Tag Archives: patent

Carbon frame closer to mass production

A new BMW Motorrad patent for a carbon fibre swingarm brings the hi-tech, lightweight technology closer to mass production through a manufacturing process that makes it more affordable.

In 2018,  BMW Motorrad won a JEC Innovation Award for the development and manufacture of a carbon fibre swingarm for its 2017 HP4 RACE (pictured above).

A new filing patent brings that technology closer to mass production.

Instead of a conventional swingarm pivot, the patent shows a flexible carbon fibre with the swingarm integrated into the chassis.

Carbon fibre and other lightweight materials are becoming more prevalent in motorcycle design with a wide range of benefits to handling, braking, acceleration, fuel economy and emissions.

The properties of carbon fibre that make it so attractive to motorcycle manufacturers is its light weight and high strength.

Carbon fibre and other lightweight materials are becoming more prevalent in motorcycle design with a wide range of benefits to handling, braking, acceleration, fuel economy and emissions.

The properties of carbon fibre that make it so attractive to motorcycle manufacturers is its light weight and high strength.

I switched to Blackstone TEK carbon fibre wheels on a 2006 Ducati GT1000 project bike and was stunned at the wide range of benefits it brought to the bike.

Blackstone TEK Black Diamond carbon fibre wheels for Ducati GT1000 hype swingarm
Ducati GT1000 with Blackstone TEK carbon wheels

Carbon history

Carbon fibre construction has come a long way since it was first used in a motorcycle in 1994 in Cagiva’s C194 500cc two-stroke.

It featured a chassis made of carbon-fibre and alloy, but was short-lived.

The other famous early use of carbon fibre was in chassis of the Britten V1000, designed and hand-built by Kiwi John Britten.

Britten laps at Phillip Island Classic swingarm
Britten V1000

John, a brilliant, but dyslexic mechanical engineer, died of skin cancer in 1995 having hand-built only 10 V1000s.

Carbon fibre is today used extensively in motorsport and expensive automobiles and motorcycles such as the Ducati Desmosedici.

Carbon swingarm project

Carbon fibre is expensive because it is difficult to mass-produce.

However, manufacturing processes are improving, resulting in better quality finishes and cheaper products.

Joachim Starke, who is in charge of BMW’s lightweight composite fibres, says the HP4 RACE combined optimum technical qualities, uniform manufacturing quality and cost efficiency for the first time.

The HP4 RAE swingarm was made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic with CFP tape reinforcements using thermoplastic material.

BMW HP4 RACE Swingarm
BMW HP4 RACE swingarm

BMW believes it will be possible to establish a cost-efficient manufacturing process suitable for the large-scale production of such injection-mould components.

He says they developed a technology that allows precise configuration of component properties by using a variety of composite and metal inserts.

“This scalability means that a single tool can be used to produce a wide range of different components at cycle times of less than a minute,” he says.

“The maximum strength can be adjusted by means of additional CFP panels which can be thermoplastically joined.”

BMW also used welding robots in the process to reduce costs.

The HP4 RACE carbon fibre project forms the basis for the use of carbon fibre in serial production of BMW motorcycles and automobiles.

BMW HP4 Race has carbon swingarm
BMW HP4 RACE

Carbon technology explained

BMW project manager Elmar Jäger explains the technology:

We opted for chassis components under continuous load since the requirements involved are especially demanding. While car chassis parts are concealed, the visible motorcycle rear swinging arm was ideal for our project since the forces at work are immediately evident. Our production technique uses CFP in the form of high-strength endless fibres where this is required by the stress pattern, while an injection mould part with short CFP recycling fibres is used where the stress levels are not as high. In this way, we developed a cost-efficient design that can be scaled according to requirements by inserting endless fibres with varying levels of strength in the same tool.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

BMW plans convertible electric C1 scooter

Patent drawings reveal BMW plans to bring back its C1 scooter, but with a detachable roof, seat belts, car-like crumple zones and an electric motor.

The German manufacturer filed a patent for an electric C1-style scooter with a detachable roof in 2017.

