Revealed: Suzuki’s electric sports bike plans

Patents from Japan show a battery-powered GSX-R

Revealed: Suzuki’s electric sports bike plans

IT seems we’ve been on the verge of an electric bike revolution for a decade but it’s still signally failed to actually happen. But just because battery power isn’t sweeping all before it in the short term doesn’t mean manufacturers have turned their backs on the technology. These new patent images show that Suzuki has been working on ideas for an electric sports bike in the unusual mould of an early GSX-R.

We’d be very surprised to see something like this actually reaching production, but the existence of the patent means it’s something that the firm has dedicated R&D resources to.

Where the design differs from other electric bikes is in the layout of the motor and batteries. The motor is fitted longitudinally rather than across-the-frame, and drives through a bevel gear into a six-speed transmission. While electric bikes with multi-speed gearboxes aren’t new, they’re still the exception rather than the rule, since the broad torque spread and rev range of electric power means multiple gears are largely surplus to requirements.

What the gearbox would bring is added flexibility and a level of familiarity that might be welcomed by riders brought up riding petrol-powered bikes. It also means that there’s a clutch, which is another thing that most electric bikes do without.

The lengthwise motor means that there’s space between it and the fairing panels for batteries to be mounted. To help keep this area clear for the batteries, the bike uses a cradle-style frame, like an old GSX-R, which fits nicely with Suzuki’s heritage. The patent drawings also show the bike with retro-styled bodywork and throwback three-spoke wheels, but since those elements have nothing to do with the innovation of the patent they could simply be placeholders.

Our guess is that this isn’t a serious design for a showroom bike. Instead it’s likely that it’s just an idea that the firm sees as worthwhile enough to invest in patenting even if it’s not immediately followed up. However, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Suzuki might create a crowd-pulling concept bike that combines futuristic electric power with retro GSX-R design cues, even if it’s got no intention of making a production version.