They say: “New urban mobility solutions.”
We say: “That work beyond the city.”
Three years ago, BMW took the plunge to develop its first scooter since the unsuccessful roofed C1 of a decade ago. In fact, two scooters: a sporty model and a more touring-oriented machine.
Both the C600 Sport and C650 GT utilize a 647cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine, which produces a claimed 60 bhp at 7500 rpm. Transmission is via a typical scooter CVT, but the final drive is unusual: a conventional chain fully enclosed in an oil bath. The front sprocket is concentric with the swingarm pivot, further improving chain life.
Chassis design is inspired as much by motorcycles as by scooters. While still a traditional step-through, the tubular-steel frame uses the motor as a stressed member. The frame bolts to an aluminum rear subframe. Suspension on both models comprises a 40mm inverted fork and an angled rear shock on the left. Fat-tired, 15-inch cast wheels and ABS-equipped triple disc brakes are common to both.
At the Madrid press intro, the big, blue C600 was good fun on twisty roads, setting a decent pace and encouraging enthusiastic cornering with pleasantly neutral steering that made dodging traffic easy. On the freeway it cruised at 85-90 mph, effortlessly keeping up with traffic and holding even more power in reserve.
Straight-line performance was more than adequate, with the Sport staying very smooth at highway cruising speeds. Top speed is an electronically limited 112 mph. More usefully, the scooter averaged a respectable 40 mpg, and returned over 50 mpg when ridden less enthusiastically.
Both scooters share the same chassis. The C600 Sport shown here has lower bars, a shorter
Suspension was particularly good: firm enough to allow pretty hard cornering without the wallowing generated by lesser scooters. The only disappointing area was braking, a problem shared by the GT. The front stopper lacked in bite and power, and the rear—controlled by a left-hand lever—felt rather wooden, and too quick to get into the ABS.
At a claimed 548 lbs., the Sport is a fair bit heavier than its nearest competitor, Yamaha’s T-Max, with a tall seat height that means shorter riders won’t be able to get both feet down at once.
The big seat hinges up to reveal the most innovative part: the FlexCase storage system that allows a flexible bottom of the underseat storage area to open downwards, giving room for a second full-face helmet while parked. Unfortunately, it’s only available on the Sport.
BMW has put a lot of thought and effort into the C-series scooters. While they aren’t so brilliant they’ll outclass the opposition the way the S1000RR superbike did two years ago, both offer a useful combination of speed, stable handling, comfort and features. Both machines will be available in America as 2013 models this fall, with prices announced closer to that date.