean piston speed (black line) with real piston speed (color lines). Diagram shows one stroke from BDC to TDC. Revolution = 1.000 min-1, stroke = 88 mm. The connecting rod ratio l/r varies: 3 - red, 4 - green, 5,5 - blue

The mean piston speed is the average speed of the piston in a reciprocating engine. It is a function of stroke and RPM. There is a factor of 2 in the equation to account for one stroke to occur in 1/2 of a crank revolution (or alternatively: two strokes per one crank revolution) and a '60' to convert seconds from minutes in the RPM term.

MPS = 2 * Stroke * RPM / 60

For example, a piston in an automobile engine which has a stroke of 90 mm will have a mean speed at 3000 rpm of 2 * (90 / 1000) * 3000 / 60 = 9 m/s.

It is a good indicator of the class and performance of an engine relative to its competitors. Honda S2000 had the highest piston speed for any production car (25.2 m/s) until the B7 Audi RS4 (2006-2008) which was powered by a 4.2 liter, naturally aspirated V8 with a redline of 8250 RPM, at which point the mean piston speed is (25.7 m/s).

Corrected Piston Speed Frederick Lanchester and Janke and King

Corrected Piston speed is a method to more accurately represent stress on an engine, and is calculated as

mean piston speed divided by the square root of the stroke/bore ratio Classic Racing Engines Karl Ludvigsen (Glossay)


low speed diesels 
~8.5 m/s for marine and electric power generation applications
medium speed diesels 
~11 m/s for trains or trucks
high speed diesel 
~14 m/s for automobile engines
medium speed petrol 
~16 m/s for automobile engines
high speed petrol 
~20–25 m/s for sport automobile engines or motorcycles
Some extreme examples are NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Formula one engines with ~25 m/s and Top Fuel engines ~30 m/s