November 10, 2009 - BMW today announced the new BMW Motorrad Concept 6, with a claimed 96 lb. ft. of torque starting at just 2,000 RPM! The engine revs to 9,000 RPM and it's apparently designed as a touring engine, so we expect to see it not in this caféé racer styled concept, but in the next generation of BMW touring motorcycle.
The following is an edited version of the BMW press release on the BMW Motorrad Concept 6, released for the 2009 EICMA show in Milan. Note that some of the wording is rather definite that the engine will be used in an upcoming BMW motorcycle. Whether that will be the Concept 6 or a new tourer remains to be seen.
But one thing is certain: this is an exciting new idea from BMW and it's great to see the resurrection of the 6-cylinder motorcycle engine!
UPDATE: December 2009 - Rumor has it that BMW will definitely use the six-cylinder engine in an upcoming touring bike! BMW has been searching for an iconic engine type other than the "Boxer" flat twin, and when you think about it, the six is a perfect answer because BMW has a long history of building wonderful six-cylinder engines in their cars!
Six-cylinder power units have always had particular appeal, offering not only supreme smoothness and refinement, but also superior power and performance as well as a truly emotional driving – or, in this case, riding – experience.
A further point is that the typical sound of a straight-six almost like
a turbine is absolutely incomparable, with straight-six power units at BMW
having stood for fascinating engine technology in BMW cars for more than
Looking at motorcycles, inventive engineers have also tried time and again to offer the enthusiast the thrilling concept of a straight-six power unit. But while a few engines in straight-six configuration have indeed been fitted in motorcycles both lengthwise and crosswise, the straight-six has never really made a genuine breakthrough neither on production models nor in motorcycle racing.
Depending on the way the engine was fitted, six cylinders in-line inevitably made the engine either very long or very wide, creating disadvantages in terms of the running gear, weight distribution and the center of gravity. A further drawback was much higher engine weight usually setting off the benefits of extra engine power.
The BMW Concept 6 now proves that a straight-six, benefiting from the most advanced construction and production technology, may offer not only unique prestige, but also a supreme standard of riding dynamics.
The new BMW straight-six will further expand the K-Series in the foreseeable
future. The first model to be introduced will be an innovative and luxurious
BMW touring machine. Reflecting the tradition of the BMW K-Series, this
course be a genuine top-of-the-line product.
The starting point for this dynamic introduction of the straight-six in the new Concept 6 from BMW Motorrad is of course the extremely compact form and configuration of the engine.
The power unit is approximately 100 mm or 4" slimmer than all former straight-six production engines and only a bit wider than a large-capacity straight-four with conventional technology.
The reduction in width is achieved in particular by the slightly over-square bore: stroke ratio with relatively long stroke and very small gaps between cylinders.
To achieve this very compact configuration with minimum width, the electrical ancillaries and their drive components are positioned behind the crankshaft in the open space above the transmission.
High-tech lightweight construction in all areas serves to make the power unit relatively light from the outset, important components in this context being the two hollow-drilled camshafts and the very light connecting rods.
The perfect compensation of masses ensured by the configuration and layout of the engine avoids the need for a balance shaft and its drive elements on the new straight six, which again means lower weight and enhanced running smoothness.
In its layout, the straight-six featured in the Concept 6 follows the well-known straight-four in the K 1300 model series with cylinders tilted to the front by 55°.
This ensures not only a low center of gravity, but also very good weight balance as an element essential above all under sporting conditions for precise feeling and clear feedback from the front.
A further advantage is that the tilted engine provides extra space for the aerodynamically positioned intake manifold directly above the engine and allows ideal configuration of the frame profiles following the flow of power.
The straight-six featured in the BMW Motorrad Concept 6 comes with dry sump lubrication. Apart from greater reliability even under extreme conditions, dry sump technology serves to keep the crankcase particularly low and fl at, with the engine being fitted lower down and masses concentrated around the center of gravity.
Doing without an oil sump, the engine may be positioned far lower than on a conventional layout. The oil reservoir is provided by an oil tank integrated at the rear of the engine block. This avoids the need for a separate tank, again helping to make the entire power unit more compact and reduce weight to a minimum.
Designed and laid out as a straight-six, the engine also opens up new dimensions in motorcycling in terms of supremacy, power reserves, performance and running refinement.
Output of the new six-cylinder will be in approximately the same range as on BMW’s 1.3-litre straight-four power units. Torque, on the other hand, will be right at the top of the range, even in comparison with the largest motorcycle engines, such superior power and muscle coming from engine capacity of no less than 1.6 liters.
The engine’s power and performance characteristics are equally impressive,
offering 130 Nm or 96 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 rpm and at the same
time revving up almost to 9,000 rpm – a dynamic potential quite unparalleled
tourer segment. This alone qualifies the engine of the Concept 6 as the ideal power unit for a wide range of different motorcycles.
The Concept 6 shows the absolute supremacy of its six-cylinder drive system also in ecological and economic terms.
