Drop bars, flat seat, unified fork, motor between the pedals—Suzuki’s new concept seems more bicycle than motorcycle in some ways.Japanese Patent Office
The modular motorcycle is designed to simplify electrification.
The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably seen the cancellation of several major motorcycle shows due to have taken place this year and as a result we’re starting to see the emergence of patent applications for machines that might otherwise have already had a public airing. This creation from Suzuki, for instance, has all the hallmarks of a show-stand concept bike, the sort of crystal-ball-gazing study of a possible motorcycling future that isn’t so much a preview of a production machine as a demonstration of new engineering solutions.
The bike is the subject of at least four new patent applications from Suzuki, all published simultaneously, and its distinctive styling suggests the drawings represent a real concept machine rather than purely engineering pipe dreams.
It’s instantly clear that it’s an electric, with batteries arranged in a central stack between a pair of curvaceous frame rails and under an ironing-board-flat seat/tank unit. Up front we get an unusual fork with conventional telescopic sliders at the bottom but an aerodynamically shaped upper section, with the fork legs joining into one before they reach the steering head—more like bicycle forks than motorcycle units.
The bicycle theme continues with bars mounted lower than the seat, giving a Tour de France-style riding position, and huge wheels surrounded by low-profile tires. However, cross sections of the bike show that the tires are surprisingly wide, more like a modern sports motorcycle than a racing bicycle.
There’s an electric motor mounted between the rider’s footpegs, nestling under the front of the swingarm, which itself is an unusually shaped creation with a cantilever spring and shock. It’s not the first time Suzuki has toyed with a bicycle-style motorcycle. The firm’s “Feel Free Go!” concept in 2015 was inspired by mountain bikes but featured a 49cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine rather than a more fashionable battery-electric power unit.
The patents themselves are involved with the bike’s layout and the modular way in which it’s bolted together. Most notably, the entire rear section including the electric motor, footpegs, seat, swingarm, rear wheel, and main electronic control unit is connected to the front of the bike by just four bolts. Two are fitted on each side, running forward into the main frame section.
The bike’s liquid-cooling system is used to take heat out of the electric motor, but also features a vertical heat sink at the front that the electronic control unit is bolted to. This works like a liquid-cooled CPU cooler on a computer, with coolant pumped around the heat sink before it travels to the under-seat radiator where the heat is expelled into the air.
Suzuki’s patent also reveals that the battery pack is removable, allowing quick swaps instead of prolonged charging periods, and that air is funneled from the nose and through the chassis to keep the pack cool.
The modular design means that Suzuki has been able to create a second spin-off version of the bike using a gas-powered engine, but the bike is still electric. The gas motor is a generator, and bolts onto the front of the modular rear unit with the same four bolts normally used to attach it to the battery-filled frame. The generator will run at constant speed to operate as efficiently as possible, and is used along with a smaller battery pack that sits above it. The electric motor and control unit remain.
Overall, the design has all the hallmarks of a concept bike, but with this year’s major bike shows canceled—including the Osaka and Tokyo motorcycle shows, which were to have taken place in March and April, as well as the massive Intermot event in Cologne that was due in October—there’s no obvious platform for it to be revealed.
Hopefully Suzuki will get the chance to show the bike eventually, as the engineering appears to be interesting and the bicycle-inspired design looks like an innovative approach