April Fools’ Day hoax may be dou­ble bluff

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

On April Fools’ Day BMW took sev­eral scalps with a fake press re­lease pre­sent­ing an xdrive Hy­brid R1200GS, with an elec­tri­cally-driven front wheel. Of course there’s no such bike – but it looks like some­thing very sim­i­lar might be in the pipe­line.

It’s not clear whether it was a co­in­ci­dence or part of an elab­o­rate dou­ble-bluff, but just days be­fore BMW sent out its dummy press re­lease, a gen­uine pa­tent ap­pli­ca­tion ti­tled ‘Mo­tor­cy­cle with an elec­tri­cally drive­able front wheel’ was pub­lished by the World In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WIPO). It’s owner? BMW.

It would be unimag­in­able for the firm to go to the ex­tent of writ­ing and fil­ing a com­plete pa­tent ap­pli­ca­tion sim­ply to bol­ster a fleet­ing, one-day joke. Not least be­cause the slow­turn­ing wheels of the pa­tent sys­tem mean the doc­u­ment was ac­tu­ally first filed back in Septem­ber 2015.

How­ever, the patents mir­ror the fic­tional R1200GS xdrive. Where the April Fools’ re­lease claimed the bike used a “wheel-hub e-drive sys­tem which func­tions both as elec­tric mo­tor and gen­er­a­tor”, the pa­tent de­scribes a “drive ar­range­ment in­te­grated into the front wheel [which] com­prises an elec­tric mo­tor…”

The idea is sim­ple, and iden­ti­cal to the one dreamt up for the April Fools’ gag. The bike keeps its usual, petrol-pow­ered en­gine driv­ing the rear wheel and usu­ally works just like a con­ven­tional bike. When the rear wheel loses trac­tion, rather than sim­ply ac­ti­vat­ing a trac­tion con­trol sys­tem, it en­gages drive to the front wheel us­ing an elec­tric mo­tor and re­duc­tion gear sys­tem that’s built into the front hub. The pa­tent even goes as far as sug­gest­ing large, tour­ing-style bikes would be ideal can­di­dates for the sys­tem. Like the R1200GS.

If it all seems fa­mil­iar, it’s worth men­tion­ing that a very real 2WD, hy­brid-pow­ered R1200GS al­ready ex­ists. It’s the X2 pro­to­type, cooked up by BMW tuners Wun­der­lich, who have a very close re­la­tion­ship with BMW’S own R&D depart­ment. Shown just weeks af­ter the pa­tent was filed in 2015, the X2 uses ex­actly the sys­tem de­scribed in the BMW doc­u­ment – right down to hav­ing a re­verse-gear op­tion for the front mo­tor to help when wheel­ing the bike around.

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