BMW Motorrad has unveiled its “progressive solution” for the future of motorcycling, the VISION NEXT 100: The Great Escape. This concept bike was conceived as part of a series of BMW Group (BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad) Vision Vehicles designed to address the anticipated mobility needs of people 30 years from now. These solutions are based on the assumption that mobility will become “increasingly multifaceted and connected.”
BMW imagines that the rider and machine will be almost completely interconnected, with the bike providing feedback and guidance in the form of a “visor,” glasses on which suggested lines and banking angles, a rear-view display, a route map and other information is displayed, and a riding suit that vibrates to indicate navigation instructions or to alert the rider that his/her banking angle is becoming critical.
The suit also provides temperature control by monitoring the rider’s pulse rate and body temperature, and the neck section inflates at higher speeds to provide support.
The bike itself bears little resemblance to today’s machines. It has no suspension, and the hand grips are not attached to any steering mechanism. Instead, the sweeping Flexframe bends and flexes to steer the bike. It also incorporates a “self-balancer” that automatically balances the bike both in motion and at a standstill.
Few details have been provided about the powertrain, except that it is a “zero-emissions drive unit.” Clearly inspired by the iconic boxer engine, its “cylinders” are extended only when in motion; when at a standstill, it draws into itself for a compact appearance. The concept bike shown is rideable, but appears to be powered by an electric motor with very limited range, given the lack of available space for a battery pack.
Perhaps most controversially of all, BMW is presenting the VISION NEXT 100 as needing no safety gear, such as armored apparel or even a helmet. In their vision of the future, all vehicles will be autonomous, with all aspects of human error removed from the transportation equation. The bike itself will make adjustments if the rider makes a mistake, and BMW has even addressed the wildlife issue with the implication that the bike’s systems can detect and react to the sudden appearance of a furry obstacle.
As Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad, puts it, “Normally, when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think 5 to 10 years in advance. On this occasion, we looked much further ahead…” So while the VISION NEXT 100 is clearly a concept vehicle at best, it’s important that manufacturers continue to look far into the future to anticipate mobility needs. The year 2046 will be here before we know it…