BMW Motorrad's futuristic motorcycle concept keeps the rider in control

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The Motorrad Vision Next 100 requires no safety equipment for the rider(Credit: BMW Group)

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The BMW Group celebrates its centenary this year and is showcasing several concepts that look forward to the company's next 100 years. Following in the tire treads of the BMW Vision Next 100, Rolls Royce Vision Next 100 and Mini Vision Next 100, the company has unveiled its latest vision of the motoring future in Los Angeles. The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is a concept motorcycle that keeps the rider in control in an autonomous world.

Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad, describes a motorcycle as a "Great Escape" from the mundane world. This Steve McQueen vision is apparently at the heart of the Vision Next 100's design. Added to that are several futuristic ideas about where motoring will be, in general, in 100 years and how those changes will affect motorcycles and those who ride them.

Unsurprisingly, safety concerns are first and foremost in the design. Illustrating this, BMW says no protective clothing, not even a helmet, is required by the rider as assistive systems will keep them safe. Chief among these is a self-balancing mechanism that keeps the bike upright, even when parked, but allows for riding angles suited to the skill level of the rider, tilting into turns and leaning fore and aft when braking or accelerating just as a motorcycle of today would, but without the risk of laying the bike down.

The BMW Group's futurists see a world in which self-driving cars are the norm, but the Motorrad concept keeps the rider in control. To help in this regard, special rider's gear has been designed to form a Digital Companion that supports the rider with situational information when required. This information is relayed via glasses worn by the rider, called the Visor. Content is triggered by the rider's eyes which, when looking up or down, cause it to display different content. Looking straight ahead clears the display so the rider can concentrate on the experience of riding. The exception being when alerts are required.

The rider would also wear the Vision Next 100's companion suit, which is tuned to provide thermal support by adjusting to provide ventilation or heat. The suit's external design is inspired by the musculature of the human body and bands in the suit can be adjusted by both rider preference and posture to allow for added or loosened support as needed. Riding speeds also adjust the suit, with higher speeds adding support to the upper vertebrae, for example.

The bike itself is designed to evoke nostalgic thoughts of BMW two-wheelers of the past, with a boxer-style engine cover in a naked bike style with outward-facing handle joints as homage to BMW's of days gone by. The black frame triangle is designed to be reminiscent of the very first BMW Motorrad motorcycle, the R32, built in 1923. Although the engine cover appears to be over a boxer-style engine, in reality it's a zero-emissions powertrain. The polished aluminum finish of the engine covers is dynamic, moving outward during use to add aerodynamics around the rider's legs, and sucking in when the bike is at rest for a slim, clean profile.

That engine cover is part of the overall Motorrad Vision Next 100's Flexframe structure. This is a futuristic, flexible construct that allows the entire one-piece frame to give a full-body steer for the motorcycle. Turning the handlebars to steer the bike bends the frame rather than just the front wheel. The amount of force required for the rider to create a turn is adjusted according to the Motorrad Vision's speed - the higher the speed, the more force that is required to make a turn. This is intended to prevent over-steer and corrections.

Integrated into that futuristic frame are the riding lights. A U-shaped element at front is the daytime running light and wind deflector in one piece. The integrated windshield protects the rider at speed and also acts as a heads-up display of information, as needed. Two red, illuminated strips beneath the seat shell are the rear lights and indicators in one piece, made to be reminiscent of Motorrad bikes of today.

A look at the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 shows that there are few joints and no visible bolts, screws, springs, or shocks. Damping is controlled by the tires, which feature a futuristic "variable tread" that actively adjusts to maximize grip and minimize impacts.

The BMW Motorrad design team sees a future world in which digital elements are more common than are analog. In that respect, most aspects of human life are about virtual control and allowing robotic machines to do the mundane tasks of everyday living. In that world, a motorcycle that allows the rider to be in control would become a Great Escape.

The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is on display in Los Angeles at the Iconic Impulses: BMW Group Future Experience exhibition until the 16th of October.

Watch the motorcycle in action below:

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