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BMW unveils high-speed electric bicycle with 300 km of range, plus an electric motorcycle

BMW has taken to the IAA Mobility show in Munich, Germany, to unveil two new electric motorbikes with interesting specs for their categories. Both have the same performance figures, making for a high-speed electric bicycle and a low-speed electric motorbike.

The two models were technically unveiled by different divisions of BMW.

BMW unveiled the i Vision AMBY, which is a high-speed electric bicycle.

The company’s motorcycle division, BMW Motorrad, unveiled the Vision AMBY. That little “i” makes a big difference.

The i Vision AMBY may technically fall in the electric bicycle category, but it shares very little with its e-bike brethren. The frame uses similar suspension components to other high-end bicycles and what appears to be a Gates carbon belt drive, but the electronics appear to be entirely custom.

A higher-power motor and gigantic 2,000 Wh battery enable it to reach much higher speeds in its highest setting. That big battery also has BMW making lofty range claims of up to 300 km (186 miles) in its lowest power mode.

Using an accompanying smartphone app, riders can choose between the European legal 25 km/h (15.5 mph) speed, a second speed-pedelec mode that reaches 45 km/h (28 mph), and a new high-speed-pedelec mode that ups the ante to 60 km/h (37 mph). BMW even floated the idea of having those speeds be modifiable in real time based on geo-fencing, meaning you could be slowed down automatically when you hit the city center, then unleashed to your top speed once turning onto a larger road.

Don’t get too excited though – you’ll need to register the bike and get a special license plate to use it on public roads in anything other than the slowest mode.

This also isn’t an electric motorcycle in disguise. Those pedals are for more than show; they are required to power the motor. Without a hand throttle, riders will have to continue pedaling constantly to achieve and maintain the bike’s high speeds. The range rating also drops significantly to just 75 km (47 miles) when traveling at 60 km/h (37 mph).

The highest speed mode certainly doesn’t fit into any current legal designation for electric bicycles though.

BMW clarified further, saying:

“In the absence of any existing legal framework for a vehicle of this kind with a modular speed concept, the “AMBY” Vision Vehicles set out to prompt the introduction of such legislation and, by consequence, developments of this nature.”

The bike also features other interesting design elements, such as LED light bars integrated into the handlebars and seat post, as well as an angular frame with a highly-tucked seating position.

On the other hand, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY electric motorcycle looks to be a much more leisurely ride.

Instead of a pair of pedals, the Vision AMBY swaps in more realistic motorcycle-style foot pegs.

Interestingly, the Vision AMBY e-motorcycle also hits the same top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph), which is rather slow compared to other entries in the light electric motorcycle class. Its lightweight design will have it more closely competing with small electric trail bikes like a Sur Ron Light Bee, albeit BMW’s presumably street-legal design would offer a significant advantage over off-road-only alternatives.

BMW Motorrad hasn’t shared any details yet about the motor or battery setup in the motorcycle-version of the AMBY concept line, but it will surely pack at least as much capacity as the 2,000 Wh setup in the high-speed electric bicycle version.

Unlike the road-oriented BMW i Vision AMBY, the motorcycle variant looks like it is primarily designed for off-road riding. Wider tires and a more robust suspension system look trail-ready, though a license plate mount shows that road riding is still in the stars.

BMW Motorrad’s Head of Design Edgar Heinrich further discussed the light electric motorbike:

“The BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY takes us into new territory. For us, the focus is on user behaviour – the question is: how will customers want to get around in the future? What will they expect their vehicle to be capable of? This was precisely the starting point of our deliberations. Our aim was to develop an extremely emotional vehicle for smart mobility in and around the city that offered maximum freedom. The BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY really does enable our customers to experience urban life in a whole new way, cover distances more flexibly and “break free” of the city from time to time, too. At the same time, BMW Motorrad is consistently pursuing its electromobility strategy for urban conurbations. It’s a fascinating introduction to the world of BMW Motorrad that also promises maximum riding pleasure.”


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