RideFast August 2019

RobRidefast

South Africa's Best Motorcycle Magazine!

So this is the challenge BMW is recognizing and

taking on with the Vision DC Roadster. That,

and fi nding some way to make the designs

resonate with the brand’s history. And it’s

chosen to do so by recalling the most famous

BMW engine of them all: the boxer.

To get there, the team has wrapped the

battery box in a sandwich-layered frame of

longitudinal aluminium cooling fi ns, and poked

two special extra cooling fans out on the sides

to mimic the famous boxer cylinder heads that

have poked out the sides of so many Beemers

in the past. On the Vision DC Roadster, these

heads tilt outwards when you switch the bike

on – for no other purpose than to let you know

the bike’s ready to rock.

A compact electric motor wraps directly around

the exposed rear drive shaft beneath the battery

area, which goes out to the back wheel on

a lovely looking single-sided swingarm. The

“tank” and subframe form one long piece that

lays over the top, with a beautiful open center

that lets you look down on the cooling fi ns

while placing the adjustment dials for the nicely

hidden rear shock right where you could adjust

them if you had prehensile privates.

The front suspension is a luridly sexy carbon

take on the Duolever forks we’ve seen on so

many BMWs, with a single adjustable shock

unit tucked away behind a vicious-looking

U-shaped slash of a headlight that follows the

“tank” line downward in an aggressive stance.

There are fl uorescent stripes on the sides of the

specially-designed Metzeler 014 tyres and a

nicely detailed, bevelled hub on the left side of

the rear wheel, presumably echoing the design

within that translates the torque 90 degrees

from the shaft to the wheel.

It looks awesome. It really does. This is one of

the better looking electric motorcycles we’ve

ever seen – it’s shamelessly futuristic and daring,

with a design language that speaks to a fast,

aggressive road riding experience. The dash,

the handlebars, that scandalously open tank

joined to the body with carbon structural rods

... Bravo! It even gets its own fancy riding suit,

complete with an “asymmetrical rucksack” fi xed

to the jacket with magnets, of all things.

But there are no power or torque fi gures. There

are likewise no fi gures on the battery size, or

the vehicle’s range. And some of the build

pictures BMW has provided might give us an

insight into why:

Take a look into that gaping, hollow space at the

battery pack within: a small, rectangular box.

It’s tiny. We’d be surprised if the team managed

to get even a 10 kWh capacity in there. In

designing an electric motorcycle that doesn’t

have a whopping big battery box in the middle

of it, from what we can see BMW has simply

ignored the fact that e-motos need every bit of

lithium they can get if they wish to be practical

using today’s battery tech.

So it seems the Vision DC Roadster isn’t

really an attempt to package a huge battery

box in an attractive bike, it’s an attempt

to make a hot electric motorcycle without

bothering to stick a usefully large battery in

there at all. Granted, this is a concept, but the

design looks great because BMW seems to

be pretending the biggest problem in e-moto

design simply doesn’t exist.

And true, maybe someday it won’t, when the

prophecies come true and somebody works

out how to safely stuff 10 times more energy

into a lithium battery than we can currently

achieve, massively boosting energy density

while staying stable in a real-world range

of temperatures, offering high charge and

discharge rates and generally revolutionizing the

electric car, motorcycle and aircraft industries,

while giving us mobile phone batteries that last

for weeks like the Nokias of old used to.

But when that day comes around, everyone

else will be able to make cool looking bikes with

tiny battery packs too.

1: No pretense of

a tank.

2: That’s a heck of

a headlight.

3: Electric motor

wraps around

a shaft sending

drive to the rear

wheel.

4: Nice lightweight

tail piece.

5: Cooling

components on

the sides of the

battery are able to

angle in and out.

RIDEFAST MAGAZINE AUGUST 2019 11

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