Fake News: No, Honda Did Not Patent A Supercharged NeoWing Trike!

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Forced induction report is blowing nothing but hot air

One of the most controversial topics regarding contemporary media is that of fake news. Whether it’s intentionally false but designed as click bait or just plain ol’ false or mistaken news, it’s become rampant in our modern culture. We’re even seeing more of it in the world of motorcycles. We at Motorcycle.com care deeply about getting our facts correct so our readers can always count on us, but not all publications are as careful.

Whatever! – We Provide, You Decide!

For example, a British motorcycle site recently claimed to have found proof that Honda is working on a supercharged version of its NeoWing reverse trike concept, and several other e-zines have picked up on this story. But if such a contraption is something you’ve been dreaming of, we’ll have to burst your bubble, as the report is completely false. Let’s take a look at how this duplicitous story developed.

Sorry, But This Probably Isn’t a Supercharged 600cc Kawasaki R2

Morebikes.co.uk published its report March 7, claiming to have received illustrations suggesting Honda is putting the NeoWing into production with a supercharged flat-Six based on the Gold Wing’s powerplant. The problem is, none of this supposed evidence supports Morebikes’ claims.

Honda filed two patent applications that illustrate new concepts shown on a NeoWing reverse trike. One was for an air intake design and the other for a fender design that would cover the brake caliper on either of the two front wheels.

The evidence itself is real. Honda did recently file a couple of patent applications with the USPTO for a vehicle that resembles the NeoWing, but neither of them mention using forced induction. The supercharged engine illustrations Morebikes published are also from patent filings, only they weren’t filed by Honda. Rather, the diagrams are from a patent for a piston cooling structure for a supercharged engine… filed by Kawasaki. Oops.

Morebikes claimed these illustrations show a supercharged Honda flat-Six engine. Actually, they’re for Kawasaki’s supercharged inline-Four. Kawasaki uses the words “left” and “front” to show directions whereas Honda’s patent uses “LH” and “FR.” A single patent would not switch labeling systems like this.
Morebikes didn’t show this drawing from Honda’s patent specifically showing air flowing from the airbox (52) through a throttle body (57a) before splitting through a manifold (58) to the opposed cylinder banks. Nowhere is there any mention of a supercharger.

Sure, it could be an honest mistake. Except that the piston cooling structure drawings are clearly for engine with an inline cylinder configuration, so not only did the Morebikes writer mistake the patent owner, he also didn’t take a good look at the pictures he’s writing about.

The NeoWing patents also contradict the writer, both illustrating and specifically describing a “horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine” and not the Gold Wing’s Six as Morebikes claims. Bottom line: the report is patently false (pun intended). Other sites have disappointingly picked up on Morebikes’ report and repeated its claims without giving them a critical look.

So, where does that leave us with the NeoWing? Honda may very well be working on a production version of the concept, though it’s just as likely Honda is merely patenting the ideas behind its concept (yes, companies do patent concepts). The original NeoWing concept called for a hybrid powertrain which seems unlikely to carry over into a production model. MO can confirm that Honda has filed other patents for a leaning three-wheeler based on the Gold Wing platform, but even then, that’s no guarantee that the idea will be used. In fact, Honda has several other patents for different front end designs for a Gold Wing including a BMW-like duolever front suspension for a single front wheel.

While Honda has filed patents for the NeoWing (including design patents such as the picture at top), none of this is proof that the NeoWing is going into production. Companies patent concept models all the time, and they often don’t lead to a finished product. That being said, Honda did produce the outrageously styled NM4 scooter, so anything’s possible.

We can also report Honda has a patent for a cooling system for the horizontally-opposed engine with separate radiators: one in the front facing forward and another facing the rear under the seat. The NeoWing has a similar structure under the rear subframe that could be housing such a rear-facing radiator. This aspect of the NeoWing may wind up in a production model. But the claims in Morebikes’ report? Not so much.

The wedge-shaped structure under the seat looks like it may hide a radiator.
Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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