The BMW Concept 101 Is an Introduction to Sumptuous Design

The Bavarians tried their hand at an American-style cruiser and the results are stunning.
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The Bavarians tried their hand at an American-style cruiser and the results are stunning.

Though BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works, the company has put down solid, Sequoia roots on the American West Coast. Designworks is BMW’s creative consulting group, located in temperate Newbury Park, California. While the studio has consulted on projects from Olympic bobsleds to in-flight entertainment systems, they are, of course, interested in all things automotive. The group is responsible for much of BMW’s X-line of SUVs and now, this slick BMW Motorrad design study, the Concept 101.

The choices BMW made with this deluxe bike are very cool, starting with the name. While “101” might bring to mind introductory biology, it’s actually a shout out to the motorcycle’s American-style design: the six-cylinder engine is 1,649 cc’s, or in the parlance of Yankee hot-rodders, 101 cubic inches. Plus, “101” refers to California’s famous Highway 101, which runs adjacent to the Designworks campus. The Concept 101—a German immigrant with American duds and a surfer name.

The bike itself was modeled after the most cruise-oriented type of bike, a “bagger,” so-called for the large luggage compartments that straddle a bagger’s frame. Though the shape and grand silhouette echo those of the biggest bikes from Honda and Harley-Davidson, the custom skin is much more streamlined. Additionally, BMW and partner Roland Sands Design created a custom palette of striking metals and woods. The trim consists of dark and light trim, plus low-gloss carbon fiber accents. Most specially, the oil-treated wood and grained, perforated leather evoke the textures of a bespoke yacht.

That sculptural exterior, the luscious materials, and a cross-cultural identity, all undergirded by BMW Motorrad’s famously study chassis and top dynamics—if the Concept 101 never makes it to production, and the Pacific Coast Highway, we’ll all be worse off.

Photos by BMW