One of the innovative features of the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100, which was unveiled in Santa Monica, California, is that it can’t fall over. The zero emissions bike (BMW doesn’t say if it’s electric) is intended to preview how two-wheeled transportation might look in the next 30 or so years, offering what BMW describes as “an analogue experience in a digital age”.
Unlike a conventional motorbike, the Vision Next 100 doesn’t use suspension (damping is taken care of by the tyres), but instead mounts the wheels and frame as one “Flexframe” unit. Move the handlebar, therefore, and it’s not the front wheel that turns, but the entire frame. In addition, there is a stabalisation system to ensure that it never topples over, although BMW doesn’t explain how this works.
“Normally, when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think 5 to 10 years in advance. On this occasion, we looked much further ahead,” said Edgar Heinrich, the design director of BMW’s motorcycle division.
The safety message with the bike is somewhat contradictory: it uses technology to ensure it can predict hazards in the road ahead, but doesn’t require its rider to wear a helmet. Instead, they wear a visor that projects information such as satnav instructions into the rider’s line of sight, divided into four display zones. If the rider looks up, meanwhile, the visor displays a projection of the rear-view camera, allowing them to see what’s happening behind.
In addition to the advantage of making it more difficult to fall of the bike, the stablisation technology also means it doesn’t requite a stand when parked. However, BMW says it’ll be more than a decade until such technology is available to buy.
Aside from the number of wheels it has, one obvious area where the motorcycle concept differs from BMW’s other centenary vehicles, the Mini, Rolls-Royce and Vision 100 Concept, is that it doesn’t feature driverless technology. “We do not envision autonomy on motorcycles,” said Heinrich at the launch event, in line with BMW’s insistence that motorcycling is as much about the experience as it is getting from A to B.