It seems as if the Honda Neo-Sports Café platform wasn’t “Neo” enough for Big Red, because we could see yet a newer bike from that family in the near future. Except that this time, it’s electric.
A CB EV could be on the way, based on recent patent filings, Electrek reports. In the patent filings, Honda details a possible EV bike that is based on its CB125R, which is the smallest-displacement motorcycle in Honda’s Neo-Sports Café range.
The filings seem to build off prior patent applications and have stoked speculation, but other precedents give the CB EV some credibility. Back in 2019 Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki reportedly agreed to create a consortium that would explore and develop EV tech in moto applications. About a year later, there was some news on that front, but nothing notable.
Other electric two-wheelers from Honda have also appeared before, such as the PCX Electric from the 45th Tokyo Motor Show in 2017. But that scooter featured what Honda called a Mobile Power Pack, something you can lift out of the scooter and take with you. It’s somewhat like that of recent EV scooters from SEAT and Silence.
But these new patent filings do away with the power packs and show an EV drivetrain that’s a little less mobile and a little more familiar. The alleged EV bike looks as if it carries its battery beneath the “gas tank,” which is fitting even if it does raise questions about weight distribution.
Schematics of the triple clamp show vents that aren’t necessarily a telltale sign of an EV drivetrain until you put them in context with other images from the filings.
Note the airflow in the top view of the triple clamp and gas tank. Those vents seem to be directing airflow around the battery.
And this is not definitive proof of a CB-derived EV, but if such a bike was in the works we might use the 125's specifications to give some context about its performance.
The 2021 CB125R has a single-cylinder 125cc engine that produces a little less than 15 horsepower; it weighs about 287 pounds. With its low output, you might not be surprised that its top speed is just under 75 miles per hour. Sure, it’s not a fast bike, but it’s not necessarily trying to be since it’s part of a lineup of bikes that Honda is pushing for entry-level riders. Oh, and those Honda “tyke bikes” all get over 100 miles per gallon.
We don’t know what the range or power output on this thing is going to be. But we do have a good idea of what kind of market segment this would be targeting. And while a CB EV’s specs are important, it’s that market segment that intrigues me most. Because even though EV bikes have been on the market for a long time, they haven’t enjoyed the success EV cars are beginning to. Why is that?
Well, as so often happens, the problem has been cost. Motorcycles did successfully transition to EVs. They just cost too much. High prices are the their Achilles heel.
But if Honda released an EV CB based on its entry level bike (with comparable output) it would blow the doors off the starter market — which has already enjoyed a boom. Only if it is priced competitively with other entry level ICE bikes, including Honda’s own. It wouldn’t have to cost less, or the same as its stablemates, but its price increase would have to be reasonably matched to its tech.