In conjunction with the BMW Group’s centenary celebration this year, BMW Motorrad has unveiled its Vision Next 100 concept bike.
“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. Motorcycling is about escaping from the everyday: the moment you straddle your bike, you are absolutely free. Your bike is The Great Escape,” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad, outlining the core principles underlying his brand’s Vision Vehicle.
In terms of looks, the black frame triangle of the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is a deliberate reference to the first ever BMW motorcycle, the R32, made in 1923. On the vision bike, however, it has been reinterpreted to form a functional sculpture linking the front and rear wheels with a dynamic sweep. Bearings and joints are nowhere to be seen; instead the frame appears as a single, integrated whole.
Viewed from the side, the frame of the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 lends it the character of a naked bike, with ergonomics to match and a seat in the roadster position. The clever arrangement of surfaces protects the rider from wind and weather as effectively as a full fairing. The surface of the frame is covered in matt black textile, its silky sheen and fine lines highlighting the characteristic forms and representing a contemporary reinterpretation of this classic BMW detail. The BMW logo is displayed on the dark frame and it is illuminated in blue and white colours while driving.
The Flexframe appears as a single, integrated whole that extends from the front to the rear wheel of the concept bike. Being flexible, it allows the bike to be steered without the various joints found on today’s motorcycles. Turning the handlebar adjusts the entire frame, changing the direction of the bike. The amount of strength needed to steer depends on the situation: at standstill, the Flexframe allows a light steering whereas at higher speeds it remains very rigid.
In the middle of the triangle frame sits a BMW boxer engine, that consists of a zero-emissions drive unit. BMW didn’t disclose any specifications of the power unit but when the bike is resting, the power unit is compact, extending outwards only when the bike sets off, to enhance aerodynamics and protect the rider from the elements.
Overall, displays, cables and buttons are a rare sight on the concept bike. But amid the clear forms of its front is one element that immediately stands out: a red rocker-switch on the right-hand end of the handlebar. This mechanical element blocks or releases the throttle grip and is a homage to the analogue days of original biking.
With BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100, the company takes analogue riding experience to a completely new level. The unique sensation of freedom is made possible by intelligent connectivity between rider, bike and the outside world – a combination that also allows the prediction of critical situations on the roads. In conjunction with the active assistance systems, these connected elements help keep riders of this concept bike in complete control of their ride. It anticipates what lies ahead and alerting the user when action is needed, and offer active rider protection when needed.
In certain situations, the active assistance systems of the future will also enhance stability and safety by automatically balancing the motorcycle, both out on the road and when stationary. Novice riders will benefit from additional guidance in all riding situations and from a bike that will never tip over.
Information exchanges between rider and bike take place largely via the visor. This essentially consists of a pair of data glasses that extends across the wearer’s entire field of vision. As well as providing wind protection, it shows relevant data in one of four designated display areas. These are controlled by the rider’s eye movements: looking up or down changes the content that appears, and looking straight ahead switches the information off completely, leaving the rider to focus even more fully on biking experience. Information is only projected onto the visor on request, or to alert the rider to the fact that action is needed.
Looking upwards activates the rear-view function in the visor, allowing the rider to see what is going on on the road behind. Lowering the eyes to normal levels opens a menu from which the rider can select an option by pointing a finger. Looking further down opens the map view showing the rider’s chosen route.
The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 comes complete with a special riding gear. Depending on conditions, the airy suit warms or cools the user. While the diagonal zipper across the chest is reminiscent of traditional motorcycle clothing, the flexible, banded structure of the suit and shoes is inspired by the muscle areas of the human body and provides body support and relief whenever needed.
At higher speeds, the neck section inflates to provide extra support for the upper vertebrae and improve overall comfort. Variable openings offer additional ventilation. Unlike present-day suits, however, this outfit offers no safety features, because the bike’s intelligent assistance systems make them superfluous. Instead, sensors in the suit keep track of the wearer’s pulse rate and body temperature and provide the right level of heat or cold. The suit also delivers navigation instructions via the vibrating elements in the arms and legs, and alerts the rider when the banking angle is becoming critical.