Hero RNT: Two-Wheel Drive, Diesel/Electric Hybrid Scooter Concept

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Hero RNT

Well that’s a mouthful. The idea here is to create a go-anywhere, do-anything work horse for the domestic market that’s both efficient and unprecedentedly useful. In addition to the 150cc diesel motor (with optional turbocharger!), the Hero RNT is equipped with a tiny electric motor in it’s front wheel hub, giving it 2WD. The whole package is designed to carry heavy loads, then serve as a mobile generator once it’s reached its destination. Wow.

That 150cc, single-cylinder diesel motor is said to produce an average-for-the-size 14 bhp, but what’s surprising about it is its claimed 26 lb.-ft. of torque. In comparison, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 makes 20 lb.-ft. from its larger, two-cylinder motor. That engine is mounted in the middle of the frame in a similar arrangement to that popularized by the Yamaha TMAX; moving it off the swingarm (traditional scooter engine location) massively aids handling, ride and stability.

Hero RNT
The Hero RNT’s sari guard doubles as a load rack.

That’s then supplemented by the 1.3 bhp in-hub electric motor. Details on what type of motor that is and how it functions in relation to the diesel engine are unclear, but Hero does mention “separate throttle control.” Given its moderate power output, its conceivable that the electric motor has been designed to apply power when the rear wheel loses traction and slips, to aid the bike as it climbs hills, to supplement full-throttle acceleration or to operate as a separate means of motivation should the rider enter a zero-emissions zone.

Hero RNT
Hero CEO Pawan Mujal introduces the RNT concept. Note the nose’s tractive, tough rubber surface and the neatly integrated tie-down points; it doubles as a front load rack.

Also notable about the RNT is its…challenging styling. That protuberant nose is actually designed to function as a luggage rack. Again, details of this concept motorcycle are slim, but there’s a chance it could additionally serve as an impact-absorbing crumple zone, a la the revolutionary BMW C1 scooter.

Additional storage is provided by the very flat passenger seat/luggage rack combination and the sari guards which double as racks. Sari guards are a legal requirement for powered two wheelers in India. The step-through foot area is also flat floored and supplemented by large “handles” which Hero says can be used to strap on packages carried between the rider’s legs.

Hero RNT
The LED front lamp is removable, doubling as a portable work light.

As this is a concept motorcycle, other gee whiz features abound, but would be unlikely to reach production. The large, multi-LED headlamp is equipped with its own battery and can be removed from the bike to serve as a work light. Also said to be hypothetically optional are an oversize generator enabling the bike to double as a mobile power source at a work site or even a turbocharger capable of upping performance.

Now in its second year of independence after leaving its long-term partnership with Honda, Hero is eager to flex its muscles as the world’s second largest motorcycle manufacturer. Not only is it making inroads into Western markets with its new partnership with Erik Buell Racing, but its rumored that the firm could soon unveil a 600cc supersport bike aimed at tackling the Japanese dominance of that sector. Stay tuned.

  • Robert Horn

    Functional styling without menacing paramilitary or pseudo industrial BS? About time.

    • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

      I’m still waiting for vespa to introduce a motorcycle for women/comfortable men.

      • Khali

        I got a magnetic waistbag so that makes sense. Usually women-oriented scooters have a hook for the purse.

  • the antagonist

    It’s ugly, but I still want one.

    • Mark37724

      Couldn’t agree more, absolutely one of the fugliest things I’ve seen but sounds fantastic. Got to love the diesel torque.

  • tbowdre

    Not too interesting from a motorcycling perspective BUT as an apocolypse, catostrophic emergency, collapsing civilization type tool this thing looks awesome. It really hit so many critical points – 1) diesel power 2) mobility 3) storage… the rest is gravy – lighting, electrical generation, TURBO?! In my mind, any diesel powered motorcycle is a TOTAL win when the infrastucture fails…. yeah, yeah I know… Im totally guessing here.

  • Vitor Santos

    Thinking outside the box… Iam liking it

  • Khali

    Wes, you are wrong: That front beak is a seat for a 4th passenger!

    It even has grab bars, ha!

    Those sari guards double as footpegs for the 3rd passenger, and the additional electric engine adds torque for when you are carrying your family on the bike.

