BMW announces a new E-bike for 2014

March 5, 2014
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BMW produced 200 small folding electric bikes in 2012 as part of a public relations campaign about their new electric concept car, the i3. You could fit two of the folding i-Pedelecs in the back of the i3, with the idea that you could drive the i3 from your home to a car-park, and then ride the i-Pedelecs the final few miles to work, to the train station, or to a weekend picnic.

 

The BMW i-Pedelc folding E-bike, and the i3 electric concept car.

The BMW i-Pedelec folding E-bike, and the i3 electric concept car.

 

The i-Pedelec was well-designed, but it has never gone into mass-production. It had achieved its goal of green advertising, and served as an example of BMW’s design skill.

Last year, in 2013, they decided to brand a full-sized E-bike, but…in my opinion they chose a very generic looking frame, even though they did make the wise choice to use the well-designed Bosch mid-drive (which makes the most of the EUs 250W street E-bike power limit). The BMW 2013 “Cruise” E-bike was certainly made with quality components, but it was not distinctive in any way.

 

BMW's 2013 "Cruise" E-bike.

BMW’s 2013 “Cruise” E-bike.

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BMW History

I’d like to take a minute and talk a little about BMW’s incredible history. Their name is Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works), and their blue-and white symbol holds a clue to their origin. The famous BMW “Roundel” is is a graphic of an airplane propeller spinning. In 1917 they had been making aircraft engines, but in the post-war economy, they began making motorcycle engines to survive the European economic depression.

The flat air-cooled twin shown below is from 1980, but it is an excellent example of the classic engine that made BMW world famous. This engine family started in 1923 and it was the one product that most helped them survive the economic ups and downs of the next few decades until the next big product diversification…

 

The famous "spinning propeller" logo, and a 1980 R/80.

The famous “spinning propeller” logo, and a 1980 R80/7.

 

Now, I’d like to show you the next two milestones in their history:  In 1955, BMW licensed the rights to manufacture the Brazilian “Isetta” microcar, which uses a motorcycle engine in the rear. Although it wasn’t impressive, the BMW Isetta was their first commitment to becoming a car manufacturer. Then, in 1962…The struggling company introduced a sport-coupe model that would evolve into the car that would catapult them into profitability, and also into the sport-luxury market that has become the core of their modern identity…the 2002 from 1968 (two thousand cc engine displacement, two doors).

 

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The BMW Isetta microcar, and a 1968 sport coupe, model 2002.

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And now…to their new Ebike!

Dozens of bicycle manufacturers have contracted with Bosch to supply a mid drive motor to add an electric bicycle to their line-up. I think the full-sized E-bike that BMW produced last year was an experiment. However, I believe that their new E-bike this year is evidence that they are serious about keeping an E-bike as part of their catalog.

Their history has shown that they are a company of engineers that carefully considers their next move, and they then commit themselves to establishing themselves in that new market. Our article on car companies that branded an E-bike has shown that auto company branded E-bikes have come and gone. The 2013 BMW Cruise E-bike was well-designed and performs fantastic (in part to the excellent high-quality Bosch drive), however…the big difference this year is BMWs effort and expense that went into improving its style.

 

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The Stromer hides it battery inside the downtube. However the Bosch drive unit is unmistakable, so the BMW chose a detachable battery case. I think this is good, because riders can upgrade to a larger battery for more range whenever they want. Also, replacing an old battery does not require returning the bike to the dealer. Notice all the cables are sleekly routed through the inside of the frame.

 

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The Bosch mid drive is the focal point of this elegant frame.

 

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The 2014 BMW Cruise uses Shimano hydraulic discs front and rear.

 

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The plus and minus buttons change the power-assist settings on the user-friendly computer.

 

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The hydroformed aluminum tubing and smoothly blended welds add distinctive touches to this understated but very upscale E-bike

 

Here is a reason I believe BMW is serious about continuing to design and produce electric bikes…they have invested a serious amount of time, money, and effort into producing a very well-designed electric scooter. The easy method to making a scooter is to use a hub-motor, but BMW used a non-hub, which allows the motor to spin much faster than the wheel. It also simplifies their choice to liquid-cool the motor, so this design can absorb large temporary heat spikes. This design really cares about performance.

These things convince me that BMW is not just using a few E-bikes for their advertising, they are quite serious about this.

 

The BMW "C Evolution" electric scooter.

The BMW “C Evolution” electric scooter.

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Written by Ron/Spinningmagnets, March 2014

Grew up in Los Angeles California, US Navy submarine mechanic from 1977-81/SanDiego. Hydraulic mechanic in the 1980's/Los Angeles. Heavy equipment operator in the 1990's/traveled to various locations. Dump truck driver in the 2000's/SW Utah. Currently a water plant operator since 2010/NW Kansas


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