New hybrid cars seem to be constantly emerging, and thanks to the advent of mild hybrid setups, vehicles mixing internal combustion with electric gubbins have become incredibly common. In the world of bikes, though? They’re not really a thing.
We’ve had a steady stream of new fully electric bikes arriving over the last few years, but other than a few manufacturers occasionally dabbling in stuff using two power sources - nada. This could soon change, however, thanks to Kawasaki. The Japanese manufacturer has shown far more interest in part-electric bikes than any of its competitors, and this week it revealed images and preliminary details of a hybrid prototype.
Kawasaki hasn’t dropped too much in the way of hardcore technical information, but we do know there are two batteries. There’s a 48-volt battery for the hybrid system under the seat, and a 12-volt battery used to power engine electronics.
Speaking of, the internal combustion part of the equation is an unspecified parallel-twin, likely the 399cc, 44bhp version out of the Ninja 400 (above). This is backed up by a water-cooled motor (you might have seen the little radiator below the main one in the top image) positioned above the gearbox. It’s able to work in two ways - performing as a generator to top up the battery, or providing power to the rear wheel via the automatic gearbox.
The motor can work with the petrol engine to provide a handy acceleration boost, or, for instance, if you’re in a busy city centre, power the bike on its own. Similarly, the petrol engine is able to operate while the motor is dormant.
To coincide with the prototype news, Kawasaki released a design sketch showing how a hybrid sports tourer from the company might shape up. By 2025, Kawasaki says it’ll have 10 electrified (a mix of hybrid and full electric) bikes available. By 2035, the whole range will be made up of hybrid and fully electric models.