The two-cylinder boxer engine has been part of BMW Motorrad’s DNA since day one.

But, 90 years later, it’s time to move on and Motorrad’s latest concept, Vision DC Roadster, dispenses with the boxer engine.

In its place is an electric motor.

High-tech materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium reduce the overall weight and give the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster a technical aesthetic.

Contrasting red  elements and brushed aluminium at selected points such as the battery, frame and cool systems — emphasise the bike’s innovative geometry.

Head of Design at BMW Motorrad, Edgar Heinrich, said BMW Motorrad stands for visionary zero-emissions vehicle concepts, too.

“In view of this, one question that arises is: what would happen if we were to replace the boxer engine with an electric motor and the required battery?” he said.

“The Vision Bike shows how we’re able to retain the identity and iconic appearance of BMW Motorrad in distinctive form while at the same time presenting an exciting new type of riding pleasure.”

“After all: anyone who’s ever tried it out in practice knows very well that riding on two wheels is just as exciting when its electrically powered!

“The high level of torque right at set-off makes for breath-taking acceleration. This almost brutal power delivery creates a whole new experience of dynamic performance. And the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster puts a face to this experience.”

Electrical drive components have completely different requirements in terms of installation space.

While in a conventional motorbike the size of the engine is mainly determined by its capacity, it is the battery that takes up most space in the case of an electrically powered vehicle.

Replacing what would previously have been the engine, there is now a vertically fitted, longitudinally oriented battery.

For cooling purposes, two side elements protrude with cooling ribs and integrated ventilators.

As in the boxer engine of the BMW R 32 – the development of which was masterminded by Max Friz in 1923 – the cooling elements are placed in the air stream.

The cylinder-shaped electric motor is positioned underneath the battery and is directly connected to the universal shaft.

In this way the clever drive architecture that visually echoes the history of BMW Motorrad while at the same time taking it a step further.

BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster is a visionary symbol of the future of BMW Motorrad with alternative drive forms.

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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