2012 BMW C600 Sport & C650GT: Two Ways to Scoot

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Kevin Wing, Jonathan Beck

Last season we attended a press event in Spain to give us a first impression of BMW’s two new maxi-scooters—the C 650 GT and the C 600 Sport (July/August ‘12 issue). We finally got an opportunity to test these scooters in the U.S., and our second look here includes full specs.

The C 650 GT is aimed at folks (like many of our readers) who want to travel and be comfy on long rides, while the 600 Sport will appeal to urban motorcyclists who seek a sportier machine. The 650 GT has a wider tail with extra cargo space, more comfort, and additional weather protection. Styling cues on the 600 Sport include a narrow tail and side panels, which contribute to a leaner appearance. Front turn signals are integrated in the mirrors on 650 GTs; on 600 Sports they are in the fairing.

Powertrain and Performance

Both scooters share major powertrain features and specs. Although the model designation would imply a difference in displacement, power in both models comes from a 647cc liquid cooled parallel twin. The compact dual-overhead cam engine with four valves per cylinder is leaned forward 70 degrees. Both models are rated 60 hp at 7,500 rpm with 49 lb-ft of peak torque at 6,000 revs. Fuel injection facilitates immediate starts, whether hot or cold, sans manual controls. The stainless steel exhaust system has a closed-loop catalytic converter with oxygen sensor to comply with strict emission limits.

The 90-degree crank-pin offset, 270-degree firing spacing, and two balance shafts work together to produce a smooth power delivery (along with a pleasing exhaust sound). A continuously variable transmission (CVT) feeds engine power to a chain running in an oil bath that connects to the rear wheel. Acceleration is seamless and peppy, particularly at the mid-range speeds for which scooters are most commonly used. At normal highway velocities there is sufficient power reserve for passing and hill climbing, even with a passenger. BMW’s claimed top speed is 109 mph, and the scooters can cruise comfortably at 75 mph.

Chassis and Handling

The frame consists of a tubular steel bridge with diecast aluminum parts and utilizes the engine as a stressed member to reduce flexing. Handling is improved by cutting the unsprung weight with a light alloy, single-sided swingarm. Up front there’s an upside-down 40mm fork; in the back, a single shock with adjustable preload handles suspension chores. Travel at both ends is 4.5 inches.

Both models have dual disc brakes in front with a single rotor in the rear. All are 270mm in diameter with two-piston calipers. Tire sizes are bigger than most scooters and nearer to motorcycle specs. Both models are fitted with 120/70 R15 front and 160/60 R15 rear rubber. Traction is good and allows riders to corner aggressively with greater confidence.

The scooters have rigid chassis as well as good handling, stability, and response, which provide a sporty and firm ride that is noticeably better than most. Both models turn in easily and quickly and track well through turns. Braking is powerful and easy to apply via two hand levers. Anti-lock braking systems are standard on all models, and the ABS is unobtrusive yet works when needed. There’s also a parking brake which engages automatically when the sidestand is extended to prevent the scooter from rolling when parked on hills.

Features and Ergonomics

The C 650 GT’s electrically adjustable windscreen is the larger of the two and provides more weather protection with little buffeting; whereas the C600 Sport’s screen is mechanically adjustable to three positions and gives less coverage.

With an easy to see analog speedometer, the dash is similar to that of a motorcycle, and it offers more functions than those usually found on scooters. Next to the analog speedo is an LCD panel with gauges for fuel, air temperature, and mileage, as well as an odometer and dual trip meters.

If the Highline option package is selected (which includes heated grips and seats), you’ll also get the optional tire pressure monitoring system.

Ergonomics vary between the two models. The C 650 GT has a more comfortable saddle with a seat height of 30.7 inches, a higher handlebar, and passenger footboards. The C 600 Sport has a sportier riding posture and flatter handlebar with a seat height of 31.8 inches and passenger footpegs. We found the GT to be more comfy for long rides.

Although both models offer significant underseat storage, the 650 GT has more space 

(2.1 cubic feet), and while riding, you can stow an extra full-face helmet in the front part of the compartment. When the bike is parked, though, BMW’s unique FlexCase design creates an expanding space under the rear of the saddle so that a pair of helmets can be stowed. The flexible floor is released and drops toward the rear wheel, thereby availing space for a second helmet or riding gear. BMW has also developed a useful selection of accessories, which includes a large top trunk for added utility.

Final Thoughts

BMW engineers used their many decades of motorcycle experience to create a scooter with excellent riding dynamics. We were pleased with the fit and finish, performance, handling, and styling of the new BMW scooters. They share a strong resemblance to existing BMW motorcycles and have a modern functional shape that should appeal to current BMW owners.

The C 650 GT’s base MSRP is $ 9,990, and the optional Highline Package with heated seats and grips plus a tire-pressure monitoring system hits $ 10,595. The C 600 Sport’s base is $ 9,590, and the Highline Package boosts that to $ 10,195. Most models will be produced with the options.