Erik Buell Racing Patents Hybrid Motorcycle Design

08/12/2013 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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It seems Erik Buell Racing has been thinking about alternative-fuel vehicles, as the company from East Troy had filed and received a patent for a hybrid drive motorcycle design.

There is nothing particularly astonishing about EBR’s patent, after all with hybrids being all the rage in the four-wheeled world, it was obviously only a matter of time before that same trend transitioned to motorcycles as well.

However, what is interesting about Erik Buell Racing’s patent is that it doesn’t set forth the Prius-inspired setup that you would expect, where an electric motor takes over or assists an internal combustion engine.

Instead, EBR’s setup is more like the Chevy Volt, with a small petrol-fueled generator being on-board to charge the bike’s batteries once they have been depleted by the electric motor, and thus killing the range anxiety that is prevalent in current EV bike designs.

In its patent, Erik Buell Racing adds to the intrigue by saying that its electric motorcycle could draw electricity from its batteries, generator, or both at the same time if need be, with the internal combustion engine’s rpms being variable to meet any extra needs of electric motor’s current draw.

Filed at the end of last year, Erik Buell Racing’s patent shows that the American upstart has been working on this idea for nearly two years now, and the patent calls for the design to be integrated into motorcycles with notable Buell characteristics, namely fuel-in-frame designs.

Could we see an EBR hybrid on American roads in the near future? Only time will tell, but the scooter design has India written all over it.

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Source: Google Patents via Bikes in the Fast Lane

Comment:

  1. Richard Gozinya says:

    Neat! Would be interesting to see how it turns out, packing a PHEV system into a motorcycle that’s not a big tourer or cruiser. Keeping the form factor compact, and not too heavy, will be the tricky part I’d think.

  2. MrDefo says:

    This is probably looking way too forward, but this would make for an interesting Enduro race?

  3. Bruddha says:

    “Range Anxiety” is for people that know absolutely nothing about electric vehicles. No experience and no understanding of electric vehicles. It is based on fear of being stranded, like running out of gas…. so only a complete dolt would have range anxiety because they haven’t checked a map. A bike like EB is proposing is more through a need or desire for touring, not functional commuting. I’m pretty sure to all of the owners who actually use an EV to transport themselves, range anxiety is a term used for the ignorant masses trying find something wrong with electric vehicles. I own an EV and in all my conversations with other owners I never hear them say they have “range anxiety” of a vehicle they own. It is just hilarious that you you think EB is going to make a bike to address people’s fear based concerns…. I’m pretty sure your flat wrong.

  4. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Curious why this wasn’t thought of sooner….take almost anything that’s happening in the automotive world and apply it to the two wheeled world a few years later.

    Anyway, Erik Buell proves again he’s a head full of great ideas.

  5. Doug says:

    @Bruddha – I know this is subjective, but aesthetics play a role in market success. So, finding something wrong with EVs doesn’t take long, unless you look at a Mission bike.

    In terms of sales success and consequently more R & D ca$h, that is a huge problem with EVs.

  6. Richard Gozinya says:

    @Bruddha

    What makes you think that a notable percentage of riders primarily use their bikes for functional commuting? In my experience, within the US, that’s a tiny minority of riders. Whether it’s touring, twisty back roads, track days, or even the occasional impromptu drag race, most riders aren’t all that interested in practicality. Sure, the practical commuting is part of what I and others do, but only one part. And having multiple bikes is simply not economical, especially considering how ridiculously overpriced Zeros and Brammos are. No way am I going to pay 16k+ for a bike that’s on par with a Honda CB500F.

    Right now eBikes are a niche product. You have to really want one. There’s nobody cross-shopping electrics and ICEs, not seriously at any rate. Eventually that will change, as technology improves, and EVs become viable to more people. That day is not today.

  7. Shawn says:

    @Bruddha

    No, only a complete dolt would believe the number on the dash of their electric vehicle can translate into the miles calculated by their GPS. The same dolt probably also believes all the manufacturers claims. Electrical vehicles are very well known for their utter lack of ability to predict real world mileage based on a map. Range anxiety is a real thing and the majority of electric motorcycle reviews have shown that it’s a real problem with motorcycle. Depending on how you drive it is not hard to reduce the actual range to half the predicted range. And only people who know absolutely nothing about electric motors or electrics vehicles and has no experience would believe otherwise. Of all the areas of motor transportation, electric motivation is the one where the term “your mileage may vary” is the most pertinent.