Now, more details are available that show it also has airbags, crushable zones front and back like a car, seat belts and aerodynamic winglets that automatically change angle according to speed.

I’ve got to ask … why?

The German company currently has five scooters: the C 650 GT, C 650 Sport, C 400 X and C 400 GT, plus the C Evolution electric scooter which has not yet been imported to Australia.

BMW C evolution electric scooter emissions
BMW C Evolution electric scooter

The new patent drawings show the detachable roof with rear storage area on the electric scooter, but it may also be adapted for the petrol-powered models.

It could even be retrofitted to current models.

BMW patents scooter with roof
Retrofit roof

This is not the first time BMW has thought about bringing back the scooter roof. In 2009, BMW’s first electric scooter was the roofed C1-E concept, powered by a Vectrix motor.

BMW patents scooter with roof
C1-E concept

C1 failure

The whole idea of a motorcycle or scooter is to experience freedom from the cage of cars.

Adding a roof to a motorcycle or scooter not only looks ridiculous, but also makes it heavier and more unwieldy to ride because of its high centre of gravity.

Old C1 scooters can still be seen in crowded European cities such as Paris, but it was a dismal flop around the rest of the civilised world.

BMW patents scooter with roof C1
C1

The idea was to attract car drivers to two wheels. In some countries, riders of the quirky BMW scooter were even allowed to go helmet-less!

Given the sales flop of the C1 which was only built from 2000 to 2002, you have to ask why BMW would consider its reintroduction?

Hopefully, the BMW patent doesn’t give safety nannies the idea that the introduction of a scooter with a protective cage and seatbelt is the answer to two-wheeled injuries and deaths.

BMW patents scooter with roof C1
Riderless C1 being tested

British company AB Dynamics has already used an old BMW C1 to develop by a self-riding scooter to “help improve motorcycle safety” and prove that motorcycles can interact with autonomous vehicles. 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Honda doubles down on electric minibikes

Honda has doubled down on electric minibikes with a patent filing for their long-promised electric Super Cub and a trademark application for an electric Motocompacto.

The former has been around since Honda trotted out a prototype at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.

Electric minibikes

Honda said the EV-CUB electric scooter would be available from 2018, but that date has now long gone.

However, Honda has had a growing romance with the idea of electric power and especially electric minibikes.

In 2017, Honda signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hitachi to develop electric motors.

The following year, Honda said its self-balancing bike would also come in an electric version.

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle - short season damon last
Honda’s self-balancing motorcycle

The same year Honda said they would develop electric scooters and bikes with swappable batteries and even hybrid drivetrains.

Last year they applied for a patent for future electric motorcycles and scooters to feature an alarm to warn pedestrians unaware of the approaching quiet vehicle.

And earlier this year they applied for a patent for an electric Fireblade sports bike.

Yet here we are in 2020 and still the Japanese company has not delivered on its electric plan.

It’s not that we don’t think it will happen; it’s just a case of when.

Honda MotoCompo Honda doubles down on electric minibikes
1980s Motocompo

As for the Motocompacto electric minibike, it may look like the 1980s Motocompo commuter bike designed to fold up and fit in a car boot (trunk).

Honda patents

These latest filings are part of a blitz of trademark and patent applications by Honda over the past couple of years.

Some are quite weird and impractical, but others may actually make it to market.

We suspect Honda is just trying to dominate intellectual property on motorcycle inventions, rather than planning to put them all into production.

The patents include:

Forks Goldwing patent
Goldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Aussie 2-stroke engine attracts investor

An Australian-designed clean two-stroke motorcycle engine could soon become a reality after attracting the interest of a Melbourne-based investor group.

Sydney-Based inventor Basil van Rooyen says his Crankcase Independent Two-Stroke (CITS) engine meets tough emissions requirements as it eliminates total-loss lubrication.

Investor interest

“I have some investor interest which is at their lawyers now for an agreement, so fingers crossed,” says Basil, a former South African motorsport engineer.

“My guesstimate for agreements to be all checked, amended and signed by their lawyers then ours, is two to four weeks.

