BMW Rolls on with Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 Motorcycle Concept

Though 2016 is entering its final stretch, BMW seems far from done with its centennial celebration. Most recently, the company turned the party over to its motorcycle division with the unveiling of the Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 Motorcycle Concept.

Much like the four-wheeled concept car unveiled earlier this year in Europe (the 103EX), the Motorrad creation looks to preview what motorcycles will look like and how they’ll operate as BMW heads into its next 100 years.

Also: AUTOLUST | Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 (Codenamed 103EX)

Obviously, the Motorrad’s future creation is a street bike — a sport-themed speed machine. The rider’s ergonomics are head forward, legs and torso hugging what we would now call the fuel tank. We don’t know what that space might be used for in the decades to come as the assumption is fossil fuels will be left to the dinosaurs that forged them.

While there are echoes of traditional motorcycle design hiding in the concept bike’s lines, the entirety of the frame has the engine, passenger and rear wheel following a front wheel set well out and away from the rest of the machine with an aerodynamic fork. The result is a bike of eye-deceiving length.

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As with the 103EX, BMW’s designers and engineers leave some aspects of the VISION NEXT 100 Motorcycle Concept open for speculation. For example, in its four-wheeled exploration of future design, BMW and Rolls-Royce didn’t specify what manner of engine the 103EX might have. They simply stated it would be zero-emission, causing no pollution of any kind.

The same thinking applies here, but BMW does propose that the “engine” will stay where a traditional power plant sits now. More than 100 years of motorcycle design to this point kept the engine under the rider, and there it should stay. The minds at BMW propose the drive unit will remind us of a traditional combustion engine in appearance, but it will change shape. Parked or at ignition, the engine stays tight to the frame. Once in motion, the engine block would extend out of the sides to optimize aerodynamics and weather protection for the rider.

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Finally, the Motorrad Concept suggests motorcycles of the future will be self-balancing, making kickstands obsolete and eliminating any chance of dumping the bike. The motorcycle will also autocorrect riding errors and avoid hazards, making a helmet unnecessary.

You can expect two schools of thought on such a speculative design. While everyone should be thrilled with the styling, there will be enthusiasts who applaud the possible safety features and critics who grumble about a future in which the human is a mere passenger on a self-driving machine – not the soul in charge of the ride. Since the majority of eyeballs reading these words will dim before anything like this concept hits the road, we’ll leave it to the next generation to decide what’s best.