Goodbye, helmets. See ya later, fiddly kickstands. Cheerio, protective gear. BMW has come up with a concept for a motorcycle that never falls over.
The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is the fourth and final instalment in BMW’s Vision Next series, a line of futuristic concept vehicles celebrating the 100th anniversary of the luxury manufacturer.
The sci-fi motorcycle is kitted out with a pair of digital training wheels — artificial intelligence that keeps the bike upright at a stop and at high speeds. The self-balancing wheels mean the rider doesn’t need to wear protective gear — even a helmet — because it simply cannot topple over.
The traditional helmet has been replaced by a sleek system called ‘The Visor’, a pair of glasses offering protection across the entire field of vision, which adjust the bike depending on your eye movements.
The digital glasses are accompanied by a system called the ‘Digital Companion’, a kind of motorcycling Siri that provides riding advice and ideas by taking in data from the surroundings, much like the technology that’s being developed for driverless cars.
BMW is collaborating with computer giants Intel on a range of autonomous cars due out in 2021, but they’re not forecasting fully riderless motorcycles anytime soon.
The bike’s other striking feature is a matte black ‘Flexframe’ skin that changes shape with the motion of the handlebar, which provides extra resistance at high speeds for added safety. The triangular black frame is designed to evoke the R32, the first motorcycle BMW ever made in 1923.
But don’t hold your breath for a production schedule — BMW haven’t nominated a power source except to say it won’t be petrol, and the cost and intricacy of producing the Flexframe on a large scale presents an intimidating road block.
“Normally when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think five to 10 years in advance,” BMW Motorrad head of design Edgar Heinrich told the unveiling in California last month. “On this occasion, we looked much further ahead.”