A Glimpse of the Future Through the Lens of the Past
Typically an announcement from everyone’s favorite Bavarian purveyor of motorrader will be heard far and wide. This time however, the hills were silent as BMW unveiled its Vision DC Roadster, a new entry into the electric motorcycle market.
BMW motorcycles are unmistakable in their design. The prominent cylinders of their signature flat twin boxer motor create one of motorcycling’s most recognizable profiles. In 1923, design director Max Friz was presented with a motor that left the rear cylinder prone to overheating. Incorporating a design that moved the cylinders outward and into the windstream proved successful for cooling and the subsequent R32 model debuted the now iconic look.
More than 90 years of company heritage tied to that very component had to be reimagined for the zero emissions combination of electric motor and battery. How could the Vision DC Roadster remain recognizable as a BMW motorcycle while replacing one of it’s more identifiable components?
Something Borrowed, Something Glowing
Borrowing a page from Friz’ playbook, the Vision DC Roadster’s dynamic outward cooling elements maximize airflow to cooling ribs and integrated ventilators. Completing the visual, a cylinder-shaped electric motor that resides below the battery system incorporates a reimagined version of the perineal shaft drive.
The profile features a streetfighter style with a low front and short, high rear. A flat, finely-wrought tubular structure spans where the tank would reside and integrates a high seat. The chassis is dominated by a large battery, housed in machined aluminum and angled slightly along with the cooling elements to create a visually dynamic movement. The cooling elements move out slightly when the motor is started.
In a nod to models of the past, the color concept is dark with an exposed universal shaft and Duolever fork. White lines accent familiar triangular frame features, which just so happen fluoresce in darkness. The hallmark lighting design is instantly recognizable as a BMW motorcycle whether day or night. A U-shaped daytime running light sits low while two LED lenses make up the high and low beam. The taillights are integrated into the aluminum carrier forming a C-shape. Special Metzler tires utilize five fluorescent elements, each about the size of a postage stamp to convey dynamics in motion while increasing visibility for added safety in dark conditions.
BMW Motorrad doesn’t expect its riders to show up to the future in the same old riding gear, no sir. An all-new two-piece suit provides protection while integrating light functions and connectivity. It consists of a light jacket with iridescent coloring and black pants featuring invisibly sewn-in protectors. While not everyone may be looking for a “modern, emotional fashion statement,” perhaps the integrated rucksack, which attaches via a magnet, will tip the scales.
What are the chances we’ll see a Vision DC Roadster in the US? They may be one in a million, but as the great Lloyd Christmas once asked—“So you’re saying there’s a chance?”