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Horex: Why the New Premium German Brand Matters

The announcement earlier this week that the Horex brand has been resurrected in Germany, and has already designed a new model, carries with it some significance beyond that normally associated with the launch of any new marque. 

This is a premium product with high end engineering, and lots of money behind it.  Although surely in the works for several years (beginning prior to the current economic woes impacting the motorcycle industry), there is an air of confidence about this company and its first bike, a six-cylinder, supercharged machine with top drawer components expected to be priced north of $25,000 when it is launched in the Fall of 2011. 

By all appearances, Horex is not only well funded, but in place with powerful investors and sponsors prepared to launch production on schedule.  Even in better economic times, premium brands have frequently attempted to launch with great fanfare . . . only to slip away into oblivion before any real product rolls off the assembly line. 

Horex at least seems to be taking a page from John Bloor’s book at Hinkley and will use the VR6 (yes, similar to Volkswagen’s engine layout) to power a number of different models in addition to the first, standard version pictured. 

The VR6 is also “modular” such that two cylinders could be lopped off to create an 800cc VR4 (similar to another Hinkley trick when it made fours alongside its triples).

The VR cylinder arrangement is new to the motorcycle industry, but it certainly makes a lot of sense.  The very narrow angle can keep vibration levels low (close to that of a straight six) yet the engine is nearly as compact as an inline four.  According to Horex, computer simulations indicate the 1200cc engine, with its compact supercharger, can easily make 175 to 200 horsepower at safe piston speeds.  Not surprising, really. 

While the engine is the biggest curiosity, the single-sided swingarm coupled with belt drive is also of interest.  The front fork is a massive 50mm unit. 

Horex should achieve its goal of seamless, smooth, massive power and torque at virtually all rpm levels.  The engine layout and displacement, coupled with the supercharger, makes this achievable, and it should make for an interesting and enjoyable rider experience.

The design of the initial prototype is either boring or sophisticated, depending on your perspective.  Peter Naumann, a professor of design at the University of Munich, is responsible.  He states that, although the spirit of older Horex designs is in the new bike, it is intended to show a modern direction, as well.  Horex says it reflects “a confident, modern style with clean lines, quality materials and carefully crafted brand details.” 

Horex will be at Intermot in Cologne this October to display the prototype.  It is planned for sale in Germany, Austria and Switzerland late next year before expansion to other markets.  The world economy might dictate otherwise, but we certainly hope this interesting concept springs to life on schedule so that we can ride one.

57 Comments

  1. Tom Barber says:

    This is not a V-configuration at all. It uses a VW-type in-line six with alternate cylinders pushed just far enough to one side or the other to allow the length to be shortened, at the expense of the ideal balance that is characteristic of in-line six-cylinder engines. Contrary to popular belief, the cylinder configuration has no direct effect on the torque curve or the power curve, or the overall character of the engine. The cylinder configuration influences only the packaging and the balance characteristics, both of which are much more important in a motorcycle application than in a car application. This engine should be nearly as smooth as a true in-line six, although not quite so, and will be shorter than a true in-line six would be. Personally, I don’t get it, because Honda demonstrated conclusively with the CBR1100XX that an in-line four-cylinder engine can be practically as smooth as an electric motor.

    Engine torque at a given engine speed is linearly related to the quantity of air and fuel that the engine takes in per each individual intake stroke (or per individual cycle or rotation) at that engine speed. To influence engine torque at some given engine speed, it is absolutely necessary to influence that quantity of air and fuel. To the extent that the cylinder configuration has any influence at all on this quantity of air and fuel, it is not direct and at best is a secondary effect of the bore/stroke ratio used and of the routing of the intake and exhaust plumbing. There is no true, intrinsic correlation between the cylinder configuration and the torque characteristics of the engine.

