Rear-Wheel Steering Could Find It’s Way To Two-Wheelers

BMW is actively developing two-wheel steering technology for motorcycles, as evidenced by its recent patent applications. 

These applications outline numerous potential solutions to the challenges associated with supplying both drive and steering to a motorcycle’s rear wheel. The designs cover a range of bike types, including electric and internal-combustion-engine models, and incorporate various drive systems such as belts, chains, and shafts. 

The overarching goal of these designs is to enhance the motorcycle’s steering effect, resulting in improved handling responsiveness and a reduced turning radius.

BMW’s focus on rear-wheel steering is particularly aimed at addressing the handling limitations posed by conventional motorcycles with chopper-style designs, featuring stretched-out forks, a long wheelbase, and pulled-back handlebars. 

These design elements typically hinder maneuverability and make the bikes less agile. By introducing rear-wheel steering, BMW aims to achieve tighter turns and more immediate response without compromising the wheelbase. This innovation could greatly benefit cruiser motorcycles, a segment that BMW recently reentered with its R 18 models.

The patent applications also highlight additional advantages of rear-wheel steering, including the potential for improved aerodynamics. Since the rear wheel can now turn, the front wheel’s steering range can be reduced, opening up possibilities for innovative bodywork designs. The system’s ability to provide steerability when the front wheel is off the ground could be advantageous for racing scenarios.

Although rear-wheel steering has been explored in the automotive industry and even attempted in motorcycles in the past, BMW’s comprehensive patent applications demonstrate the company’s serious commitment to this technology. 

While it may take time before a two-wheel-steered motorcycle hits the market, BMW’s investment in research and development in this area suggests a strategic effort to gain a competitive edge in the future.



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