Honda reinvent the superbike: Composite and cast alloy monocoque patent revealed

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It’s been more than 35 years since the Suzuki GSX-R750 laid the template that almost every Japanese superbike still follows – but Honda have been hard at work creating a machine that might topple the beam frame and inline-four combo.

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Patents filed in Japan reveal a surprising level of detail, suggesting it’s more than merely a theoretical exercise.

At the heart of the design lies a conventional, DOHC inline four-cylinder engine. It’s when we come to the frame that things get unusual. The engine acts as a fully stressed unit, so there’s no beam to connect the steering head to the swingarm pivot.

That’s not unknown, but the Honda design features a monocoque front section, bolted to the top of the engine and holding the headstock, with a hollow section just behind the bars that contains the battery and electronics to keep the mass centralised.

Honda's new superbike patent dash drawing

At the back, two alloy sections clamp around the transmission and hold the swingarm pivot and the rear shock’s top mount. A remote-reservoir rear shock attaches to the single-sided swingarm via a rising-rate linkage, and both are mounted to a cast alloy rear chassis section bolted to the transmission.

A tight-fitting fairing at the front is the only separate bodywork part as the entire tail is another monocoque, this time made of a composite material, that bolts to the front section and acts as both the fuel tank and a self-supporting seat unit. The airbox is created in a hollow section where the tank-cum-tail bolts to the front chassis.

On board, a 14,000rpm tacho suggests the engine is a 1000cc unit, as it matches the redline of the Fireblade, and there’s a TFT screen alongside it for other displays. Other than that, the controls are standard.

Mirrors, a number-plate bracket, a sidestand and even a catalytic converter appear in the patent. This suggests that despite the unconventional chassis, a new model could appear in showrooms soon.

Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis