EICMA 2008 Special - Naked in Milan

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LoRider-thumbBMW Motorrad went nude at this years EICMA motorcycle show in Milan with a new F 800 R and a fascinating concept bike, the Lo Rider.

The stylish Italian city was home to the world's motorcycle industry as they vied for attention from the press and public. The economic factors are having an effect, but the world must keep moving. New models must still be introduced even if sales expectations are now somewhat muted.

BMW Motorrad took the covers of the F 800 R and the stunning attention grabbing Lo Rider Concept. The naked sector of the market is now one that is growing as it encompasses urban style and dynamic performance. No extra weight of bodywork, a pure motorcycle that has city panache and can mix it with the best in the mountains or put on the panniers and go for a week or weekend.

The F 800 R will join the BMW Urban World of Experience as the middleweight partner for the R 1200 R and the new K 1300 R. The Lo Rider just stole the show.


A naked version of the F 800 had been speculated on since the launch of the F 800 S and ST and Chris Pfeiffer was seen around the world on what was thought to be the pre production model. BMW Motorrad actually took the unusual step of stating that they had thought of it, but killed it off due to inability to put it into the market at a price that was both acceptable and profitable. The French moto media (see June BeeEm World) thought the project again had legs utilising the F 800 GS chassis. Things have obviously changed as the stylish F 800 R is here and is based on the bridge-frame of the F 800 S and ST and not the tubular GS models.

The dual headlight face is aggressive and has a family link to the K 1300 R. In fact there are other design cues to the big K. The intake snorkels mounted high in the cool airflow are featured as they mould into the ‘dummy' tank. They add not only design style, but also work in the aerodynamic package, to deflect the windblast from the rider.

The cockpit with vertically stacked instruments and handlebar mount is neatly protected by the standard deflector or even better with the optional colour coded Sport shield. The high ‘bars should give a relaxed riding position and provide manoeuvrability around town and fun when the open road tightens up.

The black engine, like that of the S and ST is inclined 30º and is mounted in same frame as on the initial F Series models. It gives the R a tougher style and highlights the orange rear shocker spring that mounts onto the double-sided swing-arm. The swing-arm is cast alloy and in black it lightens the look of the rear of the bike and is somewhat of a feature. The wheels are taken from the F 800 S but the final drive is chain and not belt.

With 64 kW / 87 hp on hand the 206 kg (wet) Roadster will give riders balanced and dynamic performance. The 16 lt under seat fuel tank will provide more than ample range. This is an engine that is packed with the latest technology and has proved itself on the previous F Series bikes. Powerful, smooth, extremely fuel-efficient and a delight to ride.

Retardation is taken care of by twin 320 mm discs with 4-piston callipers up front and 265 mm at the rear and of course ABS is an option. Most will take up this option that has been further refined.

The F 800 R is a fine looking motorcycle and with a standard 800 mm seat and low and high options (775 mm, 825 mm) it will appeal to a large cross section of riders. The colour options of Alpine White non-metallic with Black gloss or the White Aluminium metallic matt have a technical style; the Fire Orange is for flashers.


The showstopper in Milan was the Lo Rider Concept. A BMW motorcycle like nothing else previously seen; an attention seeker and a crowd puller. It did its job at EICMA. A creation that is raw and basic with touches and design cues from the past and the present. It is muscular and aggressive with a hint of cruiser and a touch of flat-tracker with perhaps an undelying influence of the most famous BMW race bike, the RS 500 Kompressor, in a contemporary package.

The design team, headed up by David Robb, have created a concept that is ‘Pure emotion'. Simple and stunning, with the ability to be re-configured by the owner. The exhausts, headlights, colour and the visual tactility of the trim are designed to be changed to give the owner the bike that ‘Lights the fire'. The roadster theme has the ability to be interoperated by the individual. High or low exhaust, classic of streetfighter headlights or a dual seat. All possible within the concept.

The Boxer motor, which due to the lack of underside exhaust hangs seemly low from the frame, and the fat upside-down forks, dominates the Lo Rider. The black spoked 17-inch wheels give a classical feel, but are shod with the latest sticky rubber, and the discs 6-pot callipers are as modern as today.

The show bike is in classic black but, again, there are three other options as there is with the engine casings and the trim on the tank can be chosen to suit the required style. The Concept is a total package with the motorcycle enhanced by a wardrobe of rider wear to suit the various possibilities of the Lo Rider.

It would not be a concept bike without a little intrigue. The Lo Rider provided a talking point with two adornments. The #49 race plate mounted on the right-hand side and a numberplate on the rear mudguard. The #49 was the number on Georg ‘Schorch' Meier's Kompressor when he won the 1939 IOM TT. It is BMW's most important race victory and made Meier a legendary figure in BMW history.

The Lo Rider is not retro remake of the RS 500 but it has, in my mind, a certain feel that pays homage to the pre war racer. The Queensland number plate attached to the rear probably got people scratching their heads to say the least! It seems that one of the design team had spent some time in Australia and it was a way of saying thank-you for a good time.

Where the Lo Rider concept will lead to is for the future. BMW Motorrad will gauge reaction and it may have a place as a low volume production special. We will see.
Milan is an important show and BMW Motorrad was at full strength with the new models, clothing and accessories and of course the S 100 RR we saw for the first time at INTERMOT.