Yamaha concept bikes revealed

Tokyo show eye-candy. Does any of it really mean anything?

YAMAHA has unveiled the concept bikes it will have on display at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of this month – an array of retro and futuristic bikes that may or may not point towards future developments.

The bikes on show will include the Bolt Café, a café-racer-style version of the Bolt (XV950 in the UK) cruiser. While not likely to be put into production, the bike shows what an enterprising custom builder could easily create using the Yamaha cruiser as its basis.

Then there’s a brace of electric concepts that once again tease us with the sort of battery-powered bikes that Japan could make, but has so far decided not to. First is a naked sports version, the PES1, claimed to weigh under 100kg and powered by a brushless DC motor and lithium-ion battery. The same motor and battery, indeed the same central chassis section, is shared by its off-road sibling the PED1, claimed to be lighter still at under 85kg.

Both look tempting but year after year for a decade or more Japan’s manufacturers have been churning out great-looking electric bike concepts on the premise that such machines are just around the corner. It’s turning into a giant of a corner, leaving us wondering just when we can actually expect something exciting and electric in production form from any of the Japanese bike firms.

The electric theme continues with the EVINO Ibino scooter – an electric take on the existing Vino twist-and-go, and one that’s much more likely to become a battery-powered reality than the more exciting electric concept bikes. Again there’s a brushless DC motor and lithium-ion batteries, with no mention of power or performance.

The same underpinnings go into the EKIDS concept bike, a sort of electric PW50 that would be ideal for getting children into off-road riding with none of the noise or complexity of a petrol-powered motocrosser.

Finally, there’s the YPJ-01, a powered bicycle that celebrates the 20th anniversary of Yamaha’s successful ‘PAS’ range of electrically-boosted pedal bikes – one of the few electric two-wheelers that haven’t just made production but actually gone on to monstrous success, albeit mainly in Asian markets.

The firm’s concept bike strategy – one warmed-over petrol-powered production bike and a host of electric machines – suggests that Yamaha really does see a future in electric bikes. But the question remains over how long we’ll have to wait before we see a production electric bike from the firm that will really get traditional motorcyclists’ mouths watering.