An EV Scooter With Respectable Performance

The Bayerische Motoren Werke introduced its original C Evolution electric scooter to the great proving ground that is the European scooter market all the way back in 2012 and it’s finally in the U.S. market. A boosted battery ampacity gives it the increased range needed to handle a long-distance commute, but it’s the electronics suite that really puts the C Evolution in a class of its own. Traction control, torque control and ABS all make an appearance along with the 35-horsepower motor that, according to the factory, has no problem running right up to the 80 mph governor. I had to remind myself more than once that this is still considered just a scooter though it could certainly embarrass many a low- to mid-range ride. Not just other scooters either, but proper motorcycles. Don’t believe it? Read on and I’ll make my case.

Continue reading to see my review of the BMW C Evolution.

  • 2017 BMW C Evolution
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Electric Motor
  • Top Speed:
    80 mph
  • Price:
    13750
  • Price:

Design

2017 BMW C Evolution
- image 759504
If you scoff at the thought of needing extra butt-retention on a scooter, I would direct your attention to the performance figures.

You’ve got to admire Beemer’s moxy by bringing this model to the States, which was a risk on two separate fronts. First off; it’s a scooter, and no matter how big and sophisticated it is, there’s always going to be a certain stigma attached to that label no matter what. Second; it’s electric, and besides a few EV bastions on the East and West coasts we still don’t have much in the way of infrastructure and widespread support. So yeah, an electric scooter is a bold move indeed.

A “split-face” entry houses the headlight pair below a wide windshield with the LED front turn signals tucked neatly away in the mirror housings. The front fairing spreads out and flows into the legguard that turns aft to form the footwells so the rider has a choice of foot positions, all of which are well protected and plays into its commuter-ability quite nicely. Also well protected is the TFT display that comes tucked away deep beneath the sharply angled windshield. The screen displays all the necessary metrics in one location, to include information unique to electric rides such as state-of-charge and an insulation monitor.

Moving aft it becomes clear that the step-through kind of isn’t since most of it is blocked off by the tunnel, but it’s definitely still easier to mount by swinging forward rather than back over the seat. The pillion pad comes with a nice vertical offset that not only gives the passenger a stadium perspective, but it helps form the pilot’s butt bucket. If you scoff at the thought that you might actually need some extra butt-retention on a scooter, I would direct your attention to the performance figures that claim 0-to-30 in 2.8 seconds and 0-to-60 in 6.8. Bet it ain’t funny now. The p-pad comes with a grab rail, but you’d better moderate the throttle because those J.C. handles aren’t going to be very comforting to someone trying to hang on for dear life.

Overall, the C Evolution looks much like any other top-shelf scooter, but the real magic is hidden just below the skin.

Chassis

2017 BMW C Evolution
- image 759497
Agile handling comes courtesy of the steering geometry that lands it close to sportbike standards.

Rather than using the monocoque method that I dislike so much, Beemer supports the structure with a composite frame that uses tubular-steel members and aluminum castings for the actual frame with the battery box used as a stressed member to stiffen the assembly. The box itself comes with a cooling channel that runs down the middle to help prevent a battery-killing buildup of heat from occurring.

Right up front, the suspension gives this ride away as something extraordinary; a set of 40 mm, usd forks support the front end with a whopping 4.7 inches of travel. The monoshock in back gives up almost as much travel with 4.5 inches, and it comes with the obligatory spring preload adjuster as the only ride-quality tweak on the chassis.

Since it weighs in at 606 pounds curb weight and it has such solid acceleration, it’s safe to say that it needs plenty of brakeage. Beemer meets that need with dual, 270 mm discs up front and a third in back with its proprietary ABS system as part of the standard equipment package. The 15-inch rims mount a 120/70 hoop up front and 160/60 out back for a sizable contact patch with a 63.4-inch wheelbase.

Agile handling comes courtesy of the 24.1-degree steering-head angle and 3.7 inches of trail that land close to sportbike standards. All this sound good so far? Well, the best is yet to come...

Frame: Tubular steel with die-cast aluminum sections
Front suspension/Travel: Upside-down fork Ø 40 mm/ 4.7” (120 mm)
Rear suspension/Travel: Single-sided swing arm with direct-link spring strut and spring pre-load with 7 manually adjustable settings/ 4.5” (115 mm)
Castor: 3.7” (95 mm)
Steering head angle: 65.9°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels
Rims, Front/Rear: 3.50 x 15"/ 4.50 x 15"
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70 R 15/ 160/60 R 15
Brake, Front: Dual floating disc brakes, dual-piston floating calipers, diameter 270 mm
Brake, Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 270 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS

Drivetrain

2017 BMW C Evolution
- image 759524
The electric motor cranks out a respectable 48 horsepower at 4,650 rpm with 53 pound-feet of torque that is available as soon as you give it a twist.

...and it starts right here. Beemer drives the thing with an electric motor that cranks out a respectable 48 horsepower at 4,650 rpm with 53 pound-feet of torque that is available as soon as you crack the “throttle.” That’s right sports fans; no need to wind it up to get the full grunt, the electric motor and belt drive stand ready to put the power to the pavement with an instant response to demand.

In order to help you manage that power, the C Evolution comes with four Riding Modes, each with its own distinct blend of power delivery and regenerative braking. The Torque Control Assist monitors rear-wheel slip and intervenes by reducing power, much like it would on an I.C.E. Model.

