Let us put the record straight!
A three-wheeled motorbike that runs on the rider's feces? It sounded much too unsanitary to be true. Sure enough, the Toilet Bike Neo isn't powered by waste generated by its rider?! No, sorry to disappoint you, but it isn't!
It is an operational bike, though, and it's being powered by biogas fuel as it makes its way across Japan.
The creator is high-end toilet manufacturer Toto, which devised this conceptual model to publicize the company's environmental initiatives. The seat is one of Toto's advanced toilet models, the Neorest AH3, but the toilet isn't operational.
The engine runs on biogas fuel, which is made from a substance that comes from human and animal waste products. The biogas is contained in two compressed gas cylinders, which are mounted on the bike and hold enough for the bike to run about 300 km without refilling, Toto says.
More than a few publications reported the bike runs on waste generated by the rider. WTOP said Toilet Bike Neo "converts the poop -- which can come straight from the driver sitting on a toilet-style seat -- into a biogas that propels the vehicle." Huffington Post repeated that disgusting claim, saying that human waste is stored in the driver's seat and citing WTOP.
The Daily Mail was confused, too: "Bizarrely the rider is even encouraged to use the portaloo as much as possible on every journey as the waste is turned into biofuel which powers the machine."
Ubergizmo's take? "Yes sir, yesterday's processed lunch and dinner will get you places, thanks to the biogas converted from feces that is harvested straight from the rider."
Nope. Not true.
Amidst all the inaccurate reports, Toto published this explanation on its web site:
"TOILET BIKE NEO does not have the mechanism to run on the rider's waste. It runs biogas fuel (fertilized, purified and compressed livestock waste and household wastewater) provided by Shika-oi Town in Hokkaido and Kobe city. Therefore, the NEO REST seat does not function as a toilet, and has been created for promoting TOTO's environmental efforts. TOTO is not involved with any motorbike or biogas production business."
Music and secret messages are part of Toilet Bike Neo's allure, however. Six car horns can perform the "Toto Benki No Uta," or the Song of Toto Toilet. A vertical string of LED lights displays a message that can only be seen at night.