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BMW Motorrad’s 9cento Concept May Be in a Class by Itself

The lightweight and versatile prototype may soon inspire a production bike.

BMW Motorrad ventures into new territory with the 9cento, a concept motorcycle unveiled on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como during the 2018 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este held last month. Pronounced “noh-veh-chento,” the adventure sport bike is designed for touring, with a focus on lightness and aerodynamics.

“The question we asked when designing this bike was, if you could go from Munich to Como on one bike, what would it look like?” said Edgar Heinrich, head of design for BMW Motorrad. “We’ve created a bike that combines the appropriate power with reliable sports-touring properties and, above all, lots of riding fun. It brings together the best of the sports, adventure, and touring segments to produce an exciting concept in a class which has not seen this kind of model from BMW before.”

The compact 9cento focuses its volume and center of gravity in the front, with a short, high tail. These proportions make for a tighter package, reducing the roll and yaw typically associated with heavier touring bikes. Designers created the fairing and other parts of the bike to convey the feeling of movement in the direction of travel. The three-dimensional look of the fuel tank is accentuated by reflective chrome paint. Aluminum parts— including the central tank cover, rear carrier, and footrest holder—are finely grooved, with the milling directed toward the front wheel. It also features a silver hovering side panel, typical of an adventure sport bike.

BMW Motorrad's 9cento concept motorcycle.

A bike that balances sports, adventure, and touring functionality.  Photo: Courtesy BMW Motorrad.

The aerodynamic shapes are not just for looks; they also offer optimal protection from wind and weather. Clip-on panniers, which attach electromagnetically, transform the bike from sporty to practical, offering storage space for longer rides and extending the passenger seating area.

A touring suspension with a long spring travel—as well as a relatively low, upright seating position—makes for a sporty feel without compromising long-distance comfort. And weight is kept to a minimum thanks to the bike’s frame triangle, which is reinforced with carbon fiber (CFRP) fleece.

While BMW did not discuss power, specs, or production plans, Heinrich hinted that a derivative bike could very well go on sale within the next couple of years. “If you know anything about BMW, you know that we rarely show concepts that don’t go into production.”

The production bike could use a version of BMW’s vertical twin engine already found on the company’s F series bikes, and the “9” in the 9cento name could suggest a 900 cc displacement. Combined with the bike’s manageable size and lightweight construction, a consumer-ready 9cento would have every rider wishing for a weekend road trip to Lake Como.

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