Honda Takes on the Hybrid Motorcycle

by Benjamin Jones on October 2, 2008

For a few years now, hybrids have been all the rage in the consumer car market. The Prius has been elevated to the status of an icon and Honda is now trying to catch up with its revived Honda Insight. But what about motorcycles, where Honda has been the unquestioned world leader for years?

The added weight and complexity has previously kept the word “hybrid” from squeezing in front of the word “motorcycle,” but now Honda thinks they’ve found a way to build and market hybrid motorcycles. According to the Mainichi Shinbun, Honda will begin releasing the hybrid motorcycles in the 2010s, which will be followed up by electric motorcycles in 2011.

Honda will be adapting the hybrid system it uses on its current cars to work with motorcycles of engine displacement between 200 and 1000cc. It would probably be too cumbersome to use on smaller bikes, but Honda hopes to increase fuel efficiency by about 50% with the hybrid bikes.

Now, the real question for all you bikers out there is this: would you ride one?

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1 Ryan October 2, 2008 at 10:20 am

Like the recent CRV post, I think there comes a point where not enough miles are driven to necessitate a better mpg.
My Honda Elite got 90mpg, great mileage.
My Harley gets about 30-40.
My Honda Shadow about 50.
and my fake Honda pitbike gets over 100.

I don’t see a hybrid (if the push is better mpg) would appeal, unless it fits into a specific new market. Four bikes is excessive, but they each serve a purpose. If the hybrid meets another purpose, them I’m all for it.

2 Benjamin Jones October 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

Ryan –

Yeah, there is currently a bit of debate on whether or not the hybrid systems will be intend to make the bike go fast without using as much gasoline or whether they’re really trying to save money. I except if the task is fuel savings they will appeal mostly to Japanese delivery businesses and police stations that put a lot of miles on their bikes.


3 Ryan October 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

I thought of a couple of purposes:

It would be pretty neat to be able to drive to the grand canyon and back without filling up.

Endurance racing.

4 James Lee October 5, 2008 at 1:30 am

I don’t think Touring will become a purpose as hybrids are really only utilised when stopping and starting.

5 Daniel October 5, 2008 at 2:23 am

I would ride one, but I dont know how you could go for long motorcycle rides and having to worry about plugging in all the time.

6 Chris October 5, 2008 at 2:42 am

Hybrids don’t work when you are at maximum revs, you would still be using the fuel engine. Hybrids are heavier so this would not be a suitable application for racing. Touring, perfect.

7 Cluster Tim October 5, 2008 at 4:44 am

Wow, I wonder if Harley Davidson plans to do that with their overpriced bikes.


8 spoonyfork October 5, 2008 at 4:48 am

The place of true benefit for a hybrid engine design, at least with cars, is city driving. Personally, city roads are my least favorite place to ride a motorcycle. I do know of people who bought motorcycles in the last two years just to commute to work and little else. That would be a potential market for a hybrid motorcycle. Personally I like longer rides on back country roads as well as occasional commutes to work. If Honda can find a way to either get better gas mileage or produce less emissions in a touring motorcycle then I would consider it.

9 Blograzy October 5, 2008 at 5:44 am

Hybrid motorcycles will be 1. more costly 2. less effective. But what Honda needs to do is develop high performance electric bikes, which is the real solution to our safe tomorrow.

10 BoloMKXXVIII October 5, 2008 at 6:06 am

My 2006 Harley gets better than 50 MPG. You can bet your last dollar I will not be trading it in on a Honda hybrid.

11 Hondo October 5, 2008 at 9:08 pm

What manuafacturers need to do is make a “hybrid” that gets better milage on the highway, like the European steam engine system that takes heat from the exhaust and recycles the otherwise wasted energy into forward motion. Forget this battery crap.

12 timmy October 12, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Wow,,I have heard only about hybird car this is the first time I am hearing about hybird motorbike…Good job Honda

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