Hydrogen Powered: Could Hydrogen Power Your Next Bike?

Hydra hydrogen motorcycle conceptKawasaki Motorcycles made a splash with a hydrogen-powered bike at EICMA last year, and now several custom manufacturers are stepping in to show what a hydrogen-powered motorcycle could look like. There’s a new crop of concept bikes coming forth that shows hydrogen could be the next big thing in motorcycling. Maybe.

Hydrogen-powered cars are gaining momentum. Hydrogen is, after all, one of the most abundant molecules on Earth. And, when you combust it, you get water vapor as a byproduct. Manufacturers are taking notice. Honda, for example, will be selling a version of its most popular SUV, the CR-V, with a hydrogen engine in 2024. But for motorcycles, we may be on the cusp of something new.

Now, custom designers are getting in on the potential of hydrogen. Anton Brousseau, one of the three designers behind the Hydra hydrogen concept bike, told BikeEXIF: “Electricity might not be right for motorbikes. What else do you have? Hydrogen is closer to combustion, and it’s closer to that feel.”

Hydra hydrogen motorcycle front view
Brousseau, with Andon Guzhov and Andre Taylforth (who have design experience with Ford and Mercedes-Benz) designed the Hydra as a futuristic hydrogen-powered café racer, he said. “It has a café racer feel. That was the inspiration. It’s just such a simple and clean idea and it was inspired by custom motorbikes.”

Anton Brousseau | Instagram

Hydra hydrogen motorcycle cockpit

The Hydra concept uses a more traditional, if you can call it that, fuel cell technology. In a fuel cell, hydrogen is passed through a membrane made of rare-earth metals. That creates a charge that can then power an electric motor. While the output is electric, the input is chemical. “In an EV, all you have is this big box and there’s no heart to it. It misses that mechanical character that keeps it alive,” Brousseau said.

Kawasaki Hydrogen Concept
The trick to getting hydrogen into a combustion engine, however, is direct injection. Kawasaki has mastered powerful direct injection with its H2 line bikes, which have powerful superchargers built in that pump highly compressed fuel and air into the cylinders. Hydrogen needs more air than gasoline, and this system could be modified for hydrogen. Kawasaki is planning a new line of EV bikes that will come out by 2025.

Others are now seeing potential in hydrogen fuel cell tech, too. Segway, the folks who make the standup self-balancing scooters, have shown a new hydrogen-electric powered motorcycle concept, too. Called the APEX H2, Segway’s first concept motorcycle makes big promises, including a top speed of 150 kph, or 93 mph, with 60 kw, or 80 hp, of power.

Segway's hydrogen powered APEX H2 motorcycle
The specifics of where you get hydrogen, the dangers of riding with a highly-pressurized tank between your legs, and other logistical issues still have to get figured out. But it’s in use. Since hydrogen simply emits water vaper when its used, many forklifts that are used indoors, like in warehouses, are now hydrogen powered.

But with this much attention on hydrogen and its potential especially in the automotive world, it’s possible that we could throw a leg over a hydrogen production bike in the next few years.