Honda patent reveals active-aero research

According to patent drawings appearing all over the Internet today, it appears Honda is exploring the final frontier of superbike design: active aerodynamics.

In recent years, internal combustion engines have become increasingly refined and powerful, to the point that many riders can only use them effectively with electronic ride-by-wire systems running interference. Combine that with advanced braking systems, and superbikes can now go faster and stop faster than ever before. So where’s the room for improvement?

Lately, manufacturers have been looking towards aerodynamic design, particularly active aerodynamics, which see the bike’s bodywork changing shape during riding, to provide downforce. It’s caused all sorts of controversy in MotoGP; some teams were adding winglets to their bikes to help with aerodynamic stability, and series officials ended up seriously restricting their use.

Check out the set of four winglets in this photo, and compare them to the title image. It should give you a little better idea of how the system looks and works.

Aerodynamic winglets have started popping up on race-bred streetbikes, but so far, no active aero designs have appeared for street bikes; the only systems are fixed-aero designs. The one exception is the Aprilia RS660 concept, which is supposed to appear on the market soon.

Now, about these patent drawings: first off, they don’t show a V4-powered CBR1000RR, even though lots of people have been asking for that. The drawings definitely show a different machine than the current Honda litrebike, but it still has an inline four engine.

Here’s the side view.

That’s all very interesting, but what’s especially interesting is the set of four aerodynamic winglets that are stacked on the sides of the motorcycle’s fairing. Cables attach them to servos, which activate the winglets when needed, and retract them when they aren’t necessary. This sort of active aero system is illegal in MotoGP right now, but there’s nothing stopping Honda from putting it on a streetbike, and it’s possible we could even see it in World Superbike, if that’s the case. A world where WSB is more technologically advanced than MotoGP? It’s mad, but if it happens, it’d be amazing!

We know Honda’s introducing a new Africa Twin at this fall’s show circuit, and possibly a new entry-level sportbike. Could this interesting superbike design steal the show, though? It’d be lovely to see the Japanese putting up more of a fight in superbike design …

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