The BMW GS, first introduced in 1980, has steadily become BMW Motorrad's best selling motorcycle model. Despite its sheer weight and size that can be a disadvantage when it comes to gaining traction on loose soil or dirt, many owners still swear by it.
For years, BMW Motorrad has developed training programs for its riders to teach them the techniques to fully utilize the GS's features when adventure riding. these programs include techniques to negotiate loose soil or dirt, and event starting from a dead stop on slippery inclines. This helps overcome the intimidation many of its riders experience. Yet off-road training aside, wouldn't a front wheel drive option for this big and heavy GS be a gift from heaven?
BMW Motorrad patents this all-in-one, front-mounted drive unit shown above
Just recently, we learned that the German auto maker filed patents for what seems to be a front-mounted electronic drive device that could be fitted on future GS models. It features an electric motor that is mounted to the front wheel's hub and can provide power to the front wheel when the need arises e.g.: slippery surfaces like mud or sand where 2-wheel traction is needed. Put simply, future GS models could soon be hybrid 2-wheel drive adventure bikes, with power deliverable to the front wheels, similar to 4x4 vehicles.
The new BMW patent was said to be similar to the prototype made by Wunderlich (above) a few years ago.
Since the electric motor is mounted into the front wheel hub, there is no need to redesign the existing configuraiton of the suspension, brakes, t-post or even the main propeler shaft (which delivers power to the rear wheel). In fact, some companies are now offering front-wheel drive kits.
Also, the hub-mounted electric motor is equipped with a reduction gear to mutiply its torque output and is capable of a peak torque range of 150-200 Nm that is more than enough to ride the bike through even on difficult obstacles.
BMW has yet to officially announce this development. However, it is very likely a working concept could be revealed at this year's EICMA in Milan.