  8. jzj says:

    Why is this patentable? It seems neither novel nor non-obvious. If I take what it clearly an existing idea from one thing — say, a windshield-wiper, or a dome light, or a cruise control from a car — and put the identical thing on a motorcycle, why is that worthy of a patent?

  9. John D'Orazio says:

    How ’bout using some of that brain power to bring an affordable American sport bike to market? Just sayin….

  10. Norm G. says:

    I applaud eric for the attempt, but with the limited space being used up by the electric motor, battery, and the controller, it begs the question what’s going to be used for the gas generator…? an O.S. 90…?

  11. Damo says:

    @Bruddha

    ““Range Anxiety” is for people that know absolutely nothing about electric vehicles. No experience and no understanding of electric vehicles. It is based on fear of being stranded, like running out of gas…. so only a complete dolt would have range anxiety because they haven’t checked a map.”

    The reason you don’t have conversations about range anxiety within your group of fellow EV owners, is primarily due to the fact that you all early adopters and have seen fit to modify you lifestyle and travel habits to suit your vehicle. Range anxiety is a real thing and if you think it isn’t you, Sir are the “dolt” as you so immaturely put it.

    Personally I use my motorbike for commuting as well as 200 miles plus trips every weekend. I am often it extremely remote areas and I live in a reasonably harsh climate. Currently there is not and EV on the commercial market that can suits my needs or lifestyle.

  12. Norm G. says:

    re: “Curious why this wasn’t thought of sooner”

    it probably WAS thought of sooner, but A. there’s really no market, and B. it poses a significant technical and financial challenge.

    keep in mind, neither eric nor anybody else has actually produced anything…? simply receiving a patent is not a foregone conclusion that a viable product is forthcoming. there are thousands if not millions of patents on the books for nothing more than attempts to gain revenue streams from licensing or infringement. then that brings up the issue of patent enforcement, which is a whole ‘nother legal topic by itself.

  13. Bob says:

    @Damo

    “The reason you don’t have conversations about range anxiety within your group of fellow EV owners, is primarily due to the fact that you all early adopters and have seen fit to modify you lifestyle and travel habits to suit your vehicle. Range anxiety is a real thing and if you think it isn’t you, Sir are the “dolt” as you so immaturely put it.”

    I think you got it right. It has been proven over the years that modifying your travel habits and being predictible is essential to successful EV commuting. Over a given distance, the current drain at 40 mph vs 55 mph vs 75 mph is significant and can cut range in half. Then you need to factor in headwinds, elevation changes, change of speed depending on traffic requirements, accessory draw, and heaven forbid you need to take a detour due to construction or you need to add another unplanned destination at the last minute. Maybe your wife went into labor or you kid broke his arm and you have to go to a hospital that just added 10 more miles each way. Maybe the wife needs you to go to the store along the way home too. What are you gonna do? Call the wife and tell her you have to go home and recharge before you can show up? You do have to account for these things. You give up a certain amount of freedom and flexibility and you do have to be aware of how much energy you have left. So yes, range anxiety is alive and well for good reason.

    Even though I only have a 30 mile commute each day, some of it at up to 90 mph, I certainly couldn’t alter my plans and go to bike night on the other side of town at a moment’s notice. That’s an extra 90 miles each way. And typically, on an ICE bike, I go for a nice rural ride, admiring the corn and cows, before arriving at bike night for a total of 300 miles that day.

    Sorry EV. My day job is stressful enough without adding more stress, calculating my free-time by the watt.

  14. Bruddha says:

    So far I don’t see eye to eye with your points.

    @RG – sorry but you can buy your crap CB500 and enjoy getting smoked off the line by an electric motorcycle. You are justifying buying a 500cc over an electric based on price? I think that’s your problem you don’t have a use for an electric and don’t understand the value backing an EV. You think your gunna canyon carve on a 500cc and ride out to Vegas from LA on the same motorcycle? Would you even consider buying a CB500? I would hazard a guess your riding something with more kick especially if your using highways. If your going to come to the argument with valid comments you should have experience on 500′s AND electrics. It sounds like you have neither. By the way Brammo and Zero are not on par with a 500. I would agree with you that both manufactures are tapping into a niche product but Ducati is a niche product and will likely stay niche cause not everyone wants or needs a street legal race bike. Brammo and Zero have only more room to grow as the market takes off and tech gets better.

