Hotter-Than-Pink BMW R20 Concept Motorcycle Rocks Biggest Big Boxer Engine Yet

BMW R20 concept 20 photos
Photo: BMW Motorrad
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In a certain respect, motorcycle lovers are somewhat at a disadvantage compared to people who dig more four-wheeled vehicles: whereas future cars are often previewed by concepts, bikes don't come along very often into the spotlight in some sort of pre-production form. And that makes concept bikes the likes of the BMW R20 we have here even more special.
The R20 moniker has been around in the German carmaker's portfolio of motorcycle names for ages now. Sure, it's hasn't been offered in a very long time, but the nameplate was born in the late 1930s as a 200cc-powered vehicle that could have been ridden with no license and, very importantly, carried no tax at the time.

The ride was around for just a couple of years at the time, because the start of the Second World War kind of put a halt to all things civilian. It never made a comeback into the bike maker's portfolio, at least not until this weekend, when it returned to the public eye as a concept.

BMW Motorrad took advantage of the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este event which took place at Lake Como in Italy to show the world an exciting new ride it simply calls the R20. Meant to celebrate "the highest craftsmanship" and to be "the epitome of expressive and cool design," the motorcycle is built around the mighty Big Boxer engine with a new displacement.

The Big Boxer is a type of motorcycle powertrain that's been on people's minds ever since 2019, when the company presented it to the world as the "highest-capacity 2-cylinder boxer engine of all time ever used in motorcycle series production." And the most powerful boxer BMW ever built, as well.

The engine made it into the world with a displacement of 1,802 cc, and generally delivers 91 hp and a maximum torque of 158 Nm. It is the powerplant chosen to power, first and foremost, the range of R 18 touring bikes, the family with which the Bavarians are assaulting a segment ruled over by Harley-Davidson.

BMW R20 concept
Photo: BMW Motorrad
Since its introduction, the Big Boxer has remained largely unchanged, but on the R20 we get a slightly bigger version that may or may not make it into a series production model. BMW said nothing to that end.

How big is the new interpretation? Well, BMW says something about a nice and round 2,000cc, officially making it the boxer to beat in terms of size. As far as performance numbers are concerned, we're told nothing.

The engine is not only larger than before but it also rocks new cylinder head covers and a new belt cover. In a bid to allow the pipes to be partially hidden, a new oil cooler had to be devised as well. The engine is tied to a 2-in-2 exhaust system to give the Big Boxer a proper growl.

On the R20 concept, the engine is held in place by a completely redesigned frame. The main part of the hardware is a double loop made of chrome-molybdenum steel tubes painted black. It features a two-arm setup at the rear, with a chrome-molybdenum steel swingwarm and aluminum Paralever strut at the rear (Paralever is the BMW Motorrad tech that brings together the rear suspension and power transmission in a single package).

The bike comes with an exposed driveshaft that was taken off the R 18, but shortened to be suitable for deployment on a roadster that sits on a 1,550 mm wheelbase.

The motorcycle is held on the ground by a combination of black disc and wire wheels. The one at the rear is the disc one, sized at 17 inches and is shod in a 200 mm wide tire. At the opposite end sits a wire wheel painted black, with the same diameter but wearing rubber that's only 120 mm wide.

BMW R20 concept
Photo: BMW Motorrad
The wheels are tied to suspension gear from the Ohlins Blackline range, and come with radially mounted brake calipers made by ISR.

Design-wise the R20 presents itself more like a custom bike than a concept coming from an established player in the industry. We're exposed to a rear end that's as bare naked as possible, with the wheel there located seemingly pretty far away from the rest of the build.

The fuel tank of the thing is the most in-your-face piece of bodywork not only because it seems a positively huge chunk of aluminum, but also because it's painted in a color described as being hotter than pink, a hue meant to be reminiscent of the 1970s.

Behind the tank sits a rear seat upholstered with quilted black Alcantara and fine-grain leather, a piece of hardware that also supports the integrated taillight. At the front, a LED headlight with a 3D-printed aluminum ring and integrated daytime running light has been installed.

BMW did not say what its plans are with the "casual gentleman style" R20 motorcycle it presented in Italy, but we wouldn't mind, at all, to see it on the streets in customers' hands.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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