EICMA 2011: BMW's C Maxi-scooters are Here!


We’ve covered BMW’s new maxi-scooters since they were drawings, on through the prototype stage, and now – finally! – they’re in production, coming to a BMW dealer near you early next year.

It’s no wonder we’re excited about the new BMW maxis.  They’re fast, they’re refined, and – offering 50+ mpg fuel economy and more than enough storage space for grocery runs – they’re extremely practical.  Compared to the current crop of hybrids, microcars, and high-mpg clean diesels coming from Toyota, Smart, and Chrysler/Fiat (respectively), big scooters like this offer many of the same low-emission “green” benefits, while using significantly fewer natural resources to build and maintain.  At the same time, maxi scooters like the C twins from BMW and the recently introduced Integra from Honda deliver performance the green cars can’t match.

It’s a bit like having your cake and nachos too, right?  Right!  So, with that in mind let’s take a look at what BMW hath wrought.

BMW C 650 GT transmission cutaway.

The BMW C650 GT and C600 Sport are both powered by the same 647 cc inline-twin, which puts 60 hp and nearly 50 lb-ft of torque through a super-efficient, continuously variable transmission (CVT, above) which hols the engine at the rpm where it’s achieving its maximum torque output (“peak efficiency”, in other words) and varies gear ratios around it, instead of the other way around like in the conventional (read:  “century old”) manual transmission’s design.

BMW C 650 GT sport-touring scooter.

The C650 GT (above) is built for city commuting, but makes concessions for long-distance touring riders in the form of a cushy seat and electrically-adjustable front windscreen. Compared to the C600 Sport, the C650 GT also offers significantly greater cargo capacity and a larger pillion (rear passenger) seat, as well.

The C600 Sport (below) makes use of the same engine and drivetrain as the C650 (the “smaller” number in the C600 Sport’s name – as in BMW’s road cars – seems to describe its slightly smaller overall size compared to the C650 GT), but is geared towards a more sporting experience for the rider.  There is less rear mass, less storage space (more on that in a minute), and less weather protection from a smaller front fairing (which should cut frontal area nicely, compared to the C650 GT, and lead to better mid-range acceleration).

BMW C 600 Sport scooter.
BMW C 600 Sport FlexCase.

One more thing that begs to be pointed out on the C 600 Sport (in addition to the speed, power, and overall sexiness of the C Sport) is the bike’s innovative solution to increasing storage capacity while maintaining a high-tail, “sporty” look. BMW calls it “FlexCase”, and describes it in the C600’s press release as follows:

The FlexCase for the C600 Sport is an innovative storage space concept. 
A flap in the tail base under the seat enlarges the storage space on the stationary vehicle. This can be used e.g. to hold two helmets.

If you’ve ever struggled with trying to find places to store bags and helmets when you’re riding 2-up on a sporty two-wheeler, you’ll IMMEDIATELY appreciate the FlexCase’s innovatitivity (I just made that word up).

You can check it out for yourself, at right.

BMW has a huge gallery of scooter photos at its BMW Motorcycle Magazine website, but I’ve pulled (what I think are) the best of the best and put them into a bit of a “highlight” gallery, below.


 Source:  BMW Motorcycle Magazine.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Marc P.

    “They’re fast, they’re refined, and – offering 50+ mpg fuel economy”

    I’ve always been surprised at the **relatively** high fuel consumption of these scooters. Although 50mpg might sound like a lot, when you factor in the weight of these scooters vs fuel economy and compare this ratio with that of a car or small SUV … it’s actually not that great if not really awful.

    Of course, doing your groceries with one of these as opposed to a car or truck is better for the environment but couldn’t the engineers get a lot more mpg’s from the engines considering the weight of these machines ???

  • I’m not sure your comment makes any sense. I mean, I get what you’re saying about mpg compared to weight, but consider that a car or small SUV (your examples) that weighs about 3500 lbs. Compared to 350 lbs for the scooter, it has 1000% the mass, but it does NOT have 1000% of the engine’s displacement – if it did, it would be a 3500 lb car with a 6.47L engine (Corvettes, Vipers, Hemi Jeeps, etc. all can be bought with engines around this size).

    Now, if you show my a 3500 lb car with over 6.0L of displacement that can keep up with this BMW in a straight line AND give back better than 50 mpg, you MIGHT have something. Otherwise, you just didn’t think this through.

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