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ADV NewsKawasaki’s Hybrid Motorcycle Patent: Future of Adventure Touring?

Kawasaki’s Hybrid Motorcycle Patent: Future of Adventure Touring?

New hybrid motorcycle patent by Kawasaki could be a sign of things to come.

Published on 07.15.2019

News that Kawasaki is thinking of building a hybrid motorcycle has sent our adventurous hearts aflutter. While some street bike oriented outlets dismissed the freshly-minted patent for a future combustion + electric powered bike as a non-starter on the cusp of the electric revolution, we can only think of all the bonus horizons to be scored.

The motivation behind the new patent goes back a few years, with Kawasaki originally filing with Japan’s patent office in 2017. It calls for rights to a motorcycle with a traditional gas engine and also an electric motor. In the drawings it appears the system would be “parallel,” with both the engine and e-motor delivering power to the rear wheel. There are other descriptions as well, including an e-optimized setup where the fuel-burning engine would be a back up.


The patent also shows what Kawasaki believes is the most compact way to cram all the extra components into a bike. Two variations are proposed with the battery located where the fuel tank would normally reside and the tank placed either to the side of the battery or next to the seat. The electric motor is further located above the transmission.

Kawasaki files patent for hybrid motorcycle

The notion of a hybrid bike is nothing new. In the past manufacturers have explored the option as a means to boost performance in sport bikes and, in the case of a Honda Gold Wing concept bike we saw in 2015, to extend touring range. But so far, the technology hasn’t successfully transitioned into a production model.

But with the ADV party in full swing and all the manufacturers looking to cash in on our enthusiasm, one has to wonder if Kawasaki’s revived interest in hybrid bike technology isn’t focused on a future Adventure Touring model.

Hybrid cars have been the hippie uncle in the North American automobile scene since the arrival of the Toyota Prius in 2000. Immediately typecast as crunchy, boring and unreliable (remember the unfounded buzz about expensive battery failure?), when in truth, hybrid cars are quite swift little technological wonders that do only a little to save the planet. They do however save their owners tons of dough in fuel as well as maintenance costs thanks to CVT transmissions and regenerative braking systems that require fewer pad changes.

Kawasaki working on a hybrid motorcycle

Adventure riders already know how difficult it can be to refuel in remote locations. It’s doable if you carry and/or meticulously plan your stops. And while electric tech is undoubtedly the future of transportation, the idea of a full-on electric ADV bike – at least in our lifetimes – sounds a bit silly. Pretty tough to imagine a charging station out there on your favorite trail, much less in the outback of a developing country.

But a hybrid can be the best of both worlds. If the technology were to be car-like, the fuel engine and regenerative braking system could produce energy for the electric motor and the e-motor could assist or take over at low rpm to save fuel.

Of course we have no idea what the publishing of this new patent might mean for the future of motorcycling, if anything at all. The sketches are very basic, showing several variations of battery and e-motor placement in relation to a single cylinder gasoline engine. For these drawings to result in a production bike is tall order in any scenario due to inherent space limitations and weight concerns.

But if Kawasaki did use this technology to develop a hybrid Adventure Tourer, would you be interested in owning one? In a world soon to be 100-percent e-driven one does wonder what future ADV bikes will look like. If not a hybrid then maybe a voltaic system where the sun could power our two-wheeled adventures. Now wouldn’t that be a novel reason to chase those sunsets over the horizon.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

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July 15, 2019 3:04 pm

Back to the Future or Here come the Jetsons
The Zero set a track record at the TT’s on the Isle of Man this spring – not 100% sure but memory serves me speed exceeding 122mph during the one lap time trial.
I can see the design of that model, with reduced power, tweaked suspension becoming a dual purpose machine where recharge stations are available or build your own solar powered converter generator to drag along behind to your base camp.
The future is electric no argument there!
The only issue I see with electric motorcycles, cars and trucks is safety. If one was to crash, rollover, pinned in a vehicle where the Jaw of Life are required or buddy runs over to lift the other buddies bike off him and the outer section of the vehicle or frame is short circuiting with that battery will there be a breaker system to ground out the Watts or Amperage. For example a 12vlt ATV 400 cold cranking amps if the negative side is crossed to the positive side with a metal band wrist watch it will not only fry your skin but will also weld the links on the band together. Been there and it’s a Oh Shit stinky moment.
So ok a 50hp electric motor, for a 4 passenger Tesla vehicle, is equivalent to 37285 Watts, which is 37285000 MilliAmps
A standard household AC receptacle is 15-20amps (15000-20000 milliamps)
20-75 mA
Serious shock, including a painful jolt and loss of muscle control; victim cannot let go of wire or another source of shock.
75-100 mA
Ventricular fibrillation (uncoordinated twitching of ventricles) of the heart can occur.
100-200 mA
Ventricular fibrillation occurs, often resulting in death.

