BMW Introduces C600 Sport and BMW 650GT Scooters
By Neale Bayly
Photos by BMW & Neale Bayly
(From the June BMW Owners News)
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 around the same frame architecture and sharing a common power plant, the C600 Sport and the C650GT come equipped with a quiet, smooth, parallel twin-cylinder water-cooled engine. Displacing 647cc, producing 60 bhp at 7500 rpm and 48 lb-ft of torque at 6,000 rpm, both machines have the performance of a mid-size motorcycle. With a 270-degree firing order, a 90-degree crank pin offset and twin balancer shafts, vibration is almost non-existent until maximum speed is approached. The cylinders are tilted forward at a 70-degree angle, which lets the engine to sit low in the frame. This allows the scooter to be a step-through and helps with mass centralization for better handling and maneuverability. Electronic fuel injection is used and double overhead camshafts open and close four valves per cylinder. Burned gasses exit through a stainless steel exhaust system, which contains a closed loop catalytic converter and O2 sensor that meet upcoming Euro 4 standards.
Where, on conventional motorcycles, the idea of a clutch, six gears and both a foot brake and a hand brake that need to be operated in tandem can be overwhelming to a new rider, the Maxi Scooters have a user friendly, directly integrated continuously variable transmission (CVT) and 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 anti-lock, hydraulically operated disc brakes for increased safety, the simplicity of the system becomes apparent when entering the crowded Madrid streets.
Attending the press test in a busy, European city allowed me to quickly appreciate this ease of operation as I dodged cars, buses, scooters and pedestrians with aplomb. With both variations of the scooter to ride, I started on the C600 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, the good news is this sharp steering doesn't come at the expense of high-speed stability when you reach highway speeds. The scooters remain composed, comfortable and stable, even at around 80mph.
The Sport and the GT both use a tubular steel bridge-type frame, something more typically found with a conventional motorcycle. The single-sided swing arm houses the rear shock absorber, and this is exposed for easy preload adjustments. Unlike a modern motorcycle, however, there is no damping adjustment. Both scooters use a non-adjustable inverted fork up front. The new Maxi Scooters have lightweight die-cast 15-inch wheels which come wrapped in some slick Pirelli tires. These low-profile tires are part of the reason the scooters steer so quickly, and are able to hold their line in high-speed corners. For faster road riding, you have to be sure to use the back brake in tandem with the front on corner entrance to keep the chassis settled, but otherwise it's just like riding a regular two-wheeler.
When I switched from the Sport to the GT, the difference was immediately apparent. The handlebars are wider, the seat lower, and it's much more focused on touring with the adjustable backrest. It also weighs about 25 pounds more than the Sport at 575 pounds. So, while there isn't a huge difference, the larger electrically adjustable windshield, more protective fairings, and space to add a luggage rack all give it a more substantial feel. There are also some minor differences to the instrument cluster, although both machines use a large, round analog speedometer with a smaller digital display on the side for all the other relevant information. This consists of trip counters, a temperature gauge, fuel gauge, and a small area for engine rpm. There are also symbols for the heated equipment to show what setting you have chosen; to turn this equipment on and off, or to adjust the temperature, there are clearly marked buttons on the right side switchgear. On the left hand side, you will find a button to check your trip meters or scroll through all of the options available on the digital display.
BMW has put a lot of thought into the functionality and safety of their new Maxi Scooters that will benefit the newer rider. The engine won't start with the side stand down, and the machine can't roll away if you are parked on a hill, as putting the side stand down applies the rear brake. To add fuel, simply turn the ignition key down and to the left, which opens a small door below the front of the seat. Turn the key to the right and depress it to open the seat, which lifts from the rear. Underneath, you will find enough storage for two full-face helmets on the GT. The Sport has its own unique, expanding Flex storage system, and can hold a full-face helmet and other items when you are parked. Both Maxi Scooters have central locking and small compartments in the front fairing for additional storage of smaller items.
The new BMW Maxi Scooters come with a complete line of accessories, with tinted windshields to alarm systems already on offer. You can also add a luggage rack and top case to the GT to extend its touring function, and there is performance-style Akropovic exhaust can available to spice up the Sport. BMW makes a navigation system for both machines, which attaches below the instrument cluster. With LED turn signals, an on board USB charger, and a cell phone storage compartment, nothing has been overlooked with the new maxi scooters. Powered by a smooth, flexible engine, wrapped in sleek, stylish bodywork, BMW is clearly moving into the urban mobility segment of the two-wheeled world with the C600 Sport and C650GT, and they did the job right first time.
When not traveling, testing or meeting interesting people on two wheels, Neale lives in Charlotte, N.C. and spends his time with motorcycle crazy sons Luke and Patrick riding dirt bikes. Neale is currently running the motorcycle section at Speed TV, and is seen both in front and behind the cameras. Look out for more articles and video from Neale here at the BMW MOA as we join him on him on domestic and foreign travel adventures, and while he hangs out with the coolest people in our two-wheeled world. Oh and please visit his charity, and check out his work with abandoned children in Peru at www.wellspring-outreach.org.