Suzuki has filed a patent application for a two-wheel drive scooter. The patent, filed in October but published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describes a scooter with a hub-mounted electric motor in the front wheel that assists the engine-driven rear wheel in providing propulsion.

The patent illustrations depict a scooter resembling the Burgman 200 but with a noticeably different front end. The front wheel is mounted to a swingarm with a hub motor on the left side (Fig. 4 below) while a linked shock and brake are mounted on the right side (Fig. 3). The patent focuses on the distribution of weight between the left and right sides of the wheel but provides no details on the motor’s performance or how it is powered. The patent also provides few details about the engine powering the rear wheel, except to say it may be either mounted in the scooter body or integrated with the rear swingarm.

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The swingarm (50) is mounted to a stiff fork (44 in the diagrams) at a pivot point (47). The shock absorber (55) is connected to the top of the right fork leg and the swingarm at a point just above the wheel axle. The brake disc and caliper are also on the right side, providing optimal weight distribution and easy access to the brake and shock as well as the left-side mounted motor. The motor drives a shaft connected to a planetary gear system for powering the front wheel.

Fig. 12 to 14 show a second version of the scooter with a slimmer hub motor design with the rotor located outside the stator instead of the inside. The second version also has the front brake caliper mounted to the suspension linkage instead of the swingarm.

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It remains to be seen whether Suzuki will proceed to either a concept or even a production model using this two-wheel drive set-up. Suzuki still needs to consider the weight of the motor as well as how to power it, and whether the ideas in the patent make enough business sense to continue any further.

This wouldn’t be the first time Suzuki has used a Burgman as a test bed for new technologies; the company has been working on a fuel cell Burgman for quite some time, with prototypes starting testing on public roads last month.

  • Old MOron

    Good find, DC. Do you know what ever happened to Yammie’s hydraulic 2WD system?

  • Gruf Rude

    Off road scooter or just for snowy climates?

  • Starmag

    Additional complexity for no discernible real world advantage. Seems a bit desperate. More like a “sales feature”.

  • azicat

    I suspect that going electric would solve a lot of previous 2WD engineering problems.

    • spiff

      I met a guy at a makers fair that did just that to a fat tire bicycle, can’t remember what their called. He rode the bike all winter in Detroit. It was pretty cool.

  • SteveSweetz

    I wouldn’t presume the wheels are driven simultaneously. Seems much more likely that this is the equivalent of a hybrid. Electric front wheel driven only for slow speed city riding, gas powered rear for higher speeds. Probably simpler to package it this way than have both motors trying to drive the same wheel.

    Pretty good idea I think. No gas consumption when sitting in city traffic, don’t need a particularly powerful electric motor if it’s going to be limited to driving the bike at speeds under 25mph or so.

    • denchung

      The patent is careful in describing the motor and engine “assisting” each other.

      “This is a front-and-rear-wheel driven two-wheeled vehicle in which the motor-driven steered wheel assists the engine-driven non-steered wheel.”

      And later on:
      “The non-steered, rear wheel functions as a driving wheel, assisting the motor-driven steered wheel.”

      The question is what “assist” actually means. In one sense, this implies them working together simultaneously as the patent describes the assist going both ways. On the other hand, one could also argue the steered (i.e. “front”) wheel working on its own is assisting the engine-driven non-steered (i.e. “rear”) wheel by giving it a rest at slow speeds.

      Since this patent is focused mainly on how the front end components are packaged, it doesn’t really delve into answering this question. That will likely come in a separate patent.

  • DeBee Corley

    I’m looking for a 900cc 3 cylinder Burgman, instead I get a NYC commuter.

  • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

    when i was a teen my dad acquired two Italian Mosquito motors that mounted to the FRONT wheel of a fat tired bike-you flipped the lever and it dropped on to the tire this making my bike front wheel drive- how easy it would have been to mount the other motor on the back! also around that time in the back of magazines there waas an off road chain driven 2wd bike with tires that looked like tractor tires

  • Barry_Allen