Manual Labor: BMW, Land Rover Bicycles for Dirt and Road
When most people think BMW, images of screaming inline six-cylinder or even V-8 engines spring to mind. What most people don't realize is that BMW has been making vehicles powered by two-piston, glucose-fueled, organic engines for nearly 60 years. We're talking about people, and the Munich-based car manufacturer wants you to actually do some work to move.
Nearly three-quarters of all Germans ride bicycles on a regular basis. Yes, the home of the Autobahn and horsepower galore is also home to a large collection of pedal-pushers. As an innovator in the automotive and motorcycle fields, BMW knows a few things about making machines in general. Couple that with a long history of racing and manufacturing components out of the latest and greatest materials, and you have a recipe for fantastic two-wheeled performers.
Most serious cyclists will scoff at the idea of a car company building bikes. Showing up to a club ride with a BMW bike will get you the same arrogant elitist laugh a Volkswagen GTI driver gets showing up to a BMW club track day. Regardless, some of the bikes built by car manufacturers have been quite good in the past. Without testing, we can't say conclusively that these new BMWs are great rides, but we wouldn't bet against it.
The most serious offering is the BMW M Carbon Racer, this is the first bike to wear the M badge and the specs hint that it deserves it. A full carbon fiber frame and fork allows provides a stiff frame that transfers all of the rider's power to the ground. While being lighter and more rigid than steel or aluminum, the woven material will actually damp high-frequency vibrations for a more comfortable ride. The M Carbon Racer uses full Shimano Ultegra components for many miles of fast road use. BMW claims the bike weighs in at 16 pounds, but it doesn't specify a frame size or if that is with or without pedals. For those of you who aren't familiar with cycling, high-end road bikes generally don't include pedals, consequently they are excluded from weights.
For the off-roaders out there, BMW is offering two models of mountain bikes: The Cross-Country and the Enduro. Both bikes feature aluminum frames and full suspension. The Cross-Country has 100 mm of suspension travel both front and rear while the Enduro has 140mm in the rear four-link suspension and 145 mm in the front fork. Both use Fox forks so servicing at local bike shops won't be an issue. BMW has chosen Shimano Deore XT components, hydraulic disc brakes and BMW's own adjustable stem.
For the less-serious riders out there, two models of commuter bikes are being offered: the Cruise and Touring. The Cruise resembles an adult-sized BMX bike that will take riders back to the days of the PK Ripper, but with shifting. Oversized hydroformed aluminum tubing is welded together to form a durable yet lightweight frame that uses a front suspension fork to smooth out rough roads. The Touring uses the same frame but it is coated in Glossy Chocolate paint and features gold hardware accents. While the Cruise is meant for high-speed commuting, the Touring was designed with "Maximum comfort and modern design in mind" claims BMW. Both bikes are available in four sizes and are sure to look great on the road, or more likely, leaning up against the wall in your hip downtown loft.
The bikes will start making their way on to BMW's accessory site on June of this year. No pricing has been released yet but BMW bikes of the past of typically started north of the thousand-dollar mark. BMW also offers a full line of bike racks and accessories to compliment their bikes.
Land Rover Evoque Concept Bike - Off-roaders Need Not Apply
Face it, as high pressure as it is being a car designer is a good gig. Not only do you get to decide the general direction vehicle manufacturing will take in the future, you can build yourself cool toys while getting paid for it. Case in point; Land Rover Design Director Gerry McGovern's latest project the Evoque Concept Bike.
An avid cyclist, McGovern states, "I wanted to create the ultimate accessory for the Range Rover Evoque - and what could be more perfect than an utterly contemporary, beautifully designed, bespoke Evoque bike. Like the Range Rover Evoque, the bike not only looks fantastic but is precision engineered for ultimate performance." The frame is a carbon fiber monocoque with an integrated seat tube for better aerodynamics and a cleaner aesthetic.
The Evoque Concept Bike was first debuted at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show where it was largely ignored by journalists who consider driving a car with a manual transmission roughly equivalent to working out in the gym. Hardware on the bike is from Shimano with a dual chain ring in front and a 10-speed cassette in the back, giving 20 forward gears. The carbon fiber front fork not only improves ride quality but the crown has been shaped to fit flush with the frame allowing the oversized headset to be hidden on the bottom and sculpted into the frame up top.
The wheels were specially commissioned for the Evoque and feature a carbon fiber deep-V shape with radial laced spokes in front and single cross in the rear. The saddle and handle bars are finished in fine leather you would expect from Land Rover with the handle bar tape being augmented with gel padding for extra comfort.
Land Rover hasn't said if the bike will mass produced, much less given a possible sale date or price. Although we would expect Land Rover to be more likely to product a mountain bike, this looks like it would certainly compete with most of the other car manufacturer's bicycles we have seen recently. It may be about time for Big Bike Comparo.
Source: BMW, Land Rover