  2. Norm G. says:

    guys, 2 words… Lancia Fulvia. narrow angle V4 produced from 1963-1976 in 6 different displacements ranging from 1.1L-1.6L fueled by twin Weber carbs. for a long time i too thought VW pioneered this architechture, but not so much. i was waiting for when this design would show up in motorcycles. thought it would show up in motogp first (or at least a chassis of more sporting intent). :( however, tom is right, no point in going through the expense of introducing this configuration to motorcycles if your not going to do a better job of highlighting this engine to the buying public. engine variety/character is one of the things that seperates us from the cagers. who knows, its early days, maybe they’ve only begun to fight…?

  3. Tom says:

    Nice bike. Would have been nice to see that narrow V featured more prominently in the castings of the cylinder heads. I hear it’s a narrow-V, but I want to SEE it. And brag about it. Market and accentuate that coolness!

  4. cyclezen says:

    JABBAM – just another boring big ass motorcycle – whether it will any paying customers is the Big Q. Coming to market in fall of 2011? wake me up when something happens…

    new format – indifferent… I had no issues with the oldestyle, new style may be more appetizing to advertisers. Content drives this ‘moto’, and I gotta say, content isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be…

  5. rapier says:

    I am all for the return of forced induction for motorcycles but not in a 1200. I’m thinking 600 to 750cc range 110hp give or take. Not suicide or curb side machines but lighter smaller practical machines with the quickness the torque gives and better mileage while cruising. Supercharging has advantages but noise, packaging, reliability (of the unit) , efficiency and cost suggest turbo is the way to go. Not to detract from this exercise. It’s great to see people invest real money in real things, not fancy fictitious financial instruments. (Harley is scheduled to produce and entirely new motor in 2169.)

  6. Pete says:

    seems odd to go to all the expense of a single sided swingarm just to hide the clean side behind the pipes!

  7. Steve says:

    Bigger, faster, louder just gets old. Where is the real innovation?

  8. shaoL says:

    I like the clean style, but I don’t need 200hp and don’t want to spend that kind of $$. If they build an air cooled single 600 for 5k I’d buy one.

  9. Brian says:

    You would think since they’re bragging about “German Engineering” that they would have realized why everyone uses an undertail exhaust system with single sided swingarms. Take a look at that photo and tell me how the wheel comes off without removing the exhaust. Not impressed.

    • JS says:

      Brian,

      I’d say it’s tight, but the center-mounted hubnut probably lets the wheel fall away behind those (4 into 4??) pipes.

      • JS says:

        Sorry…six into three, I guess.

        • Brian says:

          Nah, not buying it. Look at the head-on view of the bike. Those pipes sweep in right where a normal swingarm would go. No way will that clear. There is going to have to be a re-design to the exhaust to make it work.

  10. jimbo says:

    I’d prefer Suzuki release their inline 6 shown a few years ago. Yummmy…Who cares about engine width when you got the smoothness and sound of a 6 under you? I still can’t get the sound of a CBX with a header out of my head.

  11. mick from Sydney Australia says:

    I like it. A bit chunky but purposeful, brutal looks … like UFC’s Brock Lesnar on two wheels.

  12. kpaul says:

    Nice article Dirck
    I am intrigued by the engine design and like it’s clean although touch boring looks.

  13. Richard Grumbine says:

    Hmmmmm I like the idea of the bike… but its appearance leaves me flat. The horex 644 was beautiful in its own quirky way and looked unique… his bike looks rather… ahhhh… east german boring… in fact I think the MZ designs were more atractive… and they had the good sense to keep their prices low…

    I know horex wants to be a high end brand… but that will require a better, more distinctive look… and the engine.., good as it may be… lacks some pizzaz when its VW roots are revealed…

    I doubt this one will make it… but I wish them luck!

  14. nick says:

    not a bad overall design, reminds me of some of the standard-style Guzzi’s that have been released in that last 10 years or so. the super-short travel fork gives away the fact that this is a mock-up though… or maybe the VR6 is just that heavy? ;)

  15. harry says:

    Jay Leno will buy one.

  16. Gary T says:

    Works for me. Maybe add a GS1000 style quarter fairing. But then again, I liked the simplicity of he old web design…

  17. Bob says:

    It’s a boring retro style. A sporty chassis would have been nicer. The engine is definitely the showpiece.

