Review: BMW C Evolution Electric Scooter - 1st 500 Kms
Posted at 06:00:00 PM
File under BMW Product Review Electrical
Author: Mike Werner
Location: Normandy, France
I've done my first 500 kilometers, and after doing a quick review (link ), and a review by my SWMBOShe Who Must Be Obeyed (as pillion and as female biker - link ), here is the last review of the electric scooter from BMW , the C Evolution - the first 500 kilometers.
I have been doing a lot of riding the last few days, almost every time bringing the scooter in at close to empty. So here are my observations riding the electric scooter. We'll start with the positive points and then the negative ones followed by some observations.
Acceleration: One world - astonishing! When you ride in "Dynamic" mode, the most powerful mode, from standstill, you are a rocket. No, it's not a F1 or a Ducati Superleggera, but you leave the red light like a 500 or 600 cc motorcycle will. Fast. But it does cost you a lot of battery power if you use it continuously. In fact, your range is divided by 2, even 3. BTW, the scooter is equipped, with good reason, with a Traction Control. If not, I would probably have been on my back a few times.
Riding Modes: There are four modes, I have used 3 of them. The last one, "Sail" mode is of no use to me. "Dynamic" is obviously the most fun, but it uses the most battery. On the opposite side is "Eco Pro" which gives you the least power, but the most regeneration (electricity provided by the engine brake and the wheel brakes). Acceleration from zero is like a good 125 cc motorcycle, more than adequate. The normal mode, "Road" mode is still very fast and dynamic, and leaving a red light will leave many motorcycles with red faces.
Brakes: Brakes? What's that? You don't need no stinkin' brakes on this scoot. In the 3 normal modes (not in "Sail" mode), just by letting go of the throttle is enough for the engine brake to slow you down strongly. I've started riding without using the normal brakes. Quite nice (and cheap, since it means you'll need to replace the brake pads much later). But if you need to use the brakes.... HOLY COW!.
Compared to the Zero, these are brakes worthy of a Formula One car. Especially the rear brake that is very strong, but the front brake is no slouch either, even with full regeneration on. Thankfully, especially when you start out riding the Beemer, the BMW is equipped with ABS. From all the bikes I have had, this one brakes the hardest (that orange thing is just my disc lock, I was too lazy to remove it for the photo).
Air Flow: There is no real windshield, but what is there is very effective. I have been riding with a jet helmet with the visor most of the time open, and no wind in my eyes. Only above 90 kph did I need to close the visor. So the "windshield" is very effective and contributes to the silence.
Balance: The center of gravity is very low and perfectly at the center. The batteries are placed in the center where normally you can place bags on a scooter. Now it is the batteries' tunnel that takes over this place.
But because the CoG is so low and central, taking the scooter into the curves is extremely easy. A slight push on the handlebar, and the rest of the curve can be taken by shifting weight onto the foot on the inside of the curve. Nothing easier, and you can take twisties for miles like that without tiring. It's fun...
Pillion Saddle: The pillion saddle is raised (quite a lot), but with a perfect width. It allows the pillion to easily see what's in front without having to lean over the rider's shoulder. The windshield moves the flow of air away so they don't get a full wind blast.
High pillion saddle
But like the rider's, the saddle is rock hard.
Silence: Compared to other electric motorcycles I've ridden, this one is very silent. It's both a positive and a negative point, since in the city pedestrians are caught much more unaware than other EVs. There is just a slight whine from the engine, barely noticeable. The brakes make no noise whatsoever. On the positive side, when riding for example with a pillion, you can easily communicate without needing communication equipment or to shout. Raise your visor and just talk - awesome.
Saddle: Yeah, the standard saddle is very hard, and quite high. If you read the review written by my SWMBOShe Who Must Be Obeyed, she was not able to manage the scooter because of the weight, and because of her height. Her 1 meter 70 was not high enough to be able to handle the weight in tight or U-turns.
For the comfort level, BMW do have a comfort saddle option, but since the range of the bike is low, it's an overkill.
Weight: The scooter is pig heavy. Thankfully the BMW engineers have equipped it with a reverse, so backing it into your garage or driveway is simple, but you need to be sure of your feet. It's the last thing you'll want, having your feet slip when backing up.
Reverse gear button
Putting it on the center-stand does require a bit of your own weight, so if you are a supermodel, leave it on your side-stand.
Range: Yeah, range stinks. If you ride in "Eco Pro" mode you can do more than the quoted 100 km range. According to what I've done, plus the calculated distance remaining (according to the onboard computer), I estimate 110-120 km range (with a bit of hypermilling). In "Road" mode, you should be able to approach the 100 km range. But in "Dynamic" mode and a bit heavy handed throttle, you'll be lucky to do 50 km.
But one piece of information; the range is calculated towards 20% empty, since BMW does not want the battery to go beyond that point. But the electricity is there, you just have to trust that you can go for the few extra miles.
Storage: There is very little storage space. The main under-the-saddle storage is limited to under the pillion saddle (the rider's saddle is above the batteries). You can fit one jet helmet, and that's it. But it's recommended to bring your charging cable, and that is pretty bulky so no space for anything else, but they have placed some tools inside the pillion saddle. Further more, there is a small and deep "glove compartment" in the front, which can be locked. It's small, but can hold you gloves and a phone.
1= Charging Point, 2= Glove compartment
I'd say many people will need to get the matching topcase (on order for me).
Wind Sensitivity: Despite the good center of gravity, the scooter is quite sensitive to crosswind. We've had a few days with strong wind, and the scooter at times decided to ride in another lane. Scary. But all the BMW's I've had suffered from that, so maybe it's a BMW thing. When the wind is from the front, there is no noticeable slow down, which is a good thing.
Charging: The onboard charger is quite handy. It's a Level 1 charger, meaning you can plug it into any house outlet, but you can specify how many Amps it should use. So if you have a few household appliances on the same circuit working (like washing machine, oven, etc), you can lower the Amps used, therefore reducing the chance that you blow a fuse.
Electrical Charging Controller
The Amp selection is done by pressing the two blue arrows you see above. The LEDs show you how many Amps are being used. The other side of the charger is plugged into the left side of the scooter:
Electrical Charger Plug
The plug is simply pushed in until you hear a click.
Maintenance: The C Evolution does have maintenance intervals. After 1000 km "break-in", it needs to go to shop for the tightening of the drive belt and a few inspections. After that, it's every 10,000 km for minor inspections.
This is a seriously fun machine. It goes like a bat out of hell, it's super silent and apart from the purchase price, once you've got it, it costs barely nothing to run.
It's the kind of bike you can use daily if you commute, go shopping (but get a topcase) or for fun trips. True, you can't go far (well, 100 km ain't bad), but it all depends on what you use it for. I have one bike that is used for long distance, and this one is for real local rides.
Since the technology is making leaps & bounds, it goes without saying that next year this scooter is going to be obsolete already. Next year, range will have improved dramatically, performance even better, and prices will have dropped. That is why I have decided for the first time ever for me, to lease the BMW. 3 years should do, and after 3 years, the way the electric motorcycles will be, I can change bike without losing an arm and a leg.
For those of you who are sitting on the fence, not really knowing if this is for you, I can only recommend one thing: go for a trial ride. I don't just mean BMW, any of the electric motorcycle manufacturers (Brammo, Zero, etc) - go and try it. You'll come back a believer.
I've been getting a lot of hate mail/comments because it's electrical. But none of them have ever actually tried riding an electric motorcycle for real. Once you've been riding one, you'll know what I mean. And yes, range and price are still an important factor, but next year, or the year after that, it's going to be less of one.
For me, I'm having fun, and that's all that matters (to me).