Review: 2014 BMW C Evolution Electric - When Lightning Speaks
Posted at 02:00:00 PM
File under BMW Electrical Product Review
Author: David Morcrette
Location: Paris, France
Since this is a translation directly from French, some of the colloquialism may seem a bit strange at times, for which I apologize. It's not easy to translate. Any mistakes below are mine, and mine alone.
When Lightning Speaks
In the same line as the i3 or even the i7, BMW also comes with an electric two wheeler, the C Evolution scooter: a logical choice for powered two wheelers, a predominantly urban vehicle and that is unwilling to travel long distances. After having travelled the roads in 2012, then officially presented in detail in 2013, the scooter finally arrives at the dealers. The Bavarian manufacturer takes the opportunity to regain the esthetics of its thermal scooters but this time for a fully developed internal model. But what about a 100% electric model while Piaggio had already broken its teeth on a thermal/electric hybrid model? Here is our test ...
The C Evolution is beautiful. Solid with an impressive size, the electric scooter bears a very close filiation in its overall shape with the C 600 Sport but with most elegant details like the LED lights at the front and rear or tiny but stylish turn signals at the rear and their front counterparts integrated in the mirrors.
The rear swingarm has also the most beautiful effect. The overall finish is neat and a notch clearly above those of the brand's thermal scooters. Whether it's the quality of the plastics or the assembly, it is now close to flawless, besides the white color, gray and green blend well, while clearly displaying the choice of "ecology".
Whether it is from the side or front, the taut lines are really sharp and rewarding. Only the rear is a bit simple, despite the LED light.
We note the onboard alarm system, which easily turns on when the scooter is touched if the key is not in the ignition. Below, the scooter is based on a hybrid tubular frame screwed to the battery boxes.
In The Saddle
The foot goes well in the center above the central bridge. Therefore, you sit easily and naturally on the C-Evolution with a nice upright position, not requiring to have your back broken like with some scooters. High enough despite a saddle of only 780 mm high but wide enough, feet barely touching the ground for a 1M70 rider. And stationary we feel the weight of its 265 kilos, including the onboard batteries under the saddle.
Under the eyes, then there is a very respectable digital display visible, worthy of a spaceship, almost hidden behind a huge smoked windshield; huge especially in width compared to the usual standards.
The screen displays not only the usual information such speed, odometer, partial trip but also the battery information with the remaining mileage, but instead of the usual bargraph tachometer, it shows the indicators of the level of energy expenditure and energy recovery (braking) and the driving mode selected (Road for this test).
To the left, the usual glove compartment is replaced by a hatch revealing the electrical charging outlet. To the right, there is a traditional glove compartlment which is rather deep and wide compared to usual.
Kickstand up (which serves as automatic parking brake like on the brand's thermal scooters), left handlebar grip tight and pressing the right stalk's button ... and it seems that the scooter is running. Obviously, it is electric and you hear nothing. There is no signal to indicate by vibration or other that we are ready to roll, except an indicator on the central dashboard.
On the other side, the response to the solicitation of the throttle is instant ... and yyeeesssss it is actually rolling! And if by chance, you were badly parked and the seat height does not facilitate the stopped maneuver, the C Evolution is equipped with a reverse gear, all you need to do is trigger the left lever. Thus, the push of the R button and rotate the right handle, you are reversing! You will probably not use it everyday but it may be useful, especially in urban use.
In The City
After the first few meters you feel the overall weight, then you end up riding like a maxi-scooter, almost normal, except for the total absence of noise. The whole gives the impression of riding on velvet, with a real smooth ride and an instantaneous reaction between throttle solicitation and acceleration. But when speaking of sweetness, it does not mean wimpy, on the contrary, because accelerations are just hellish for the category, with a 0-100 kph in 4 seconds. BMW announces 48 hp ... so very close to the large scooters but with immediate availability at the throttle.
One finds the maneuverability of a maxi-scooter, even if the C Evolution is not among the largest in the category and merges so easily especially in lane splitting and in traffic.
We are having fun while juggling the four modes available - electric ride-by-wire - with four very different driving behaviors, but really in so far complementary. So rather Road (normal), Dynamic, Sail or Eco Pro?
The Road mode is the default mode. It offers a good mix of acceleration and efficient deceleration with a regenerative braking. Because the electric motorcycle is characterized by the almost non-use of the brakes. Merely by throttling back acts directly on the speed and helps braking naturally, as if there was a huge engine braking available.
But on the C-Evolution, the engine brake varies greatly depending on driving modes. Reasonable when in Road mode, it is very strong in Dynamic mode and apparently totally absent in Sail mode.
Dynamic mode provides maximum acceleration while recovering highly energy during deceleration. The response to the throttle is instant and really effective. This is the one that allows the 0-100 kph in four seconds. And indeed, it pushes hard, really hard, particular much stronger than the thermal equivalent. However, as soon as you release the right handle, the scooter seems to slow down immediately in the wake without touching the brakes.
