The Best Soothsayers In The Business Weigh In On Where We’re Going And How We’ll Get There
Suzuki released nothing in terms of technical specs or future plans for the Crosscage concept-the Pentagon has nothing on Japanese OEMs when it comes to obfuscation-but the mere presence of these fuel-cell-powered machines tells us that alternative-fueled bikes are definitely under consideration for future projects. There is still plenty of RD work for Suzuki to undertake, in terms of both performance and practicality. Though it looks like a real motorcycle, the Crosscage speedo stops at 100 kph (aka 62 mph), suggesting that performance is likely more scooter-like.
Then there’s the small detail of liquid hydrogen availability (not exactly on tap at your local Texaco) and also its production. The Crosscage itself might be a zero-emissions vehicle (the only byproduct of the hydrogen/oxygen reaction is water), but it presently requires electricity to produce liquid hydrogen to use as fuel. Within the confines of today’s infrastructure, that means your CO2 emissions are just transferred from your driveway to the nearest coal- or nuke-fed powerplant.
Not entirely clean and green, not yet at least. But these issues are being addressed, and hydrogen and the Crosscage and other alterna-fueled bikes will certainly shape the future of motorcycling.
Yamaha TesseractFour Wheels That Lean Like TwoWe’re not quite sure what to make of this particular version of the motorcycle future, delivered courtesy of Yamaha’s design staff. We’re not sure if it’s a motorcycle or not. But neither are Yamaha’s copywriters, who refer to the Tesseract (an octachoron, or cube within a cube to you math majors) as a multi-wheel hybrid vehicle.
Four wheels would suggest otherwise, but Yamaha claims the Tesseract is barely wider than a conventional single-track cycle and provides the same maneuverability and open-air riding experience as a bike, with greatly improved stability.
The term hybrid pulls double duty here, referring both to a design that suggests an unholy union between the company’s Raptor quad and its R6 sportbike and also hybrid power, in the form of a liquid-cooled, internal-combustion V-twin (of undisclosed displacement) paired with an electric motor to provide part-time zero-emissions operation.
The Toyota Prius made IC/electro hybrids old news years ago-what’s most interesting is the Tesseract’s intriguing chassis. Yamaha calls this a Dual Scythe suspension system. It appears to utilize separate swingarms for each individual wheel, connected by some sort of rocker mechanism that allows each pair (front or rear) to share a single suspension unit.
The paired swingarms move opposite each other, scissors-style, and allow the bike to lean into corners like a conventional motorcycle without the possibility of falling over. The system also incorporates a lock mechanism that allows the machine to stand securely upright when parked.
The narrow-track, paired-wheel concept has already proven viable in the scooter world on the Piaggio MP3 (which utilizes tandem front wheels), with significant advantages during braking and turning, especially in low-traction conditions. Motorcycle or not, we’d love to try the Tesseract-full-speed, four-wheel drifts, anyone?-in spite of the fact that it looks ready to rear up on its back wheels and eat us for lunch.
It’s exciting to see that, even at monolithic Japanese manufacturing firms, designers are capable of creatively reimagining even the most fundamental concepts of motorcycle chassis theory for future products. Will we be riding a Tesseract come 2012? Research on this revolutionary new vehicle for the future, Yamaha says, is ongoing.
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