• Kawasaki Reveals First Hybrid Motorcycle

  • Kawasaki's First Hybrid Petrol-Electric hybrid is a masterpiece of packaging, using a small engine and battery. Image: Autoby
  • Parallel Twin Engine Engine could be either 250 or 400cc from the Ninja models. Electric motor on top of the gearbox, battery under the seat. Image: Autoby
  • Switchable Technology Petrol engine in the country, charging the battery ready for full electric power in the city. Image: Autoby
  • Tubular Steel Frame New frame not seen on any other models utilised. Bike could also feature automatic transmission. Image: Autoby

Petrol-Electric Hybrid Points Way To 2025 and Beyond

There’s been a lot of news from Kawasaki of late regarding its petrol-less future. The latest reveal is of its first hybrid-powered motorcycle, using a twin-cylinder engine and an electric motor.

Kawasaki Reveals Hybrid Motorcycle

Kawasaki Reveals First Hybrid Motorcycle
- image 1025143
Kawasaki’s First Hybrid
Petrol-Electric hybrid is a masterpiece of packaging, using a small engine and battery. Image: Autoby

While hybrid technology is becoming increasingly common in cars, the motorcycle world has been slow to adopt the technology. Honda and Piaggio have both produced hybrid scooters but that’s as far as it goes.

There are reasons for this slow adoption. Firstly, motorbikes are already much more fuel efficient than cars so the reduction in fuel consumption is not as big a selling point. Then there is the problem of packaging. Motorcycles are already space-optimised so to find space for an electric motor and batteries in addition to the petrol engine is not easy. Of course, because there are effectively two power plants, both can be made smaller: it’s simply finding the compromise between size and performance.

Kawasaki Reveals First Hybrid Motorcycle
- image 1025142
Parallel Twin Engine
Engine could be either 250 or 400cc from the Ninja models. Electric motor on top of the gearbox, battery under the seat. Image: Autoby

Kawasaki has, in the past year, been making increasingly loud noises about its future, culminating in the latest announcement that it will have at least 10 hybrid or fully electric models by 2025 and no petrol-powered models at all from 2035.

Now, Kawasaki has unveiled its first hybrid motorcycle. They have been reticent on details but from the pictures we can glean that the engine appears to be a parallel twin which would make sense as Kawasaki already has one in its arsenal, the 250/400cc unit as found in the Ninja 250/400. The battery is a small 48V pack, situated under the seat, while the electric motor is mounted above the gearbox. All of this is bolted to a new tubular steel frame.

Kawasaki Reveals First Hybrid Motorcycle
- image 1025144
Switchable Technology
Petrol engine in the country, charging the battery ready for full electric power in the city. Image: Autoby

The bike would run petrol-powered outside outside urban areas, at which time regenerative systems would top up the battery. Emission-free transport would then be available in towns and cities. Of course, both systems could be used at the same time, boosting the available performance beyond what they could achieve individually.

Switching from one power source to the other could be done manually or automatically, such as when entering an emission-free zone in a city. A GPS locator would make the switch from petrol to electric automatically, preventing the rider from forgetting to do it him or herself.

Kawasaki Reveals First Hybrid Motorcycle
- image 1025145
Tubular Steel Frame
New frame not seen on any other models utilised. Bike could also feature automatic transmission. Image: Autoby

Hybrid systems such as this are likely to be more readily accepted by motorcyclists than fully electric systems because a hybrid bike retains the recognition point in the form of the internal combustion engine (ICE). However, hybrid bikes are likely to be a stepping stone to fully electric bikes in the future, unless hydrogen technology takes off, permitting the continuation of the ICE.

We are in a fascinating period in the history of personal transport. There has been more fundamental change in the past few years than in the previous 100. The shape of the future is coming further into focus, even if no-one can really predict just how the future will look. Yet!

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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