The Maxi-Scooter Almost Too Beefy To Be A Mere Scooter

Nobody blurs the line between scooter and ’proper’ motorcycle better than the engineers at BMW, and the C 650 range is no exception. The C 650 “Sport” and “GT” models have very few changes, but that’s not surprising given how difficult it would be to improve upon the bundle of features already built in. I mean, it’s a scooter with traction control and ABS on board, plus a relatively large and powerful engine with a sophisticated engine management system, so this is ’not’ your grandfather’s scooter. I have a great appreciation for German engineering, so I’m looking to see what all Beemer has tucked away on its not-so-little maxi-scooter.

Continue reading for my review of the BMW C 650 GT and C 650 Sport.

  • 2017 - 2019 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
  • Year:
    2017- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel-Twin
  • Displacement:
    647 cc
  • Top Speed:
    112 mph
  • Price:
    10095
  • Price:

Design

2017 - 2019 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 752233

(C 650 GT)

Both carry a minimal step-through with an adjustable windshield and two-up seat, but the rest of the package has significant differences.

Looking at these two the first thing you’ll notice is how beefy they really are. None of this paper-thin, stamped sheet-metal stuff, but a real robust body that almost gives lie to the scooter classification. The next thing you’ll notice is how different they are from one another. While both carry a minimal step-through with an adjustable windshield and two-up seat, the rest of the package has significant differences.

Starting with the GT, we have a rather full front fairing that creates a sizable air pocket for the rider with a vented windshield to help minimize the head buffet effect. The rather clunky cheek fairings flow into the legguards with little grace, and while I, personally, don’t care for the stodgy look of the front end, I recognize that longtime fans of the brand will likely be OK with it.

One of the benefits of having such a large body is that you get to have a wide seat, and the GT’s seat comes with a short backrest that, while it doesn’t actually allow you to lean against it for support, it will act to keep your butt firmly planted and with a pair of large oh shit handles flanking the P-pad for passenger comfort.

Both rides enjoy a rather voluminous under-seat storage space capable of carrying two full-face helmets, which is quite a bit of storage by any standards. A pair of panels below the passenger seat act as a sort of faux panniers to complete the tour-tastic looks of the Gran Turismo.

As the ingeniously clever name suggests, the Sport model has an almost sportbike entry with a bit more grace and flow than the GT enjoys, but seems to maintain almost the same level of protection for the rider. Among the differences are a slightly smaller seat that drops the rider backrest in favor of a simple step-up to the P-pad area. The ass end sheds the pannier-like panels in favor of a tapered subframe look that draws to a point over the taillight housing. In contrast, the Sport loses much of the blockiness displayed by the GT in favor of a sleeker overall look. To add to the stylishness, the drivetrain is delivered in black for 2019 on both models.

Chassis

2017 - 2019 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 752238

(C 650 Sport)

Big forks, plush suspension and ample brakes make for a very capable ride.

A tubular-steel frame uses cast-aluminum sections to complete the assembly while keeping things strong but light. The steering head comes set at 25.4 degrees with a 3.6-inch rake for rather agile handling characteristics, though I expect straight-line tracking will suffer a bit at highway speeds.

I must confess that I laughed out loud with delight when I noticed the 40 mm, usd forks on the front end. Can you imagine, a scooter with inverted front forks larger than some streetbikes and even cruisers? What’s next, a liter engine? Both the front forks and the rear shock on the swing-mount drivetrain unit give up 4.5 inches of travel for a plush ride.

Cast-aluminum rims mount the 15-inch hoops that run in a surprisingly fat format at 120/70 up front and 160/60 in back. I chuckled again when I got to the brakes. What we have here is a scooter that runs dual, 270 mm front brake discs with a single 270 mm disc in back and all-around twin-pot calipers with which to bind them. It’s enough to make one wonder if there is a Deutsch equivalent to the word “overkill.” Thankfully, the factory installed its proprietary ABS system to help moderate all that braking power.

Frame: Tubular steel with die-cast aluminum sections
Front wheel location / suspension: Upside-down fork Ø 40 mm
Rear wheel location / suspension: Single-sided swing arm
Suspension travel front / rear: 4.5" / 4.5" (115 mm / 115 mm)
Castor: 3.6" (92 mm)
Steering head angle: 64.6°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels
Rim, front: 3.50 x 15"
Rim, rear: 4.50 x 15"
Tires, front: 120/70 ZR 15
Tires, rear: 160/60 ZR 15
Brake, front: Dual floating disc brakes, dual-piston floating calipers, diameter 270 mm
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 270 mm, 2-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS

Drivetrain

2017 - 2019 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 752231

(C 650 GT)

Like the chassis, the drivetrain is almost too beefy to consider it a mere scooter.