    One of the most intelligent scooters ever!

    • HoldenL

      I’ll bet this scooter would have enough torque to do that.

    • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

      That front drive makes more sense on this bike, where you have a person over the front wheel, than it has on any other bike. I’m giddy just thinking about this bike. When this and the EBR tuned 250′s come out trip to pakistan or india might be in order.

  • Brian

    even without the electric hybrid motor, a diesel scooter is a win win in my book!

  • Bill T

    Its a start. But given the top speed will only be 45mph, thanks but no thanks…

    • Brian

      a little tuning and a removal of certain emissions components and I am sure it will do 55-60…

      • Bill T

        I have a SYM HD200(172cc) that can go 65mph without any turning! It won’t carry family of 5 though…

        • Brian

          It is a completely different animal in many ways. Like comparing apples and pears. Great that you can get that, and like I said, with most scooters in how they are tuned and restricted, you can always get more out of them. I have seen Aprilia SR50′s go from 38mph top speed to 68 mph top speed with variators, jets kits, and a properly tuned expansion chambered pipe.

  • HammSammich

    Moving the motor off the swingarm seems to do away with most of the drawbacks of scooters…I wonder why more aren’t doing this (or if they are why they aren’t marketing this specific design improvement)?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Old news. Everyone’s doing it now, from the Suzuki Burgman to the BMW scooters.

      • HammSammich

        Goes to show how long its been since I’ve followed scooter related news. Though my little 50cc Honda Spree was a great way to get around when I was in High School…20 years ago (yikes).

    • Justin McClintock

      I think it’s a space issue. As Wes mentioned, some of the big scooters have done it, but they’re just plain bigger. The smaller ones, people still want all that under-seat storage. Move the motor off the swingarm, and that’s probably where it ends up.

      • Michael Howard

        That’s the same issue with wheel size. Yes, larger wheels mean better handling but they intrude upon storage space under the saddle.

      • Piglet2010

        You have to have enough space under the seat of a scooter for a watermelon.

    • appliance5000

      I’m pretty sure lambretta did this from the very dawn of the scooter age (post ww2?)

  • Lee Scuppers

    That’s very cool. I even like the Snout. And no silly anime triceratops-frill design flourishes.

  • DixieBiker

    Love It!!!! What a great inside city limits transportation/generator solution. If it were to generate a usefull amount of power, say 5k to 7.5k watts, it would be loved by carpenters/handymen/others everywhere!

  • Justin McClintock

    14 hp, but 26 lb-ft of torque. So it’ll only go maybe 55 mph, but it’ll do it towing a boat.

  • 200 Fathoms

    Which raises the question—why aren’t there diesel motorcycles?

    • Stuki

      Power to weight.

      • 200 Fathoms

        Ah. Have to use stronger metal because of the compression ratio?

        • Justin McClintock

          Generally just more metal. There’s a whole host of other issues that come with a diesel as well that contribute to the weight. I started typing a response and realized it would be a novel. Instead, let’s just go with “it has to do with how diesel burns differently (and slower) than gas”.

          • ontarioroader

            I’ve ridden the diesel KLR650 variant that the US Marine Corp developed and yes, to sum it up; slow. I think Royal Enfield in India also made some diesel motorcycles in the mid 1990′s.

            • BigHank53

              A couple European design shops have done one-offs as well. I remember one based on the VW Polo three cylinder 1000cc diesel.

              • Brian

                I think it was Thunderstar out of Sweden and it was a 1200 IIRC.

    • socalutilityrider
      • 200 Fathoms

        Cool.

        • socalutilityrider

          Unfortunately, I think these are out of production now. Bike was just too expensive and they never sold enough of them to bring the price down. Also, it didn’t have a manual transmission. A diesel scooter really makes a lot of sense though. I hope the above actually does make it to production, a company like Hero could absorb the loss until the concept caught on.

  • Stuki

    So much for the Chinese not being “innovative”, and only copying others, I guess………….. I’m not the world’s biggest scooter fan, but this thing looks cool. I’m scared to learn the weight of it, though…

    • Justin McClintock

      Not Chinese. Indian.

