4 weeks ago

BMW launches Vision Next Concept Link, which is basically a futuristic version of the C Evolution scooter it already sells.

The German marque is betting big on the electric motorcycle as a solution to the future of urban transport. This is the second two-wheeled Vision Next 100 concept of recent times and this one is a scooter with self-levelling technology and a battery pack contained in the floor.

We liked the first one a lot more.

An electric motor feeds power to the rear wheel, but apart from that the scooter looks an awful lot like a current C 650 ad not so dissimilar to the C Evolution electric scooter that has met with a tepid response.

So what’s new and conceptual?

The panels have been restyled to produce a low-drag fairing, the scooter comes with covered wheels that should also contribute to a lower drag coefficient and it comes with a touchscreen rather than instruments and a Heads-Up Display in the windshield.

“The BMW Motorrad Concept Link is not based on today’s concepts, but rather meets the basic functionality needs, the technical architecture and the digital reality of today’s users,” said Head of Design at BMW Motorrad Alexader Buchan

“The technical realities of electric drive – such as the flat energy packs in the underfloor and the compact drive on the rear wheel – allowed us to create a highly distinctive design which shapes a new segment. The resulting expressive power of the vehicle is absolutely new for BMW Motorrad and breaks with all conventional viewing patterns.”

Light Emitting Ceramic headlights point to the future of illumination and the bike loses all the accoutrements of an internal combustion engine. So the engine, exhaust pipe and more have made way for a side-storage compartment.

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Future motorbikes should be much safer

The self-levelling tech is intriguing, as theoretically it should be achievable. In the coming age of connected cars and self-driving technology, too, electric motorbikes should be orders of magnitude safer than the motorbikes of today.

Cars will sense a motorbike, so there shouldn’t be any accidents as a result of not seeing the rider. Self-levelling tech means that riding a motorbike won’t take any great amount of skill, too, and falling off should be a near impossibility. That could convince a lot of people to switch from their cumbersome cars.

Padded clothing that communicates?

BMW has unveiled new riding gear, too, which sounds theoretical in the extreme. The lightweight woolen jacket comes with a thin layer of unspecified protection at the elbows, shoulders and other weak points. It also communicates with the bike, so you can open the storage compartment with a gesture.

Why you’d ever ditch protective leathers in favor of thin wool is another matter, though. If accidents are eradicated completely then that’s one thing, but there’s no sign of that happening any time soon and promoting riding a motorbike in water resistant wool, without a helmet, seems a strange approach right now.

A bike’s small footprint is a big plus

With new safety tech in place, a motorbike’s small footprint means that several can occupy a single lane of traffic. As the majority of journeys take place with a single driver, too, then electric motorcycles could be an answer for the future.

Of course, they could be rendered redundant by electric pods racing round the city and collecting passengers as part of a next-gen ride hailing scheme, which is the way things look to be headed. The major manufacturers are hedging their bets, though, as you’d expect at this stage

So could this be the future of urban mobility? It could, but we wouldn’t bet on it right now. In fact we’re kind of hoping this is actually a sneak preview of the next gen C Evolution.

If this appears in diluted, production form, on the road within a year or two, rather than a decade in the future, then the whole thing will look much more impressive.

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