New patents have revealed a Suzuki 2wd scooter using a hybrid power system that’s under development in Japan.
The Suzuki 2wd scooter’s rear end is perfectly conventional. There’s a petrol engine and CVT transmission built into the swingarm, just as on millions of other scooters. But at the front there’s an unconventional leading-link suspension system holding a hub-mounted electric motor.
The switch away from conventional forks is purely for practical purposes. The electric motor and reduction gear system inside the front hub means that the hub is wider than a non-driven one. The additional width is on the left hand side, where the motor is fitted. On the right there’s a conventional brake disc and caliper.
Fitting conventional forks would mean positioning them further apart, with a knock-on effect on other parts of the bike’s design. By using a leading link suspension system, the left hand link can be cast as part of the hub-motor’s housing. That keeps the overall width of the front just as narrow as it would be without a driven front wheel.
A scooter might not be the most obvious candidate for 2wd since it’s unlikely to need the extra traction to put down a relatively small amount of power. However, the hybrid system makes sense on a scooter, and in this case 2wd is really a side-effect of that. By incorporating regenerative braking from the hub motor, the bike’s range and economy could be improved even with a relatively small battery. Since the main drive is still from a petrol engine there’s none of the range-anxiety usually associated with electric vehicles.
Importantly, the system could also be incorporated into just about any scooter in the firm’s range with minimal other changes. The bike is perfectly normal from the headstock back so it’s much simpler to build than a one-wheel-drive hybrid. All that’s needed is the new front suspension, which attaches to a normal headstock. Plus a battery, some control electronics and the front motor, of course.