Motorcycles

Yamaha patent drawings hint at its future electric motorcycle plans

These patent drawings could be a sign that the Big Four are finally ready to blow up the electric motorcycle segment.

Yamaha's charging solution for an electric sportbike involves putting the socket near the bike's headlight. 

Yamaha via European Patent Office

While electric cars are becoming fairly commonplace, with most major manufacturers offering at least one model for sale to the public, electric motorcycles are still a bit of a niche product. Really, the only major manufacturer to offer a production electric bike is Harley-Davidson (though the LiveWire won't hit dealers for a few months), but that might be changing.

Cycleworld recently unearthed some Yamaha electric motorcycle charging patent documents and published them in an article on Tuesday. These are significant because if one of the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) is getting serious about electric bikes, then all of them probably are.

The patent drawings show a few takes on potential charging locations on two different styles of motorcycles. The first places the charging port on top of the "fuel tank" in the same place you'd expect to find a fuel filler cap on a conventional motorcycle. Another one, shown on a bike that strongly resembles Yamaha's MT-07, puts the charge port under the pillion (aka rear passenger) seat. Others place the port in the front of the bike, near the headlight.

While these drawings aren't exactly groundbreaking on their own, taken in context, they paint a different picture. The Japanese Big Four recently began working together to decide on battery and charging standards for electric motorcycles, according to a report published in April by ElectricMotorcycles.news.

Of course, patent documents aren't always a great indicator that something will actually make it to production, but given the high price point of current electric motorcycles -- we're looking at you, Harley-Davidson -- seeing the Japanese manufacturers come into the segment and democratize it like they did with internal combustion motorcycles in the 1960s and 70s would be very exciting.