First Look: BMW Concept 6 - Six Appeal

Outrageous Milan Show bike previews BMW's forthcoming luxury tourer

By Aaron Frank, Photography by BMW

At the 2008 Intermot Expo in Cologne, Germany, BMW General Manager Hendrik von Kuenheim told us the company's touring platform would be overhauled after the S1000RR superbike rollout was complete. He said to expect an all-new touring machine with "many cylinders, huge torque and a low seat." Though the touring capability of the Concept 6 shown here won't extend far beyond the local coffeehouse, its production-ready inline-six and chassis will almost certainly form the basis of a new luxury-touring bike to be introduced next year.

Straight sixes have long powered BMW's high-end automobiles, and the configuration's superior power and unmatched smoothness are perfect for long-distance touring applications. Packaging six cylinders between two wheels has proven problematic, but BMW addresses these concerns by incorporating the same compact construction methods as its recent K-series fours. The cylinder block is tilted forward 55 degrees, lowering the center of gravity and making room for electrical components behind that crankshaft, instead of at the ends. A small-bore/long-stroke configuration keeps cylinder gaps to a minimum, resulting in a power train only slightly wider than a conventional large-displacement four, BMW says. Displacement will be no less than 1600cc, and torque output will approach 100 lb.-ft. at just 2000 rpm.

Future-café styling is not production-intent, but chosen to show off the new engine and chassis to maximum effect. Exploiting the café racer's traditional long-front/short-tail silhouette, carbon-fiber and aluminum body panels frame the motor and are accented with gill-like intake ducts that visually reference the triple-outlet side pipes. The chassis recalls the existing K1300 with near-horizontal main spars connecting the Duolever front and Paralever rear suspensions. All this makes us excited about the new touring bike, although the Concept 6 definitely leaves us dreaming of a torqued-up naked bike, too.

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