“However, with the world as it is there are more reasons than ever to be let down.

The investor group are in Melbourne and the new border closure will dash the present plans — once the contracts are signed — for one of them to drive up and collect all the bits for re-testing in Melbourne before Mk 2 V-twin is produced.”

Basil says he is confident the investor group will build the engine, although he would prefer a motorcycle or automotive company bought the company for a “pittance” with a royalty paid to CITS shareholders for each engine produced.

Two-stroke advantages

Basil says his CITS engine is more powerful, lighter, smaller, cheaper, more economical and with lower emissions than any four-stroke engine.

CITS uses direct injection, but has a by-pass valve that replaces the throttle and provides progressive cylinder deactivation ensuring minimised pumping losses.

It also uses a typical four-stroke’s oil sump and does not mix the oil with the fuel in the combustion chamber like normal two-stroke engines. CITS therefore eliminates total-loss lubrication of a typical two-stroke.

“CITS technology is applicable to any engine application from V-twins of 25 to 125kW up to V12s of over 1000kW for hospital generators etc,” he says.

2 stroke CITS engine fail investor
Aussie-designed two-stroke CITS engine

The prototype was built on an 800cc V-twin Suzuki Boulevard crankcase with adapted Rotax 800 E-TEC parallel twin-cylinder jackets and heads.

Basil says the CITS engine would be most suitable in motorcycles because it is compact, economical, lightweight, powerful and cheap to build.

Two-stroke future

Tough pollution laws have forced two-stroke motorcycles out of the market in recent years in favour of four-strokes.

However, two-stroke technology is not totally dead.

KTM has a raft of direct-injection two-strokers for enduro and motocross.

There are also several small manufacturers making exotic and expensive track-only two-stroke motorcycles such as Ronax and Suter.

Meanwhile, Honda has registered patents for direct-injection two-stroke engines and Kawasaki has applied for a patent for a two-stroke/electric hybrid leaning three-wheeler!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Yamaha lean toward three-wheelers

Yamaha has filed yet another patent that shows yet again that they lean toward leaning trikes, this time with a hybrid powertrain.

The Japanese company already has a lean on leaning trikes with their TriCity scooter and Niken motorcycle. They have also filed several patents before for leaning three-wheelers.

Yamaha Niken three-wheeler neowingNiken

They are not alone in pursuing trikes that lean with patents from Honda, Kawasaki and several other companies such as AKO.

AKO leaning electric itrikeAKO leaning electric trike

Yamaha’s patent seems to be a stripped-down or lean version of the MW-Vision concept unveiled last year at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show.

Yamaha has filed yet another patent for yet another leaning trike, this time with a hybrid powertrain. leanMW-Vision concept

There is a lot to be said for the concept of leaning trikes.

They improve front cornering grip and braking and, when it has a locking function at standstill, it means you don’t have to support the weight of the bike.

However, the disadvantages are extra weight and expense.

If those two disadvantages could be offset by making them more economical to run, then it would make them even more attractive to some riders, especially novices.

That could be attained by the use of a hybrid powertrain as suggested in this patent.

However, it’s not a hybrid like a Prius where a combination of an electric motor and internal-combustion engine drive the wheels.

It’s what’s called a series hybrid or range-extender hybrid where an ICE simply charges a battery which powers an electric motor that drives the wheels.

They aren’t the first to trial a series hybrid.

The cheap Chevrolet Volt and expensive Fisker Karma had similar arrangements.

Holden Volt hybrid powerChevrolet Volt

However the Volt has been discontinued and Fisker has gone broke, so it seems to suggest it was not a popular concept.

And Kawasaki recently filed a patent in the Japanese Patent Office for a slightly different take on the range-extender hybrid with a supercharged two-stroke engine to charge the battery.

There are no details about the type of ICE Yamaha plans to use in their series hybrid, but the hybrid leaning trike does show that the industry is starting to think beyond purely electric motorcycles.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Kawasaki plan for two-stroke hybrid

Kawasaki has plans to develop a range-extender hybrid with a supercharged two-stroke, four-cylinder engine charging a battery that powers an electric motor driving the rear wheel.

