A gas-electric hybrid, the Piaggio USB is an intriguing looking scooter that debuted at the 2009 Milan Bike Show.
A scooter producing 147 lb-ft of torque?!
Yes, says Piaggio, with its USB scooter prototype revealed at the EICMA Milan Bike Show. The odd design doesn’t look like anything riders will see on the road in the near future. However, it’s an interesting take on the two-wheeled design, so let’s look at the sparse details.
First, the styling. The USB looks to us like a Suzuki Burgman that has been transported back in time from the year 2035 to warn humanity about… Alright, it just looks like a futuristic prototype concept with flowing lines and an uncluttered iPod-ish feel to it. Its unique seat features a sissy-bar-like back, but Piaggio says the USB can be configured as a “single-seater, like a sporty vehicle, two-seater like a coupe, or with top-box, for the highest load capacity.” It also further identifies its USB as a “potential evolution of the idea of urban mobility on two wheels.” The USB, by the way, it stands for Urban Sport Bike.
Sourcing both electric and internal combustion, the USB claims a remarkable efficiency of about 155 mpg.
Fair enough, so what’s it run on? A gas-electric hybrid system, with “lithium polymer” batteries powering an electric motor attached to the rear wheel. The electric power is mated with an internal combustion engine, which really isn’t all that remarkable in itself, as Piaggio already has a production gas-electric scooter in its MP3 Hybrid (also on display at EICMA). Perhaps more surprising than the electric motor is the USB’s gas-engine, a direct injection 2-stroke (rather than the MP3 Hybrid’s 4-stroke).
Performance claims are a modest 100 km/h (62 mph) top speed. However, Piaggio notes the power system “stands out for its high torque values – around 200 NM.” Do the math and those Newton Meters equate to 147.5 lb-ft, and an electric motor (we assume the source of that prodigious lb-footage) delivers immediate peak torque.
The USB scooter looks interesting, and there’s a pretty girl standing next to it, so what’s to complain about?
The USB boasts a high fuel efficiency of 1.5 liters to 100 kilometers. Our finger-counting math computed that to around 155 MPG. Like the MP3 Hybrid (which claimed similar triple-digit efficiency), the USB features an electric-only option. On battery power alone the USB can hum along for 50 km (31 miles) when ridden at an average speed of 60 km/h (37 mph).
In spite of carrying batteries and two power sources, the USB claims a weight of less than 130 kilos (287 lbs). But will riders see the USB at all, much less before the year 2035 of our imagination? Concepts are just concepts. And claims are just claims. But oddly enough, the actually-in-existence/people-can-buy-it MP3 Hybrid scooter features similar technology, but in the even more novel leaning three-wheeled chassis. Read more about the MP3 Hybrid in our MP3 Hybrid Scooter First Look.