An e-mtb with a mid-mounted, idler-driven drive unit and power-steering, and a gravel bike with two-wheel drive, are the wacky concepts Yamaha revealed at the Japan Mobility Show.


Hold onto your hats, because Japanese motorcycle giant, Yamaha, is not afraid of whipping up a storm with its two new, outrageous-looking, concept electric bikes. Both were shown at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show and give a glimpse into the minds of the designers and engineers at this respected brand. There’s certainly plenty of innovation between the two bikes, with power-steering and two-wheel drive on the menu, but whether the concepts, or the technology showcased, will ever make production is another matter.

Yamaha Y-00Z concept e-bike

The Yamaha Y-00Z concept bike is no shrinking violet

Yamaha Y-00Z MTB

Displaying elements of the YPJ-YZ concept bike of 2019, the Y-00Z uses a similar design for the alloy frame, with a split-clamshell design that’s seemingly bolted together down the middle – probably with some additional bonding. This leaves cavities in the middle to recess other elements such as the battery, motor, and shock.

Yamaha Y-00Z concept e-bike

Upside down forks, clamshell frame, high-pivot idler drive, KYB suspension and power steering makes the Yamaha Y-00Z concept bike a technical tour de force

But unlike the previous concept bike, and the production Yamaha Moro 07 model, the Y-00Z uses the idler wheel as a drive input, rather than the bottom bracket axle. In that respect it’s not unlike the Rocky Mountain Dyname system. However, Yamaha is using a small 8-tooth drive sprocket, that doesn’t use any form of chain retention device, and will incur more friction than a larger idler wheel. Also, although the Y-00Z uses a high-pivot suspension design, the idler wheel is about 40-50mm forward of the main pivot, which will have an impact on anti-squat and chain growth.

Yamaha Y-00Z concept e-bike

That drive cog could be prone to chainsuck and chain derailment

There are no details from Yamaha about the motor used or the peak power and torque it produces. Equally, the battery size is another complete unknown.

Yamaha Y-00Z concept e-bike

EPS power steering box aims to filter out high-speed inputs while improving low-speed accuracy.

The box in front of the head tube is marked EPS and, we think, refers to Electronic Power Steering, where a small motor assists with turning the bars. This is something Yamaha has been developing on its motocross bikes, and according to the brand, a “magnetostrictive torque sensor enables the system to function as a steering damper and provide assisted steering, thereby contributing to a motorcycle’s stability, improving agility, reducing rider fatigue, and more”. Where the stabiliser aspect aims to counter high-speed torque applications on the bars that might result in a loss of control, while providing motorised assistance at lower speeds and heavier steering torque inputs. In that respect it sounds very different to Canyon’s KIS steering stabiliser system.

Yamaha Y-00Z concept e-bike

Do we really need power steering on our mountain bikes?

The frame also uses a separate bolt-on seat mast assembly that’s open to the elements at the bottom. It also uses KYB suspension, with an eye-catching upside-down fork up front. Beloved of concept bikes, upside down forks have not achieved widespread success owing to the difficulty of engineering enough stiffness into the lower legs and axle design.

Yamaha Y-00Z concept e-bike

The Y-01 AWD is a gravel bike for the Mad Max era.


Arguably even crazier looking than the mountain bike is this gravel/adventure bike concept. It uses an upside down suspension fork, integrated luggage racks and two-wheel drive. Yes, a front hub motor drives the front wheel, while a mid-mounted drive unit supplies power to the rear wheel through the drivetrain. Yamaha has integrated two batteries to supply power to the motors. There’s no word on the weight of the bike, or how the extra mass of the front hub, and the power from the drive, will affect the overall handling of this behemoth.