BMW builds a mass-production ready carbon fibre motorcycle swingarm
BMW Motorrad has just unveiled a carbon fibre swingarm that was developed with the specific aim of making it possible to cost-effectively mass-produce the component – opening the door for a high-end road bike with not only a carbon frame and wheels, but also now a carbon swingarm.
The firm already uses lightweight materials, and extensively carbon fibre, in its car side with the i3 pioneering the use of a carbon frame shell on a mass-produced vehicle. And just last year this technology was transferred over to Motorrad when it appeared on the BMW HP4 Race, which features a carbon frame and wheels. Could this new development pave the way for a BMW road bike using this technology?
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“We opted for chassis components under continuous load since the requirements involved are especially demanding. While car chassis parts are concealed, the visible motorcycle rear swinging arm was ideal for our project since the forces at work are immediately evident,” said Dr. Joachim Starke, who is in charge of funding lightweight composite projects within BMW. “Our production technique uses CFP in the form of high-strength endless fibres where this is required by the stress pattern, while an injection mould part with short CFP recycling fibres is used where the stress levels are not as high. In this way, we developed a cost-efficient design that can be scaled according to requirements by inserting endless fibres with varying levels of strength in the same tool.”
So are BMW likely to use this technology on a future two-wheeled road vehicle? MCN put exactly that question to BMW Motorrad’s Head of Development, Karl-Viktor Schaller, last year when the HP4 Race was unveiled. “Mass production means roughly 200 bikes a day,” he said, “which can theoretically be done by adding a lot of production lines for carbon parts, but that’s a massive investment and so for high volume bikes we don’t see carbon in the near the future. But you always get a sport edition or a limited edition product that you can easily go with a carbon solution, but only for a few thousand units a year.”
It seems that much like Ducati with their Superleggera, BMW see the future of carbon being in limited edition, high-end motorcycles. With the expected arrival of a radically new BMW S1000RR next year, which MCN have already spotted during testing, and the confirmation that the firm can now build a mass-produced carbon frame, swingarm and wheels, could 2019 see the arrival of a BMW S1000RR HP4 Road? Finger’s crossed…