Photography by Jeff Allen
At BMW’s stylish EICMA display, hopes were dashed with the non-introduction of a liquid-cooled big GS we thought might appear. Instead, there’s a cosmetic upgrade to the existing R1200GS—the Rallye.
But there was a first for BMW: a pair of “maxi-scooters”—the C 600 Sport and C 650 GT. The C 600 is for riders “with sports ambitions”; the GT is more for those interested in luxury motoring. Both address increasing urban congestion (hard to think of a better place than Milano to showcase them), higher fuel prices, tougher emissions requirements, lowered aspirations, etc.
Both scooters are powered by an all-new 647cc parallel-Twin that BMW says makes 60 horses at 7500 rpm, driving through a constantly variable transmission. The cylinder bank is canted 70 degrees forward to keep weight low and allow the scooters to be step-throughs, and the piston pins are 90 degrees apart, with two counterbalancers to keep it smooth. BMW claims it’s the most powerful and the most efficient engine in its class.
The frame comprises tubular-steel and cast-alloy sections, and uses the engine as a stressed member, all of which is alleged to keep things nice and stiff and therefore stable at cruising speeds. An upside-down fork with 40mm tubes and a single shock control 15-inch wheels bearing 120/70 and 160/60 rubber, with three 270mm brake discs. Final drive is via enclosed chain.
In all the excitement, I forgot to ask the models to get off the bikes so I could check for storage space, but the C 650 GT is supposed to have 60 liters of capacity in the tail that’s expandable when parked to hold two helmets, and two smaller lockable compartments in the fairing. The C 600 Sport can also swallow two helmets when at rest, courtesy of a thing called FlexCase, which is an elastic Kevlar-based compartment bottom that evidently functions like some sort of pelican beak lower mandible.
They’re scooters, but they’re BMW scooters, with wind-tunnel-designed plastic and all kinds of details like central locking and optional heated grips and seats. Available spring 2012, at prices to be determined. All I can say is that anybody who hasn’t experienced maxi-scooters like the Suzuki Burgman doesn’t know what they’re missing. Really.