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Car and Motorcycle Companies Now Making Electric Bikes

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Lee Iacocca with his electric bike in 1998. It had a lead-acid battery with a 15-mile range and a top speed of 15 miles an hour.

by Roy Furchgott from https://www.nytimes.com

They see branding opportunities as the pandemic and a desire by cities to curb traffic propel e-bike sales to new heights.

The transportation industry has seen the future, and the future is 1895.

That was the year Ogden Bolton Jr. of Canton, Ohio, was awarded U.S. Patent 552,271 for an “electrical bicycle.” A century and change later, electric bikes have gained new currency as car and motorcycle companies like Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Yamaha have horned into the market with their own designs.

While the pandemic has accelerated bike sales, the overriding attraction is that cities worldwide are beginning to restrict motor traffic. These companies are betting that e-bikes are the urban vehicles of tomorrow — or at least vehicles for good publicity today.

“In the past 12 to 18 months, you have seen a lot of new brands come into the market,” said Andrew Engelmann, an e-bike sales and marketing manager at Yamaha, which has been in the electric bike business since 1993 and claims sales of two million worldwide. “We in the U.S. have not seen this new energy toward cycling since Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France.”

Credit the coronavirus pandemic, which has ignited bike sales of all stripes, but none so much as e-bikes. While retail unit sales of bicycles from January to October last year were up 46 percent from a year earlier, electric bikes were up 140 percent. Measured in dollars, regular bikes were up 67 percent and e-bikes 158 percent — so don’t expect a discount. Those numbers, from the market researchers at NPD, do not include online-only retailers such as Rad Power Bikes, so sales may actually be higher still.

Ogden Bolton aside, there is a historical connection between bicycles and motorcycles. Many early motorcycles came from bicycle makers that simply clapped a motor on a bike, often retaining the pedals in the style of a moped.

The automotive industry’s bicycle connection is more recent, with the likes of Malcolm Bricklin and Lee Iacocca introducing electric bikes in the ’90s. Both flopped. Mr. Iacocca’s design, typical for the time, was hampered by a lead-acid battery with a 15-mile range and a top speed of 15 miles an hour. Many car companies, including Ford, Audi, Maserati and BMW, have gotten into and out of e-bikes since.

“No car company has had any success selling an electric bicycle,” said Don DiCostanzo, chief executive of Pedego Electric Bikes, who in 2014 licensed a bike design to Ford. “It’s fool’s gold. It can never replace the profit on a car.”

Yet car and motorcycle makers are being drawn in. “I think they are seeing a lot of the same opportunity we see,” said Ian Kenny, who leads the e-bike effort at the bicycle company Specialized. “But I think there is a very big difference between demonstrating you can do something and doing something very well at scale.”

However, changes in the way people get about, especially in Europe and Asia, are enticing motor vehicle companies that operate internationally. Overseas, in cities that manage pollution and overcrowded streets by restricting motor traffic, e-bikes often fill a gap.

“In Europe, the e-bike is more of a fundamental transportation tool,” said Dirk Sorenson, an analyst for NPD. London, Madrid, Oslo and Paris are among the growing number of cities restricting downtown traffic.

The pandemic has American cities testing similar restrictions. Boston, Minneapolis and a number of California cities have instituted Slow Streets programs, restricting motor traffic on side streets in favor of cycling and walking. It even has UPS, Amazon and DHL trying out e-cargo bikes in New York.

“There is a huge opportunity for e-bikes in the U.S., which is a huge untapped market,” said Rasheq Zarif, a mobility technology expert for the consulting firm Deloitte.

Some companies are preparing now for the possibility that “micromobility,” as the buzzword has it, will catch on here.

“Let’s imagine Harley-Davison is not a motorcycle company but a mobility company,” said Aaron Frank, brand director for Serial 1, which builds an e-bike in partnership with Harley. “There is a strong argument we can do for urban commuters what Harley-Davison did for motorcycles.”

Other companies see e-bikes as a gateway to sell their primary products. Though best known for its motorcycles, Ducati North America wants e-bikes to “potentially turn people on to Ducati,” its chief executive, Jason Chinnock, said. “And we’ve seen that with people at some events and with the media reaching out.”

E-bikes may be more expensive than bicycles, but are cheaper than cars or motorcycles. And improved motor and battery technology is bringing prices down. Low-priced e-bikes with a motor in the wheel hub — similar to that 1895 design — can be had for about $1,000. Prices for versions with more complex, geared motors at the pedals can reach more than $10,000.

