BMW is stepping up the presence of its riding apparel and helmets with an extensive lineup for 2015. This new, aggressive stance is to draw attention to the fact that the German manufacturer doesn’t merely purchase its gear from apparel manufacturers and slap the BMW name on it but, in fact, has a dedicated R&D facility at BMW headquarters in Germany. BMW recently invited Rider to attend a rare behind-the-scenes tour in Munich to illustrate the expansion of its in-house apparel division.
Under the name C.A.R.E. (for Concept of Advanced Rider Equipment), BMW’s apparel lineup covers everything from helmets (unfortunately unavailable at present in the U.S.), leather suits, rain wear, gloves, boots, underwear and assorted accessories, with a focus on developing functional, stylish protective gear.
The C.A.R.E. program regularly employs BMW’s acoustic wind tunnel, where an electric motor-driven 5.5-meter diameter prop simulates wind flow and turbulence without the influence of engine or road noise. The “wind gallery” allows designers to study the way air moves around a helmet and visor, resultant wind noise, and overall stabilization. In addition to human testers, the team uses a dummy that is equipped with sensors to capture “acoustic impressions.”
Another tool of the facility is an abrasion machine created to test various fabrics. The rig simulates a 75 kilogram (165 pound) rider hitting the ground at 70 kmh (43 miles per hour), allowing designers to study how materials perform in real world falls—a slightly disturbing but necessary aspect of the research to witness. The road surfaces can be changed out, with engineers typically using a German highway surface as a base.
All the gear C.A.R.E. produces goes into the rain chamber, a room that looks like an advanced car wash, fitted with dozens of nozzles that pelt the test rider with varying intensities of water, replicating wind-driven rain from a multitude of angles.
BMW created C.A.R.E. to compliment its full range of motorcycles, producing apparel that addresses the demands of specific categories of motorcycling; sport, touring and adventure. The end result is riding gear that is comfortable and protective, that breathes and allows for flexibility with durability over repeated usage and washing, and, naturally, has the all-important aspect of style.
Visit bmw–motorrad.com to see the full C.A.R.E. apparel lineup for 2015.