I never understood the joy of Technic Motorcycles. And yet here I am, staring at the box of one. I would never have bought this set were I not aiming to put together the Reimagined Technic Car Chassis 8860 . But people seem to be interested in it. Every time I attend my local LUG, somebody else is putting it together. And they seem to be enjoying it. And they aren’t all the people I expect to see putting Technic sets together! So what is the appeal?
But surely it’s just two wheels, a fuel tank, engine, handlebars, and a bit of trim? How much variation can you get out of it? The first Technical Motorcycle was set 857 Motorbike with Sidecar, released in 1979. This vehicle featured the same wheels ultimately used in 8860 (albeit only 3 of them). The single cylinder piston engine attached to the rear wheel via a chain drive; the ride was a little rough due to lack of suspension, and the front forks were 6 studs wide, and built from a multitude of bricks and plates. The seat was wide and comfortable and the fuel tank extremely chunky. A side car made a third wheel necessary!
How on earth could any of that be different? I mean that first set had a massive 409 pieces, with lots of red, black, grey and blue. However, here we have a very different vehicle: with only 197 pieces more than the first one! It has a recommended retail price of $AUD89.99 (just under 15¢/piece). It has been around during recent 20% sales in Australia shops.
And so I set about putting it together.
And the differences become apparent from that first set pretty quickly. I will ignore the bricky nature of the early technic sets as a point of difference here, as it is a difference that affects every technic(al) set released before 1996, when studies beams started to appear. The transition took a few years, and was not complete until around the turn of the century.
So this build starts with the engine block. An early fundamental difference is the presence of 2 cylinders rather than one in that original bike. And it drives the rear wheel (and vice versa). This time however, a drive shaft is used, just like the real BMW R 1200GS, not a chain.
This is a bike that is designed for Adventure, apparently (it’s in the name)! And adventure in this context means off the beaten track. This bike has suspension for each wheel, ensuring a smooth ride.
The forks are much narrower here, compared with that original bike: only 4 studs wide ( but mostly a bit narrower due to the outer aspect being predominantly axles rather than bricks. They steer, but without moving the upper part of the front body of the bike, which wraps around the forks.
I cannot find an obvious seat on this model in fact. The fuel tank is clean and tidy, and there are 3 pannier boxes attached. These have hinged lids, which I think is a rather nifty touch.
So, despite my thinking that the bike couldn’t be very different, it turns out that just about every specific aspect of the bike has changed in its basic constructional techniques over the last 40 years!
Forty years: A Lot was going on back in 1977…
Now LEGO Technic is not the only think turning 40 this year. 2017 also represents the 40th anniversary of the entry of STAR WARS into the global pop-culture consciousness. And this week just happens to coincide with International Star Wars day: May the Fourth (be with you…).
I was wondering who I could display with the bike. Even an army of stormtrooper minifigures standing on each others shoulders would look out of scale with this motorcycle.I don’t have many of the constructable figures… in fact at present I only have one built up, with another in the cupboard waiting for a rainy day (General Grievous if you must know).
A few weeks ago I wrote about K2SO from Rogue One, last year’s Star Wars Story. The reprogrammed Imperial Droid made a near perfect transition to constructable figure. I found myself wondering how he would compare with the BMW R 1200GS Adventure for scale. The bike has no clearly defined seat, which is fine, because the droid does not have a clearly defined posterior! So I sat him down on the seat as best I could, and replaced the handlebars with some axles, allowing him to attach straight on.
And then I thought… this is all very well, but as amusing as a robot looks riding a motorcycle, perhaps he could ride something a little more ‘futuristic’.
And then I remembered the B Model: the Hovercycle.
Designed by members of the LEGO® Technic design team working with the BMW Motorrad designers, this vehicle appeared as a real concept vehicle at LEGOWorld in Copenhagen, earlier in the year. As time has passed, it has become clear that this was an example of the two design teams working together to put together their dream bike, without the limits of technical plausibility.
But first I had to dismantle the motorcycle. This took the better part of an hour to do. Sorting the beams from the connectors, axles, gears and panels took longer than I expected. Pulling these models apart is almost as challenging as putting them together.
An Appealing B-Side
The hover bike looks terrific, maintaining the design style of the Motorrad R1200GC Adventure BUT looking completely unlike any bike I have ever seen. It has some mechanisms of interest:
The rotation of the ‘fan’ at the rear of the unit is linked to the pistons of the engine, as well as the rotation of the jet inlet at the front of the model.
The front stabilisers can lift up as wings or drop to act as part of a 3 point stand. This movement is spring loaded via the use of the suspension units.
Turning the handlebars will adjust the angle of the vertical steering fins.
Moving the handlebars forward and back will raise and lower the rear ‘fan’
The seat is more obvious here than it is on the bike.
There are also a large number of 5 unit long girders, which are used to put together a stand to support the model in flying mode.
Again, I tried this model out with K2SO. He appears a little more oversized here compared to the regular motor bike, but he looked more or less in his element.
So I took the model outside to the garden, attached K2SO to the handlebars, and touched up some details after…I hope you like the results.
I really enjoyed these two builds. They were more complex, and took longer than I originally anticipated. Each build took me around two hours in front of mildly engaging television. To say nothing of another hour to dismantle it each time. This model has more sophisticated vehicle features than either of the other Technic models I have reviewed recently (Microlight Helicopter 42057 and the Telehandler 42061). Adding the Constructable K2SO figure to it enhanced my play experience, and both models were quite swooshable.
I give the BMW Motorrad R 1200GS Adventure (42063) a solid 4/5 Arbitrary Praise Units.
Now all I need to do is dismantle all three models in preparation to putting together the revised 8860 chassis. That sounds like another few hours work, especially if it is to be vaguely sorted.
In the meantime
May the Fourth be with you