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BMW C1-E Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

Says BMW, "This is what a safe, environment-friendly and highly practical single track vehicle for city traffic could look like in the future." Well then, let's dissect that statement and see how BMW sought to accomplish these seemingly contradictory goals.

First, safety. Between 2000 and 2003, BMW offered a scooter in Europe called the C1. Though a marketplace failure, that machine may still be the safest two-wheeler ever offered. Featuring a fully-enclosed cabin with integrated rollover protection, a front-end impact zone, a rider seat belt and a low center of gravity, the C1-E has safety baked right in from the start. To that package, BMW adds electronic aids that include integral ABS, Tire Pressure Control, Anti-Slip Control and Traction Control. So... safety? Check.

Environmentally-friendly? The scooter itself emits nothing – BMW borrowed the electric motor and control systems from electric scooter manufacturer Vectrix (which recently filed for bankruptcy). Vectrix's battery pack, though, has been swapped out with a high-tech lithium ion unit for greater energy storage. Alternatively, BMW could equip the same basic platform with any electric motor or small internal combustion engine of its choice.

Now, how about practicality? First, that enclosed rider cockpit means the C1-E could be used in nearly any kind of weather. Further, the bike features a large luggage compartment behind the rider. As far as single-track vehicles go, this one's pretty darn practical. As much as we'd like to see the C1-E go into production, that's not currently in the cards. BMW built this concept as its contribution to the European eSUM safety project. Want to know more? Check out the gallery below and hit the jump for the press release.

[Source: BMW]


BMW Motorrad study for urban traffic. BMW C1-E: concept for a higher level of safety in the city.

Munich. This is what a safe, environment-friendly and highly practical single track vehicle for city traffic could look like in the future. BMW Motorrad developed the C1-E study as a contribution to the European safety project eSUM. This study unit is based on the concept of the BMW C1. It is characterized by a very high level of active and passive safety and is driven by an electric motor.

The BMW C1-E provides exemplary protection for its rider. This is ensured by the safety cell with the conspicuous roll-over bar which dynamically spans the rider seat in combination with the energy-absorbing impact element at the nose end. A further special point is that the C1-E rider wears a seat-belt. In the study this safety feature is highlighted by red belts and belt buckles.

Visually the concept vehicle expresses brand typical sheer driving pleasure and clearly distinguishes itself from typical scooter looks. Its lines are dynamically stretched and flow horizontally with a low visual centre of gravity. The fairing with its windscreen, the luggage space behind the rider and the side stand for effortless parking ensure high suitability for everyday riding combined with a high degree of wind and weather protection.

The electric motor employed in the study has been designed for city use and is based on components by the company Vectrix. The motor obtains its power from a lithium-ion battery and thus possesses sufficient power for mastering most inner-city traffic riding with ease. Alternatively the vehicle could also be equipped with an efficient, low-emissions internal combustion engine.

The safety features of the C1-E have been taken from the former BMW C1 and further enhanced. BMW's avant-garde two-wheeler is regarded as a milestone in safety on two wheels. It is the only motorised single-track vehicle to be exempt from mandatory helmet wearing in almost all European countries.

This BMW Motorrad study is to remain the only model of its kind. Series production is currently not planned. Nevertheless, findings from the project will find their way into other future developments in the field of single-track vehicles.

eSUM stands for European Safer Urban Motorcycling. It is a cooperation project between major urban European motorcycling centres and motorcycle manufacturers. The cities currently involved in the project include Paris, Rome, Barcelona and London and the manufacturers are BMW and Piaggio.

The advantage of two-wheeled transportation is that it offers a great opportunity for improving the flow of traffic in urban locations. Moreover, it is environmentally friendly and lends itself to individualisation. However, the vast majority of accidents occur in urban traffic, in areas where 80 percent of the population live. The idea behind eSum is to look into ways of countering this trend. The joint goal is the identification, development, and practical demonstration of measures which are able to guarantee safe motorcycle and motor-scooter transport in the inner-city traffic of the future.

One of BMW Motorrad's major concerns over the last twenty years has been the improvement of motorcycle safety. This was amply demonstrated by the consistent strategy which has led to the Motorrad ABS and continued with its long-term ongoing development. Only a few weeks ago, on August 31, the 1,000,000th BMW motorcycle with Integral ABS, a BMW K 1300 R, left the production line in Berlin-Spandau.

Since 2005, a series of further active safety features have been developed to enhance the safety BMW motorcycles still further: RDC Tyre Pressure Control, ASC Anti-Slip Control, the new Race ABS and the DTC Traction Control incorporated in the new BMW S 1000 RR, not to mention the innovative range of BMW Motorrad rider equipment.

