Glasses instead of a helmet, light clothing, full balance without a stand: just three of a great many aspects which could become standard in motorcycling and give that feeling of freedom a new dimension in an increasingly digitalised world. And the best thing about it: this vision vehicle is already here. Introducing the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100.
The futuristic two-wheeler glides silently through the hall. In the curve in front of the stage, the frame bulges out and the BMW logo affixed on the size illuminates in blue and white. The rider, equipped with a black suit and stylish glasses, brings her vehicle to a stop and remains poised in that position without taking a foot off the frame. It's like a scene from a sci-fi film. And although it does all happen in the motion picture capital Los Angeles, it is nevertheless absolutely real. The vision vehicle, which is celebrating its world premiere at the "Iconic Impulses. The BMW Group Future Experience" exhibition, catapults you into the 40s of the 21st century.
A time when mobility is yet more diverse and interconnected; a time when digitalisation takes on a shape which we today perceive to be surreal; a time when motorcycling becomes an analogue and at the same time extraordinarily emotional experience. "The motorcycle provides my escape from everyday life. From the moment I climb on board, I experience nothing but absolute freedom – The Great Escape," says Edgar Heinrich, head of design at BMW Motorrad.
Motorcycling in the distant future.
Freedom means experiencing the environment with all your senses, and feeling centrifugal forces, acceleration and the wind. Ideally without a helmet or protective clothing. And with the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100, you don't need this any more either. Because the "digital companion" – a functional unit consisting of motorcycle and our own version of rider's equipment – ensures a high degree of safety. The digital companion acts imperceptibly in the background and always intervenes when required or desired. "It was important to us that the analogue riding experience would remain undisturbed. The display and operating concept acts so discreetly that it creates a natural and familiar movement," explains Holger Hampf, head of design, customer experience, at the BMW Group.
Together with his design team, Edgar Heinrich drafted this future scenario and designed the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT vision vehicle based on that. "When we develop a motorcycle, we are usually thinking around five to ten years in the future. So taking a look further into the future was especially exciting for us and highly appealing," Edgar Heinrich paints the picture. Designers are assuming that in 20 years, most vehicles will be driving around autonomously. Life will more often take place in urban environments and be organised by digital services. More and more digitalised, more and more interconnected, more and more automated. This thought made it clear what importance will be attached to analogue islands which give humans back that feeling of freedom.
It's still a roadster.
All new – and yet the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 still captures elements from the BMW Motorrad timeline: black triangular frame, white lines, classical opposed-twin engine type. In the side-on view, the vision vehicle looks naked. Accordingly, ergonomics and seat position are set up like on a roadster. The design of the front is minimalistic and refined with high-quality detailing. Above the front wheel, a large metallic reflector is integrated in the frame. It serves as a wind guide and together with the integrated windscreen, ensures aerodynamically optimised airflow.
Body elements like the seat, the upper frame cover and the front-wheel cover are made of carbon. Two intricate red light fixtures beneath the seat serve as the tail light and turn indicators. The tyres have a damping function and actively adapt to the terrain. The red rocker arm on the right handlebar stands out. Designed as a consciously mechanical element, it blocks the throttle grip or releases it.
The frame follows the wheel.
The black triangular frame is visually reminiscent of the R 32 from 1923 – the first BMW motorcycle. However, the frame has functionally little to do with the original. The Flexframe is flexible and allows steering manoeuvres without the joints we are familiar with today. If the handlebars are moved, the entire frame changes shape and facilitates the change in direction. Depending on the traffic situation, the forces required for this vary: steering manoeuvres are especially easy at a standstill, while the frame firms up at high speeds. The surfaces are attached so that they offer the wind and weather protection of a fully enclosed motorcycle. The surface of the frame is made of matt black textile. The BMW Logo affixed to the frame lights up blue and white during the ride.
Opposed-twin engine with emissionless drive.
The "engine" sits amid the frame. It is a stylish element and a historical reminiscence at the same time: in shape and design it reminds us of the traditional BMW opposed-twin engine, whilst housing the emissionless drive unit. Depending on the riding situation, the exterior shape of the opposed-twin engine changes. At a standstill, it lies tight.
As soon as you begin riding, the engine block protrudes out of the sides. In doing so, it optimises the aerodynamics and the motorcycle's weather protection during the ride. Polished aluminium in this area exudes that high-quality vibe.
Self-balancing: no chance of tilting over.
A motorcycle doesn't need a stand. Not when assistance systems ensure perfect balance. Self-balancing enables the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 to remain stable both during the ride and at a standstill. This in turn increases the level of safety for the rider. It also makes it easier for beginners, because they are led safely through every riding situation and cannot fall over. But experienced bikers can also profit from self-balancing. Because the motorcycle becomes even more agile, making the riding experience even more dynamic. The assistance systems also expand the rider's capabilities. Regardless of ability and practice, riders are able to constantly expand their boundaries and positively intensify the riding experiences. Making every ride an experience of pure freedom from start to finish.
Data glasses instead of a helmet.
With the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100, rider and motorcycle are engaged in a direct exchange. This takes place via the visor, a pair of data glasses comprising the entire field of view with an added wind protection function. The visor enables the motorcycle to stay fully up to date on the route and to project situationally relevant data directly into the rider's field of view. If the rider looks straight ahead, no data is displayed, so as not to impinge on the riding experience. Only when action is required – for instance in case of hazards – or if the rider requests information, does the visor become active. In this case, the symbol of the digital companion appears in the lower third of the glasses: an upturned triangle forming two horizontal lines.
The display is similar to that in an aircraft cockpit. It shows the current angle of lean and the ideal line. If there is any deviation, the rider can correct this. If the rider fails to react or does so too late, the motorcycle corrects itself. Looking up will have a rearview mirror function. If the rider lowers his gaze a little below the normal viewpoint, a menu opens where he can trigger each function using finger gesture control. If he lowers his gaze even more, the map view opens, showing the rider his selected route.
Fashion statement instead of heavy protection clothes.
Light textiles as opposed to leather combinations and protectors: the rider clothing of the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 makes a significant contribution to the riding experience, because it is a fashionable statement and provides protection against wind and rain. An A/C function either cools or warms the rider as desired. Heavy clothing, which is either too hot or too cold, is a thing of the past. The flexible belt structure on the suit and shoes takes its inspiration from muscle cords.
It actively supports the rider depending on the riding situation and in so doing relieves him of the burden. The neck region of the rider clothing can be filled with air at higher speeds. It then relieves the cervical spine and increases the level of comfort. With vibrating elements on the arms and legs, the clothing provides navigational signals or indicates when a limiting tilt angle is reached. A safety function of the rider clothing is not required due to the intelligent assistance systems.
The exhibition will be opened in Los Angeles from Oktober 13th until October 19th. In that time it is possible to
observe all four BMW Group Vision Vehicles and get a closer look on the future.