• Kawasaki Developing Supercharged Hybrid Motorcycles?

  • Hybrid Technology Combining a petrol engine and batteries offering the best balance of range and emissions. Always thought too heavy for motorcycles
  • Kawasaki Endeavour Electric Motorcycle Fully electric, but a Hybrid would ease the transition for die-hard motorcyclists
  • Kawasaki Supercharged Engine From the H2 Giving a small-displacement engine the power of a large-displacement engine is the real benefit of supercharging
  • Hybrid Patent Drawings Both engine and batteries need to be kept small to avoid unnecessary weight down. Supercharging would give the small engine sufficient power without being too heavy

Best-of-Both-Worlds Engineering Could Ease the Transition From Petrol to fully electric

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While there is some resistance to the wholesale adoption of electric bikes, the avenue of Hybrid technology has strangely not been explored by motorcycle manufacturers, despite it being popular in cars. Could Kawasaki be about to change all that, adopting it supercharging technology?

Is Kawasaki Developing a Hybrid Motorcycle?

Kawasaki Developing Supercharged Hybrid Motorcycles?
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Hybrid Technology
Combining a petrol engine and batteries offering the best balance of range and emissions. Always thought too heavy for motorcycles

Hybrid technology is seen as the best of both worlds in the quest for reduced emissions from car engines. Combining battery- and petrol engine-power, they rely on electricity for low-speed and urban use, switching to petrol power when battery levels drop or to provide motive-force for longer journeys.

So far, such technology has not been adopted for motorcycles, largely due to the complexity and weight of the installation. Kawasaki, however, is thinking otherwise, being well down the path of developing more environmentally-effective motorcycles that will still appeal to the die-hard motorcyclist.

Kawasaki Developing Supercharged Hybrid Motorcycles?
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Kawasaki Endeavour Electric Motorcycle
Fully electric, but a Hybrid would ease the transition for die-hard motorcyclists

Every manufacturer knows that an eventual transition to full electric power is inevitable and Kawasaki is no different. At the annual EICMA motorcycle show in Milan in 2019, the Japanese company showed it new electric concept, called the Endeavour, which was a full electric motorcycle, although it kept its options open by not announcing a production timeline for the machine.

In the meantime, patent applications show that Kawasaki is looking at Hybrid technology as a way of bridging the transition from petrol to electricity: think of it as introducing electricity gently to a sceptical consumer.

Kawasaki Developing Supercharged Hybrid Motorcycles?
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Kawasaki Supercharged Engine From the H2
Giving a small-displacement engine the power of a large-displacement engine is the real benefit of supercharging

But there is more to it than that. Due to its expertise with supercharging in motorcycles, Kawasaki’s Hybrid will have an ace up its sleeve.

Batteries, as we all know, are heavy and weight is the enemy of motorcycles, blunting performance and handling. Add in a petrol engine and the weight handicap becomes a real issue. But what if both batteries and engine could be made as small as possible but still possess decent performance? This is where the supercharger could be the vital missing link.

When Kawasaki launched the supercharged H2, some critics wondered why the technology hadn’t been used to give smaller engines the power of larger engines, with attendant savings in fuel consumption, rather than making a large engine even more powerful.

Kawasaki Developing Supercharged Hybrid Motorcycles?
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Hybrid Patent Drawings
Both engine and batteries need to be kept small to avoid unnecessary weight down. Supercharging would give the small engine sufficient power without being too heavy

As it turned out, the H2 was a deliberate flagship model to showcase the technology, while the potential hybrid application will be the real-world demonstration of the value of the tech.

So far, it is only through patent drawings that we know of the supercharged hybrid’s existence and we know that they aren’t sufficient guarantee that what is contained therein will ever see the light of day. But it is a logical step for Kawasaki, as long as the engineers can keep the weight down and the dynamic fun up!

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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