    Don’t worry about the belts, they’re stronger than chains. I’ve put 130 RWHP through my narrow 1″ belt for 70k miles so far. 900 HP nitro drag bikes also run belt primaries (4″ wide) so imagine 225 HP through a 1″ belt. There are 1-1/4″ belts available too. No worries. The only advantage to chains is easy gear ratio changes.

    • Randy Singer says:

      Bob said:
      “Don’t worry about the belts, they’re stronger than chains. I’ve put 130 RWHP through my narrow 1″ belt for 70k miles so far. 900 HP nitro drag bikes also run belt primaries (4″ wide) so imagine 225 HP through a 1″ belt. There are 1-1/4″ belts available too. No worries. The only advantage to chains is easy gear ratio changes.”

      What motorcycle do you have that puts out 130rwhp and has a belt final drive? Not one that came OEM that way, I’ll wager.

      The belt primaries on drag bikes are HUGE, far too large to be used as final drives on street bikes. They also only have to last for two or three miles (one drag meet) before replacement.

      Chain final drive also has the advantages of being able to be replaced by the side of the road, as well as being able to handle huge amounts of horsepower still using a very narrow/compact form factor.

  18. David M says:

    Not truly a Vee engine. I had to Google this one and found a very good understanding of the engine at Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VR6_engine

  19. PK says:

    Let me get this straight … supercharged V6, somewhere just under 200HP … and it’s BELT drive???!!! Holy rubber band Batman! The single-sided swingarm looks a little on the small side as well. At least the front end looks like it’ll do the job.

  20. jack says:

    Slightly bland, but not outright ugly styling. Big horsepower, but likely heavy bike. All with a hefty price tag. Don’t blink, this one will be out of business soon enough.

  21. Gerry says:

    200 hp on a bike wiht no wind protection? What are they thinking?

  22. Brad says:

    The VR head design is a GREAT idea. Get the benefits of engine balancing while using a single head. I love how narrow they keep the engine, it looks as narrow as a 4 cylinder. I’m sure 6 cylinders is a big driver for the cost but I bet it sounds really sweet!

  23. Mark Flanagan says:

    I like the looks of everything but the sides of the engine and the triple exhaust. Gotta be a small fuel tank, no?

  24. Nate says:

    Ok wait… 175 to 200 hp… and a belt drive? no. no no no.

  25. Bud says:

    Horex styling does not say “premium price, top notch engineering”, it says “resurrected East German failure”. But the compactness of the design is impressive. On the other hand, ask a mechanic about the VR6, it may scare you away from this design.

    And I’ll cast a vote in favor of the site. I like the asphalt background and it’s worlds better than the old one.

  26. One of the most interesting machines previewed in years……new engineering (and it’s German), looks like a real motorcycle and is in line price wise with anything in the 175hp range. keen…..

  27. Trevor says:

    It’s not about NEED, Bill, it’s about WANT. People don’t buy top-shelf anything because they need it.

  28. Nicolas says:

    If, someday, I have 25000$ to put on a bike I will invest on a Ducati…

  29. ERNDOG says:

    Another outragious (200HP), expensive, non-practical motorcycle hitting the market. At least the riding position seems comfortable.

  30. Bob says:

    I’m not convinced….I need to “Munch” on it awhile……

  31. Patrick says:

    I wonder if there’s any connection to VW/Porche or their tech services in this “new” VR6….I’ve read in the past that there was interest at VW concerning entering the arena of motorcycle production….hey kirk66, does UGM stand for Universal German Motorcycle(aka UJM) or is that UGLY German Motorcycle? You can’t blame them for making something that looks a bit CB1100….sort of a stealth/subliminal vintage kind of thing…with a high-tech German chaser….almost irresistable to the old guys that have enough going on to afford one of these….I can’t wait to see who makes it to market first with their (6).I’m hopeful this will initiate the “Proof of Concept” from BMW on their six….