“Spending $1,000 on a bike seems out there,” Mr. Kenny said, “but when you don’t look at it as a toy — when it becomes transportation — it becomes a very different conversation.”

Price isn’t the only hurdle. E-bikes confront a crippling hodgepodge of laws. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission deemed “low speed” e-bikes (with a motor equivalent to 1 horsepower or less) a bicycle, states still decide where that bike can be ridden.

“It’s up to 50 states to define the use, and that’s been a big problem in the past,” said Claudia Wasko, general manager of Bosch eBike, a prominent manufacturer of drive systems.

The PeopleForBikes coalition drafted model state legislation to allow most e-bikes in bike lanes and parks. It suggests three classes of e-bike, with a top speed between 20 and 28 m.p.h. Twenty-eight states have adopted some version of the legislation.

Some companies may be less concerned with the future of mobility and more interested in getting some attention now.

“I think it’s a halo thing,” said Mr. DiCostanzo, whose company has produced e-bikes for Tommy Bahama, Ford and others. Halo vehicles represent a brand’s aspirations, like concept cars.

“I think that’s what it is for Ford,” he added. “They wanted it for window dressing, and that’s what they got. I think they sold 500 in the five years it ran.”

Mercedes, which is taking orders for its top-of-the-line Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team V11 e-bike at $12,000, said it was a chance to showcase its ability with high-tech materials from carbon fiber to paint.

“High-performance road bikes and e-bikes provide a great way to showcase such technologies into a range of consumer products,” said Damian Cook, a spokesman.

For some in the bicycle industry this all smacks of déjà vu. In the 1970s, a bike boom was thought to presage a new future for transportation in which cycling was central. But it failed. Though there were many contributing factors, roads weren’t made more bicycle-friendly and people didn’t want to arrive at work sweaty.

With the combination of Slow Streets programs, which address the first problem, electric bikes, which address the second, and a pandemic that has given people a chance to adjust to both, experts like Mr. Zarif find hope.

“When you give people a chance to try something, it reduces resistance to change,” he said. “As a society, the reality is we go forward — we don’t go backward.”

BMW Motorcycles the First to Use Bosch’s New Integrated Split Screen Display

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Providing motorcycle riders with the same level of infotainment technology already available for drivers has proven to be quite a challenge. Because of the particularities of two-wheeled motoring, technologies that have been available in cars for some time now are just beginning to be adopted.

Take for instance Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which have been brought as standard to the range of bikes just this year by two of the biggest names of the industry, Harley-Davidson and Indian. And this sluggishness applies to hardware as well.

In a move that is certain to cause a stir, parts supplier Bosch announced at the beginning of the month the launch of its (and the world’s) first integrated split screen for motorcycles, but also a smartphone integration solution called mySPIN.

The screen is a TFT 10.25-inch in size that can simultaneously display relevant vehicle information, and smartphone apps content like navigation. According to Bosch, BMW motorcycles (we are not being told which ones) will be the first to use them this year (also, unclear when will BMW have time to integrate it in its bikes in the little time left until the end of 2020).

As for the mySPIN app, it was designed to work with both the split screen and the usual ones. Ducati, for instance, will deploy it together with a new 6.5-inch display without the split-screen option, and Kawasaki will follow, although we’re not told with what screen it will use.

mySPIN has been around for about two years now in the watersports segment, but now expands to motorcycles to provide “smartphone content in an integrated and easy way while riding their bike.” Using it, riders get access to a community, Dash Radio, Genius Maps and Sygic, among others.

“Our clusters in combination with mySPIN offer a new riding experience with more safety and convenience for motorcycle riders. For us, this is the next step in terms of connectivity for motorcycles,” says Geoff Liersch, President of the Two-Wheeler & Powersports unit at Bosch.

Hot New BMW Roadster Motorcycles Coming

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

There are presently four roadster motorcycles in BMW Motorrad’s lineup for the U.S. market: the R 1250 R, the S 1000 R, the F 900 R, and the G 310 R. As of later this week, that number will grow, as the Bavarians are getting ready to present two new models in the range.

The announcement was made with just a couple of days left before the unveiling is set to take place. The Germans will be showing the two new bikes on their Youtube and Facebook channels on Thursday, November 19, starting at 4.00 pm CEST.

We are also promised “exciting guests,” but more importantly the launch of the configurator for the two new models as soon as the presentation concludes. Naturally, we’ll be covering the story as soon as the info and photos for the bikes are released, so check back here for more later in the week.

Despite all the things going on in the world, BMW has been very active in 2020 on the motorcycle front, a sign that in the coming years it will focus more on this industry.

