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BMW Developing Adaptive Cooling

BMW is developing an adapting cooling system for motorcycles – not to prevent overheating, but to improve aerodynamics, using shutters to close off the radiators when demand for cooling is low. There’s actually nothing new about the idea as many modern cars – including BMWs – use the same system, but this would be a first for a bike.

In its patent application, the company points out that motorcycle cooling systems are designed to cope with extreme cooling demands, such as maximum power in blistering temperatures. As a result, radiators need to be relatively large, out in the airstream and are permanently open to air flow.

Most of the time, not all of this cooling capacity is needed, so BMW has developed a system of servo-driven shutters which automatically reduce airflow through the radiator – or prevent it altogether – to smooth airflow and thus improve aerodynamics. The patent application is illustrated with a GS-style bike, suggesting that adaptive cooling may feature on the R1300GS, due for launch in 2024.

Unlike its cars in which sliding shutters block off the airflow behind the grille, BMW’s idea for the motorcycle equivalent would have louvers that would open and close and stop air from passing through the radiator, improving aerodynamics.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, said: “This is an idea with roots going way back, in BMW’s case, to their aero engine heritage. Radiators, louvres and drag are a big deal in aircraft, with controlled ducting worth much horsepower, particularly at low altitude, where the air is denser. Sounds very appropriate for motorcycles, doesn’t it? If I had a slightly luddite comment to make, it would be that I hope for everyone’s sake, the shutters ‘fail-safe’ in the open position? Frying an engine because of the lack of air flow through the radiator would be a turn-off. I’ve had similar experiences via defective thermo-switches, not cutting fans in. ”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of

In article image courtesy of BMW