BMW’s Iconic Impulses world tour reached its final destination in Los Angeles this week, where BMW Motorrad revealed its vision for the future of two-wheeled mobility. As part of the company’s 100th anniversary, the automaker has produced four unique concept vehicles this year–one from each brand–to show off its technology and design virtue for the coming age.
BMW’s contribution seeks to turn every driver into the ultimate driver, MINI’s offering defines urban mobility and personalization, Rolls-Royce’s chariot is the pinnacle of luxurious transport, and now BMW Motorrad’s concept bonds man with both machine and nature.
“It’s the last great escape from everyday life,” said Edgar Heinrich, BMW Motorrad’s design chief. “Riding a BMW motorcycle has always been a sensual experience. This won’t change. Motorcycling is for the soul, the acceleration, the wind in your hair, the sound…it’s pure emotion.”
At first glance, BMW Motorrad’s Vision Next 100 concept looks more like artwork than functional equipment, but executives assure us the bike’s technology and styling cues could realistically translate to future products.
Beyond its general shape and roadster riding position, little about the vehicle mirrors modern sport bikes. Instead of a traditional frame, the concept’s Flexframe is like a piece of raked taffy pulled from the front wheel, flowing between the handgrips and down to the rear tire, creating a triangular shape. This malleable structure bends with the pivoting handlebars, replacing joints and the front fork. BMW says the force needed to bend the Flexframe and therefore steer the bike can change, becoming easy at low speeds and harder as the speeds increase.
The seat, upper frame cover, and wings are made of carbon, while other sections of the frame use banded fabric. In place of suspension components, rimless tires help dampen the structure. These tires have variable tread that adapts to various surfaces to provide optimal traction. Aluminum fills in the remaining gaps, forming the handlebars, rear fork, and “zero emissions” (read: electric) powertrain. Double-C LED taillights, similar to ones on contemporary BMW bikes, streamline the rear end.
The naked design has a few tricks up its sleeves, too. BMW’s iconic boxer flat twin engine isn’t actually on board, just its shape. At speed, the accordion structure expands outward, working in tandem with the Flexframe and clear windscreen to shield riders from the elements like a full fairing…and “because it just looks cool,” added Heinrich with a smile. Easily one of the coolest bits is a built-in gyro meter that self-balances the bike when stationary or while moving (should the rider become overwhelmed).