The biggest reveal of the year for the Germans was the R 18, the first entry in the cruiser segment since the R1200 RC (and a direct jab at Harley-Davidson), but also a bike powered by the “most powerful 2-cylinder boxer engine ever used in motorcycle series production.”

More recently, we’ve been given a preview at the bike maker’s plans for the electrified scooter segment, with the presentation of the near-production version of the Concept Link. Called Definition CE 04, the electric two-wheeler is supposed to revolutionize the segment through a series of technological advancements, including the use of the largest display in the scooter world, a 10.25-inch unit.

Given how extreme these two premieres of 2020 have been, we expect BMW to up the stakes in the roadster segment as well as soon as the new models are unveiled.

BMW and Bosch will debut a massive 10.25-inch motorcycle dashboard in 2021

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by Kyle Hyatt from https://www.cnet.com

The screen will also be the first to offer split-screen functionality for your phone.

BMW’s big screen will split your bike’s dash between phone and bike info.

We recently covered BMW Motorrad’s totally cyberpunk and totally excellent CE04 scooter concept, and one of that vehicle’s coolest features was a 10.25-inch information screen for the rider. A screen that size is pretty big in a car, and on a motorcycle or scooter, it’d be gargantuan, but that’s not going to stop the Germans.

See, BMW is planning on adding that 10.25-inch screen to some of its motorcycles in 2021, according to an announcement made Thursday by Tier 1 supplier Bosch. And it gets more interesting than that because this screen is the first motorcycle TFT that can do split-screen. By that I mean you can have your motorcycle’s dash information on one side and your phone’s info on the other.

The screen can do this magic trick thanks to a piece of software for your phone called from Bosch called MySpin, and while the big screen is going to hit BMW first, Bosch also confirms that both Ducati and Kawasaki have MySpin-based apps of their own in the works, though those are meant to work with existing 6.5-inch screens.

The big problem with that much smartphone integration is the possibility of distraction for the rider, which is dangerous in a car, borderline suicidal on a motorcycle. Bosch believes it’s nailed down a way to bring smartphone integration to a motorcycle dash without that risk. Based on what we can tell, it involves limiting access to only motorcycle-specific apps like Rever (which is excellent and something I use personally).

The push toward TFT LCD dashes on motorcycles has been going on for a few years now, and it’s exciting to see screens get bigger, better and more functional. We’d like to see more of these screens become touchscreens too — like on our long-term Indian FTR1200 — but it remains to be seen if that will be the case with the big Bosch unit.

Futuristic Electric Scooter from BMW

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Back in 2017, BMW’s motorcycle company Motorrad did the unthinkable and presented not only a scooter, but an electric one. It was called Concept Link, and, it seems, the contraption is about to spawn a production version: it’s called, for now, Definition CE 04, and was shown as part of BMW’s #NEXTGen 2020 event this week.

BMW calls the two-wheeler you see in the gallery above a “near-series” version of the Concept Link. It’s not all that different, visually speaking, from the idea that led to its creation, and that’s a good thing because the first one looked really cool.

The Germans set out to seriously differentiate their product from everything else in the segment. And they kind of achieved that, as the scooter does look a lot more futuristic and high-tech than everything else out there. It’s perhaps even cooler than most of the motorcycles Motorrad is responsible and so famous for.

The two-wheeler is supposed to be high tech. It sports a massive 10.25-inch display – the largest in the scooter world – and it even comes with smart rider equipment. That translates into stuff like light guides integrated in the sleeves and hood, or inductive charging tech in the pocket of a parka for the smartphone’s needs.

“We have managed to transfer many innovative elements and details of the concept into the series,” said in a statement Alexander Buckan, Head of Vehicle Design BMW Motorrad.

“The new architecture has led to a visual revolution and has produced many new design themes. Maybe it will polarise, but it will definitely stand out.”

Of course, it all sounds way too good to be real, at least at this point in time. And BMW, despite claiming this scooter and the accompanying tech are near-series version, there is no mention as to when we should expect to actually see it on the road.

Also, we have no info yet on the powertrain for the thing, apart from the fact that it would be electric.


Turn your BMW adventure scooter into an art deco masterpiece

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by Kyle Hyatt from https://www.cnet.com

NMoto is working on its Golden Age kit to transform the BMW C400x scooter into a prewar work of art.

So, here’s the thing. Most scooters aren’t very cool. Vespas get a pass, obviously. So too does the Honda Ruckus, because it’s weird and utilitarian. A Quadrophenia-cosplay-type Lambretta would also have my respect, but anything else? It’s going to be a tough sell.