It seems like a clever idea.

They call it a range-extender hybrid because the fossil-fuel engine doesn’t directly drive the vehicle.

It’s not an original idea, though. The cheap Chevrolet Volt and expensive Fisker Karma had similar arrangements.

Holden Volt hybrid powerChevrolet Volt

However the Volt has been discontinued and Fisker has gone broke, so it seems to suggest it was not a popular concept.

Supercharged two-stroke

Kawasaki has filed a patent in the Japanese Patent Office for a slightly different take on the range-extender hybrid with a supercharged two-stroke engine.

Two-stroke engines are very fuel efficient and powerful, but have largely been discontinued around the world because of their high emissions.

There remain only a few esoteric low-volume and expensive two-stroke motorcycles available and an Australian inventor believes there is a lot of scope left in two-strokes with his invention.

2 stroke CITS engine events fail flywheelAussie-designed two-stroke CITS engine

Kawasaki’s two-stroke cycle does not have the usual port-transfer system, but is similar to the highly efficient supercharged two-stroke diesels used on ships.

Instead of ports in the cylinder walls, it features poppet valves like a four-stroke, with double overhead camshafts. However, the cycle is two-stroke with forced injection and exhaust.

Kawasaki claims it burns cleaner because no unburnt duel escapes into the exhaust.

Given the fuel efficiency and the power such an arrangement could generate, you wouldn’t need a big engine to simply charge the battery.

It also suggests that range from the battery could be quite substantial.

And you wouldn’t need to sit around for hours charging the battery again.

When you run out of fuel, the battery would have enough charge left to get you to a servo where you could fill up wth fuel and get going again in minutes!

Another advantage would be for those stroker fans who love the sound of the high-pitched engines.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Sensory overload for Kawasaki

Kawasaki is seeking sensory overload with load, blinker, and position sensors complementing ABS and traction control to sense for “upcoming scenarios”, according to a filing with the Japanese Patent Office.

The company is not the only motorcycle manufacturer adding more and more electronic riders aids in an effort to make riding safer.

And it’s not the craziest patent Kawasaki has come up with. How about their application to replace handlebars with a fixed bar?

Is Kawasaki planning to axe handlebars?Kawasaki handlebar patent drawing

While any of the patents filed are to protect their ideas with little to no intention to produce them, this filing is more likely to find its way into production.

Sensory overload

Kawasaki hopes their sensory overload patent will detect “scenarios” such as an approaching corner or  impact with another vehicle and adjust the bike’s settings — throttle, suspension, brakes, etc.

Their sensory overload system consists of cameras, a laser sensor, satellite navigation and an array of load sensors in the seat and footpegs.Kawasaki sensory overload patent

These will sense other vehicles, line markings, roads and other physical and GPS indicators.

They work with existing throttle, speed, lean and brake sensors and feed information to a computer which will adjust various bike settings.

Interestingly the footage and seat sensors will sense how the rider is moving around on the bike.

So if you start to hang off the bike, it knows you are approaching a corner and may adjust brake, throttle and suspension.

The indicator sensor will tell the bike which direction you are going and communicate to the satnav system.

These will all be interpreted by the computer using artificial intelligence to work out what the rider is doing.

Just how much it then interferes with rider input is the big question!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Is Honda returning to Hondamatic transmission?

A new patent filing from Honda seems to suggest a return to the 1970s twist-and-go Hondamatic transmission like on Prince’s Rebel (pictured).

The Hondamatic transmission was popular in America, but not here. 

However, Honda now seems keen to extend its auto and semi-auto transmissions throughout its range.

New Hondamatic

This new patent application is a little different from the old two-speed Hondamatic.

For a start, it has six gears available.

It features a gearshift but no clutch lever. Instead, it uses a computer-controlled, electro-hydraulic actuator, mounted just above the engine, instead of on the bars.

A sensor monitors gear lever pressure by monitoring speed, revs, gears and throttle.

