Bajaj Going Greener With Natural Gas-Powered Motorcycles

The world’s leaders are pushing motorists away from gasoline, but what’s next? Electric motorcycles are not without their drawbacks, and the only other seriously proposed alternative is hydrogen, which is also not without its Hindenburg-sized questions. India-based manufacturer Bajaj has another proposal: Why not run bikes on compressed natural gas?

Actually, this has been going on in some overseas markets for a while, with other governments encouraging natural gas-powered vehicles at the local level. Bajaj is just the latest manufacturer to get on board with the idea, but they appear to be getting on board in a big way.

On Indian-market television, Bajaj leadership said the company plans to build a series of motorcycles that run on compressed natural gas, with the first bikes appearing in 2024 and sold as 2025 models.

That might sound ambitious, because we’re talking about this happening in a matter of months. But remember two things. First, this conversion won’t be as hard as you think. For many years, conversion kits to run carbureted motorcycles on natural gas have existed, and with carburetors still common on new-production bikes in India, this would be less complicated than it sounds. And second, Bajaj is huge. Motorcycles are only a small part of their business, and no doubt they have research and technology from elsewhere in their industrial empire that can be easily adapted to¬† motorcycles.

The Indian market is still mostly buying bikes in the 150 cc range, and the models that Bajaj builds would be equivalent to gasoline-powered machines between 100 and 200 cc. In other words, not likely very similar to the models that Bajaj builds for Canadian riders (KTM and Triumph), so it’s not likely we’ll see that tech here soon.

Why would Bajaj want to bring in natural gas-powered bikes? The company’s leadership gives two reasons: Lower running costs, and reduced pollution. Alas, buyers can also probably expect greatly reduced performance, but that may be a worthy trade-off for some of them.

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