For almost one hundred years, BMW motorcycles have used boxer engines. The boxer engine is as important to BMW motorcycles as the inline-six is to BMW automobiles. Maybe even more so. However, times must change and brands must move forward into the future, creating new traditions along the way. So BMW Motorrad has created a new electric motorcycle, one that replaces the boxer engine with batteries and an electric motor and it’s debuted it at the #NEXTGen19 event in Munich. The BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster.
While the Vision DC Roadster lacks the old-school boxer engine, its electric powertrain echoes the past. The battery is vertically-fitted and longitudinally-oriented where the boxer engine would have been. Like the old boxer engine, two side elements with cooling ribs flank the battery to cool it down. It’s a nod to the old boxer’s cooling elements developed by Max Friz back in 1923. The cylindrical electric motor is located under the battery and sends power to the rear wheel via universal shaft. So it’s an electric powertrain that echoes the brand’s famed history.
“The boxer engine is the heart of BMW Motorrad – an absolute stalwart of its character. But BMW Motorrad stands for visionary zero-emissions vehicle concepts, too. In view of this, one question that arises is: what would happen if we were to replace the boxer engine with an electric motor and the required battery? The Vision Bike shows how we’re able to retain the identity and iconic appearance of BMW Motorrad in distinctive form while at the same time presenting an exciting new type of riding pleasure,” said Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design BMW Motorrad. “After all: anyone who’s ever tried it out in practice knows very well that riding on two wheels is just as exciting when its electrically powered! The high level of torque right at set-off makes for breath taking acceleration. This almost brutal power delivery creates a whole new experience of dynamic performance. And the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster puts a face to this experience.”
It’s not just the battery and motor that harken back to BMW’s past. The entire Vision DC Roadster has been designed to give little winks and nods to BMW’s history of motorcycles. For instance, the exposed universal shaft is a throwback to vintage BMW bikes — and even current ones — which had exposed drive shafts. White accents are reminiscent of classic BMW motorcycles, which often had white trim throughout, and are also fluorescent in the dark. Front and rear LED lights are minimalist in design and try to capture some of the heritage of BMW Motorrad design.
The actual frame itself is made from milled aluminum, with carbon fiber and other lightweight materials throughout. Milled grooves in the frame reduce weight and add a visual sense of lightness, as does the exposed tubular elements of the frame. The red accents represent the powertrain, as they’re all indicative of where the battery, electric motor and cooling elements are.
A new functional two-piece riding suit has also been developed alonside the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster. The light jacket with large graphics and iridescent coloring, combined with the casually black pants, combine both fashion and functionality. Protectors are sewn into the clothing, while various light and connectivity functions are also integrated. It also gets an asymmetrical rucksack that magnetizes to the jacket, for comfort ease of use.
The BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster combines elements of the past with technology of the future to create a bike that’s both faithful to the brand’s history and also forward thinking. It also proves that brand’s like BMW don’t have to forget the past to move into the future.