The three companies represented here—BMW, Honda, and Yamaha—have approached the concept differently. Yamaha’s methodology is simple: the evolution of the scooter. Just as sedans in the automotive world have grown from humble people haulers to luxurious, feature-laden transportation havens, so have scooters. Yamaha’s Majesty is a modest illustration of that, but punches above its weight in terms of amenities. Power comes from a four-valve, liquid-cooled, 395cc single that produces enough power to get going freeway speeds, but not in an inspiring way. To give an idea of Yamaha’s performance aspirations for the Majesty, the horsepower number isn’t even listed on the website. Hint taken.
Yamaha Majesty The riding experience (left) is well short of thrilling.
Ergonomically the Majesty is low and accessible, but with a low handlebar and forward-biased foot position it's a little cramped for taller riders. Still, wind protection is extremely thorough, especially when compared to the NC700X, and even compares favorably to the C600. The 13-inch rear wheel and 14-in. front share the same single 267mm disc, and while it might not seem like enough braking power for its weight (473 pounds wet), the Majesty manages to stop confidently.
As an everyday urban or commuting machine, the Majesty shines. Any rider will be immediately spoiled by the convenience of 60 liters of storage under the seat, and the welcoming nature of a low center of gravity. The riding experience, however, is less than majestic. Yamaha's scoot is perfectly agile for a bike with nearly 62 inches of wheelbase, but conservative steering geometry and a somewhat reclined seating position mean there isn't a lot of feedback. Acceleration is more than a little muted, too, an unavoidable side effect of substantial heft, a small engine, and a CVT instead of a conventional transmission.
Honda NC700X DCT
At the other end of the moto-scooter spectrum is the acronym-laden NC700X DCT ABS. Honda's goal with the NC was to steal a few moves out of the step-through playbook to create a genuine motorcycle with some of the practicality of a traditional scooter. Exhibit A: Moving the fuel tank under the seat, slinging the 670cc parallel twin forward, and creating 21 liters of storage between the saddle and the steering head.
To further distort the line between scooters and motorcycles this NC is equipped with the optional DCT, meaning no manual shifting required. It adds weight, making for a 502-lb. package, but it also reduces intimidation for new riders and adds convenience for everyone. Very scooter-like indeed. Where the NC differs most from scooters, Majesty and C600 included, is its stance. Honda’s New Concept clearly has the look of a conventional motorcycle, with 17-in. wheels, a conventional swingarm and drivetrain assembly, and most notably, all that mass between the rider’s legs, rather than air.
While the NC700X reaches from motorcycling towards the benefits of scooter-dom, BMW’s C600 Sport has aimed to redefine what a scooter is capable of. It is the heftiest of this bunch, tipping our scales at 557 lbs., but that’s pretty much where the downsides end.
The BMW-designed, Kymco-produced 647cc parallel twin makes a claimed 60 horsepower and is consistently surprising to use. The CVT engagement is reminiscent of the Majesty’s basic scooter acceleration, only with a lot more power on tap. The Yamaha is obviously outgunned, but it’s more than just displacement that makes the BMW so strong. The motor comes across as more aggressive. Once the centrifugal clutch engages, allowing the engine to sit at its preferred rpm, there is a rush of power that feels constant all the way to freeway speeds (and above).
The BMW is also extremely well equipped by any standard, and especially in the realm of scooters. Our C600 came with the optional $605 Highline Package that includes heated grips, heated seats (passenger, too), and tire pressure monitoring system. ABS is standard, along with other nice features like an adjustable windscreen and LED illumination in the storage compartment. Cargo capacity is bolstered by two cubbies in the dash for smaller items and an ingenious system called the Flexcase that expands into the space over the rear wheel to hold an additional helmet or other cargo under the seat, but only when the scoot is parked.