BMW Roadster concept shows the future

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When they unveiled their new Concept Roadster last week, BMW gave us a glimpse of the future. Hint: It’s liquid-cooled.

When the R nine T was unveiled last fall, there was a sigh of relief amongst BMW’s airhead and oilhead fans. Sure, the big R 1200 GS might have moved towards liquid cooling, but at least there was still one bike in the lineup that relied on air cooling (sort of – technically, the R nine T is oil-cooled). And the bike looked pretty cool, too. Could the future really be a friendly place?

It seems, with a cursory glance at the new Concept Roadster, that BMW might be sending a message: Get used to liquid cooling, because it’s here to stay. The Concept Roadster pushes many of the same buttons as the R nine T – it’s a stripped down street bike with styling partly lifted from the cafe racer movement – but it’s powered by the liquid-cooled motor first used in the R 1200 GS.

Aside from the interesting choice to use their new liquid-cooled boxer motor, the other notable thing about the new concept bike is the styling itself: BMW’s naked bikes have had a bit of a rep for ugly lines over the past few years, with so many strange-looking molded plastic bits that some of the machines appear to have escaped a nuclear plant meltdown with their DNA not quite intact.

Not so with the Concept Roadster! This machine harkens back to the happy, early days of the Euro streetfighter movement, when the whole point of the machine was to pull the plastic off (see: Pre-2011 Speed Triple). Sure, there is some extraneous bodywork bolted around the machine, and that headlight looks like something from a Transformers movie, but this bike is a step in a positive direction especially when you consider much of that bodywork isn’t plastic.

BMW’s promo material emphasize the bike’s metallic character – their press site makes a point of detailing the bike’s tail section (apparently with aluminum bodywork, not plastic), and listing other milled aluminum bits. The air intake ducts, the tank cover – they’re made of metal.

Keeping with the theme of keeping it real, the seat’s made of leather, not vinyl. Seems the chaps in Germany have decided to move away from the disposable-feeling bikes that most manufacturers have been cranking out lately, and intend to offer up a machine with old-school solidity, even if it has a new-school motor. Sounds good to us – although there’s no word on when the machine could possibly make it to market. Although, with Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension, and all that metal bodywork, you know it won’t be cheap.


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