  32. Chad says:

    hmmmm….. half Guzzi Breva and half Yamaha V-Max. Not so sure on this one yet….

  33. Bill says:

    besides the front brakes, it reminds me of a buell, with its plastic-looking parts. And at 25 smackeroos…if i had that much i’d help you guys out with a different website design.
    I don’t know much about engine design as a function of performance/vibration, but 200 hp,good gravy! who needs this? they should invest their money into engineering an electric power plant rather than over engineering this 200hp beast.

  34. kirk66 says:

    Look Mom, it’s a UGM. Personally, as much as I admire the look and the technology paying $25k for it seems ridiculous.

  35. Bowtiedaddyo says:

    25k for a new model in this economy doesn’t make any since to me. They need to hide that radiator. Belt drive looks like it came from a Buell Blast. I happen to like the new web design

  36. Oldfart01 says:

    Reminds me of the older V-Max, and not in a good way. For big money it should be nicer. Hate your new page design.

  37. Justin says:

    That bike is tits! Your new web design is not.

  38. Motorod says:

    Very nice. I hope all those upscale types appreciate what Horex is doing for them. What is this obsession with horsepower, esp. here at the end of the oil age? There is only so much hp. that is useable in the real world. Me, I can’t afford any track days. I suppose the upscale types will still afford to ride this fire-breather @ Infineon long after fuel passes $25 a gallon. I’ll probably be looking for a Honda Cub on Ebay.

    Glad to see you finally updated your page. Much better.

  39. Fuzzyson says:

    Looking good so far! When are they building a sport-tourer?

  40. Steven S says:

    Put a regular 4 cylinder motor and get a pretty boring bike. History will not be kind to this bike. Besides the motor it got nothing to say at all. Boring.

  41. Jerry says:

    Following BMW we may see Germany as the land of “six’s”. The revival of boutique brands- Norton, Indian (strike 3), Moto Marini and others. I’m still waiting for the rebirth of Spain in the likes Bultaco, Ossa and a real Montesa that isn’t a Honda. Even though I’m of an age to remember the golden years I’m also of an age not to have great interest to purchase! I hope there are enought “Jay Leno’s” out there to allow the industry and flock of vintage brands to all fly once again.

  42. AlDog says:

    Nice! Looks like antilock brakes are fitted, and the exhaust is different without looking like all the inexplicably ugly “Transformer Trombones” that Japanese bikes seem to be getting these days.

  43. Wendy says:

    oh, dear. I want to park this next to my Hesketh and Excelsior. I was too late for the Gilroy Indian. BTW, I like hte new page design. The pavement is a bit not good. Otherwise, the design is a major step forward.

    • Dave Kent says:

      Ditto on the website’s “pavement” treatment. Every time I pull up this site and see pavement that close to my nose, I lowside my chair, roll across my office and slam back first into the copier. No problem with that, but now my boss is onto my web surfing at work…

  44. Several new startups have failed to even make it to the working prototype stage in recent years. Al Melling’s Nortons immediately come to mind. It is with this in mind that I usually view any new offerings with a jaded eye, looking for claims that sound suspicious.

    What immediately caught my eye was belt final drive for a heavy motorcycle that will supposedly make as much as 200 HP. Have there been any motorcycles with belt-drive, even racing motorcycles, that have been able to handle anywhere near that amount of horsepower? I can’t think of anything more powerful than 60HP racing 250 Kawasaki’s and 70HP Harley big vee-twins. Has Horex advanced the state of the art in belt drives that much?

  45. Sands says:

    I like it….Looks like it has a very nice quality to it…And finally, something innovative and exciting coming to the market with a narrow angle v6 and supercharger!

  46. Rene says:

    This thing looks great! I love the styling. I can’t decide if it looks ultra-modern or 1980’s retro, but I love it. The price puts it out of reach of all but a few, and that ill be its biggest problem, I think.

  47. simon says:

    Very nice looking bike, ….are those rizoma mirrors? Oh, your new web design still sucks.