No helmet, no need to worry about road hazards, and a bionic suit instead of a leather jacket — that’s how BMW imagines the motorcycle of 2116. This week the company released the concept for its BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 (100 as in the years it will take to actually launch), a self-balancing motorcycle designed to provide a classic ride experience for the increasingly driverless world.
“When we develop a motorcycle, we are usually thinking around five to ten years in the future,” said Edgar Heinrich, head of design for the Motorrad. “So taking a look further into the future was especially exciting for us and highly appealing.”
The Vision Next 100 joins a quickly growing class of self-balancing motorcycles that remain stable both in movement and while still without any user effort. While BMW has been vague with its futuristic concept, like other self-balancing vehicles it will rely on gyroscropes that work to continuously stabilize the vehicle. The technology makes the motorcycle more agile and safe, “intensifying” experiences for both advanced riders and beginners.
The most interesting feature of the motorcycle by far is something an operating system that BMW calls a “digital companion.” The system comes in the form of augmented reality glasses that collect data from the rider’s field of vision and communicates it to the motorcycle for a safer ride. The glasses will also alert the rider to hazards and provide the rider with feedback for a smoother ride. Essentially, the new technology takes all the guess work out of how to approach curves and angles of a road. No more helmets needed.
The emissions-free vehicle isn’t all futurism. The black triangle frame harkens back BMW’s first bike, the R32, which made its debut in 1923:
A sleek, minimalist design highlights a black carbon body and red fixtures below the seat serve as tail and turn lights. The motorcycle’s tires adapt to the terrain using a damping technology and the handlebar comes with a throttle grip. The front wheel is shielded with a large metallic reflector that optimizes the bike’s aerodynamics.
Unlike any motorcycles on the market now, the Vision 100’s frame width will flex to align with changes of the wheel and the horizontal engine will be able to shapeshift with movement. While BMW might have been looking to the Batmobile for inspiration for its Titan vaporware motorcycle, the Vision 100 feels straight out of Tron:
“It was important to us that the analogue riding experience would remain undisturbed. The display and operating concept acts so discreetly that it creates a natural and familiar movement,” said Holger Hampf, head of design and customer experience, at the BMW Group.
The company is also working on a “bionic suit” that will vibrate to alert riders to nearby objects and hazards.
While you’ll probably be dead before the Motorrad Vision 100 comes out, there are already a number of self-balancing motorcycles ready to take over the market, such as the one being produced by Lit Motors, which was rumored to be in acquisition talks with Apple. At any rate, don’t throw out your helmet just yet.