Remember the sensation that “TRON: Legacy” brought to motorcycling in 2010 with its “Light Cycle,” a radical custom that surged forward into the world of virtual reality?
Cool, but the bike was just for that—virtual reality. The Light Cycle has nothing on BMW’s latest concept for the digital age, the BMW Motorrad VISION Next 100. Built with the latest in Artificial Intelligence that propels the idea of a driverless vehicle, riders won’t have to wear any gear; keep the helmets, leathers, boots, and gloves at home. And of course, it’s a “non-gasoline powered” zero-emissions bike. Electric likely, though not confirmed.[Read about the latest 2017 Motorcycles]BMW unveiled its Vision Next 1000 motorcycles at an air hanger in Los Angeles as part of the Bavarian company’s Vision Next series, which includes radical concepts from BMW automobiles, and umbrella brands Mini and Rolls-Royce.“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.Even the Luddites of BMW Motorrad can respect the design, which takes cues from the first BMW motorcycle in existence, the 1923 R23. The concept plays off the theme of analog meets digital, something that’s inevitable in tomorrow’s techno-forward world.“Normally, when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think 5 to 10 years in advance. On this occasion, we looked much further ahead and found the experience especially exciting. There are some very attractive prospects. I firmly believe the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 sets out a coherent future scenario for the BMW Motorrad brand,” says Heinrich.
BMW VISION NEXT 100 Powertrain/Chassis
The “power unit” is designed in the tradition of the infamous boxer engine, which throughout BMW’s 93 years of existence has powered nearly everything, including the latest R 1200 GS and BMW R nineT Scrambler. It features a polished aluminum finish that immediately brings about the character of BMW Motorrad history. All other info is hush now, but we expect some radical electric engine is contained within.The black-frame triangle is a reference to the R32, but “reinterpreted to form a functional sculpture linking the front and rear wheels with a dynamic sweep.” All seems like one smooth sculpture with nothing mechanical present.Other nice touches are the BMW logo that’s displayed on the frame; when driving, it’s illuminated, showing the famed blue and white BMW brand colors.What makes the VISION NEXT years beyond its time is the Flexframe design, which allows the concept to steer without the joints found on motorcycles, such as forks and a rear swingarm. BMW says 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,” BMW says.As for damping, the tires take on the task; BMW says the tires’ variable treads actively adjusts to suit ground conditions and ensure the best possible grip in any situation.The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 also balances itself—not only while stationary, but while on the move, something BMW says can help novice riders. BMW says the concept “helps every biker become more proficient and enjoy an even more positive riding experience. Every trip becomes a journey of freedom, from beginning to end.”
BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 | Aesthetics
Along with technology, BMW kept minimalism at the forefront in regards to the design. The most obvious is the frame above the front wheel—a large metal reflector incorporates the two vertically positioned, U-shaped elements that make up the daytime running light. BMW says this piece also acts as a wind deflector and, in combination with the small, integrated windshield, helps to optimize air flow.And what would a design be without carbon fiber? The seat, upper frame cover and wings are all built with carbon. Also bringing things back to vintage motorcycles are the hand levers that were designed with outward-facing joints.
BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 | Digital Companion with Visor
The VISION NEXT 100 requires one piece of gear—a visor. This allows the bike become an extension of the rider; a Digital Companion.“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. The display and operating concept works so subtly that the rider can enjoy an entirely natural biking experience, trusting the bike completely and enjoying complete freedom and ease. As interface designers, our job is to deliver the right amount of the right information at the best possible time and place,” says Holger Hampf, Head of User Experience at the BMW Group.BMW says the exchanges between the rider and VISION NEXT 100 take place behind the visor.BMW explains: “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.”“The bike has the full range of connected data from its surroundings and a set of intelligent systems working in the background, so it knows exactly what lies ahead. By collating the data it has gathered, it can suggest ideal lines and banking angles, or warn riders of hazards ahead,” Hampf continues.This Digital Companion is suggests lines and angles in the lower third of the field of vision, represented by an upturned triangle from which two horizontal lines extend outwards.BMW says “like the display in an airplane cockpit, this symbol indicates the current banking angle and ideal lines. If the bike’s current position does not match what is suggested, the rider can correct it as necessary. If he or she responds too late or not at all, the bike will correct itself. The Digital Companion’s advice not only helps novices to learn more about what they and their bikes can do. It also supports experienced riders by allowing them to challenge themselves and continuously improve their skills.”Of course, the visor features a rear-view function, and looking further down at the bottom opens a map of the rider’s chosen route.Heinrich says “The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 unites the best of both worlds – digital and analogue – for the ultimate emotional experience: The Great Escape.”We’re looking forward to the evolution of this machine.
BMW Motorrad VISION Next 100 | Motorcycle Concept Photo Gallery