Tilting motorbikes aren’t a new concept in 2023. From tilting trikes to scooters, we’ve seen everything from the Piaggio MP3 tilting three-wheeled scooter to the Yamaha Niken GT and Tricity launch and take hold in various international markets. Heck, Tilting Motor Works offers kits for a variety of existing motorcycles, including Harleys, Indians, and Hondas. While they’re certainly not inexpensive, it’s nice to know that there are some available options for riders who need and/or prefer them.
Long before any motorbike design finds its way to market, though, it typically goes through several stages of development—both as three-dimensional objects and also in the form of patent filings. In March 2023, we noted that Kawasaki is apparently still busy working on its own leaning three-wheeler design, which it’s been developing for years at this point.
Now that it’s May 2023, we’ve uncovered a slew of recently published BMW patent applications that relate to aspects of future tilting and/or leaning vehicles. As BMW is an international manufacturer that sells its vehicles in a variety of markets worldwide, these applications have been spread across multiple patent offices, particular in Germany and the US.
Gallery: BMW Tilting Motorbike Patent Drawings
Most patents we’ve seen so far (and we freely acknowledge that there could be additional ones to uncover) were applied for in 2021 but weren’t published until anywhere from February to late April 2023. They cover multiple points of interest on a tilting or leaning vehicle, including the seat, lighting unit and how it attaches to the vehicle, the tilting vehicle itself as an overall composition, and a potential removable windscreen design.
What kind of tilting motorbike are we talking about? Here, BMW is clearly leaving its options open, as one patent states that, “A tilting vehicle is intended to be understood to be inter alia motorcycles or motorcycle-like motor vehicles, such as motor scooters, in particular tiltable two-, three- or four-wheeled motor scooters, scooters or the like.”
If you’ve spent any appreciable amount of time looking at patent applications from various intellectual property organizations, you’ll know that they don’t always come with drawings. Although BMW has filed at least three patent applications that specifically call out a tilting vehicle and/or operation of a tilting vehicle, so far, those applications do not include drawings.
One refers to the tilting vehicle as possibly being a cargo bike, and another specifies the use of an internal combustion engine—in other words, in at least one design configuration, the intended vehicle will not be electric. That certainly doesn’t preclude the existence of an additional electric design, however.
Although BMW is clearly keeping any overall specific tilting vehicle designs close to the vest in the present, some patent applications for constituent parts of tilting motorbike designs do contain drawings. Take, for example, this removable windscreen design, which BMW specifically says is meant for use on tilting vehicles. While adjustable windscreens aren’t uncommon on all kinds of motorbikes, BMW’s design for this application would involve an adjustable windscreen that is also lockable and removable, all without requiring the use of any additional tools.
While it’s far from clear exactly what BMW has up its sleeve with regard to potential tilting vehicle development, one thing we can say for sure is that it’s expended a significant amount of time and effort so far. Patent applications are only one step, though—and they are no guarantee that we’ll ever see an actual vehicle in the real world. As ever, we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.