    @Shawn – “Range anxiety is a real thing and the majority of electric motorcycle reviews have shown that it’s a real problem with motorcycle. Depending on how you drive it is not hard to reduce the actual range to half the predicted range.” —- Most journalists and editors at this point have no experience with EV’s. How many articles have you read that sum up, “I was really scared for the last 10 miles on this new electric motorcycle that I have never experienced before…” let me point out inexperience and fear again. There is no problem for owners of electric motorcycles they already understand their range and what the bike is capable of doing. Your second sentence would apply to any of my gas powered bikes if I’m hard on the throttle so I’m trying to understand why you are making a point of it?

    @Damo – I modify my rides all the time for the kind of riding I want to do… Do I use just one bike? Nope, Dual Sport rides require a certain bike, touring a different kind. Do we really have to get into ergonomics for particular riding scenarios? The difference between you and I is I don’t use the same bike for every application. I don’t take a KLR to the twisties cause I want to get into my turns likewise I don’t take a cruiser on a dual sport ride…. not like I have a bike for every occasion but I do have a few to choose from and all except one was over $3,000. Point is your still a dolt if you regard EV’s with “range anxiety” because you haven’t informed yourself first of the bikes capabilities. Much less is using that as an excuse to develop a moto to meet people’s fear of how far will this bike get me.

    Not trying to be contentious here people, I realize this is a high performance forum, usually I come here to read about all the race gossip, but Beeler got me riled saying EB is making a hybrid to deal with “range anxiety” when I find it hard to believe he would make a bike to deal with peoples fear of range…. I mean really? Thats what this boils down to? Spending oodles of cash to bring to market a hybrid and sooth the masses that don’t have the foggiest idea of what an EV is capable of? They aren’t buyers anyway IMO. I would stand corrected if thats his intention, but I don’t believe for a second thats true… at all.

  15. Richard Gozinya says:

    @Bruddha

    I’m not justifying buying a Honda CB500F over a Zero. I’m saying there’s no point to buying the Zero or Brammo, unless you really, really want an electric. There really is no reason whatsoever to pick one of those bikes over an ICE, as bikes with comparable performance are drastically cheaper, and bikes with similar prices have drastically superior performance. The Honda’s a great example, since its performance is roughly on par with the Brammo Empulse and Zero S.

    And why exactly would someone not be able to take a Honda CB500F in the twisties, or on a road trip? There was a time in my life I’ve done both on a Ninjette. It’s real easy, just get on and go.

  16. Anvil says:

    @Bruddha

    I know enough about EVs to know that almost all the manufacturers claims are exaggerated at best.

    And your reasoning is completely suspect: you try to negate range anxiety by referencing a group of owners who obviously don’t suffer from it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a real and valid concern. You are the minority. Range anxiety is, perhaps, the biggest barrier to entry to EVs for consumers. The manufacturers know it.

    The fact is that EVs don’t have nearly the range that ICE vehicles do, which is nearly unlimited when you consider the fuel infrastructure. Are you seriously going to deny that?

    I can also assure you that an EV would never work for me as my primary vehicle. And it makes no economic sense to buy one as a secondary vehicle. And until the manufacturers figure out how to get some scale and bring costs way down and/or bring range way up, it won’t make sense for most people.

    And if you’re not trying to be contentious, I suggest you think twice when you call millions of people dolts.

  17. Damo says:

    @Bruddah

    And you didn’t address any of the points I brought up and proceeded down a path of unrelated topics.

    EV’s in their current form are completely useless to me. Believe me I want one too. If they made sense I would already have one.

  18. Damo says:

    “You think your gunna canyon carve on a 500cc and ride out to Vegas from LA on the same motorcycle?”

    Why the shite not? I have made 400+ mile day trips on an RC51, that isn’t practical at all but I can do it. Can’t do that on an EV bike. I guess I just don’t understand your point.

  19. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    @Norm,

    If there is a market (perceived?) for electric bikes it seems to me the logical first step should have been hybrid technology. And this is what I’ve thought all along. Why are we talking e-bikes with range issues? Hybrid bikes wouldn’t have those issues.

    Look at the debate happening above about range anxiety. It’s the achilles heal of electric bikes.

    It would seem the brainiacs and tech wizards could pilfer the hybrid motor ideas of the automotive world and apply them to bikes to create something efficient, powerful, and affordable. But for reasons unknown ambition took them past the logical step of using hybrid technology and they went straight to electric-only power.

  20. Anvil says:

    @Chaz M. M.

    We’re only talking about range anxiety because someone took exception to Jensen mentioning that this kind of bike would solve that issue. Bruddah thinks the issue is a figment of everyone’s imagination.

