For increasing the thermal engine efficiency, faster combustion and low cycle-to-cycle variation are required. In PFI engines the organization of in-cylinder flow structure is thus mandatory for achieving increased efficiency. In particular the formation of a coherent tumble vortex with dimensions comparable to engine stroke largely promotes proper turbulence production extending the engine tolerance to dilute/lean mixture. For motorbike and scooter applications, tumble has been considered as an effective way to further improve combustion system efficiency and to achieve emission reduction since layout and weight constraints limit the adoption of more advanced concepts. In literature chamber geometry was found to have a significant influence on bulk motion and turbulence levels at ignition time, while intake system influences mainly the formation of tumble vortices during suction phase. The most common engine parameters believed to affect in-cylinder flow structure are:
1. Intake duct angle;
2. Inlet valve shape and lift;
3. Piston shape;
4. Pent-roof angle.
The present paper deals with the computational analysis of three different head shapes equipping a scooter/motorcycle engine and their influence on the tumble flow formation and breakdown, up to the final turbulent kinetic energy distribution at spark plug. The engine in analysis is a 3-valves pent-roof motorcycle engine. The three dimensional CFD simulations were run at 6500 rpm with AVL FIRE code on the three engines characterised by the same piston, valve lift, pent-roof angle and compression ratio. They differ only in head shape and squish areas. The aim of the present paper is to demonstrate the influence of different head shapes on in-cylinder flow motion, with particular care to tumble motion and turbulence level at ignition time. Moreover, an analysis of the mutual influence between tumble motion and squish motion was carried out in order to assess the role of both these motions in promoting a proper level of turbulence at ignition time close to spark plug in small 3-valves engines.