Fuel consumption of this six-cylinder naturally equipped with a fully controlled catalytic converter is lower than on a comparable four-cylinder under normal touring conditions. The use of E-gas technology (ride-by-wire) then offers further potentials for enhanced fuel economy and riding dynamics throughout a wide range of different riding modes and conditions.
And last but not least in this context, the straight-six power unit featured in the Concept 6 offers long inspection intervals through the use of cup tappets controlling the engine valves.
Supremacy and dynamism are also borne out clearly by the thrilling design of the Concept 6 and, as usual, this project from BMW Motorrad is more than “just” the attempt to develop a motorcycle of a kind never seen before.
Working on Concept 6, the designers at BMW Motorrad have therefore focused
yet again on technical function and quality and, in particular, the emotional
element bringing together man and machine. Their rule, quite simply, is
a motorcycle must not only follow the laws of functionality, but also arouse emotion in all its facets. In a nutshell, therefore, the machine must be simply thrilling.
Precisely this is why the design of the Concept 6 focuses in particular on the powerful straight-six engine as the heart of the machine.
Conceived as a mixture of classic and modern styling elements in motorcycle construction, the Concept 6, with its long front end and short rear, takes up the design language of the legendary Caféé Racer. Powerful and muscular, the body elements extend around the power unit finished in a special platinum color, presenting the engine almost adoringly from every angle.
Smooth and soft lines ensure fully organic integration of the power unit within the machine, while at the same time they create a powerful, exciting and dynamic contrast to the sharply contoured front and rear ends.
The so-called Split Face, a well-known design element of the latest models from BMW Motorrad, extends smoothly from the front of the fairing all along the top of the fuel tank made of carbon-fiber, again confirming the high technological standard of the Concept 6 and forming an exciting contrast to the outer shell in aluminum with its white layers.
The division into three sections created by the Split Face is further accentuated at the front by the LED headlight integrated longitudinally in the machine in its rod shape and by the slender LED rear light extending far up into the seat hump.
The powerful and supreme character of the Concept 6 is also underscored by the six-chamber exhaust system complete with side pipes and the strong presence of the intake ducts again finished in platinum look.
Aerodynamic components such as the twin-tipped engine spoiler and the air guide elements derived from the design of the new S 1000 RR Supersports, on the other hand, bridge the gap between functional and clearly visible technology, on the one hand, and the soft and smooth design of other body elements, on the other.
The suspension of the BMW Motorrad Concept 6 is built around a light-alloy bridge frame as well as Duolever and lightweight Paralever arms holding and guiding the wheels front and rear. Seventeen-inch HP forged wheels as well as the extra-large brake system with its six-piston fixed calipers emphasize the sporting look of the new machine and its high level of technology.
The outstanding supremacy of the Concept 6 and its drivetrain is also reflected by details such as the instrument panel intentionally kept in minimalist design but nevertheless completely equipped with all the instruments and gauges required.
While a digital display performs its usual function of clearly presenting road speed, there is intentionally no rev counter on account of the supreme flow of power at all speeds. So instead of a conventional rev counter, a LED display shows the rider at all times how much torque is readily available whenever required.
From "H.P." (09/10): "Today's hi-tech world the bikes are crammed with electronic wizardy. This isolates the rider from the feel of the machine. Feel is everything...the very reason we ride bikes.
BMW even with its super hi-tech has to struggle a lot to keep up with
the Japanese in terms of all out performance. The Japanese do it with half
the displacement and a lot less weight ! Don’t get me wrong, I own
a BMW R100R since last 12 years and haven't thought of any other bike since.
Its part of my life now.
What the "new age" Beemers lack is the feel. Now the 6 cylinder. Honda CBX-6 springs to mind AND a benchmark for other 6 cylinder roadsters. The BMW-6 looks, in my opinion, just a computer designed gadget. The cylinder's front is covered with a radiator, you can't see the exhaust pipes which could have bends like a musical instrument.
The cylinders are inclined waaay down. Yamaha had walked the same road with 4cyl FZRs and reduced the cylinder bank to 35 deg to get more clearance at front wheel. Also the shape of the cylinder looks...mmm...un-artistic. But well, so does the bodywork!"
Editor's Reply: Remember, it's only a design exercise... Regarding BMW vs. the Japanese, ask any S 1000 RR owner about all-out performance. Most reviewers say the bike is so far ahead of the Japanese that it will be years before they can catch up.
From "D.G." (1/10): "I ride a BMW K-bike. The first time I saw a article on the Concept 6, I said to myself 'There is my next bike' "
From "S.R.A." (1/10): "I have been waiting for an improvement on the existing K bikes. To have the performance of a high end boxer and a place to plunk the wife down would be an instant purchase. I would trade my RT1200RT in a heart beat for this new design."
From "P.A." (12/09): "There’s a “truism” among musicians – the more eye appeal an instrument has, the more likely one is to pick it up and play it. And if it also performs well, it will capture your heart. The same applies to motorcycles. Certainly eye appeal and performance contribute greatly to pride in ownership – key ingredients to why we ride. This is not to underrate the fascination with new technology and thrill of riding a bike with turbine-like power, glass smooth mechanics and a unique sound.