As is implied by their classifications as scooters, these rides use the traditional swing-mount drive system that uses the engine and transmission as a stressed member in place of the swingarm. Much like the rest of the assembly, the drivetrain pushes the limits of what I can consider to be scooter-ish. The liquid-cooled, parallel-twin mill measures out at 79 mm by 66 mm for bore and stroke, respectively, and that adds up to a whopping 647 cc total.

Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads, and the Electronic Fuel Injection and closed-loop catalytic converter helps the engine meet the stringent Euro-4 emissions standards. In keeping with scooter convention, a Continuously-Variable Transmission provides twist-it and forget-it operation with no manual shifting or clutch lever to worry about.

The performance numbers, as you might imagine, are not very scooter-like; this plant cranks out 60 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, and is especially grunty with 46 pound-feet of torque at six grand for a top speed over 100 mph (individual results may vary) and approximately 51 mpg.

Engine: Liquid cooled, 4-stroke parallel-twin engine, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 79 mm x 66 mm
Displacement: 647 cc
Rated output: 60 hp (44 kW) at 7,500 rpm
Max. torque: 46 lb-ft (63 Nm) at 6,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 11.6:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Clutch: Centrifugal clutch
Gearbox: CVT gearbox
Drive: Chain drive in oil bath 1.678:1

Pricing

2017 - 2019 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 752237

(C 650 Sport)

MSRP holds fairly steady from last year, but each gets a new colorway for 2018.

Coming in at the bottom of the range, the C650 Sport still commands a rather lofty price at $10,095 including ABS. It can be had in Austin Yellow Metallic, Blackstorm Metallic or Light White. The tour-tastic C 650 GT is predictably a little higher at $10,995 for 2018. On the GT, last year’s Frozen Bronze Metallic is replaced with Ocean Blue Metallic Matte. The GT also comes with ABS as part of the standard equipment package.

Model: C 650 Sport C 650 GT
Colors:
2017: Valencia Orange Metallic, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic Frozen Bronze, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic
2018: Austin Yellow Metallic, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic Ocean Blue Metallic Matte, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic
2019: Austin Yellow Metallic, Blackstorm Metallic Ocean Blue Metallic Matte, Blackstorm Metallic
Price: $10,095 $10,995

Competitors

2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX
- image 697165
2016 - 2018 Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
- image 648873
2016 - 2017 Suzuki Burgman
- image 667423
Scooters this big and luxe don't come along every day, but there are a few choices in the market to consider.

Scooters this big and luxe don’t come along every day, but I still had a few to consider before settling on my competitor. Yamaha’s big TMAX fell a little short on displacement and technology, yet somehow has the nerve to cost almost as much as the Beemer GT.

Next, I looked to Piaggio and its Delta-configured trike, the MP3. As cool as it is with the leany front end and obvious stability advantage, that alone was enough to shove it into a separate category before I even had a chance to consider the engine size offset.

This left me with naught but the Burgman 650 “Executive” by Suzuki as a serious, straight-across competitor. Appearances are similar, and the Burgman has much the same beefiness as the Beemer to include the large front fairing and generous windshield. Burgman riders also get a similar backrest, but Suzuki took the extra step of installing a stock passenger backrest that isn’t as much a rest as it is a retainer, but safety and comfort go hand-in-hand, at least as far as peace-of-mind is concerned.

Engine size is very comparable with a 638 cc mill on the Burgman versus the 647 cc plant in the Beemer, and both are really pushing well into proper motorcycle range. One major difference in the drivetrain lies in the transmixxers; while BMW runs the standard CVT gearbox, Suzuki graces its ride with the Suzuki Electronic Automatic & Manual Shift that gives the rider the option of enjoying a more interactive ride experience.

Amazingly, Suzuki tops BMW at the till with a rather vain $10,999 price tag, though to be fair, I consider both to be a little over-the-top in this department. Given all this, if I had to pick, I’d go BMW all the way if I were in the market for such a machine.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “OK, so it’s a scooter by virtue of the swing-mount drivetrain, CVT tranny and (minimal) step-through body. Fine. I would offer, though, that if you want a ride with an automatic transmission and comparable engine size and can live without the vestigial step-through, the Honda CTX700 is a fine fit. It certainly qualifies as a proper motorcycle, has the displacement and rolls for a much lower $7,499 MSRP. Literally the only benefit with the C650 family is that minimal step-through, which is great if you really need it because reasons, but otherwise is not enough to justify the extra expense of the BMW product. “

She Said

"My husband just can’t understand why anyone would want a scooter when he could have a real motorcycle. Bless his heart. The C 650 siblings certainly do blur the line. It’s a scooter I’d feel good about taking on the highway so it opens quite a bit of commuter options as well as weekend-getaway opportunities. It’s a nice ride for someone who wants the freedom and convenience of two-wheeled transportation but doesn’t want to go the whole motorcycle scene."

