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BMW R 20 Concept First Look

BMW’s R 20 is a retro-styled roadster stuffed with a 2-liter boxer twin. (BMW/)

When BMW uses the word “concept” alongside a show bike, it usually means it’s destined for production. That suggests something very much like the new R 20 concept that’s just been unveiled at the Villa d’Este concours event stands a better-than-average chance of hitting showrooms in the next couple of years. And it squeezes the biggest-ever BMW engine into a compact retro roadster that’s guaranteed to turn heads.

BMW has used the R 20 name before, on a delicate 192cc prewar single, but the new machine couldn’t be further from that bike in either appearance or engineering. Just as the current R 12 has a 1,170cc twin and the R 18 cruiser packs an 1,802cc motor, the R 20 concept carries a full 2 liters (1 liter per cylinder), and with every one of those cubes hanging out on the sides thanks to the signature boxer layout it’s an imposing sight.

Overhead view of the R 20’s cockpit.

Overhead view of the R 20’s cockpit. (BMW/)

As you might have guessed, the engine is based on the R 18′s huge, air/oil-cooled twin, but BMW has punched it out to gain even more capacity. The firm isn’t yet saying whether that’s via a bigger bore or longer stroke, but given the bike is more performance-oriented than the R 18 cruiser, the former is more likely. Pushing the bore from the R 18′s 107.1mm to 112.8mm while keeping the same 100mm stroke would achieve a total of 1,999cc.

Similarly, there’s no claim for power or torque, but given that the R 18′s motor makes 91 hp at 4,750 rpm and 116 lb.-ft. at 3,000 rpm, and the R 20 has 11 percent more capacity, it should achieve more than 100 hp quite easily, with something like 129 lb.-ft. That’s if BMW hasn’t opted to tune the engine further, something that could unlock substantially more performance given the vast size of the engine. Other engine changes include redesigned cylinder-head covers and belt cover.

The R 20 on the bench.

The R 20 on the bench. (BMW/)

Where BMW has been forthcoming with figures is in relation to the R 20′s chassis, most noticeably with the wheelbase, which drops from the R 18′s monumental 68.2 inches to a much more manageable 61 inches. Still not superbike-short, but the new chassis should be far more capable in corners. The steering head angle of 62.5 degrees, up from 57.3 degrees on the R 18, means the rake is now 27.5 degrees rather than 32.7 degrees. In fact, both the wheelbase and rake are now within a whisker of the R 12 nineT’s figures, despite the R 20′s much larger engine.

A view of the R 20’s swingarm and shaft-drive setup.

A view of the R 20’s swingarm and shaft-drive setup. (BMW/)

The new dimensions come thanks to a completely redesigned steel tube frame, which still has a retro style but packages everything much more tightly around the huge motor. The swingarm is substantially shorter than the R 18′s and uses a new version of BMW’s Paralever design with a lower linkage in steel and an upper one in cast aluminum, framing the exposed drive shaft between them. A fully adjustable Öhlins Blackline coilover supports the rear end, while the front gets a similarly adjustable Öhlins Blackline upside-down fork. Brakes are via six-piston radial-mounted ISR calipers at the front and a four-piston at the rear.

The R 20 headlight has driving lights around the outside with an LED inside.

The R 20 headlight has driving lights around the outside with an LED inside. (BMW/)

Visually BMW is keeping the R 20 simple, with an aluminum fuel tank that echoes BMWs of the past, plus a cast-aluminum subframe to support the single seat. Up front there’s a modern play on the traditional, circular headlight, achieved by placing a ring of DRLs around a small, central main LED, and leaving the space between them open for airflow. As it’s still a concept, the R 20 isn’t encumbered with mirrors, any sort of muffler, or a license plate, but it’s all too easy to see that the design should be able to make a smooth transition to production.

Earlier BMWs to appear wearing the “Concept” title have included the Concept Link, which became the production CE 04, the Concept Roadster, which became the R 1250 R, the Concept 9Cento that previewed the F 900 XR, the Concept R 18 that begat the production R 18, and the Concept 101 which spawned the K 1600 B. When BMW wants to show a bike that isn’t destined to become a production model, it has tended to use the term “Vision” instead of “Concept”—so there’s a strong clue in the name alone that the new show bike will lead to a production R 20 in the future.

Two liters of boxer power.

Two liters of boxer power. (BMW/)

Side view of the BMW R 20 concept.

Side view of the BMW R 20 concept. (BMW/)

Styling design sketches.

Styling design sketches. (BMW/)

Styling design sketches.

Styling design sketches. (BMW/)

#BMW #Concept

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