All I can say about the new BMW Concept 6 (not to mention most of BMW’s most recent offerings) is that they continue to stray further and further away from my mind’s concept of a beautiful motorcycle. This bike is nothing but butt ugly! I’m confident it will ride like a dream, but I definitely would not spend my hard earned cash on this monster (do you think that the flat “2 x6” board seat would really be comfortable over the long haul?).
However, if the jagged lines of the Stealth bomber are any indication, it probably will not show up on radar. Call it what you like, it looks like a high price crotch rocket – I’m confident the competition is smiling. I’m sticking with the smooth curves and quiet power of my 2003 K1200RS – one of BMW’s best looking and smoothest performing bikes – at least in my mind.
By the way – I still can’t imagine why BMW doesn’t offer a “retro” bike as does Triumph, Ducati, Honda, etc. If they would build an R100RS “look alike” with all the modern mechanics, bells and whistles, they would not be able to manufacture enough to satisfy demand.
Editor's Reply: There's another saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". I think the Concept 6 looks great!
As mentioned in the article, the bike is a design concept only, it will not be produced, so not to worry!
The purpose of a design exercise like the Concept 6 is to get attention -- which it did. This strategy is used all the time in the motorcycle and automotive industry. The engine is what is important here and it will be used by BMW in an upcoming tourer.
By the way, BMW says the age of their average customer is increasing and not buying new BMWs. Sales have been flat and the company has been surpassed by newcomers like Triumph in many markets. So the BMW strategy is to try and attract a new demographic with new and different designs.
While not everyone may agree with the direction the company is headed, their negative to flat growth over the last 10 years or so means they have to do something. Retro bikes are cool, and I'd love to see them do one, but they are typically niche sellers with very little profit and probably attractive only to existing owners of BMWs.
Personally, I think they're headed in the right direction with bikes like the S1000RR and I wouldn't mind seeing the Concept 6 produced either!
From "J.T.K." (11/09): "Great looks and oozing with the highest technology aside, a motorcycle has to be fun to ride (Mega-buck choppers with " under 1,000 miles " are all over the place for pennies on the dollar). And it has to be somewhat affordable, and that means production numbers have to reach some defined critical mass.
While this one is hardly an old (lady) in a new dress, previous in-line 6 cylinder bikes fell victim to the laws of both physics and practicality, becoming novelty items in the process. I hope BMW escapes this fate."
From "G.M." (11/09): "I read this press release with more than usual interest. There is something magical about a 6 cylinder motorcycle, the Honda and Benelli versions of the seventies garnered great interest and admiration. We all love the truly unique technological advances. Yes, I did check to be sure today wasn’t April 1 (didn’t somebody run a 6 cylinder Moto Guzzi article a while back?), but since it’s not, I waded into the article.
The bike is a visual work of art, surely eligible for the Guggenheim exhibit, if it is still touring. Some comments in the press release jumped out at me. First, the comment that “a straight six offers more than prestige”. Ok, the straight six I once owned was in my 1964 1/2 Mustang, but that straight six relegated my car to ho hum, even though it was the very first model year for the Mustang. Everyone wanted the V8. But that’s cars, not motorcycles.
I also noticed how many times the article mentioned “supremacy”. Got to love those Germans! Surely they have achieved supremacy over the French bike manufacturers, and others will fall under their boot heels and alloy wheels. The author stated that the machine was required to be “simply stunning”, which indeed it is, but if you roll into the local MC bar and describe your bike that way, you’re liable to get beat up a lot.
I think it’s great when MC manufacturers dare to be different (even the Honda Fury and the DN-01), and accept technological challenges such as this. I am sure the first production six from BMW will be a great bike most of us would love to own, and that it will cost more than my first house. But hey, that’s why God invented inflation."
From "J.G." (11/09): "GREAT!
Another Japanese wan-a-be from BMW! Having ridden the newest offering,
the 1300GT, this 6 banger looks like just more of the same.
There is nothing unique about the newest BMW's, apart from the roundel.
You can find the same technology, to a great extent, on any other bike!
BMW lost their way when they discontinued what was arguably the best cruiser in the world, the R1200CL, in 2003. This was a truly unique machine in style and innovation, with ALL the creature comforts like cruise, anti-lock brakes, CD, Heat, etc., at a time when the competition basically had a key and some tires!
The 2 cylinder R engine was simple, reliable and in-expensive to maintain
and UNIQUE in all the motorcycle world. Had they not de-tuned it, this configuration
would have led the segment for years with only minimal refinements!
Since then, against all logic, they have produced only hopped up dirt
bikes and Japanese knock-offs!
My understanding is that cruisers are a majority of all bike models sold
and yet all BMW has is the HUGE, HEAVY, EXPENSIVE K1200LT to offer, that
looks and feels like a Goldwing!
Until they rethink their strategies and actually produce a model similar to the venerable R1200c and CL, that suits the needs of the AVERAGE middle age rider, (the ones who have the disposable income), they will remain just a niche player in the market, no matter how many complicated, over engineered, cylinders they cram into a rocket frame!"