After A Century of Motorcycling

The Future Starts Now

The Scooter Solution

BMW Anticipates a Crowded Future
BMW tells us more than 50 percent of the world’s population already lives in cities, and that fgure is anticipated to rise as high as 70 percent over the next 25 years. Urban crowding, increasing trafc density, rising energy costs and more stringent emissions regulations will all drive demand for scooters, making the so-called “Urban Mobility” category the most important segment of the motorcycle industry in coming years. BMW’s newly-released C-series scooters can handle both urban riding and a typical high-speed, longer-distance suburban commute. With automatic transmissions and lower, more inviting architecture, however, there is also less of the perceived danger that’s often attached to motorcycles. BMW hopes this unique combination of attributes will encourage more drivers to park their automobiles and set out on two wheels.

BMW has also revealed a zero-emissions electric scooter prototype called the Concept E. With outright bans on petrol-powered scooters and motorcycles in parts of Beijing and other polluted Asian cities, BMW sees clean vehicle technology as a priority for the future.

The Four-Wheeled Superbike

Yamaha’s Tilting Tesseract Concept
WORDS: Ben Purvis
Yamaha’s radical Tesseract—a leaning, fourwheeled superbike revealed in 2007—is still undergoing development, and recent patent documents suggest the Japanese frm is serious about bring this envelope-pushing concept into production. Te latest design shares the Tesseract’s basic concept, combining a bikelike riding experience with the security of four wheels, but uses completely diferent technology to achieve that goal. Unlike the original Tesseract, which added stability by placing the paired wheels at both ends some distance apart, the new Yamaha has been designed to keep the wheels as close together as possible, retaining the narrow overall width of a conventional bike.

All four wheels move independently, so even at extreme lean angles all the tyres are firmly planted on the ground. Although the appearance might be unusual, the design is intended to keep the riding experience as familiar as possible. If it’s aimed at motorcyclists, rather than the undefned and entirely new audience that the Tesseract seemed designed to appeal to, that additional familiarity is likely a boon rather than a hindrance.

What About Hybrids?

The Best of Both Worlds?
WORDS: Ben Purvis
Hybrid automobiles combine the cleanliness of an electric vehicle with the convenience of gas power, but the added complexity and expense has prevented hybrid technology being applied to production motorcycles. Even so, Honda and Yamaha have been experimenting with hybrids.

Honda has fled multiple patents showing a parallel twin similar to the NC700 engine—already its most fuel-efcient engine—with a regen-enabled electric motor added to boost range or provide additional torque to increase the bike’s performance. Another newly fled document also shows a hybrid Goldwing, using an ingenious, hub-mounted electric motor to assist its ICE counterpart.

Yamaha appears to be developing an all-new hybrid machine based on the envelope-pushing Gen-Ryu concept from 2005 (shown) using a small, single-cylinder gas engine to turn a generator that powers an electric motor and recharges the batteries. Te resulting efciency is that of a smalldisplacement single but with performance of a much more powerful bike.

Same As It Ever Was

Chris Hunter, Owner/Editor,
It’s tempting to conjure images of levitating machines and whisperquiet electric marvels, but I think the machines of 2062 will bear a strong resemblance to those we ride today. Fifty years ago people were riding Triumph Bonnevilles, BSA Gold Stars and Harley Ironhead Sportsters. They’re essentially the same as today’s bikes: the same engine technology, the same basic components in the same locations, and similar frames.

There have been gradual improvements in engine effciency, component design and frame materials, but it’s an evolution. Clever marketing has made these incremental improvements seem signifcant. We’ll see more gradual improvements, with increasing focus on electronic control. But the bikes themselves will look and feel largely the same. Motor-cycling’s simpler pleasures will be stronger than ever.

Electric Avenue

Scot Harden, VP of Marketing, Zero Motorcycles
Electric motorcycles will become a major player in the motorcycle market. The technology is already relevant, and the improvements we over the next 50 years will be astounding. Energy costs, non-existent powertrain maintenance, low emissions, and the way the rider interfaces with the machine—and fellow enthusiasts—through personal communications devices all favor electric motorcycles. As technology improves, electric bikes will go farther, faster, and, most importantly, be more fun to ride than traditional motorcycles.

Stuff Happens

James Parker, Industrial Designer, Radd Technologies
The motorcycle industry is built on three foundations: ideas, money, and “stuff.” Ideas and money are selfexplanatory. Stuff is everything from infrastructure to raw materials to the material we get most of our energy from: petroleum. For the frst 100 years, motorcycling thrived on plenty of ideas, money, and oil. There will always be good ideas, but will there be enough money and stuff to support them? It’s likely that we’ll see shortages and diffculties we’re not used to. Motorcycles may have to be adapted to conditions that are currently hard to imagine.

Third World Rising

Gary Gray, Director of Motorcycle Product
Planning, Polaris/Indian/Victory
When we think about motorcycles today we think about Japanese sportbikes, American cruisers, and European adventure-tourers. Fifty years from now, trends will be dictated by India, China, and Brazil, where more than 25 million motorcycles are already sold each year. As those economies mature, the motorcycles they ride will change from economical transportation to larger-displacement, recreational machines. By virtue of the sheer size of their markets, they will dictate industry trends.

It’s The [Fuel] Economy, Stupid

Derek Brooks, Motorcycle Product Planning Manager, Yamaha Motor Corp. USA
The future of motorcycles? Soon Yamaha’s hover-cycle will break cover, and dominate all forms of motorcycling, especially Supercross. All kidding aside, I would like to see more people recognize the beneft of parking their car in favor of riding a motorcycle that gets 40-50 mpg, or a scooter that gets 130 mpg. So much attention is paid to hybrid and high-mileage internalcombustion autos, many of which get worse mileage than any $8000 motorcycle.

Streamlined Tomorrow

Craig Vetter, Inventor, Designer, Manufacturer
Western civilization has become dependent upon cheap and abundant energy. We like acceleration. We like speed. We like power. But there is a very real possibility that fuel will become a precious commodity in the next 50 years.

In the current Vetter Fuel Economy Challenges, we have learned that a streamlined motorcycle producing around 24 horsepower will allow a gallon of fuel to take us more than 100 miles at any speed legal in America. Less horsepower and we cannot maintain the posted speeds; more and we are wasting fuel. If energy ever becomes precious, this is how motorcycles will look.

Streamlined motorcycles are more practical too. You can sit up comfortably and still be protected from the wind and elements. You can carry four bags of groceries and it's more visible in traffc, so it’s safer, too. The best part is, you can build the bike of the future yourself, today.

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