The Sail mode provides acceleration as in the "Road" mode but offers no deceleration resistance and therefore no braking, allowing freewheeling, which is a very pleasant and "cool" behavior. It suffices to accelerate as in the other modes, then let the scooter roll when the throttle is released. However, the engine immediately resumes to any new throttle stimulation. Ideal on small roads in the city, this mode tends to use the real brake too often.
Eco-Pro mode in turn limits the acceleration and to the extent retrieves the maximum braking energy. This is undoubtedly the most economical mode, but also the least enjoyable daily and, whatever the field, it uses the scooter like a big toy. But for the regular user, it is likely that this mode becomes a habit.
The C Evolution commits itself happily on the highway and seems to accelerate very easily until 120 kph and continues to nibble 8-9 kph to tickle the 130 kph on the counter, or 120 real kph. That is enough for peri-urban use especially since the accelerations are frank at these speeds, compared to 125 cc's often struggling beyond 90 kph. We can therefore fit neatly in the rapid flow of the fast lane without risk, with the same recovery capabilities at 60 kph as 110 kph. Overtaking trucks are done carefree and more easily as the scooter remains undeterred and in line with impressive stability. At this speed, the broad windshield very effectively protects not only the chest but also arms in their width. And for its height, it generates no turbulence or parasitic noise in the helmet, which makes it all the more an enjoyable ride, even at maximum speed.
Equally at ease in town and on motorways, the arrival on county roads there is a fear that they are a less conducive playground for 265 kilos of scooter. Rather it appears that it can't ever get enough. The ideal mode then switches to Dynamic to take the twisties. The C-Evolution is particularly well suited to the game with a vivacity that you do not necessarily expect of him, with the ability to actually set the throttle wide open. The scooter then easily changes the angle for the twisties disconcertingly and is ready to accelerate the pace with impeccable handling and safety. Nothing seems to be altering the rider's optimism, perfectly supported by a machine that follows the pace without breaking it or worrying its rider at any time, despite the particularly wet roads in the forest during the test, fully supported by the Michelin tires.
With engine braking, particularly effective in 3 of the available modes, you can almost do without using the brakes on a daily basis. So, we almost forget that the scooter is nonetheless equipped with a dual 270 mm disc with 2 floating 2 piston calipers at the front while the rear has a single 270 mm disc with floating 2 pistons caliper. It brakes well and strong ... when you need it.
This is the biggest flaw of electric scooters, that is to say, the storage capacity, which disappears in favor of the batteries. There is therefore no storage here except a front glove compartment, making the top box required to bring along all the necessary stuff for a normal commuter.
If the saddle is a bit firm, the C Evolution goes smoothly on our test paved roads, showing that providing a comfort that is not a Pullman, its use and comfort are higher than some scooters and maxi-scooters in the market.
The passenger handles provide excellent grip ... on a really high saddle but overhanging the rider. This ensures therefore a field of view for the pillion really above the rider's.
Depending on the use and an itchy right handle, the autonomy of the C Evolution oscillates between 100 and 130 km. It will then require 2:30 to fully recharge at an Autolib (ed: Paris electric car sharing scheme) type terminal (with their guest socket) and about 4 hours on a charge in your garage. In fact, the energy gauge drops about 1% every kilometer, which is pretty impressive on a daily basis especially when at the end of the test, the indicator showed only 7 km of autonomy and we almost had the impression that we should push it to go home. This autonomy is in so far accurate and even more so that the scooter is used in a range between 20% and 80% of the battery; this in order to extend its life. So that in reality, even when the scooter shows 0 km, the battery is still charged at 20%. At the Autolib terminals the guest socket allows you to charge for two hours free of charge, making a full charge almost free, except for the initial subscription price of the card.
BMW did not skimp on the production of an electric scooter, putting it by default at the highest level of performance of the current crops of electric bikes for a price barely higher than that of a thermal equivalent - 15,400 euros anyway - but with a quality finish and unparalleled performance for urban use, allowing a simplified charging. Because with just over 100 km of autonomy, it is not - yet - a question to consider a trip from Paris to the beach, which is possible with any 125 cc scooter. No doubt the performance level of the autonomy will improve over the years, which then encourages you to make the choice, C Evolution in leasing mode, with a rental rate without initial outlay of 295 euros per month, but with a guaranteed "return" of 30 % after 3 years when the battery technology has gained in autonomy. Otherwise, the risk is high of a difficult resale on the used scooter market. However, such a test is bluffing by the efficiency and pleasure provided, despite the absence of noise and because of the absence of noise. The four driving modes provide a real riding pleasure, the engine character that fits the desires of its rider, obeying every command anytime while riding. And when you consider that the 120 real kph are from a bridle, designed in particular to promote range, no doubt that in the coming years performance will improve for a scooter already built today to roll faster and longer.
|Strong Points||Weak Points|
- Really punchy engine
- Finish and overall esthetics
Via: Le Repaire Des Motards