Take the BMW C400x, for example. Is there anything particularly wrong or weird about it? Nope. It’s reasonable and affordable motorized transportation, of which, frankly, I’m a fan. I just can’t get over the inherent not-motorcycle-ness of it, though, which is why a concept from a company in Florida called NMoto has my stoke level pegged.

The kit was debuted recently and is called “Golden Age,” and as you can see from the images, it takes the humble C400x and transforms it into a piece of art deco alternate-history brilliance. How does it do that? Well, the kit hasn’t made its official debut yet, but we suspect that it will involve a not-insubstantial chunk of money and a similarly weighty piece of your time, but the results look worth it.

I like the Golden Age’s bubble fenders and round headlight pod, but I absolutely love the narrow prewar BMW kidney grilles on the front. The whole thing is executed way better than it has any right to be.

If you’re curious about the C400x on which this concept is based, it’s got a 350-cc engine that makes a claimed 34 horsepower and 26 pound-feet of torque. That energy is routed through a CVT transmission, which is pretty standard fare for a scooter. The thing also has plenty of storage, a big gas tank and a nice, relaxed riding position, again, because: scooter. Finally, BMW charges $6,795 for it, making it expensive as scooters go but cheap compared to a car or most European motorcycles.

NMoto says that the design work is done, but that it’s still in the prototype phase and expects to give the Golden Age its debut sometime in the spring of 2020. That should give me plenty of time to start shopping for gear that will make me look more like the titular character from Disney’s The Rocketeer.

BMW S1000XR review: Genuine all-rounder with sportsbike-like performance

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by Fraser Addecott from https://www.mirror.co.uk

German firm’s adventure bike ticks all the right boxes in all the right categories.

BMW Motorrad positions the S1000XR in its range of “adventure” models, but, in truth, it should be in the “all-rounder” category – if there was one.

In fact, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what sort of bike this is – but only in a good way.

That’s because it offers sportsbike performance, adventure-bike styling and road presence, and tourer comfort and technical features.

It’s a great-looking bike, with sleek lines and a wave-like curve to the silhouette.

There’s a choice of three colourways and the paint quality is excellent.

On board, the seat is nicely cupped and not too wide, nor too high, which means you can confidently plant both boots on the tarmac.

Nevertheless, the ride position feels high and commanding, but extremely comfortable at the same time, with wide, upswept bars.

It fitted me perfectly and I felt I could ride all day.

The large TFT dash is clear and easy to use, and indicates which of the four ride modes you have selected – Rain, Rode, Dynamic or Dynamic Pro.

Each of these adjusts the throttle response and the amount of torque in the lower gears.

There’s also cornering ABS and traction control.

Start up and the engine let’s you know it’s credentials with a sound that’s more sportsbike than adventure.

On the road, the adjustable screen and fairing do a fine job of protecting you from the wind, and the mirrors offer a clear view past your elbows.

This engine is a real beauty.

It has all the power and torque of the superb S1000RR, but delivered in a more refined and manageable way.

The upper gears are long and the torque is smooth and power-delivery linear.

But don’t underestimate it. The acceleration if you open it up is awesome and you’ll be thankful for the (adjustable) wheelie control.

Suspension is via BMW’s D-ESA system which electronically adjusts the forks according to the conditions and has selectable rear spring-load setting for the monoshock.

There is also an upgraded D-ESA Pro, which offers a stiffer Dynamic damping mode and instead of the preload settings, has an automatic function to adjust the shock according to the load.

Through the bends, the S1000XR is an absolute joy.

It’s light and flickable, but also super sure-footed and confidence inspiring.

Braking, with 320mm front discs and four-pot calipers is extraordinarily powerful yet sensitive.

The superb D-ESA means you can brake quite hard into corners with no fork dive – and no rebound as you ease off and accelerate out.

As with all BMWs these days, there is a large range of configurations and optional extras available – mine came with separate Sat-Nav and fog lights.

Overall, this is a truly fantastic machine. The consummate allrounder.

BMW raises the bar with new R 1250 RT

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from https://citizen.co.za

Latest reincarnation of tourer lives up to its RT moniker in every sense of the word.

For decades, BMW Motorrad’s RT moniker has been synonymous in the world of dynamic as well as touring motorcycles. To ensure that this continues, Munich has introduced a number of changes to the R 1250 RT, it says has resulted in “even greater riding pleasure and touring enjoyment at the very highest level”.

