BMW launched the Vision Next 100 platform last year, as part of its centenary celebration, with a series of concepts that cuts across the group's brands; BMW motorcycles and cars, as well as Mini and Rolls Royce. Today, on the opening day of the annual Concorso d'Eleganza at the Grand Hotel Villa d'Este on the Italian shores of Lake Como, BMW returns with the Concept Link, a two-wheeler looking like a C 650 scooter that just returned from the future.
As expected, the concept relies on an electric propulsion system, with a flat battery pack laid horizontally along the scooter's floor, and an electric motor transferring power to the rear wheel via belt drive.
The Concept Link's styling retains a visual connection with BMW's contemporary C 650 scooters, enriched with overhanging side panels that double as aerodynamic protections. The design proposes covered wheels – a feature common to all Vision Next 100 concepts – and incorporates elements like the orange electrical wiring into the styling.
The typical instrument panel will be a thing of the past according to BMW, with a touchscreen displaying a wide range of information. This programmable display can be controlled with buttons on the handlebars, so that the rider's hands will never need to let go of the controls. Crucial bits of information such as speed, navigation and battery status will also be projected on the windscreen, directly into the rider's field of view – although we might as well assume that by the time the Concept Link hits the streets, head-up display systems will also be common ground in motorcycle helmets.
The absence of an internal combustion engine and all of its paraphernalia – like, for instance, the fuel tank – leaves a lot of useful space over the scooter's battery pack. This allows for a spacious underseat storage compartment, which is accessible through a sliding door on the right side. And, since we're at it, this cover will be controlled with hand gestures, thanks to some innovative riding gear.
The coat displayed in the photos is what BMW considers as tomorrow's motorcycle clothing. Made from water-repellent wool, the casual-looking jacket will incorporate very discrete and thin shoulder and elbow protectors, as well as active areas on the sleeves that connect to the bike's electronics, allowing for actions like controlling the storage access panel.
Although the BMW Motorrad Concept Link does appear to be quite ahead of its time, it's neither the self-balancing motorcycle that will render helmets obsolete, nor the shape-shifting autonomous car of the future. Smartphone connectivity is hardly a novelty in our time, already offered as standard in a wide array of two-wheelers, from KTM's Adventure to Kymco's AK 550 scooter, and windshield display is also on the way.
With most of its technology already commercially available, maybe only the clothing tech that BMW proposes sounds too advanced. Instead, what really keeps the Concept Link from becoming a mass-produced reality is its power source. A look at the i3-derived battery pack of the current C Evolution scooter is enough to explain why BMW's latest design can be nothing more than a futuristic concept – at least, as long as decent range remains a popular requirement.
To see more of the Concept Link, check out the following animation.