From the mountains of Afghanistan to global vehicle expos and racetracks to home garages, alternative fuel motorcycle innovations continue to green the biking landscape. Here’s a roundup of how eco-friendly advancements are shaping the motorcycle industry and these customizable two-wheel machines:
Military Motorbike: Stealth Weaponry
The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently partnered with San Francisco-based electric motorcycle manufacturer BRD Motorcycles and Logo Technologies, a defense contractor, to design a hybrid bike — the latest in motorcycle tactical weaponry. Researchers envision a hybrid motorcycle powered by a stealthy electric motor and an engine that can burn various fuels, including regular gasoline, jet fuel and diesel, according to CNN.com. BRD’s all-electric RedShift MX serves as the foundation for this motorbike prototype, and elite U.S. fighting forces are eagerly anticipating its 100-mile range and advantageous silent performance.
Michael Golembesky, a former Marine Corps special ops staff sergeant, is familiar with vehicle-dependent warfare. He carried out anti-Taliban missions on four-wheeled, all-terrain vehicles. Since leaving the service in 2010, Golembesky told CNN Marine special ops adopted motorcycles as part of their defense on harsh topography. With the extra mobility and maneuverability, troops on bikes can launch a surprise assault, move constantly to keep enemies from knowing their location, and block enemy escape.
Cutting-Edge Revolutions: Fuel Cell, Solar Power & Electric
Away from the trenches, leading motorcycle makers continue to take alternative fuel motorcycle technologies to unforeseen heights. Hydrogen fuel cell? Solar-energy powered batteries? These technological visions became two-wheeled green realities.
iON Hydrogen Fuel Cell Concept: Hero MotoCorp, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, recently introduced its iON electric concept bike at the Auto Expo in India. Equipped with advanced lithium-air (Li-air) batteries and a hydrogen fuel extender, the bike can reach speeds of 99 mph and travel 180 miles on a single charge. The iON uses unconventional ‘M-Link’ and ‘Flex Axis’ technology, states Visordown.com. Other unconventional parts include hubless magnetic wheels and handlebar control buttons, as well as front and rear rotation and suspension systems for optimal steering.
Solar-Powered Lighting Motorcycle: Although 99 mph is fast, it’s nothing compared to the Lightening SuperBike’s 218 mph top speed. Last year the street-legal, solar-powered SuperBike won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The battery-powered motorcycle charges its battery with solar energy and achieves high mileage with regenerative braking. Featuring a liquid-cooled 125 kW electric motor, the SuperBike demonstrated how clean technologies are at the forefront of world-class performance.
RedShift MX: Inc.com calls the RedShift MX by BRD Motorcycles more than a “supercool dirt bike.” It’s a 40-horsepower machine and “green demon” that jumps from zero to 60 in 3.3 seconds. With a single charge, the next-level bike can cover 50 miles and run for 1,000 hours before needing an oil change. Intermediate riders and pro racers can even upgrade to the Supermoto model for $500 and speed along at 85 mph, all while reducing their carbon footprint.
DIY Motorcycles: Electric & Veggie Oil Conversions
Not every eco-friendly adrenaline junkie can experience the unconventional technologies of a hydrogen fuel cell motorcycle or throw down $14,995 to feel the power of an electric two-wheeler. But with a little DIY dirty work, some eco-enthusiasm and basic motorcycle parts, anyone can help the earth by building and riding an electric or vegetable-oil powered motorcycle.
Home Electric Conversion: Marque Cornblatt, a contributor for project-sharing website Instructables.com, provides an 11-step guide on how to make an electric motorcycle conversion. He turned a Honda Rebel 250 junker into a clean quiet commuter bike in San Francisco. The first step is to find a solid bike to use for the framework, then buy some parts at an online streetbike store to make it safe and street-legal, including the lights, brakes, wheels, tires, and shocks. Once the electric components are gathered, the bike is ready for a electric-conversion remodel and energy-efficient redesign ready to charge.
Pure Veggie Oil: Straight vegetable oil, along with biodiesel, is an alternative fuel source for bikes with a diesel engine. First, install a diesel engine without rubber seals and ensure the transmission ratios are compatible with the engine’s RPM. Then install a vegetable oil fuel conversion kit into a second gas tank and an auxiliary fuel system. Activated by a switch, the auxiliary fuel system will shift the engine from diesel fuel to vegetable oil. Keep in mind it’s best to run your bike on regular diesel or biodiesel fuel during cold temperatures.