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C1 Outline

A Concept takes Shape

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C1, Family Friend, and Executive


First presented by BMW in 1992 at the IMFA in Cologne, Germany, the BMW C1 is a small motorcycle with a safety cage.

After selling 10,614 in 2001, the C1 only sold 2,000 in 2002 and ceased production in October 2002. Not available in the USA, the C1 never took off in the UK as BMW had hoped, partly because the Government refused BMW's argument to let riders use it without wearing a helmet. Several other European countries accepted the company's claims that, with the twin seatbelts, it was impossible for the rider's head to hit the ground in an accident.

For the first time in a modern motor vehicle, the C1 combines the advantages of two-wheeled motorized transportation with the strengths of the automobile. 

The C1 is targeted to urban European markets as an appealing alternative to small cars and crowded mass transit systems. The ultimate congestion beater, it is easily maneuverable, versatile in traffic, easy to park and, due to its distinctive appearance, readily noticed by other motorists.

The C1's most innovative design feature is its emphasis on safety. It will be the first two wheeler in the world to offer a high standard of passive safety. BMW claims its crash tests have shown that, in a head on collision, the C1 offers a standard of accident protection comparable to a modern subcompact car. In fact, the C1 is so safe that it can be ridden without a helmet. The German, French and Spanish authorities have allowed an exception to the helmet law for the C1, and BMW is currently negotiating with other countries for similar legislation. 

Why is it so safe? The driver is protected by shoulder height protective bars, an impact absorbing front wheel guard and a rigid aluminum roll-over cage. The C1 thus incorporates a car-style safety cell, formed by its aluminum "space frame" and roof struts. The C1 is fitted with twin seat-belts in a "cross your heart" fashion to keep the rider safely inside the vehicle. 

The C1 is powered by a 125cc engine mated to a continuously variable, stepless automatic transmission. Just twist the throttle and go! The C1 engine features double overhead camshafts, sophisticated inlet-port shaping and electronic fuel injection. The engine is content to run at high speeds, thanks to a compression ratio of 13:1. The C1's generator, the most powerful ever on a two-wheeler, develops 400 Watts. 

BMW has heavily subcontracted the manufacture of the C1. The C1 is built by Bertone Carrozzeria S.P.A. of Torino, Italy, while Bombardier-Rotax GmbH of Austria produces the engine unit. Tenneco, manufacturer of Monroe shocks and other products, contributes the shock absorbers and exhaust system, including the three-way catalytic converter. Bayfill® EA, an energy-absorbing polyurethane system, forms the foam-covered roof frame of the C1. Bayfill® EA is manufactured by a subsidiary of Bayer Corporation of Leverkusen, Germany.




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