Common Tread

Spy shots show BMW plans to go small

Apr 28, 2015

BMW has done a wonderful job at creating a lineup of premium motorcycles that represents some of the finest works of engineering and design. Now, they're aiming at entry-level and small-displacement-loving riders.

The writing has been on the wall for quite some time. In the spring of 2013, BMW and Indian manufacturer TVS Motor Co signed a deal to create a new range of sub-500 cc motorcycles. TVS is the fourth-largest maker of motorcycles and scooters in India, and the deal was a part of BMW's new business plan to "realign" its motorcycle business and expand. (Part of this switch also meant selling Husqvarna.)

Now we have spy shots of what has been code-named the K03. This, which is most likely the first of BMW's new models, appears to be a small naked bike. If forced to guess, my money would be on a 300 cc unit, though I won't pretend that my eyes can discern the size from these (or any) photos.

BMW spy shot
Sub-500 cc BMW spied. Photo by BMH Images.

The prototype certainly has a long way to go before seeing a dealership floor, but the inverted fork, alloy wheels, and nicer rubber should see their way onto the production model. It's hard to believe that tiny little light will put out enough illumination or be generic enough for new riders. However, part of me would love to see BMW really swing for the fences in the looks department — if only to ensure their little naked is never confused with a Honda CB300F.

Assuming the Germans are meeting their deadlines (which they are, because they're Germans), this bike should actually see release sometime before the end of the year. Statements were made last May of a release in the third or fourth quarter of 2015.

BMW spy shot
Will BMW bring a higher level of components to the small-bike class? Photo by BMH Images.

Some things to think about:

  • Let's assume this K03 makes the same power as the CB300F, but has a nicer fork and that lovely BMW fit and finish (which it will need, in order not to dilute the marque's reputation). Can BMW convince people that this isn't just a starter bike and is worth paying more?
  • Given BMW's reputation and disposition towards the dirt, could this lead the way to the first 300 cc or sub-500 cc adventure bike?
  • Will American buyers get over the fact that it's made in India?
  • Will this even come to the United States, or will BMW let Honda continue to rule the sub-500 cc sandbox a while longer?
  • Who's ready to ride a BMW S 300 RR?

For a little icing on the cake, I begged a source of mine to give me a teaser on where BMW is headed. All she would confirm is that they have six or more new bikes coming in various displacements and that they're "all the ones you have hoped they would do."

Can anyone guess what sort of models I'm hoping they are?