BMW patents front wheel ‘catcher’ to help with motorcycle head-on crashes


In a head-on collision, a motorcyclist will usually come off far worse than in any other type of crash. That’s largely due to the forces of the impact having nowhere to go and nowhere to dissipate, so the full impact gets transmitted straight back into the bike and rider.

BMW thinks it has worked out a way to cut the amount of force in these type of crashes and thanks to a patent filed on January 23, we can see what the German factory is thinking.

The idea is based around a very specific ‘V’ module that comes off the bottom of the frame (or front of the engine if it’s being used as a stressed member of the chassis design). The ‘V’ sits at the same height as the front wheel’s axle.

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In the event of a crash, the front wheel is usually pushed back into the motorcycle and is forced to one side or the other, becoming nothing to do with any possible force dissipation – but with this design the front wheel is pushed back into the ‘V’, held pretty much in a straight line in the direction of motion into the impact which then means that sufficient force is dissipated into the front wheel as it collapses.

The design, effectively, turns the front wheel into a crumple zone to get rid of a lot of energy on impact. BMW has obviously got one of these designs working because in the patent the German factory has submitted goes into very specific detail about the angles used in the ‘V’.

BMW says that the ‘V’ module has opening angles of between 50 and 90 degrees – although ideally if it can be fitted with angles of 60 and 80 degrees than that’s even better for catching the front wheel and holding it in such a way as to use all the ‘breaking’ properties of the front wheel. The patent goes on to says that the device should also be able to withstand lateral forces of at least 1000 Newtons.

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