    Doing an effective series (or “plug-in”) hybrid bike is more difficult than doing a car because of weight and packaging issues. E-bikes are already heavy and need as much room as possible for batteries. Now, with a series hybrid, you have to find room for a small ICE and its plumbing/electrics while keeping the weight and mass placement reasonable, although I guess one could argue that you might not need so much battery. Not particularly easy to do. I’d also have imagine that it will add to the cost.

    However, if someone cracks the problems, they would have something. But they’d still have to get the cost reasonable. Last I checked, the Chevy Volt was not doing so well, probably because the asking price is far too high and the value/benefits not particularly so.

    I think part of the problem here is the desire, particularly by the real zealots, to get completely away from ICE technology. I suspect a series hybrid seems like a compromise and doesn’t make as compelling of a paradigm-shifting breakthrough. I think that was a mistake as electric-only powertrains are not yet ready for primetiime and the ICE is not going away any time soon.

  21. Bruddha says:

    @RG and Damo – I don’t consider a 500cc to be a long range bike. Fine for twisties, around town & commute but not comfortable for me to ride long range. Can you do it out of necessity? Of course. All of your comments about electrics is about feeling comfortable about what your riding yes? You don’t feel comfortable cause you have “range anxiety” on an electric bike. A 500cc to me is not comfortable on the highway long distance.

    @Anvil – I wasn’t calling you out, but if your the “millions” that don’t look at a map on an unfamiliar route or bike then well…sorry mate you should know where your going first before getting lost and running out of gas/power because you couldn’t find a gas station/plug on your ride.

    I’m willing to bet if all of you spent a couple weeks on an electric bike, you would look back on your comments and laugh at “range anxiety.” Fear certainly is a real thing. Fear of the unknown and it likely drives some or all of your perceptions. Does Rossi or Lorenzo have range anxiety at the end of the race? Likely, especially if they mismanaged their fuel consumption. If you don’t want to ride an electric bike because you like noise, exhaust & rattling….then don’t. If you hold off on electric because of fear then your just afraid of the unknown. This convo is vaguely reminiscent of two stroke owners laughing at four stroke motors and now you don’t see many two stroke bikes lining up for a race any more. Developing a hybrid MC to handle people’s range anxiety because they are scared isn’t going to make non-buyers buy, maybe it was a poor choice of words on beeler’s part. If EB is really bringing to market a hybrid MC the only practical function would be for touring imo.

  22. paulus - Thailand says:

    I am with the majority… it would not be my first choice for a motorcycle.
    All the best intentions in the world, electric/hybrid does not yet meet any of the requirements I crave from a motorcycle. Freedom being high on the list. Always available and have the choice to take a trip to the shops or a cross continent adventure; should I wish to at a moments notice.
    Alternative fuels seem like a better solution. Ethanol’s, Bio-diesel or other liquid form solutions which can use the existing infrastructure and be refilled in minutes.

  23. Damo says:

    @Bruddha

    You continue to ignore everyone’s comments on range anxiety. I would seriously not be able to use an electric bike for two weeks then look back and “laugh” at my opinion of them. I sat down at Laguna Seca and spoke with the Brammo guys for awhile about when they plan to get their product out to the North East where I live and they didn’t have a solid plans for it. I regularly ride LONG distances and stopping every 100 miles (if the current crop of EV bikes can even do that) to charge it, it is a complete NOGO. Not even taking into account getting stuck in traffic and not accruing mileage.

    I can make a 120 mile trip on a CBR250R in less than two hours, on a liter bike I can do it in about the same time INCLUDING a fuel stop. How long would that take on an EV? Three hours? Four Hours? It would require at least one charge stop.

    Also just because you don’t consider a 500cc bike a touring machine doesn’t mean they aren’t. I am 6’2″ weight 190lbs and I have ridden my wife’s CBR250R on several 400 mile trips around New England (with a ton of it done on the highway) without issue.

    I am pro-EV like you, but you keep confusing “feelings” for “facts”.

  24. Anvil says:

    @Bruddah

    You contiunally ignore the fact that one of the biggest pleasures of owning a motorcycle is not simply getting from point A to point B. It’s how you get there. Or get nowhere in partiucular at all.

    I might start at point A, go to point B the most entertaining way possible, which is often the longer way, and decide to proceed to point C, D, E and F.

    On Sunday: Long Island to Letchworth Park, NY, through Harriman State Park to Seven Lakes Drive, one pass of Bear Mountain, to Cold Spring, NY, to…riding around aimlessly on some great roads, to a high-ish speed jaunt down the Taconic Parkway back to NYC and eventually back to L.I in time for dinner. Not even a particularly long day but not possible on an EV. Not even close.