      • Stuki

        I realized my mistake and edited before almost immediately. You must have beat me to the punch.

    • Blu E Milew

      Well, since Buell’s team designed it…

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        No they didn’t.

        • Blu E Milew

          Really? Last time I talked to someone at EBR they made it sound like they do basically all R&D for Hero brand.

          • Stig Sarangi

            What i got to know was that the RNT has had inputs from both EBR and AVL

    • appliance5000

      Beside inventing the modern numerical system – what have they done lately:-)

      • Stig Sarangi

        The Pentium chip, Hotmail among a list of other things.

  • appliance5000

    All I can think of is the Honda Cub – it seems to fulfill half the world’s needs.

    This looks overly complicated and while digital control can control complex actions cheaply – there are still a lot of mechanical complexities and that costs money.

  • Speedo007

    Wish some manufacturers would offer decent diesel motorcycles at decent prices, the torque would be awesome.

    • Stuki

      Well, Harley is expending in India, and have pretty much staked their name on Torque as the king of all motorcycle specs……….. And, they don’t seem THAT concerned about keeping their bikes’ weight low, either.

      Come to think of it, perhaps a more efficient (cooler) diesel engine is just what HD needs to alleviate the roasted leg syndrome they’re gaining a reputation for…..

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      I am still hoping for an ex USMC diesel KLRs to hit a market, anywhere.

      • Speedo007

        Pretty sure they’ll just crush them with they’re done with them.

        • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

          Sob, sob.

  • hunkyleepickle

    looks interesting, i appreciate forward thinking concepts! unfortunately, i’d say there is less than zero chance of this kind of thing ever coming to the N.A. market, we are just still far to hung up on sport bikes and harley’s, or at least that’s what the marketers would seem to believe. On a side note, is there a reason diesel engines never really took off in scooters? It seems like it would give them a welcome performance boost, and outrageous fuel economy. I’m genuinely interested to know if there is a practical reason why this doesn’t really exist….??

  • Jono

    who cares what it looks like, its absolutely nailed its design brief and i bet it would sell like any other Hero in asian markets. And that thing would be crazy-useful on a farm…

  • eddi

    It’s a farm animal with two wheels. A mule to pack in supplies, and then run a treadmill. A few extra bits and bobs to add some appeal, like the work light. Hopefully the price will match the farmer’s budget or at least his co-op’s can buy a few and rent them out. Do they have a co-op system in India?

    Do those sari racks flip to horizontal?

  • Stig Sarangi
  • Guy S

    As some one who is constantly obsessed with practicality this has really peaked my interests. During sandy i did disaster relief in bk/queens working on the medical side of things and i could think of no better vehicle for traversing dystopic areas while doing disaster relief. Especially considering lack of available gas after natural disasters the no doubt amazing mpg from a diesel motor would be ideal. If the internal generator could put out decent power, put 2 nurses or doctors or what have you and a big bags of supplies on this thing and it would be perfect for mobile clinics. If i was director of FEMA (presuming FEMA decided that they wanted to start helping people) I would order fleets of these things load them up with supplies and bus them in first thing after a disaster. I dont know if this would make sense for me at the moment as a daily driver but if they came to the usa i would not be able to control myself.

  • William Connor

    This thing is pretty awesome. Love the diesel and electric combo. Always thought this had a great practical application to a motorcycle.

  • Kingsix87

    It has the specs but lacks the looks

  • frankfan42

    I sure like the idea of this thing, although it looks pretty “Geeky”
    Really that is part of its allure, and that it’s practical as all get out.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    This scooter and the rickshaw will just not make an impact in the U.S. Having said that negative statement; here is what I deem awesome about this scooter:

    – Pizza delivery would be much more fun
    – Headlight as work light concept
    – Generator (Pull your hotdog stand, then plug the bad boy in)
    – Diesel engine

    Thanks for showing the concept though – loved the article.

    • SneakyJimmy

      I think your post is “tongue in cheek” but seriously, it has potential. If you COULD use it as an auxiliary power generator among other things it would be perfect for the zombie apocalypse or just earthquake, hurricane and fire. I would own one and ride one.

      • Nemosufu Namecheck

        agreed sneaky jimmy