Motorcycles

Wunderlich adds electric 2WD system and reverse gear to a standard BMW R1200GS

Wunderlich adds electric 2WD s...
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: can go up to 20kmh on electric power alone
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: can go up to 20kmh on electric power alone
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: should be even more capable in the rough stuff
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: should be even more capable in the rough stuff
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: also pimped out with a bunch of other bits and pieces from the Wunderlich catalogue
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: also pimped out with a bunch of other bits and pieces from the Wunderlich catalogue
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: tank-mounted switches select forward, reverse or neutral drive mode, and also control how much power the front wheel puts out
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: tank-mounted switches select forward, reverse or neutral drive mode, and also control how much power the front wheel puts out
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: battery pack is tucked under the bike's beak
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: battery pack is tucked under the bike's beak
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: 10-horsepower electric hub motor in the front wheel
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: 10-horsepower electric hub motor in the front wheel
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: extra traction when things get loose
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: extra traction when things get loose
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: can go up to 20kmh on electric power alone
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: can go up to 20kmh on electric power alone
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: can reverse at up to 3kmh
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: can reverse at up to 3kmh
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: retrofit kit adds 2-wheel-drive and reverse capabilities to a standard GS
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: retrofit kit adds 2-wheel-drive and reverse capabilities to a standard GS
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: two wheel drive capability should come in very handy on hill climbs
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: two wheel drive capability should come in very handy on hill climbs
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: no weight figures are quoted, but it's likely to be fairly heavy
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Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: no weight figures are quoted, but it's likely to be fairly heavy
View gallery - 11 images

Two-wheel-drive motorcycles have some real advantages, but in the past they've tended to be highly complex systems that require significant re-plumbing of your motorcycle. That's what makes this concept from German Beemer tuners Wunderlich so appealing –using an electric hub motor in the front wheel, it looks like a relatively simple way to add electric 2WD, as well as a handy reverse gear, to a standard BMW R1200GS.

Most people who've tested them agree on the advantages offered by two-wheel-drive motorcycles over regular rear wheel drive bikes, particularly offroad. They're far less likely to get stuck in rocks or bogged in the really loose or sloppy stuff, and they pull harder out of corners. The front end doesn't wash out nearly as much under hard cornering, and the rear wheel doesn't tend to break away nearly as much as usual.

The trouble, of course, is how to get the power to that front wheel. You can't use a chain drive, because the bike needs to turn. So we've seen some interesting solutions – be it Christini's geared drive shaft system that runs down through the forks, or the kooky hydraulic systems that Yamaha and BMW have both flirted with.

Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: battery pack is tucked under the bike's beak
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: battery pack is tucked under the bike's beak

German company Wunderlich, which translates loosely as "whimsical," has thrown another idea into the ring. Known as an aftermarket parts supplier for BMW machines, the Wunderlich team also enjoys making radical concept bikes to demonstrate what can be done with its extensive parts catalogue. And for EICMA 2015, it presented an R1200GS adventure bike kitted out with a hybrid electric 2-wheel-drive system.

The system appears very simple – the front wheel is kitted out with an electric 7.6-kilowatt (10.2 horsepower) hub motor that draws power from a small battery pack that lives under the front beak.

Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: tank-mounted switches select forward, reverse or neutral drive mode, and also control how much power the front wheel puts out
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: tank-mounted switches select forward, reverse or neutral drive mode, and also control how much power the front wheel puts out

The system is hooked up to a sensor in the bike's throttle, and it runs through a switch on the tank that allows you to choose how much power it puts out, and in which direction. Because it runs with the bike's engine turned off, it gives you the capability to accelerate up to 20 km/h (12 mph) under electric front-wheel-drive alone, or to reverse the giant GS at up to 3 km/h, which will be handy if you park it in an awkward spot. We have no idea what happens if you put the front wheel in reverse and the rear wheel in first gear, but we'd sure like to watch. Regenerative braking helps recharge the battery.

Most of the electrics come from Italian company Evolt, but as part of the retrofit, Wunderlich has made its own chassis adjustments to account for the extra weight at the front end.

Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: should be even more capable in the rough stuff
Wunderlich's 2WD BMW R1200GS LC: should be even more capable in the rough stuff

There's no word on the weight penalty for the AWD system – presumably it's a fair bit more than the 15-pound system Christini was selling back in 2007. But that was a race-focused system, where this is an enhancement to an already-heavy adventure machine, and this looks like a much simpler system and one that's easier to fit to an existing bike.

Right now, the R1200GS LC hybrid 2WD system is just a concept and Wunderlich hasn't revealed any plans to put it up for sale. But it looks like a great kit idea to us!

Source: Wunderlich via Asphalt and Rubber

View gallery - 11 images
7 comments
mhpr262
More weight ist just what the 1200 GS needs ...
Jugen
Great idea - wouldn't want to drop it though.
Mirmillion
I have always thought of the GSA 1200 as a "too heavy for real off road" machine that also has a fairly high center of gravity; therefore a quasi-touring bike with few of the comforts of the real thing. Looks very cool though. No one, even, on occasion, an experienced rider, likes picking up something this heavy multiple times (if they can) just because the gravel is a little loose or the trail a little muddy i.e front wheel floats while the rear goes where it wants. This electric hub may change my mind since front drive would be complemented by a little more weight over the front end. No fear of slowing down in the loose stuff or at the base of a questionable hill (although I don't recommend it, people still do it) and then getting stuck a quarter of the way up.
guzmanchinky
As a hard off road rider, I would love to see a dirt bike or light dual sport with a front hub motor and a little battery that could get me out of the occasional really tight spot or deep snow/mud...
RikuKyllönen
After working at a BMW Motorrad dealership for four years, I can say that the 1200 GS has no place in real off-road conditions and the gimmicky Wünderlicht add-ons will do nothing to fix that. The final gear is notoriously unreliable (seen some getting bearing slip or wobble before hitting 30k km). So having a driveshaft instead of a chain is the first problem. Secondly the bike feels like an oil rig even for a tall person like me, tipsy and really unwieldy. That coupled with the fact the plastics and trim are fragile and can't take even a small hit, makes the bike really expensive to ride offroad. The GS should be viewed in the same way as a Range Rover Evoque: you CAN off road it, but it's not meant to seriously do it. And most of the customers never will take it off asphalt and gravel. And when they do, there will most certainly be some expensive repairs to follow.
Sinner
Pretty sure any heavy bike could use this on occasion. I always find a way to get my K1600GTL out but would love a reverse gear and may even appreciate that front wheel drive on the non paved roads of Colorado where I ride most often.
POOL PUMPREAPAIR guy longwood
2WD ? is there a plow attachment available, ya know, so it could be used to plow a small garden ? BMW ha .. OH and nice job on the LEDs looks like they used a soldering gun tip to make the holes. A Off road bike with a pancake motor is just foolish #1