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The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - LOZ BLAIN

TWO-WHEEL-DRIVE mo­tor­cy­cles have some real ad­van­tages, but in the past they’ve tended to be highly com­plex sys­tems that re­quire sig­nif­i­cant re-plumb­ing of your mo­tor­cy­cle.

That’s what makes this con­cept from Ger­man Beemer tuners Wun­der­lich so ap­peal­ing — us­ing an elec­tric hub mo­tor in the front wheel, it looks like a rel­a­tively sim­ple way to add elec­tric 2WD, as well as a handy re­verse gear, to a stan­dard BMW R1200GS.

Most peo­ple who’ve tested them agree on the ad­van­tages of­fered by two-wheel-drive mo­tor­cy­cles over reg­u­lar rear-wheeldrive bikes, par­tic­u­larly of­froad.

They’re far less likely to get stuck in rocks or bogged in the really loose or sloppy stuff, and they pull harder out of cor­ners.

The front end doesn’t wash out nearly as much un­der hard cor­ner­ing, and the rear wheel doesn’t tend to break away nearly as much as usual.

The trou­ble, of course, is how to get the power to that front wheel. You can’t use a chain drive, be­cause the bike needs to turn. So we’ve seen some in­ter­est­ing so­lu­tions — be it Chris­tini’s geared drive shaft sys­tem that runs down through the forks, or the kooky hy­draulic sys­tems that Yamaha and BMW have both flirted with.

Ger­man com­pany Wun­der­lich, which trans­lates loosely as “whim­si­cal”, has thrown an­other idea into the ring.

Known as an af­ter­mar­ket parts sup­plier for BMW ma­chines, the Wun­der­lich team also en­joys making rad­i­cal con­cept bikes to demon­strate what can be done with its ex­ten­sive parts cat­a­logue. And for EICMA 2015, it pre­sented an R1200GS ad­ven­ture bike kit­ted out with a hy­brid elec­tric two-wheel-drive sys­tem.

The sys­tem ap­pears very sim­ple — the front wheel is kit­ted out with an elec­tric 7,6-kilo­Watt hub mo­tor that draws power from a small bat­tery pack that lives un­der the front beak.

The sys­tem is hooked up to a sen­sor in the bike’s throt­tle, and it runs through a switch on the tank that al­lows you to choose how much power it puts out, and in which di­rec­tion.

Be­cause it runs with the bike’s en­gine turned off, it gives you the ca­pa­bil­ity to ac­cel­er­ate up to 20 km/h un­der elec­tric fron­twheel-drive alone, or to re­verse the gi­ant GS at up to three kilo­me­tres per hour, which will be handy if you park it in an awk­ward spot.

We have no idea what hap­pens if you put the front wheel in re­verse and the rear wheel in first gear, but we’d sure like to watch. Re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing helps recharge the bat­tery.

Most of the electrics come from Ital­ian com­pany Evolt, but as part of the retro­fit, Wun­der­lich has made its own chas­sis ad­just­ments to ac­count for the ex­tra weight at the front end.

There’s no word on the weight penalty for the AWD sys­tem — pre­sum­ably it’s a fair bit more than the 15-pound sys­tem Chris­tini was sell­ing back in 2007. But that was a race-fo­cused sys­tem, where this is an en­hance­ment to an al­ready-heavy ad­ven­ture ma­chine, and this looks like a sim­pler sys­tem and one that’s eas­ier to fit to an ex­ist­ing bike.

Right now, the R1200GS LC hy­brid 2WD sys­tem is just a con­cept and Wun­der­lich hasn’t re­vealed any plans to put it up for sale. But it looks like a great kit idea to us! — Giz­mag.


Wun­der­lich’s pro­to­type con­trol sys­tem (left) for the first hy­brid elec­tric front wheel drive sys­tem fit­ted to a BMW R1200GS.


When the West de­signs a fold­able bike, it will be a cute scooter. When Rus­sian en­gi­neers took their sick­les and ham­mers to a bike frame, they made the 70 kg Tau­rus that goes any­where, pulls (al­most) any­thing and dis­man­tles into two duf­fel bags that fit into the back of a Lada Niva.


Un­stop­pable – and un­sink­able. For over 60 years since it was first launched in 1958, the Rokon is Amer­ica’s an­swer to Rus­sia’s Tau­rus. The heav­ier you load it, the bet­ter it goes, says Tim Ralston, sur­vival gear ex­pert and spokesper­son for Nat­Geo’s Dooms­day Prep­pers. The Rokon also pulls 180 kg.


New Zealand’s con­tri­bu­tion to the world of 2x2 bikes is this year’s Ubco — ba­si­cally a sturdy elec­tric bike with a large bat­tery to power hub­mo­tors in each wheel — and a cell­phone. The New Zealand me­dia were also very im­pressed with how the Ubco’s elec­tric mo­tor can qui­etly sneak up on ewes.

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