BMW Motorrad has introduced what is being described as the world's first series-production all-wheel drive travel enduro motorcycle with hybrid drive. Based on the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, the xDrive Hybrid is essentially a two-wheel drive version of the 1200 GSA, and uses a 45-horsepower electric motor housed in the front wheel hub in addition to the internal combustion engine. The unique all-wheel drive system offers better traction on slippery road conditions, deep sand or mud, according to a BMW Motorrad release. Combined with the 125 bhp boxer twin engine of the 1200 GSA, the combined output with the 33 kW motor is rated at around 170 bhp.
The all-wheel drive system can be operated automatically or manually by the rider via the 2WD switch located on the left handlebar operation unit. It activates the wheel hub e-drive system which functions both as electric motor and generator. During braking, a new generation of batteries, derived from BMW i battery technology, captures and stores the kinetic energy. The rider can use this additional energy for acceleration together with the power delivered by the combustion engine. Also on offer are a number of riding modes to customise how the all-wheel drive system operates and adjust the hybrid system's recuperation strategies to suit individual riding needs in different terrain.
Overall, the xDrive Hybrid looks similar to the R 1200 GS Adventure. BMW changed from the dual-disc front brake set-up on the 1200 GSA to a single disc set-up on the xDrive Hybrid, given the braking function of the eDrive system. This led to weight savings of 2.9 kg, but the overall weight of the bike remains the same as the 1200 GSA, a wet weight of 259 kg.
BMW has been testing the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid over thousands of kilometres in the toughest of riding conditions. Last winter, Reiner Scherbeck, head of winter testing at BMW Motorrad, rode the bike to the North Cape on a first stage and from there across the frozen Barrents Sea to the North Pole and back again.
"We were absolutely amazed how problem-free and reliable the all-wheel drive worked even at minus 56 degrees. Thanks to our functional BMW rider equipment, the cold temperatures were no problem for the rider, too. Probably the most thrilling conclusion we can draw from our test runs, is that for the first time we can offer a motorcycle that makes riding a motorcycle a pleasure at snow depths of 1.25 metres in high winter with the new R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid. Special front section components have also been developed for this purpose as well as high-speed suitable M+S all-season tyres. This was also necessary in order to meet the necessary requirements for high-speed winter operation," said Scherbeck.
BMW Motorrad says the BWM R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid will be unveiled to the public very soon "at a suitable location" and it will be available from the second half of 2017. BMW Motorrad says price will be announced at a later date, as well as special tyre combinations and optional features and equipment.