There really is a lot of thought that goes into designing a bike, even down to the little things which owners may never notice.
A series of patents filed with the European Patent Office have revealed that Yamaha may have accelerated their electric bike programme, and are now trying to figure out the best location for the charging socket. Not something I’ve ever given much thought.
On the new Zero SF/R the charging socket is at the rear of the not-fuel tank, which seems a fairly reasonable place to put it. It’ll be familiar to riders of petrol-powered bikes. On the Energica EVA, another naked bike, it’s under the seat. I guess this means it’s out of sight when not in use, but it does mean you have to leave the seat up whenever you want to charge the bike, which just seems a little odd and unnecessary.
Yamaha have three ideas on the subject.
The first, is to place the charging socket to the right of where a traditional fuel filler would be. Cycleworld say this is to maximise stability when plugging the bike in while it’s on the sidestand, which makes sense.
Yamaha’s second idea is to place the socket under the pillion seat, which like the Energica, would require the seat to be up while charging. This hides the socket nicely, but do you remember the days when you could actually fit things in the space under the pillion seat? I do, it was great.
Finally, the Japanese manufacturer have considered placing the input on the front of the bike, either built-in to the fairing, or built-in to the lights. I’m not particularly keen on either of these ideas. I think a blank space in one of the headlights will look a bit odd.
There is another thing to take into account when considering the placement of charging sockets, too. Crash damage.
Ideally the socket should be located where it’s least likely to get damaged. It would be no use having it on the side, as it could be easily damaged in the event of a slow speed tumble. Placing it at the front could also prove problematic where head-on collisions are involved.
If I think about it purely from this angle, I end up at the conclusion that Energica and Zero both have it about right. Somewhere in the centre of the bike that is unlikely to be damaged should the bike end up sliding down the road or hitting something head on.
These patents come hot on the heels of last week’s news that Kawasaki are looking into removable batteries, after the big four Japanese manufacturers began working together to create a common standard for batteries.
I can’t wait to see what the big four are going to do with electric bikes.