Cars only for now, but could BMW electric bikes get the Zimmer treatment in the future?

Everyday sounds form an important part of our daily lives, even if we don’t always think about them. Think about how you can recognize people you know well, just by particular sounds they might make. Maybe it’s footsteps, or the way they breathe. No matter what, it stands out. As motorcycle people, we’re also accustomed to both listening for and speculating about bike engine sounds—and yelling when blockbuster movies make the dirt bike we’re seeing onscreen sound like a Harley (or vice-versa).  

While sound isn’t the primary issue that skeptics have with EVs, it is definitely an important issue. After all, the sound of combustion-engined vehicles can be an important auditory cue to random people on the street. With a gas-powered car, even if you aren’t particularly paying attention to it, you can usually hear whether it’s running or not if it’s nearby. EVs are much quieter and stealthier. That can be both a safety issue, and also a user experience issue, as well.  

That’s why BMW has been working with Academy Award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer for its BMW IconicSounds Electric program. What is it? According to the company, BISE “brings an unmistakable sound portfolio to BMW models powered by a fully electric or plug-in hybrid drive system.” In May, 2021, that corresponds to the BMW iX and BMW i4, along with a slightly different specification for the M-version of the i4.  

On the BMW electric two-wheeler side, the C-Evolution electric scooter first introduced in 2016 is still the only vehicle it’s brought to market so far. To be fair, BMW did introduce its Vision DC Roadster concept in 2019, and said in early 2020 that an electric motorcycle is coming, but not for a few years. As of April, 2021, we got a good look at EUIPO design documents for the Definition CE-04 electric scooter, which appears to look very similar to the concept version first introduced in 2020. 

BMW says that its auditory collaboration with Zimmer to enhance the sweet sounds of its EVs is ongoing, and that it won’t be limited to just the two models announced so far. Does that mean we can expect the internationally-renowned film composer to score the sounds of future BMW electric motorcycles and scooters, as well?  

None of that is clear in May, 2021. However, while it’s a fact that most riders enjoy the sounds of particular combustion engines and exhausts, it’s also equally true that many of us enjoy music, and movies. Plenty of us even enjoy both at the same time, listening to music in our helmets or through speakers as we rocket along on our bikes. What do you think of the idea of this kind of specific composition developed just for your electric bike? It might take some getting used to, as all change does, but in the end, that tingle up your spine could be cool. Cue that THX drop through some really good headphones now.  

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