To convert the DC to AC or vice versa pending on what load is required for the motor being run this is the formula
DC amps for a 24 volt inverter supporting a 1000 watt load.

1000 watts is 120 (the volts) x 8.33 (AC amps); divide by .8 and that’s DC watts.

The result is 1250 DC watts. Divide by 24 and you have 52.08 DC amps.

I hope Kawi and other manufactures supply heavy insulated rubber lined riding gloves and boots with each electric powered vehicle !

July 15, 2019 3:14 pm

Jamie no sooner than I switch back to my Inbox this rolled in –

July 15, 2019 7:46 pm

Patents are a weak indication of real world intentions. How many patents for forced induction bikes have we seen over the last 5 years, with only one in current production.

Batteries are problematic in terms of strapping them to bikes because of the low energy density vs weight tradeoff. A MotoE bike weighs over 500lbs and at least 30% of that weight is the batteries, and that was only good for 18mi (initial race distance). A Moto3 bike weighs about 200lbs and 10% of that weight makes up its fuel source…. and in Germany its race distance was 61 miles. They turn the same lap times, but one has to carry 3x the weight in fuel and only goes 1/3rd the distance…. I know which technology makes more sense for an ADV bike.

And no, we cant just use solar panels to recharge the batteries in the field. Solar panels are not getting much more efficient than they are now, 20% currently, and the fanciest tech in the labs is getting above 30% but at a super high price in consumer form. And it’ll always need optimal sun exposure to reach that efficiency level. So further from the equator you go, longer you gotta wait to recharge your hybrid bike.

Without some major advances in battery tech, and massive ones in solar, its not in the cards anytime soon outside of a publicity stunt.

July 16, 2019 11:37 am
Reply to  Dan

Toyota seems to be digging their heels in on a solar powered vehicle – check out the vid – as you say pending on location of the hemisphere determines the efficiency. Up north the highest solar gain is mid February to mid April do to snow reflection. The theory Kawi is playing with may work for snowmobiles or ice racing bikes !

July 16, 2019 9:12 pm
Reply to  BCTenerizer

Those cars are cool, especially the triple joint panels with a 34% efficiency rate, thats very high. However, they are still only ‘range extending’ solar panels, they do not eliminate the need for a plug-in charge. Given enough surface area they could be more of a self-sufficient unit, but for a bike or even a sled, adding flat surface area for solar panels is the opposite of what those vehicles are made for.

I know I sound like a huge downer on EV and solar tech for vehicles, but i’m just a realist. I work in aviation with people way smarter than me, who regularly crunch these numbers in terms of how we can use them for aircraft. Initially there seemed to be a lot of potential, but the development advancements are slow, and the product cycles (time it takes to R&D new tech to full production) are very long for batteries. All the news stories you read about EV aircraft coming soon are hopelessly optimistic. Forget the fact that no FAA rules have been written to certify an EV aircraft, the technology is just not advancing fast enough. A bike is not unlike a plane in that it needs to be lightweight, with a high power-weight ratio propulsion system, and current EV tech is the opposite of that

July 16, 2019 10:53 pm
Reply to  Dan

I definitely won’t likely see it in my life time but then again my dad was born early enough to experience a multitude of engineering developments. From horse drawn buggies, steam powered car (aka Stanley), the bi-plane, to eye witnessing the Avro Arrow (first jet propelled fighter to bust the sound barrier and hit 9G) and lived long enough to see a moon landing. So I can be a little optimistic lol on the aspect of some type of non fossil fueled recreational vehicle being developed before I take the last ride.
As far as solar aircraft develop this decade it’s possible after hearing about a private carrier out of Vancouver BC aka Island Air retro fitting Dehavlin Beavers to solar power before 2022. Their operation is short distant commuters to Vancouver Island so 35 minutes over open water with allot of Island to nose into LoL.
The guy that did the tutorial fron Sono on the Toyota conversation was impressive as far as how the development and thought process that went into the design. Something Tesla should pick up on or Kawasaki for that matter.


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