As before, the two-cylinder boxer engine continues with its displacement being unchanged at 1 254 cc and output at 100 kW. Equipped with ShiftCam technology though, BMW claims that overall running is smoother and power delivery improved. For the first time, an Eco mode has been added to the Dynamic Traction Control system, with another new addition being the ABS Pro braking system, which has however been adapted specifically for the R 1250 RT.

On the comfort side, an LED headlight with swivel function stars with buyers having the option of upgrading to the full adaptive setup. Also included is a 10.25-inch colour TFT instrument cluster with navigation, smartphone pairing and Bluetooth, plus an upgraded sound system, a new front fairing and three bespoke variants; Elegance, Sport and Option 719. The upgraded R 1250 RT will be available in South Africa from the second quarter of next year.

The Sexiest Bespoke BMW R75/5

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by Silvian Secara from https://www.autoevolution.com

The gurus over at Cognito Moto go about their daily business in Richmond, Virginia. Ever since its foundation in 2012, the enterprise amassed a plethora of aftermarket components built in-house, such as gauges, subframe kits and even wheels. Besides developing some of the juiciest modules on the market, Cognito’s surgeons also specialize in the magnificent art of motorcycle customization.

For a clear demonstration of this crew’s surreal abilities, let’s take a second to analyze one of their drool-worthy undertakings. This gorgeous piece of machinery is based on a 1971 model in BMW Motorrad’s R75/5 lineup and the building process was completed back in 2019. Honestly, this sexy beast is a showstopper in the truest sense of the word!

Cognito kicked things off by transplanting a BMW R nineT’s forks onto their bespoke entity and installing new triple clamps to accommodate these items. They proceeded to equip an assortment of aftermarket parts, such as Renthal handlebars and an LED headlight gripped by Motodemic brackets, as well as a fresh front fender shaped by Meyerbuilt Metalworks and a plethora of electrical units from Motogadget’s inventory. These include a Chronoclassic gauge, M-Blaze turn signals and an M-unit Blue that runs the whole show.

On the other hand, there’s absolutely no shortage of remarkable upgrades in the performance department, either. R75/5’s four-stroke boxer-twin was treated to a Siebenrock module that increases its displacement all the way up to 1000cc. Additionally, the behemoth received a pair of high-compression pistons and Dell’Orto carburetors with 38 mm (1.5 inches) throttle bodies.

Stopping power is supplied by a selection of top-grade Brembo parts and state-of-the-art brake discs on both ends. As to the bike’s suspension, its front setup is joined by dual Ohlins Street Line shock absorbers at the rear. The stock hoops were removed to make room for a set of laced wheels from Cognito’s very own range. Furthermore, the wheels are enveloped in high-performance Dunlop K180 Flat Track rubber.

To top it all off, they tasked New Church Moto with upholstering a delicious quilted leather saddle and fabricated a custom subframe to support the one-off seat. Lastly, the stainless-steel exhaust headers and mufflers hail from a Triumph Street Twin.

Quite frankly, this has to be one of the prettiest R75/5s that’s ever existed!

New BMW R 1250 RT Comes with Instrument Cluster Map Display

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Over the past few months BMW has been hard at work updating its motorcycle range. Last we heard from the Bavarians we were gifted with the new R 1250 GS family of two, but there’s another important two-wheeler boasting the same engine in need of a refresh: the R 1250 RT.

The Touring bike was refreshed as well for the new model year, and the BMW announced this week the changes are meant to give it a new look, more standard equipment, and several technical upgrades.

The most important part of the motorcycle, its engine, remains largely unchanged. We’re talking about a 1,254 cc 2-cylinder boxer that delivers 136 hp at 7,750 rpm and 143 Nm of torque at 6,250 rpm.

Visually, the biggest change can be seen at the front, where we now get as standard a new full LED headlamp with optional adaptive turning light.

Mechanical upgrades include the availability, as standard, of the BMW Motorrad Full Integral ABS Pro, and Dynamic Traction Control with three riding modes, including a new one called Eco for economical riding.

Most important though is the fact that the R 1250 RT gets a 10.25-inch TFT color screen with integrated map navigation and connectivity. According to BMW, this is the first time a motorcycle has been fitted with a screen that allows maps to be displayed directly in the instrument cluster.

“We have given the R 1250 RT a new look, a comprehensive increase in standard equipment and numerous technical upgrades to achieve a whole new riding experience,” said in a statement Harald Spagl, Project Manager at BMW Motorrad.

“As a dynamic tourer with the incomparable BMW ShiftCam engine, it also has the perfect power unit with impressive power across the entire speed range.”

For now the German carmaker did not say when the new R 1250 RT will become available, and we also have no info on the price.