For more than 90 years, the 2-cylinder boxer engine has been a key element of the BMW Motorrad identity, in both technological and visual terms. But as the BMW Group consistently pursues electrification, the question arises as to what a BMW motorcycle might look like that is electrically powered? And how would it reveal itself at first sight to be a BMW? One possible answer to these questions is provided by the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster, a highly emotional naked bike with electric drive.
“The boxer engine is the heart of BMW Motorrad – an absolute stalwart of its character. But BMW Motorrad stands for visionary zero-emissions vehicle concepts, too. In view of this, one question that arises is: what would happen if we were to replace the boxer engine with an electric motor and the required battery? The Vision Bike shows how we’re able to retain the identity and iconic appearance of BMW Motorrad in distinctive form while at the same time presenting an exciting new type of riding pleasure,” explains Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design BMW Motorrad. “After all: anyone who’s ever tried it out in practice knows very well that riding on two wheels is just as exciting when it’s electrically powered! The high level of torque right at set-off makes for breath-taking acceleration. This almost brutal power delivery creates a whole new experience of dynamic performance. And the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster puts a face to this experience.”
New drive, familiar appearance.
In a motorcycle, the motor is the centrepiece – it is the fundamental element, providing the basis for the entire architecture. But electrical drive components have completely different requirements in terms of installation space. While in a conventional motorbike the size of the engine is mainly determined by its capacity, it is the battery that takes up most space in the case of an electrically powered vehicle. The electric motor itself is relatively compact. Starting from this new basis, the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster is able to make this transfer – retaining the iconic appearance of a boxer while filling it with a new function. This is why the Vision Bike is instantly recognisable as a BMW motorcycle, revealing its electric nature on closer inspection.
Replacing what would previously have been the engine, there is now a vertically fitted, longitudinally oriented battery. For cooling purposes, two side elements protrude with cooling ribs and integrated ventilators. As in the boxer engine of the BMW R 32 – the development of which was masterminded by Max Friz in 1923 – the cooling elements are placed in the air stream. The cylinder-shaped electric motor is positioned underneath the battery and is directly connected to the universal shaft. The BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster thus demonstrates a clever drive architecture that visually echoes the history of BMW Motorrad while at the same time taking it a step further.
Dynamic performance reflected in the proportions.
In the side view, the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster presents a highly dynamic gesture with clear front-wheel orientation. The low front section and the short, high rear convey a sense of agility. Instead of the fuel tank, a flat, finely-wrought tubular structure spans the vehicle corpus. Its further shaping integrates the seat in a modern form, thereby creating the flyline of a sporty roadster. The frame structure is a key factor in defining the dynamic side view.
The large battery with its laterally protruding cooling systems is positioned at the centre of a frame milled from aluminium. The three-dimensional surface finish on the battery trim conveys a contemporary aesthetic appeal with its precise contours. The cooling elements echo the slight forward tilt of the battery silhouette, giving the side a dynamic momentum. When starting the electric motor, these cooling elements move out slightly, indicating that the bike is ready to go.
High performance with a light touch.
The overall appearance of the BMW Motorrad Vision DC conveys a sense of lightness so as to
High-quality details on closer inspection.
A key element of the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster’s captivating overall appeal is the elaborate finish to be found in all its details. Within the mainly dark
Photos: BMW Group Press