Over and above this, BMW Motorrad is also conducting research into forward-looking rider assistance systems designed to increased road safety, as part of the ConnectedRide project. Features being looked at include cross-traffic and traffic-light assistance as well as a warning system for impending poor weather, road obstacles, an approaching emergency vehicle, or sudden braking manoeuvres.

For more information about eSUM please see: www.esum.eu

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm a fan of this and was a fan of the C1, but to claim that you could use it in almost any kind of weather is a laugh. Any amount of rain would soak the rider both from falling rain and from road spray. Snow-- no way. Over 90 degrees or under 60 degrees, most people would find it very uncomfortable. So before you get all segway on us and predict this will change the world, it won't. It's not even close to a viable alternative to the conventional automobile.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Its a leg breaker too, too many when they fall over try to keep it up with a leg, breaking it.

      Real nice unpublished feature
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just to clarify a point as a rider of a C1 200 in London for the past 9 years, i was involved in a side on impact which pushed me and my C1 onto its side in front of an oncoming car! When the impact occurs you instinctively push your feet forward into the footwells and keep hold of the handle bars (although BMW state you should let go and grip the seat belt in a crossed arm in front of your chest)…
      The C1 was written off, both of the others were not insured and fled the scene quickly, needless to say I had no other injury other than a stiff neck and a graze to my knee (happened as I got out of the C1), so I have to disagree with the negative comments from the skeptics here as this excellent designed motor scooter saved my life and I guarantee the 2 uninsured people would not have compensated my wife or kids!!!!!!! All I lost was my excess on my insurance policy, a small price to pay.

      So please BMW go into production as it’s just the narrow minded out there that do not appreciate this greatly engineered machine is the quickest and safest way to travel in our congested city center roads.

      I have been a biker for many years and yes I would prefer to ride a regular bike but the reality is the drivers who say they look but do not see as commonplace so BMW have come up with a solution….
      The C1
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't get the reference to "fully enclosed cabin", Jeremy. Fully enclosed means doors, windows and a full roof. Full protection from the elements. With this, you are still completely exposed on both sides. The windshield has gaps at the top and sides. The "roof" is nothing more that a sun visor. There's nothing on the back at all.

      Now I could see this as a useful around town putt-about. Looks like you might fit one bag of groceries behind the seat. But I agree with everyone else, the seat belt has to go, and head protection would be a must.
      • 5 Years Ago
      i laugh at this thing... I mean I understand people want safety but there is a limit to what's reasonable.

      Nobody seems to realize that the single greatest thing we can do safety wise (and im talking REAL safety - not just ticketing) is simply driver education/training/enforcement.

      People simultaneously complain how they want more safety, yet they want 800 extra lbs of safety foam, nav screens, and 100 airbags. Cars were getting 50-60mpg's decades ago, taking everything we own and wrapping it in a safety cage and foam rubber has IMO put this entire country in retard mode.

      When you boil it all down we wouldn't need insane amounts of safety gear if people would put down the phone/razor/coffee/big mac and actually pay attention to the road. Not to mention you would look like a total tool strapped into that "thing".

      Long live Darwinism!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would still find a way to wreck it. I don't do two wheels only too good.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why does it have a seat belt?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I still doubt safety...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't wait to see the IIHS put one of these up against the X5. Ow, my head!
      • 5 Years Ago
      You can tell she hasn't been riding long or in traffic by how white those pants are. They would be covered in dirt, rubber, and particulate matter after 15 miles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm just amazed that BMW would release photos of a rider without one single item of safety apparel...not one (unless you count the sunglasses as "eye protection"). This thing must be totally strong and safe.

      Yeah, right.
      • 5 Years Ago
      why would someone strap themselves to a non-stable vehicle?

      There is a reason that two wheeled vehicles do not have restraints. If you so much as tip over, you are in a mess.

      Strapping yourself to that thing is MORE dangerous than not. Get a motorcycle, get the proper safety gear, and wear it every time you ride.

      This is a pathetic substitute from a company that KNOWS BOTH MOTORCYCLES AND CARS... are they kidding? This is the worst of both, not the best.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, I'd definitely wear a helmet if I sat in this thing. Most drivers in fully-enclosed track cars with crash/roll bars still wear helmets. Motorcyclists split lanes to minimize the chance of being rear-ended by someone who isn't paying attention. I can't see this being easy to split lanes on.

        I have doubts about its capability in bad weather conditions...motorcycles don't need chintzy roofs to protect from rain, they need traction. The Piaggio MP3 would be a much better all-weather vehicle if one wanted to replace their primary form of transportation with a motorcycle.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, just get a motorcycle or scooter with proper training and gear and you'll be okay. also if that thing tipped over, i could easily see you slamming your head against a curb.
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