The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, an elegance competition for vintage cars that has taken place annually on the shores of Lake Como since 1929, has been co-organized by the BMW Group and the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este for the past decade. BMW Motorrad has used the event to showcase motorcycle design studies, such as the Concept Ninety in 2013 and the Concept Roadster in 2014. For 2015, it unveiled the Concept 101.
“The Concept 101 opens up a new chapter in the history of our concept bikes. It is the BMW Motorrad interpretation of endless highways and the dream of freedom and independence—the perfect embodiment of ‘American touring.’ Designing this big touring bike study was amazingly exciting for us because we haven’t been involved with a motorcycle concept like this before. To me, the Concept 101 is the epitome of elegance, power and luxury on two wheels,” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of BMW Motorrad Design, describing the character of the concept bike.
The name “Concept 101” is derived from the approximate displacement in cubic inches—a metric commonly used in reference to American-made cruisers—of its 1,649cc in-line 6-cylinder engine, adapted from the K 1600 GT/GTL sport/luxury tourers. Also, development of the bike took place near U.S. Highway 101, at the studios of the BMW Group subsidiary Designworks in Newbury Park, California.
“We had a clear vision when we were designing the bike: under the motto ‘The Spirit of the Open Road’ we wanted to build a high-performance, emotional and highly exclusive 6-cylinder vehicle that would make every ride a special experience. A bike that would make the moment so special, you would forget your destination,” explains Ola Stenegard, Head of Vehicle Design BMW Motorrad.
Concept 101 is BMW’s interpretation of a “bagger,” the saddlebag-equipped style of cruiser that has enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years. BMW Motorrad’s press release describes the concept bike as follows:
“The very elongated and streamlined silhouette is especially striking from a distance. Unlike the low front section and the high rear of supersports motorcycles, the BMW Motorrad ‘Concept 101’ has a drop-shaped silhouette that is typical of baggers, reaching the highest point at the front trim. Below this, the large front wheel appears to pull the flat, stretched silhouette behind it. At the same time, the characteristic styling of the bike visually suggests a forward urge. Two side cases integrated in streamlined form add the final touch of a quintessential bagger.
“The consistent flow of the lines from the front to the rear symbolizes the riding experience offered by the ‘Concept 101.’ Within the flowing silhouette, clear lines and elaborately modeled surfaces shape an athletic body. This creates a dynamic contrast between flowing movements and clearly defined lines that further emphasizes the bike’s character. The horizontal subdivision into two areas of color lends greater emphasis to the overall impression of flatness. While the lower section—the powerful mechanical unit—is dark, the upper area has been deliberately designed in lighter colors so as to reflect elegance and finesse.
“The dynamically designed front trim in brushed aluminum is flatly integrated into the flow of the styling. The integrated headlamp with striking double circular appearance gives the front section a distinct and highly expressive look. It also provides the point of departure for the characteristic split face which runs across the entire bike through to the rear in the form of a brushed aluminum trim section. Two striking side panels encase the front trim almost like a suit of armor, thereby creating a broad shoulder section which further highlights the power of the ‘Concept 101.’ Tailpipes on both sides, each with three outlets, visualize the number of cylinders and therefore the supreme performance and high torque of the engine. They also ensure the appropriate sound, making the potential of the 6-cylinder engine audible.
“The rear view harmoniously rounds off the bike’s overall visual impression. A particular highlight is the unusual rear light cluster. It provides a frame for the dark-colored rear section in the form of two LED bands. The design of the lights is formally reminiscent of former road cruisers. At the same time the expressive appearance grants a fascinating technical and aesthetic style.
“The entire design of the ‘Concept 101’ right through to the colors and materials used reflects power, contemporary flair and exclusive appeal. The side trim parts and cases feature an elaborate two-color finish: a light silver surrounds the surface while the inner section is a somewhat darker silver with more of a metallic effect. The two areas are separated by a line marking applied by hand. The paint finish also includes a shadow effect which gives the manually applied line marking greater depth towards the inside. The dynamic front trim adds a touch of cool, technical style with its unpainted, brushed aluminum. The aluminum’s modern, technological statement is supplemented in the bike’s lower section by means of generous carbon surfaces with a silky gloss.
“Amid silver paint surfaces, brushed aluminum and carbon, there are dark wood elements that add a warm, exclusive counterpoint. The elaborately milled wood, only treated with oil, emphasizes the horizontal gesture of the side sections with its discreet grain. The model designation is integrated in the wood surfaces as an elaborate aluminum insert and badge. On the seat, two leather qualities further reflect the bike’s exclusive character: the fine-grain black leather of the side sections adds a touch of elegance to complement the perforated black leather of the seat area itself. A brown leather strip separates these two distinct sections.”
The bike took concrete shape on the premises of Roland Sands Design, headquartered near Los Angeles, a focal point of the Southern California custom bike scene. In close collaboration with the BMW Motorrad design team, Roland Sands assembled the exclusive parts of the Concept 101 at his workshop, producing some individual elements exclusively by hand. BMW Motorrad and Sands have worked together successfully for several years, having completed projects such as the Concept Ninety.