Take the new BMW scooters for a test ride and you could end up forgetting you are on a scooter.
The BMW C 600 Sport and C 600 GT feel more like motorbikes than scooters. BMW calls its SUVs Sports Activity Vehicles or SAVs, while BMW Motorrad refer to their maxi scooters as “urban mobility models”. Whatever you call them, I call them fun.
The Sport starts at $13,990 ($17,844 in NZ) and the GT is $15,990 ($20,990). On-road costs are extra. That compares with the list price of the competitors – Honda NC700D Integra at $10,990; Yamaha T-Max 530 at $12,990 and the Suzuki Burgman 650 $13,290.
However, the BMW learner-approved (LAMS) scooters add on-board computer and sophisticated suspension. The BMWs and the Suzuki are the only ones with ABS.
The GT comes standard with daytime LED running lights, heated seat and grips, tyre pressure monitor and LED indicators all of which you can also add to the Sport in the high line optional package for $1250 ($1590 NZ).
An alarm system is available for both bikes at $505 ($644) and there is a wide range of accessories that include luggage, racks, Akropovic muffler (non-ADR), sports seat, satnav, alarm and bigger/smaller windscreens.
The Sport is a “leaner” model aimed at the younger market and the GT is aimed at more mature riders.
Despite the different numbering in their model names, both scoots are powered by a 647cc parallel twin engineered by BMW techs in Germany and built in Taiwan by scooter and ATV manufacturer Kymco which also supplies the continuously variable transmission.
The engine is a smooth and grunty unit with 44kW of power and 66Nm of torque. It has a double-overhead cam, four valves per cylinder and as expected from BMW, it burns lean with fuel consumption rated at 4.5L/100km at a constant speed of 90km/h. At about 4.9L/100km on test, there is decent inter-city range of more than 300km from the 16L tank.
These scooters run on 15-inch wheels, which is unusual in the scooter world and is part of the reason they ride so well over our pitted and pockmarked roads. The front tyre is a 120/70 so it doesn’t track and the rear is a fattish 160/60 so there is plenty of corner grip and highway stability.
The suspension is sophisticated with 40mm upside down forks and seven-step adjustable shock. Sport obviously has a sportier feel while the GT is plush and cushy, thanks also to the comfy seat and extra 12kg of weight that helps it plough through the obstacles. Sport turns into corners a little quicker than the GT but with a 15-inch front wheel neither feels vague.
Brakes are simply stunning. Front brakes have a nice feel with good bite, but on a scooter it’s the rear brake that often provides more stopping power. Rider comfort is guaranteed on both scooters, although the GT has a lumbar support that will make long distances an easy task. There is also a 20mm lower no-cost factory option seat available for both scooters. Pillions will enjoy the deep and wide padding, grab handles and floorboards on the GT. The Sport has rear flip-out footpegs.
Under the seat is plenty of room for a full-face helmet in both, although we found some helmets wouldn’t fit – it depends on the brand. GT also has space for a backpack and other odds and sods, plus two small lockable gloveboxes up front.
Sport has a nifty “Flexcase” in the rear part of its underseat compartment. Push a button and the bottom drops down to accommodate another full-face helmet. It uses the space between the wheel arch and tyre, so there is a cutout switch to prevent you turning on the engine and riding off with a helmet stowed there. Clever.
There are also some clever BMW touches in the practical design such as the brake that activates when the side stand is down so you can park it facing downhill, gloveboxes that lock when you switch off the ignition and seat heaters that can be operated by the rider with a button on the handlebars or by the pillion with a secondary switch on the seat.
They feature an on-board computer with all the usual comprehensive info about range, economy, temperature etc, but with the Sport’s attraction to youth and the GT’s capacity to tour, we’d also like an iPod/USB socket or perhaps even Bluetooth.
These are very handsome and modern pieces of urban machinery that are both attractive and practical.