Kawasaki already makes the H2, a motorcycle with a supercharger. Motorcycle.com has put some patent and trademark application pieces together that strongly indicate that an electric supercharger is currently under development.
Previously, electric superchargers have been a joke. I’ve seen devices that are basically 12-volt fans, running off the starter battery, spliced into a car’s intake system and allegedly cramming more air into the engine. The actual performance benefits of these systems is either none, or negligible.
But the way Kawasaki is going about it, this might actually work. The electric supercharger would run off the much larger battery of a hybrid motorcycle. These are far more powerful than a regular starter battery. In short bursts, they could supply enough power for an electric supercharger to actually be effective. While the old electric superchargers were built and sold by no-name snake-oil companies, Kawasaki is a reputable business. They wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t work.
Some say loud pipes save lives, but electric motorcycles don’t have any pipes. AdvRider tells us, don’t worry, Yamaha is working on that.
Yamaha’s Alive AD (an acronym for “acoustic design”) is supposed to bring more noise to your electric ride, enough that people accustomed to listening for gas burners won’t have any trouble hearing you on your formerly silent electric bike. But your Yamaha won’t suddenly start sounding like a Harley. Yamaha wants to create a unique “soundscape” for electric vehicles so equipped. I would say that Yamaha is the best manufacturer to do this, considering that they also make musical instruments and are highly experienced when it comes to creating sounds. So while an electric Yamaha may not sound like a Harley, it will still sound like something exciting — a TIE Fighter, perhaps.
I find this reference particular amusing because the article’s author and real-life friend of mine, Kate Murphy, once told me my Honda PC800 sounded like a TIE Fighter as it roared down the front straightaway of Palmer Motorsports Park. I guess PC800s are so cool that now Yamaha wants a piece of that pie, or something.
But seriously, the silence of electric vehicles is a real safety concern. Electric competitors at Pike’s Peak and Mt. Washington are required to run sirens to warn people of their approach, they’re so quiet even at race speed. Trust me — I was there when Climb to the Clouds last ran in 2017, and the electric car’s sirens were all I could hear until they started crunching the dirt at Cragway just feet away from where I was standing.
When it comes to the street, of course people should open their eyes and actually watch for motorcycles, cars, tractor-trailers, Antonov An-225s, etc. Unfortunately, they don’t. So while I’m not a believer in “loud pipes save lives,” I do believe that SOME sound is necessary for safety reasons. It also sounds cool, as long as it’s not blowing out your eardrums in the process.