Are we ready for a diesel bike? Hero of India thinks so and has unveiled their RNT diesel scooter concept. The world has embraced the diesel car over the past decade after they cleaned up their act, so why not two-wheeled vehicles?
Diesel bikes have been around for a while, but they have all been heavy duty monsters that weigh a tonne because the engines are so heavy. Of all the new diesel motorbikes released in the past dozen years, the only remaining bike is from Neander Motorcycles. It’s a 1340cc behemoth powered by an air/oil-cooled twin producing power of 83kW at 4200rpm and V8-stule torque of 214Nm at 2600rpm, yet sipping fuel at 4.5 litres per 100km.
Now Hero, which used to be in partnership with Honda, has unveiled the RNT prototype which is powered by a hybrid combination of a 150cc turbo-diesel with regenerative power to charge the battery and power an electric motor. There’s also an optional front wheel hub motor producing about 1kW, giving the bike two-wheel drive and off-road capability, a powerful generator that can output 1500W of 230V electricity, making it ideal as a portable power source, and an LED headlight that unclips to act as a powerful torch.
And all this in a step-through scooter weighing just 136kg. But it’s not like a normal scooter. it has a very utilitarian and even military look like a two-wheeled Jeep. Hero Motors boss Pawan Munjal says there is a lot of research to do before bringing it to market, but they are already thinking of attaching a plow and a harvester to address the needs of the developing world. And with those big carrier racks front and back you could easily stack a pig, calf or bag of chaff. So it should be a long time before we see a diesel scooter doing the daily city commute to work.
Surprisingly the main advantage of diesel is fuel economy, but that was not mentioned at the unveiling last week. The main disadvantage is the oily mess. However, scooters were developed after World War II with bodywork to prevent people getting oil on their clothes, so it’s a smart move to have a diesel in a full-bodied scooter.