Honda has filed two patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that suggest a Rebel with the Africa Twin‘s DCT engine may be close to production.
Rumors of a larger Rebel have been circulating for a while, with a few patents over the last few years showing an engine that roughly looks like the Africa Twin’s powerplant in a Rebel chassis. The new patent applications, published today by the USPTO, are much more detailed, which is usually an indicator of how far a project is in the development cycle.
The engine pictured in the patent drawings is a match for the DCT-equipped Honda Africa Twin’s engine.
Also telling, the two new patents are for the positioning of exhaust sensors and for a new rear suspension design, elements that aren’t usually addressed until after more complicated issues, like the packaging of an engine in a chassis, are well under way.
The latest patents provide a good look at the right side and the front of a Rebel with the DCT version of the Africa Twin engine. The engine cases are a match with the Africa Twin’s, and the Unicam engine head is distinct from the DOHC engines employed on the existing Rebel 500 and 300. The front view (pictured below) shows an engine, and fuel tank that are noticeably wider than the svelte Rebel 500.
If there remains any doubt about a dual clutch transmission, note that the handlebar in the patent diagram lacks a clutch lever.
The exhaust sensor patent describes how the probes (#65 and #66 in the drawings) connect to the two header pipes just below the bottom edge of the radiator. This allows the radiator to provide a bit of protection to the exhaust sensors while also allowing easy access to them. The sensors are also protected from the back by the frame and below by the exhaust pipes.
The suspension patent outlines a shock design that prevents the preload adjuster dial from being accidentally turned by the rotation force of a spring. Notably, the shock design has a piggyback reservoir, which isn’t used on the current Rebel models.
Looking at Honda’s current product lineup, a larger Rebel model makes a whole lot of sense. The Honda Shadow lineup is still offered in the U.S., but it has gone untouched for some time now. In other markets, such as Canada and Europe, the Shadows have disappeared completely. Euro 4 and 5 standards may explain their absence in Europe, but it doesn’t explain Canada, where the small Rebels are the only cruisers still offered. Meanwhile, the Africa Twin engine meets modern standards, and offering the engine on a different type of motorcycle makes sound business sense.
When it comes to the Japanese manufacturers, the cruiser segment has been rather stagnant the last couple of years. A new Honda Rebel 1100 would be a prime candidate to shake things up.
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Source: All Bikes news one