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BMW boss says electric bikes will create whole new design ethos

Published: 20 December 2018

When BMW unveiled their new S1000RR, one of the biggest shocks was that it had lost the asymmetrical face that came to define the old model; and that shift in styling focus wasn’t an easy decision, according to Edgar Heinrich, BMW Head of Design.

“When we made the first one we didn’t know what to do so we sort of tried everything,” he told MCN. “It was simple then. We wanted to make the best bike we could, which for a race bike is the lightest. Whenever we could find a weight saving we did it, which ended in asymmetric items as the reduction in the high beam reflector saving 150g.”

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For the new bike, though, technology advances meant there was no need for a mix of larger and smaller beam reflectors, making the asymmetrical design redundant.

“For the new bike we worked with LEDs and there’s no need for asymmetry as everything is in one part,” he says. “We always wanted to get rid of the lights, to get them down and out of the front fairing, because a race bike doesn’t have lights.

“We did talk about keeping the old design. We could have made the LED components asymmetric, but it would have been stupid. We don’t do design for the sake of it.”

New S1000RR design was restricted

Other WSB regulations also restricted the S1000RR’s design. Instead, the BMW design guru is more excited about the possibilities of design in the electric bike era as machines become freed from the design shackles of traditional petrol-powered machines.

“If you look at bikes from 50 or 60 years ago, you find hundreds of components that were expertly engineered for tiny little jobs and every bike was different,” he says. “Nowadays everything is streamlined, the parts are all the same: the same forks, wheels etc. It is very sophisticated and fast but it gives a very poor feeling in the gut.

“Electric bikes give us so many new opportunities. We can create a whole new design language. We are already doing really exciting new things, first in urban mobility, and the bikes will follow after that.”

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