The Future According to BMW: Vision NEXT 100
For its 100th anniversary, BMW looks to the future by developing a series of “Vision Vehicles” to address mobility issues some three decades down the road. The proposed solutions are “based on the assumption that mobility is set to become increasingly multifaceted and connected.” The program was unveiled on Oct. 11 at the “Iconic Impulses. The BMW Group Future Experience” exhibition in Los Angeles.
The Great Escape
“The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 embodies the BMW Group’s vision of biking in a connected world – an analog experience in a digital age. Motorcycling is about escaping from the everyday: the moment you straddle your bike, you are absolutely free. Your bike is The Great Escape,” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad.
“Liberated from the need to wear a helmet and protective clothing, the rider is able to enjoy the forces. Acceleration, wind and nature as in touch with the surrounding world, savoring every moment. The design of the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 represents the essence of the motorcycle: the perfect synthesis between human and machine.”
While the signature elements make the 100 recognizable as a genuine BMW, including the black frame triangle, white lines and boxer engine forms, The bike itself is powered by a zero-emissions solution. The form unites the past of the BMW Motorrad brand with its future and is an expression of both.
The black frame triangle references the first BMW motorcycle, the 1923 R32. On the Vision bike it has been reinterpreted to form a functional sculpture linking the front and rear wheels with a dynamic sweep. Bearings and joints are nowhere to be seen; instead the frame appears as a single, integrated whole.
Viewed from the side, the frame lends it the character of a naked bike, with ergonomics to match and a seat in the roadster position. The arrangement of surfaces protects the rider from wind and weather as effectively as a full fairing. The surface of the frame is covered in matt black textile, and the BMW logo is displayed on the dark frame. It is illuminated in the familiar blue and white.
Flexframe – Frame-Assisted Steering
The Flexframe appears as a single, integrated whole that extends from the front to the rear wheel. Being flexible, it allows the bike to be steered without the various joints found on today’s motorcycles. Turning the handlebar adjusts the entire frame, changing the direction of the bike. The amount of strength needed to steer depends on the situation: at standstill, the Flexframe allows a light steering whereas at higher speeds it remains very rigid.
Powertrain – Inspired by the BMW Boxer Engine
While he engine reflects the image of the traditional BMW boxer, it actually consists of a zero-emissions drive unit. Its outward appearance changes depending on the circumstances: when the bike is resting, the power unit is compact, extending outwards only when the bike sets off, to enhance aerodynamics and protect the rider from the elements.
The front is minimalist in design and enhanced with high-quality details. Integrated into the frame above the front wheel is a large metal reflector incorporating the two vertically positioned, U-shaped elements that make up the daytime running light. It also acts as a wind deflector and, in combination with the small, integrated windshield, helps to optimise air flow. The seat, upper frame cover and wings are made of carbon. Damping is provided by the tires, whose variable tread actively adjusts to suit ground conditions and ensure the best possible grip in any situation.
"Normally, when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think 5 to 10 years in advance,” explains Edgar Heinrich. “On this occasion, we looked much further ahead and found the experience especially exciting. There are some very attractive prospects. I firmly believe the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 sets out a coherent future scenario for the brand,"
Digital Technologies for an Analog Experience
Building on the benefits of the digital world, the VISION takes the analog riding experience to a completely new level. The unique sensation of freedom is made possible by intelligent connectivity between rider, bike and the outside world – a combination that also allows the prediction of critical situations on the roads. In conjunction with the active assistance systems, these connected elements help keep riders in complete control of their ride. As well as anticipating what lies ahead and alerting the user when action is needed, they offer active rider protection and will consign the helmets and body protectors of today to the history books.
In certain situations, the active assistance systems of the future will also enhance stability and safety by automatically balancing the motorcycle, both out on the road and when stationary. Novice riders will benefit from additional guidance in all riding situations and from a bike that will never tip over. The VISION rights itself while even stationary, remaining upright when the rider has dismounted. The balancing systems also work out on the road to ensure a particularly agile and dynamic riding experience with even lighter handling, which seasoned riders will appreciate, and all the benefits of assistance systems to enhance their capabilities even further.
The Visor – The Right Information at the Right Time
Information exchanges between rider and bike take place largely via the visor. This essentially consists of a pair of data glasses that extends across the wearer’s entire field of vision. As well as providing wind protection, it shows relevant data in one of four designated display areas. These are controlled by the rider’s eye movements: looking up or down changes the content that appears, and looking straight ahead switches the information off completely, leaving the rider to focus even more fully on biking experience. Information is only projected onto the visor on request, or to alert the rider to the fact that action is needed.
Looking upwards activates the rear-view function in the visor, allowing the rider to see what is going on on the road behind. Lowering the eyes to normal levels opens a menu from which the rider can select an option by pointing a finger. Looking further down opens the map view showing the rider’s chosen route.
Smart. Active. Flexible – Rider’s Equipment
The rider’s gear for the VISION is integral to the unique overall experience. In classic black and white, the airy suit enhances the sense of freedom and is both fashion statement and weather-wear. Depending on conditions, it warms or cools the user. While the diagonal zipper across the chest is reminiscent of traditional motorcycle clothing, the flexible, banded structure of the suit and shoes is inspired by the muscle areas of the human body and provides body support and relief whenever needed.
At higher speeds, the neck section inflates to provide extra support for the upper vertebrae and improve overall comfort. Variable openings offer additional ventilation. Unlike present-day suits, however, the futuristic outfit offers no safety features, because the bike’s intelligent assistance systems make them superfluous. Instead, sensors in the suit keep track of the wearer’s pulse rate and body temperature and provide the right level of heat or cold. The suit also delivers navigation instructions via the vibrating elements in the arms and legs, and alerts the rider when the banking angle is becoming critical. Rider and machine form a single functional unit to offer a more intense riding experience than ever before. Edgar Heinrich sums up: "The VISION NEXT 100 unites the best of both worlds – digital and analog – for the ultimate emotional experience: The Great Escape."