As the transmission shifts gears, it cuts the ignition on upshifts, blips the throttle on downshifts and modulateas the clutch when starting and stopping.

When the bike is stopped the clutch disengages.

The patent drawing shows a CB100, but Honda has used the CB1100 in previous patent drawings including GoldWing-style double-wishbone forks.

So that does not mean it would be included on the CB1100, which we no longer get in Australia anyway. 

Honda patents

As we know, Honda has been busy with a lot of patents for various bikes, engines, transmissions and innovations in recent years.

Obviously not all will go into production. It seems more likely Honda is intent on protecting its intellectual property.

Other recent Honda patents include:

Forks Goldwing patentGoldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Harley-Davidson plans balancing bike

Harley-Davidson has filed a patent for a self-balancing system that might help attract more customers to their big and heavy touring motorcycles.

Their bikes already have a large flywheel and low centre of gravity that makes them stable at slow speeds, but their mass is daunting for many riders. That’s why they are often dropped while stationary.How to pick up a heavy motorcycle Kaitlin Riley

That issue could be resolved by this system that uses a gyroscope for balance when stopped and at walking speeds.

The patent drawings show the gyro unit is stored in the top box and includes another heavy flywheel and an electric motor which would make the bike even heavier.

The weight is also stored up high, so it effectively makes it even more difficult to hold upright at slow speeds and when stopped … except for the effect of the gyroscope!

It is a traditional gyro system with a flywheel that spins at up to 20,000rpm thanks to the electric motor. The system also has sensors that detect whether it is about to tip over so it engages the spinning flywheel.

Harley patent for gyroscope self-balancing bikeHarley’s gyroscope patent

While the system would take up luggage space, because it is self-contained, it could be retrofitted.

This could be a major attraction for ageing riders as well as reaching out to other riders who never though they could handle a heavy touring motorcycle.

Harley is not the only company working on self-balancing systems to attract more riders daunted by motorcycles.

Both BMW Motorrad and Honda have self-balancing prototypes and Yamaha is also working on one.

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle - short season damon lastHonda’s self-balancing motorcycle

Balancing act

Click here for tips on how to handle a heavy motorcycle and to watch amazing videos of police at motorcycle gymkhana events.

If you do drop your bike, click here to find out how to pick it up.

And now watch Kaitlin Riley, 32, of Bleu Bayou Harley-Davidson, Louisiana, prove just how manoeuvrable a heavy bike can be.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Jazzy Protector to save rider’s groin

Have you ever hit a big bump that hammers your groin on to the fuel tank, sending tears streaming down your face?

Old Triumph motorcycles used to have a luggage rack on the tank (pictured above) that many called “the castrater” for obvious reasons!

Thankfully modern bikes don’t have such dangerous tank attachments, but they can still cause pain for riders if they hit a bump and land on the tank.

Now a Brooklyn inventor has come up with the “Jazzy Protector” which he says will save the family jewels.

“I ride a motorcycle and thought there could be a better way to protect the groin area when hitting potholes or riding on rough roads,” he tells Pittsburgh company InventHelp which protects the intellectual property of inventors.

“My design could help to prevent unwanted discomfort and injuries,” the unnamed inventor says.

The invention is patent pending and there are few details provided by InventHelp.

We asked them to put us in touch with the inventor to find out more but they have so far failed to reply.

Protecting your groin

All they say is that the invention “provides an effective way to protect a motorcyclist’s groin if he or she slides forward unexpectedly”.

“In doing so, it prevents the rider from contacting the motorcycle’s gas tank,” InventHelp says.

“As a result, it enhances comfort and it provides added protection and peace of mind.

“The invention features a durable design that is easy to apply and use so it is ideal for motorcycle owners. Additionally, it is producible in design variations.”

That doesn’t really tell us anything.

We still don’t know if it is something that you stick down your trousers like a cricket “box” or hockey “cup”, or whether it is something you attach to the motorcycle tank or seat.

The original design was submitted to the Manhattan sales office of InventHelp and is available for licensing or sale to manufacturers or marketers.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com