BMW doesn't mess around with its concept bikes. If they make waves, the bikes tend to make it to production. People loved the Concept 90 in 2013, and it quickly became the very popular R NineT production bike. Likewise, the Concept Roadster provided a blueprint for the updated R 1200 R that was released this year. Both these concepts were debuted at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in Como, Italy, and versions of both made it to production quick smart. So this year's effort, the Concept 101, should not be looked upon as a flight of fancy.
Designed in collaboration with famous American custom builder Roland Sands, Concept 101 uses the smooth and powerful 1649cc 6-cylinder engine from the K1600GT tourer. In cubic inches, that comes out close to 101, hence the bike's name. I doubt that this bike is targeted towards Myanmar or Liberian riders, so the use of inches is a very clear sign that whatever this concept becomes, it is aimed squarely at the United States. BMW intends to break into the American cruiser market, and to do it in style.
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Much is made in the promo materials of Concept 101's hand crafted touches, with the wood inlays in the fairings being the standout here. They do add a nice touch to the design, reminiscent of the use of wood in high-end luxury car interiors. Although as soon as wood colors start getting introduced on big tourers, I can't help but recall some of the kack-brown Goldwings of the 1980s.
Beyond the looks of the thing, The K1600 engine makes a fantastic touring mill, and while it won't deliver some of the sensual excitement of a throbbing Harley v-twin, it will certainly outperform it with a mountain of torque and superior performance when the pace comes up. Likewise, BMW knows its stuff when it comes to touring ergonomics, so the 101 can be expected to be a great mile muncher. All that remains to be seen is what the production version will look like, and how it's going to be received by the American touring market.
Certainly, it's a heck of a step forward from the last cruiser BMW produced.