Yamaha's latest concept e-bike isn't just a futuristic fantasy – the company is planning to actually put it into production, and it could be available to buy and ride as soon as early 2023.
It's only March, but this is already proving to be an exciting year for e-bikes. Ducati unveiled a feather-light road e-bike, Cannondale revealed a new model with 100-mile range, Biktrix unleashed a bike specially engineered to stop it tearing itself apart, and Rad Power Bikes launched one of the toughest, cheapest folding e-bikes we've ever seen.
Earlier this month Yamaha joined the crowd with a pair of new e-bikes built for city riding and trails, but it's got something more special coming up soon. The Yamaha B-01 is somewhere between an e-bike and a moped, with a powerful rear hub motor and huge tires for serious off-roading, but its most striking feature is a frame with an open scaffold-style design resembling folded paper rather than conventional tubes.
It's certainly eye-catching, but as Electrek (opens in new tab) reports, the B-01 isn't just for show. "Its future will become true sooner," said President of Yamaha Motors Europe Eric De Seynes. "We will start the production of this vehicle within one year, beginning in 2023."
That's a very short timespan, and means Yamaha will have to begin setting up production almost immediately, but as RideApart (opens in new tab) has observed, the company already has a head start when it comes to building this particular bike.
That's due to a partnership between Yamaha and Italian motorcycle and e-bike company Fantic. The two have worked closely in recent years, sharing experience and expertise – and perhaps blueprints as well. Eagle-eyed e-bike fans have spotted that the B-01 bears more than a passing resemblance to the Fantic Issimo Fun (opens in new tab), which launched in 2021.
We should know more about the B-01 soon, but we're hoping it'll be more than just a re-badged Issimo Fun. Yamaha certainly has the tech on hand to deliver something more sophisticated, as the new Wabash RT trail bike demonstrates. We'll be keeping a close eye out for more news coming soon.
Analysis: specs to expect
Yamaha has been tight-lipped about the B-01's specifications. It has, however, claimed that it “intelligently combines e-bike S-pedelec functionality with moped performance and all urban terrain ability".
The 'S' here stands for 'speed', and means that the B-01 will be able to hit speeds up to 28mph with the motor engaged. Speed-pedelecs typically have motors that can deliver over 500W of power. That means they're legally classed as mopeds in many territories, including the EU and UK, and must therefore be licensed if you're planning to ride them on public roads (riding on private land is fine provided you have the landowner's permission).
'All urban terrain' suggests that the production version of the B-01 should be suitable for city riding as well as off-roading, which is a trend we've started to see recently with fat-tire e-bikes. The Juiced Bikes RipCurrent S is a similarly styled step-through speed-pedelec that can handle serious off-roading, but can also be fitted with a rear pannier rack for bikepacking and even shopping.
Whatever else it offers, we're hoping the B-01 will features Yamaha's new PWSeries ST (opens in new tab) drive unit, which automatically tweaks the bike's settings so you get a consistent ride whether you're starting from a standing stop, accelerating, cruising on the flat, or charging up a hill. This certainly isn't going to be a lightweight e-bike, and a powerful motor on board, a drive system that adjusts settings on the fly will make for a much more pleasant riding experience.