Specifications

Model: C 650 Sport C 650 GT
Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid cooled, 4-stroke parallel-twin engine, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication Liquid cooled, 4-stroke parallel-twin engine, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 79 mm x 66 mm 79 mm x 66 mm
Displacement: 647 cc 647 cc
Rated output: 60 hp (44 kW) at 7,500 rpm 60 hp (44 kW) at 7,500 rpm
Max. torque: 46 lb-ft (63 Nm) at 6,000 rpm 46 lb-ft (63 Nm) at 6,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 11.6:1 11.6:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection Electronic fuel injection
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4 Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Performance / fuel consumption:
Maximum speed: Over 100 mph Over 100 mph
Fuel consumption per 100 km at constant 90 km/h: 51 mpg (WMTC) 51 mpg (WMTC)
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded Premium Unleaded
Electrical System:
Alternator: Three-phase generator 508 W Three-phase generator 508 W
Battery: 12 V / 14 Ah, maintenance-free 12 V / 14 Ah, maintenance-free
Power transmission:
Clutch: Centrifugal clutch Centrifugal clutch
Gearbox: CVT gearbox CVT gearbox
Drive: Chain drive in oil bath 1.678:1 Chain drive in oil bath 1.678:1
Chassis / Brakes:
Frame: Tubular steel with die-cast aluminum sections Tubular steel with die-cast aluminum sections
Front wheel location / suspension: Upside-down fork Ø 40 mm Upside-down fork Ø 40 mm
Rear wheel location / suspension: Single-sided swing arm Single-sided swing arm
Suspension travel front / rear: 4.5" / 4.5" (115 mm / 115 mm) 4.5" / 4.5" (115 mm / 115 mm)
Castor: 3.6" (92 mm) 3.6" (92 mm)
Steering head angle: 64.6° 64.6°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels Cast aluminum wheels
Rim, front: 3.50 x 15" 3.50 x 15"
Rim, rear: 4.50 x 15" 4.50 x 15"
Tires, front: 120/70 ZR 15 120/70 ZR 15
Tires, rear: 160/60 ZR 15 160/60 ZR 15
Brake, front: Dual floating disc brakes, dual-piston floating calipers, diameter 270 mm Dual floating disc brakes, dual-piston floating calipers, diameter 270 mm
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 270 mm, 2-piston floating caliper Single disc brake, diameter 270 mm, 2-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS BMW Motorrad ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 84.8" (2,154 mm) 87.3" (2,218 mm)
Width (incl. mirrors): 34.5" (877 mm) 36.1" (916 mm)
Height (excl. mirrors): 54.3" (1,378 mm) 55.6" (1,411 mm)
Wheelbase: 62.6" (1,591 mm) 62.6" (1,591 mm)
Seat height, unladen weight: 31.5" (800 mm) Standard; low seat height 30.7" (780 mm) (available as accessory and/or factory option, see an authorized BMW Motorrad dealer) 31.7" (805 mm) Standard; low seat height 30.9" (785 mm) (available as accessory and/or factory option, see an authorized BMW Motorrad dealer)
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: 75" (1,830 mm) Standard; low seat inner leg curve (inseam) 71.3" (1,811 mm) (seat available as accessories and/or factory option, see an authorized BMW Motorrad dealer) 75.2" (1,910 mm) Standard; low seat inner leg curve (inseam) 73.0" (1,855 mm) (seat available as accessories and/or factory option, see an authorized BMW Motorrad dealer)
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled: 549 lbs (249 kg) 575 lbs (261 kg)
Permitted total weight: 981 lbs (445 kg) 981 lbs (445 kg)
Payload (with standard equipment): 432 lbs (196 kg) 406 lbs (184 kg)
Usable tank volume: 4.2 gal (16 l) 4.2 gal (16 l)
Reserve: Approx. 1 gal (4 l) Approx. 1 gal (4 l)
Details:
Colors:
2017: Valencia Orange Metallic, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic Frozen Bronze, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic
2018: Austin Yellow Metallic, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic Ocean Blue Metallic Matte, Light White, Blackstorm Metallic
2019: Austin Yellow Metallic, Blackstorm Metallic Ocean Blue Metallic Matte, Blackstorm Metallic
Price: $10,095 $10,995

References

Yamaha TMAX

2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX
- image 697964

See our review of the Yamaha TMAX.

Piaggio MP3

2016 - 2018 Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
- image 786856

See our review of thePiaggio MP3.

Suzuki Burgman

2016 - 2017 Suzuki Burgman
- image 734331

See our review of the Suzuki Burgman.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: bmwmotorcycles.com, suzukicycles.com, yamaha-motor.com, piaggiousa.com

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