Suzuki may be hesitant to bring electric motorcycles to market, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working on alternative energy technology. A fresh set of patent drawings shows Suzuki developing a hybrid motorcycle, with an electric motor and a gas engine as well.
Over the past few years, there have been occasional glimpses of hybrid motorcycle designs, but they’re rare. The heavy weight and inefficient complications of having both electric and gasoline powertrains mean this tech is best-suited for cars, not motorcycles—like most EV technology.
However, the advantages of a hybrid design are very attractive to motorcyclists. The problem with battery bikes is that eventually, the batteries run out and must be re-charged. Because motorcycle design is restricted by weight and size, electric motorcycles must run smaller batteries than cars, and recharging capacity can also be limited. If you want to run outside your motorcycle’s normal battery range, a gasoline engine is attractive, as it’s much easier and quicker to refuel a gas tank than it is to recharge a battery. A hybrid, with both technologies, offers the around-town efficiency and environmental friendliness of an EV, but the long-distance practicality of a gasoline engine.
Suzuki’s design is especially interesting, as it’s designed to have a large battery installed under the rider for EV function. But hey, what if you need the capabilities of a gasoline engine? No problem—remove that battery, and you can install a gasoline engine in its place. This way, you don’t have the extra weight of the gas engine, unless you need it.
Oddly, it seems the bike is designed to have the gas engine somehow power the electric motor, instead of an alternative direct-drive attachment to the rear wheel. This is obviously much less efficient than even a standard chain drive or shaft drive, so it seems like more of a stop-gap measure, for situations where consistent recharging capability is a problem.
Will this design make production? Over the past decade, we’ve seen many, many electric motorcycle prototypes in patent form, and even as finished concepts at motorcycle shows, but almost none of them have actually made it to market. However, it’s a move in the right direction for Suzuki.