THE BMW MOTORRAD VISION NEXT 100 HAS A FLEXIBLE FRAME AND MOTOR BLOCK, AND IS GYROSCOPICALLY STABILIZED
In recognition of BMW’s 100th anniversary, and to look toward the future of its next 100 years, the German maker has made four concept vehicles, the latest of which, the motorcycle, is (in our humble opinion, anyway) the best. The first three concepts were cars, one each from BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini. They were … controversial in design. But this one -- BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 -- looks just plain cool. You can go see for yourself. It’s going to be part of a week-long display (Oct. 11-16) at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, featuring all four VISION NEXT vehicles.
The theme with the concept motorcycle was said to be “The Great Escape.” BMW intended that to reflect the freedom enabled by the concept’s technology, which will free the rider to experience the ride without having to worry so much about controlling the bike. Maybe they didn`t realize that "The Great Escape" was the movie where Steve McQueen uses a stolen German motorcycle to escape from a German POW camp during WWII. Or maybe they did mean that. Irony is sometimes lost on corporations.
Nonetheless, the idea comes across clearly: The VISION NEXT 100 motorcycle will set you free with technology.
“The assistance systems in the (bike) will not only anticipate and advise when action is needed but will also intervene when required, to keep riders safe,” BMW said. “Protective clothing such as helmets and padded suits will no longer be needed; instead, riders will simply be able to enjoy the sensation of absolute freedom.”
One way to do that, BMW says, is with a self-balancing gyroscope function, not unlike the one being developed by LIT Motors in Silicon Valley for the last several years. The gyro will keep the bike upright while it’s underway, as well as when it’s stopped. Only when you park it will you need the kickstand.
“This technology allows riders of any level of skill to keep on pushing boundaries,” BMW said.
Execs promised that skilled riders would still enjoy motorcycling with such a system and would, in fact, be able to push even further into the realm of speed and enjoyment.
The visor-like shield you can see the rider wearing in the photos is also functional. We asked the model what she could see, and she described rear vision at the top of the face shield and other information displayed below. This technology is also being developed by Silicon Valley companies and has been for several years. BMW promised that such enhanced head-up displays would take over increasingly more of the typical car’s windshield.
More fundamental motorcycle functions will also be revolutionized. While turning the concept bike looked to be accomplished by a standard front fork hidden behind carbon fiber, the idea is that the entire frame itself would bend and perform the dual functions of steering and suspension. Someday.
Was it fun as-is? We asked the German model who rode it onto the stage, as well as in a video shoot.
“It was very smooth and fun,” she said.
However far off in the future these concepts may be, we like the look of the bike, which traces its roots to BMW’s first motorcycle: the R23. If the future looks anything like this, then we maybe won’t worry so much about that part of it.