Backstory: BMW’s Olympic bicycle deal

Within its official scope as ‘Automotive and Sustainability Partner’ to the 2012 London Olympics, BMW has supplied the Organizing Committee (LOCOG) with 400 BMW bicycles. Yes, everyone is expected to follow the sustainability line – even the suits.

Left to right: Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson (Paralympic Olympian, retired), Ian Robertson (BMC), David Stubbs (LOCOG) and rower Mark Hunter (Olympian, current) – image credit, BMW


BMW’s involvement with the Olympic Games extends back to 1972 – incidentally, only one year before Mavic began supplying ‘neutral race support’ to professional cycling races; beginning with Paris-Nice in 1973 – when its first electric vehicle guided the marathon at the Munich Games.

As reported in the UK’s ‘Daily Mail’, the total – and exclusive – partnership is worth an estimated GBP150m (AUD220m). Ian Robertson, BMW’s global head of sales and marketing, Daily Mail as saying “we will supply almost 4,000 vehicles, in addition to the 400 bicycles, from diesels to electric cars, hybrids to motorcycles, as well as innovative new products like the Pedelec (electric bicycle).” Amongst BMW’s Olympic vehicle fleet are: 

318d, 320d and 520d diesel cars
‘5 Series’ Active Hybrid
200 electric vehicles (40 MINI Es and 160 ‘1 Series’ ActiveEs
Motorcycles (R1200 RT, R1200 GS, F650 GS)
400 Cruise bicycles
Electrically-assisted Pedelec bicycles

The BMW Cruise bike is built around a robust-looking aluminium frame, reportedly weighs 13.9kg and retails for around USD1,199 (AUD1,100). Inconceivably, the Cruise won a RedDot design award after its release in 2009. Friends on the committee?

Relatively speaking, BMW appears to have established a genuine long-term interest in cycling when compared to other automotive manufacturers – Porsche, Mercedes, Jeep, Volkswagen, Range Rover to name a few – who have merely dabbled as trends have ebbed and flowed; even supplying BMW Williams F1 drivers, Juan-Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, with BMW Q8-R road bikes almost ten years ago. In a similar vein, the German marque has also delved into television campaigns promoting cycling as transportation.




BMW has also recently supported – admittedly by popular vote, but BMW still supplied the platform to make it happen – emerging American female road cycling phenomenon Evelyn Stevens on her way to the 2012 Olympics. [Stevens’ story is an inspirational one – I recommend that anyone involved in recent discussion about the disinterest in women’s cycling should read more about Stevens, starting here]

On the downside, BMW is responsible for bringing some truly bland bicycles to life – a BMW Group subsidiary, ‘DesignworksUSA’, designed Neil Pryde’s ‘Diablo’ and ‘Alize’ road bikes but they aren’t part of BMW’s core bicycle design team – over the years. Cycling iQ eschews responsibility for loss of appetite, should anyone choose to peruse the following gallery over their lunch break. Warning, it gets better before it gets worse.


BMW’s Q8-R road bicycle


Mercifully, BMW’s branded road bicycles have improved since the Q8-R, but the auto maker could still try harder



Stock version of BMW’s ‘Cruise’



POST-SCRIPT: Bicycles at the Olympics are clearly not new, but neither is the concept of BMW supplying an “official bicycle” to the Games. A BMW-branded folding mountain bike, made under contract by American bicycle brand Montague, was the “official mountain bike” of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. ‘Popular Mechanics’ reviewed the bike in its April 1997 edition.


BMW/Montague mountain bike – built for 1996 Atlanta Olympics (from Popular Mechanics, April 1997 edition)