Photo: Asphalt & Rubber
BMW’s announcement of a hybrid 2WD bike caused quite a flap around April 1, especially when it was announced the whole thing was a prank.
Or was it? Motorcyclist magazine thinks not.
On April 1, several publications picked up a BMW Motorrad news release that announced the company had developed a hybrid 2WD motorcycle, a GS that uses an electric motor to power the front wheel.
Such a thing is not outside the realm of possibility; aftermarket manufacturer Wunderlich actually built a motorcycle along these lines a couple years back. However, the timing of the news release, and its wording, seemed off, so we didn’t run the story here on CMG, and several other reputable sites also ignored it, presumably for the same reason. Jensen Beeler and Quentin Wilson even mentioned the BMW hoax on their Two Enthusiasts podcast as the top April Fools prank of 2017.
When CMG investigated, a Canadian BMW spokesperson replied:
“Yes, the R1200GS xDrive Hybrid was definitely an April Fools gag (there were also both BMW and MINI April Fools accessory releases at the same time). I must say, the R1200GS xDrive Hybrid gag release is very well written, and could well sound reasonably authentic to those not intimately familiar with our products and our protocol for publishing legitimate articles on “World Premieres”.
Having said that, the release date alone and statements like “makes riding a motorcycle a pleasure at snow depths of 1.25 metres in high winter” – should have been a dead giveaways.
I am surprised that BMW Blog did not acknowledge the gag, and I do wonder where the writer from newatlas.com “double-checked” his facts – certainly not with anyone in Motorrad Communications. Then again, we now live in the age of “alternate truths” and fake news. Sheesh.
Happily, it does affirm that Germans, after all, do have a sense of humour!”
But, was BMW’s clever prank actually an even more devious ploy to keep a patent secret? Motorcyclist magazine did some digging and author Ben Purvis thinks this is the case.
According to Purvis, BMW has actually filed for patents on a 2WD GS, with the first application going all the way back to 2015. The drawings show a motor that can also be run backwards, to aid in moving the bike around, and possibly even help reverse the bike out of a mudhole.
Purvis’s speculation is that BMW actually helped Wunderlich with the design of the X2 concept bike. Could the April 1 gag actually be a smokescreen? Stay tuned …