Riding a motorcycle demands confidence, ability and a clear, focussed mind. BMW Motorrad has always worked to make motorcycling safer and consequently more enjoyable, so that all you need to think about is the road ahead.
BMW bikes and rider equipment have always been packed with innovative design, cutting-edge technology and built-in active and passive safety features. Over the years, teams of designers and engineers have worked tirelessly to develop technically advanced solutions aimed at increasing a rider’s safety margin, at the same time as enhancing the BMW riding experience.
BMW Motorrad owners have benefited from the work of these pioneers, for whom second best was never good enough. Their desire to create and offer innovative products that are often unique in their market segment, has meant that generations of BMW motorcyclists have been able to ride further, faster and with higher degrees of comfort and safety than ever before.
Many of the features that we now take for granted on our motorcycles and rider clothing, were in fact conceived by BMW Motorrad employees, working with a desire to make motorcycling safer. Their original thinking and ‘can do’ attitude resulted in a series of ‘firsts’ that have helped shape the kind of bikes and gear we enjoy today.
Imagine a motorcycle without telescopic forks? BMW was the first motorcycle manufacturer to fit them on a production motorcycle, way back in 1935 when the R 12 brought them to the attention of the world. This was after BMW had extensively tried and tested the concept in all kinds of motorsports, from road racing to International Six Days Enduro, proving even back then that ‘racing improves the breed’.
It’s hard to believe that production motorcycles didn’t have full fairings until 1976, until the R 100 RS came along. This was the debut of BMW Motorrad’s first mass-produced bike that offered riders great weather protection, comfort and stability. The same year saw the launch of the first BMW Motorrad helmet, and shortly after this – in 1978 – BMW Motorrad became the first motorcycle manufacturer to launch its own rider clothing collection.
BMW Motorrad’s reputation as a ‘full-service’ safety provider was further enhanced that same year when it began its own rider training operations. Preparing riders step by step for the challenges of motorcycling and developing their skills in a structured manner has always been important to BMW Motorrad. Now, more than three decades later, BMW rider training programmes are operated internationally, teaching motorcyclists worldwide the vital and necessary skills that allow them to become more skilful, confident and – by definition – safer riders.
Heated Grips first made their debut in 1979, extending the riding season for many riders in cooler climates and putting an end to cold fingers for generations of motorcyclists. Now, the latest generation versions have different temperature options and can even be activated by a simple drop in temperature. It’s no good being warm if you’re still wet though, so BMW Motorrad introduced its first waterproof motorcycle suit in 1986, just seven years before it launched another industry first – the first waterproof leather suit – demonstrating to lovers of old-fashioned ‘cowhide’ that you didn’t need to wear textiles to stay dry any more.
In 1988, BMW Motorrad became the first motorcycle manufacturer in the world to introduce an anti-lock braking system. The principle had actually been with us for many decades, as the aeronautical industry used a hydraulically operated and rudimentary system on an aircraft’s landing gear to ensure that aircraft wheels did not lock during heavy braking after high-speed landings.
However, it was BMW Motorrad that believed in the safety qualities of ABS for motorcyclists, knowing only too well the painful consequences of a fall for the rider or passenger. While other manufacturers resisted ABS – allegedly for cost reasons – BMW Motorrad understood that in addition to the obvious safety benefits, motorcycles fitted with ABS would enjoy a better resale value. Furthermore, repairing a motorcycle after a fall could easily cost owners more than fitting the machine with ABS from the start. Since then, BMW Motorrad became the first major manufacturer to introduce ABS across its range and the latest generation systems are a fraction of the weight and light years ahead of their predecessors in terms of technology and function.
Throughout the nineties and into the new millennium, BMW Motorrad has continued to lead the way in motorcycle safety, with a whole host of innovations made for riders and their BMW machines that are almost too numerous to mention. These include the first hazard warning lights on a motorcycle; the first three-dimensionally curved back protector; a Neck Brace System to protect the spinal column; helmets with double-glazed visors to avoid misting; a cockpit temperature display with black ice warning; Tyre Pressure Control; windshields with predetermined breaking points to shatter safely in the event of an accident; the world’s first Electronic Suspension Adjustment system that adjusts damper settings at the touch of a button; Automatic Stability Control to prevent uncontrolled wheelspin; Dynamic Traction Control; adaptive headlight technology that looks around corners; and much more.
Rest assured that this tradition of innovation will continue, as the latest generation of BMW Motorrad technical experts develop solutions dedicated to improving rider safety in the future. Many technical solutions currently in development will find their way onto serial production machines in the years to come because our roads are becoming more congested, and with that comes increased vulnerability for motorcyclists. With its dedicated focus on rider safety, current and future innovations from BMW Motorrad will give the next generations of motorcyclists the best opportunities to enjoy and share our love of two wheels.