Text: Neale Bayly • Photography: BMW North America
With a design philosophy to create a machine that has the functionality of a scooter and the riding pleasure of a motorcycle, BMW introduced their two new “Maxi-Scooters” recently in Madrid, Spain.
Centered on the same frame architecture and sharing a common power plant, the C 600 Sport and the C 650 GT come equipped with a quiet, smooth, water-cooled, parallel twin engine. Displacing 647cc and producing 60 hp at 7,500 rpm and 48 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm, both machines perform like a midsize motorcycle. With a 270-degree firing order, a 90-degree crank pin offset, and twin balancer shafts, vibration is almost non-existent until you get close to maximum speed. The cylinders tilt forward at a 70-degree angle, which lets the engine sit low in the frame. This makes the scooter a step-thru and helps centralize mass for better handling and maneuverability. Electronic fuel injection is used, and double overhead camshafts operate four valves per cylinder. Burned gasses exit through a stainless steel exhaust, which contains a closed-loop catalytic converter and oxygen sensor that meet upcoming Euro 4 standards.
For new riders, the big advantage maxi scooters have over motorcycles is no clutch to master and no gears to shift. Instead, they have a conventional throttle and directly integrated CVT (continuously variable transmission) to drive the rear wheel. It also has handlebar-operated brakes. Once the engine is running, all you do is twist the throttle to go and squeeze the levers to stop. Aided by antilock, hydraulically operated disc brakes, maxi scooters are safe, fun, and easy to ride.
Attending the press test in a busy, European city allowed me to quickly appreciate this ease of operation as I dodged cars, buses, other scooters, and pedestrians with aplomb.
With both variations of the scooter to ride, I started on the C 600 Sport and was immediately impressed by the handling as we ducked and dived through the busy Spanish streets, changing direction with the lightest nudge on the bars. This sharp steering doesn’t come at the expense of high-speed stability when you get up to highway speeds; even at around 80 mph, the scooters remain composed, comfortable, and stable.
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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the July/August 2012 back issue.