At the battery we find one of the biggest improvements thus far; the increase in ampacity from 60 Amp-hours up to 95 Ah. This gives it a range of around 100 miles, and it can always be charged up away from home with the 3 kilo-Watt-hour, on-board charger and a household 110-Volt supply. A 220-Volt source can charge it to 100-percent capacity in about 3.5-hours, but if you’re limited to 100-Volt service, you’re looking at an overnight or all-day recovery for a flat battery.

All things considered, that’s within reason for most commutes, and a large part of the reason why this gamble might just pay off for Beemer.

Motor: Max. Output: 48 hp (35 kW) at 4,650 rpm
Max. torque: 53 lb-ft (72 Nm) from 0 to 4,650 rpm
Drive: Belt drive
Range: 99 miles
Recuperation: Automatic recuperation when coasting and braking

Pricing

2017 BMW C Evolution
- image 759525
MSRP shows this is a ride for someone who is looking for something exactly like it is: modern, progressive and relatively clean with a quiet electric drive.

Yeah, it ain’t all peaches-’n-cream; while there can be little doubt that this scooter is a cut-above the rest, the price tag shows that the factory knows it. At $13,750, this isn’t the ride you’d look for if cheap transportation is the goal. It also isn’t the affordable alternative to a proper motorcycle, either. This is a ride for someone who is looking for something exactly like this; modern, progressive and relatively clean with a quiet electric drive.

Color: Ionic Silver Metallic/Electric Green
Price: $13,750

Competitors

2016 - 2017 Suzuki Burgman
- image 733843
There's not much to go directly head-to-head with the C Evolution yet.

The C Evolution kind of stands alone in the market, for the moment anyway. Overseas, Honda has enjoyed some success with its small EV-Neo scooter, but it’s nowhere near the C Evolution in terms of size and capability. Honda has also teased us with a glimpse at its 2018 PCX electric scooter that can be had as a straight-up electric, or as an electric/gasoline I.C.E. hybrid drive. Again, nothing in our market, just some concept peeks.

As far as “regular” scooters go, Suzuki’s Burgman 650 ABS probably comes the closest in top-shelf looks and urban appeal. The $11,049 pricetag means the Burgman will likely appeal to the same sort of buyer in that it won’t be a target for the bargain shoppers, to put it kindly. In the end, I’m just going to have to adopt a wait-and-see attitude until the C Evolution shows its potential.

He Said

“Pretty darned cool if you ask me. EV tech is really coming along, and this is proof that you can bring all the fandanglery we have come to expect on the big bikes, and make it available to machines as humble as a scooter. Builders of cruisers who don’t use this tech (you know who you are...) should be embarrassed.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Storage for one full face helmet and a few bits and bobs. I was hoping for a little more space, so a trip to the accessories catalog for a top case might be in order. I feel like the scooter, as it stands, might be a bit cramped for taller riders since you can’t slide back to give yourself more room. If you’re one of those folks, you might want to check out the optional taller seat.”

Specifications

Motor & Drivetrain:
Motor: Max. Output: 48 hp (35 kW) at 4,650 rpm
Max. torque: 53 lb-ft (72 Nm) from 0 to 4,650 rpm
Drive: Belt drive
Performance:
Maximum speed: 80 mph (electronically limited)
Acceleration 0-30mph: approx. 2.8 s
Range: 99 miles
Recuperation: Automatic recuperation when coasting and braking
Electrical System:
Battery: Air-cooled lithium-ion high-voltage battery with auxiliary cooling fan
Battery Voltage: 133 V (nominal)
Charging Rate: 3 kW, integrated charging unit
Charging: On-board charging socket type 1; charging cable with country-specific plug
Charging time at 110 V / 12 A: approx.. 9:20 h for 100%; 80% in approx.. 7:50 h
Charging time at 220 V / 12 A: approx.. 4:30 h for 100%; 80% in approx.. 3:50 h
Secondary battery: 12 V / 8 Ah, maintenance-free
Chassis:
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 with direct-link spring strut and spring pre-load with 7 manually adjustable settings
Suspension travel front / rear: 4.7” / 4.5” (120 mm / 115 mm)
Castor: 3.7” (95 mm)
Steering head angle: 65.9°
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels
Rims, Front/Rear: 3.50 x 15"/ 4.50 x 15"
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70 R 15/ 160/60 R 15
Brake, front: Dual floating disc brakes, dual-piston floating calipers, diameter 270 mm
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 270 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 86.2” (2,190 mm)
Width (incl. mirrors): 37.3” (947 mm)
Height (excl. mirrors): 49.4” (1,255 mm)
Wheelbase: 63.4” (1,610 mm)
Seat height, unladen weight: 30.1” (765 mm) Standard; ) comfort seat: 30.9” (785 mm
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: 68.7” (1,745 mm) Standard; / comfort seat: 69.7” (1,770 mm)
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled 1): 606 lbs. (275 kg)
Permitted total weight: 981 lbs. (445 kg)
Payload (with standard equipment): 375 lbs. (170 kg)
Details:
Color: Ionic Silver Metallic/Electric Green
Price: $13,750

References

2016 - 2017 Suzuki Burgman
- image 733841

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: honda.com, suzukicycles.com, bmwmotorcycles.com

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