“The future” 25 years on

It didn't quite work out the way we'd expected

THE wonder of the internet means documents that once could only have been found by rooting through reams of hidden paperwork or scrolling endless microfilm rolls are available to anyone who cares to look. But as far as we know no publication has ever revealed these images showing the secrets of the most advanced motorcycle of the 1980s.

It's now 25 years since Suzuki designed and showed its Nuda concept bike, a machine that, in 1987, was reckoned to be an illustration of the technology we could all expect to be using on out superbikes in the future. As well as looking pretty special, under the aerodynamic skin it hid clever ideas like surface-mounted radiators that effectively used the body panels to cool the GSX-R750-derived engine, a hydraulic hub-centre steering system and two wheel drive.

While all these features were talked about in the Nuda's publicity material, and Suzuki claimed the bike was a runner, there was never much that illustrated how the technology actually worked. However, these images come from the patents Suzuki filed back in 1987 at the time the bike was being developed, and show the way the bike's carbon-fibre bodywork doubled as the chassis, holding front and rear aluminium sub-frame sections (one for each swingarm pivot and shock) and carrying the engine between two clam-shell-style body halves.

The pictures also reveal the drive shafts running inside the two single-sided swingarms, the front shaft apparently going straight through the engine block after taking drive from the gearbox behind it.

Finally, the patents show the steering system, which appears to be electro-hydraulic.

All this stuff was, apparently, working when the bike was built a quarter of a century ago. And yet the bikes we ride today are still much more like the stock production machines of the late 80s than the Nuda concept.