Suzuki has filed a patent for a hybrid motorcycle powered by an inline-Four and an electric motor. Filed with the Japan Patent Office, the patent describes how Suzuki would incorporate a hybrid powertrain and a semi-automatic transmission on a sportbike.
According to the patent description, the electric motor (the drum-shaped object labeled #43 in the diagrams mounted behind the cylinder bank) can be used to supply full electric drive or electric assistance to the gasoline-powered engine. The patent accounts for either a DC motor or an AC motor with an inverter (#33) and battery (#32) mounted under the seat.
Both the internal combustion engine and the electric motor deliver power through the transmission. When operating on pure gasoline power, the transmission continues to spin the electric motor, turning it into a generator. This also allows the motor to provide electric power assistance to the ICE.
The transmission is semi-automatic allowing manual shifting without needing to pull in the clutch lever. Shifting is still done with the rider’s left foot, but it’s performed electronically. A sensor (#90) detects the angle of the shift lever, sending an electronic signal to shift up or down. The signal is received by the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) which then releases the clutch and initiates a gear change. The TCU works with the Engine Control Unit (ECU), momentarily cutting the throttle on upshifts and blipping it on downshifts.
The right handlebar has three switches: the starter (#110), a mode selector (#111) and a kill switch (#112). Pressing up (#111) switches modes between pure electric, electric assist and power generation. Pressing the #110 switch again makes the bike run on just the gasoline-fueled engine.
The illustrations suggest Suzuki’s planning to use this technology on a sportbike. The triple clamp and frame resemble those on the current GSX-R1000, but those may have been selected just for illustrative purposes. The patent is credited to Koichi Tanaka whose previous patents for Suzuki include sportbike engines and air intake systems.
As in most cases, a patent provides little information on if/when it will appear on a production model, but at the very least it shows what Suzuki is working on.