    If you don’t think range anxiety is real, call someone at Tesla and have them explain to you why they’re investing in their own recharging infrastructure. Also, call some of the e-bike manufacturers and ask them why they don’t sell many bikes. If they’re honest, they’ll tell you it’s the range.

    In the case of commuting, sure, given the right distances, an e-bike can work. That’s not a big enough need to support the manufacturers. The sad thing is that they themselves have made range anxiety worse by shamelessly claiming totally unrealistic ranges, in which most people have lost any confidence in.

  25. Bruddha says:

    @Damo – Funny you say facts over feelings because your facts lack real world experience of an electric motorcycle and usage and sound more like your feelings…. I use my EV almost everyday to commute, fact. And I use my gas bikes when I want to go farther. I’m still not in agreement with you but you can have your take on EV’s and support them as you wish. I’m not interested in changing your mind or selling you on EV.

    @Anvil – Same for you and Tesla is building a super charger network to get you from point A to point B because there is no infrastructure to piggy back off with recharge stations and Musk wants the fastest possible recharge for his customers, that’s not driven out of fear but functionality. Also that has nothing to do with range anxiety and everything to do with making EV’s go farther and recharge faster. The NYT did an article recently saying the Tesla couldn’t make a particular drive from point A to point B that was from an inexperienced editor that knew nothing about EV’s. The only problem is that Tesla customers performed the same exact route and made it…..

  26. mudgun says:

    I have range anxiety with my FZ-1 all the time. I have speed anxiety too. Clouds give me rain anxiety. The setting sun gives me temperature anxiety. Automobiles give me crash anxiety. On top of all that my right hand goes to sleep and throws a hissy fit when I try to wake it up.

  27. mudgun says:

    If I had one more anxiety I may not even be able to make myself get on the darn thing. But if I ever bought an E.V. would I need to have shock anxiety?

  28. Anvil says:

    @Bruddah

    Please enlighten us to the secret keys to e-bike ownership. Apparently we’re all trapped in the dark ages.

    It actually sounds like you’re just saying that you have to do a lot more planning or never stray too far from home or one of the nearly nonexistent charging stations. Oh, and leave yourself plenty of time to recharge. And make sure to ration your electrons.

    Sorry, man, that’s not why I own a motorcycle. Quite the opposite, actually.

    You also keep talking about fear and fuctionality as if they’re mutually exclusive. They’re not. The fear, or anxiety, is a direct result of a lack of functionality. Yes, that’s why Tesla is building supercharging stations. Forget that you’ll have to own a Tesla to use one. And they’re won’t be nearly enough of them, anyway.

    You’re not doing the EV cause any favors by accusing everyone who criticizes them of being ignorant. You and your fellow owners can validate each other all you want but that isn’t going to sell any more e-bikes. You’re just beating your head against the wall.

    Truth is, the EV manufacturers better come up with something practical relatively soon, or they won’t be around much longer. Tesla has made the biggest strides recently and they were about to go out of business before the government bailed them out. For e-bikes, a realistic hybrid might be the ticket if someone can pull it off.

  29. james says:

    The E.V.s are coming no doubt about it, but like flying cars (their coming too) the technology will have to make them more than equal to what we have now. The E.V.s. today are the model t’s of yesterday. (I know that sounds funny, but 10 to 20 yrs. from now those of us still around will ride E.V.s because they will be superior in every way. (except maybe sound) Our gas guzzlers will sit in the garage to be lovingly looked at and taken for an occasional sunday morning run, but our E.V.s will be parked in the drive ready to play at levels the gasser could never achieve.

  30. LanceBoyles says:

    Let’s see if he can make a version of it that isn’t butt-ugly like every other motorcycle his company has built.

  31. matt says:

    Anvil has it right. My daily commute is a consistent 57 miles every day. I could totally use an EV instead of my 50mpg DRZ400 except if I decide to go somewhere else, run some errands, or God forbid take a modest detour down some curvy backroads at the spur of the moment. Then I’m stranded if not sweating my battery levels!

    IC engines can be VERY efficient at certain engineered RPMs. If Eric’s single (125-200cc should be plenty) runs at the ideal emissions/charging RPM most of the time except when you decide to wick it up higher than it can otherwise sustain (I guess it goes variable or has 1 or 2 other RPM set-points) that gives you good emissions AND all-important range.

    Brammo et. al. are dead ends because of their straight-jacket use-cases. We will never move past oil-based IC engines in this lifetime nor the next 2 at minimum. There is simply no rational nor cost-effective alternative no matter how much some people try to wish-away the reality of physics.