As part of BMW Group’s ongoing centenary celebrations, The company’s motorcycle division, BMW Motorrad, took the wraps off its Vision Next 100 Concept at an event in Los Angeles last night. The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is the fourth concept from the company, which saw the Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW brands reveal their own take on possible future products.
“The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 embodies the BMW Group’s vision of biking in a connected world — an analogue experience in a digital age,” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad, outlining the core principles underlying the brand’s concept. “Motorcycling is about escaping from the everyday: the moment you straddle your bike, you are absolutely free. Your bike is The Great Escape.”
The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 includes design cues that are in line with the motorcycle division’s history, from the black frame triangle referencing the 1929 R32, to the white lines and boxer engine form. But that’s where the similarities end.
The Vision Next 100 is chock full of new thinking. This starts with what BMW calls a Flexframe, which does away with conventional joints, bolts and mechanisms. Turning the handlebar adjusts the flexible frame and, as such, the amount of strength needed to steer. At a standstill, the steering is light, whereas at higher speeds it becomes very rigid.
The bike is also self-balancing, ensuring even the novice rider will never drop it onto its side. The balancing and assistance systems also serve to enhance the capabilities of experienced riders, working to ensure an agile and dynamic riding experience with lighter handling. Free from the now obsolete helmet, riders can revel in the quite literal wind-in-your-hair experience.
The minimalist design of the front face features an integrated metal reflector incorporating two vertically positioned, U-shaped elements that make up the daytime running light. It also acts as a wind deflector and, in combination with the small, integrated windshield, helps to optimize airflow over the rider.
Body elements such as the seat, upper frame cover and wings are made of carbon, while two red illuminated strips beneath the seat shell form the rear light and indicators, picking up on the typical double-C form of the rear lamp units seen on contemporary BMW bikes.
The tires themselves act as dampers, alleviating the need for weighty and cumbersome suspension components. Their variable tread actively adjusts to suit ground conditions and ensure the best possible grip.
The zero-emissions (we’re guessing electric) powertrain is at the center of the frame. Designed to look like the classic BMW boxer engine and finished in polished aluminum, the power unit extends outward when the bike is turned on. This aids the vehicle’s aerodynamics but also provides cooling air to the powertrain.
There are no gauges or dials on the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100. All vital information is instead displayed on a pair of glasses BMW’s coined the ‘visor’. This acts as a communication interface between the rider and the bike, showing relevant data in one of four designated display areas that are controlled by the rider’s eye movement.
Looking up or down changes the content that appears: looking upwards activates the rear-view function in the visor; lowering the eyes to normal levels opens a menu from which the rider can select an option by pointing a finger; and looking further down opens the map view showing the rider’s chosen route. Looking straight ahead switches the information off completely, leaving the rider to focus fully on the experience.
“As interface designers, our job is to deliver the right amount of the right information at the best possible time and place,” explains Holger Hampf, Head of User Experience at the BMW Group. “A key point with the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 was to make sure the constant digital presence doesn’t undermine the analogue riding experience.”
One of the more novel elements of the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 concept’s design — the rider’s suit — isn’t even on the bike itself, though it works in unison with it and acts as a further communication tool between the vehicle and rider.
As Heinrich outlines in the video above, the suit is both fashion statement and weather-wear, enhancing the rider’s sense of freedom. Depending on conditions, it warms or cools the user, while the flexible, banded structure of the suit and shoes — inspired by the muscle areas of the human body — provides support.
The section around the neck inflates to provide extra support for the upper vertebrae and improve overall comfort at higher speeds, for example. The suit also contains sensors to keep track of the wearer’s pulse rate and body temperature and delivers navigation instructions via vibrating elements in the arms and legs.
The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 might be the Bavarian motorcycle company’s look at the future through a rose-tinted visor, but it’s one hell of a proposal. It unites the digital and analogue worlds for a truly ultimate emotional experience.
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