BMW is better known for it’s R-series Boxers and more recently, the S1000 RR superbike, but they’ve also put thrown their hat into the commuter bike class.
It is the first time BMW has hopped on the scooter bandwagon since its quirky C1 back in the late nineties – but that looked more like something Mr. Bean had invented than a viable alternative to a car. The C 600 Sport is a far more conventional scooter - with a couple of very ingenious tricks thrown in for good measure.
The front end in particular smacks of typical BMW bike design and with 75 per cent of the final production being earmarked for the stylish Spanish, Italian and French markets, it should go down a treat.
The last thing I expect on a 647cc scooter is for the rear tyre to squirm like a snake with a bellyache over painted asphalt. But the engine’s 59bhp kicks in at 7,500 rpm and the torque curve peaks with 66Nm at 6,000 rpm, so it’s no slouch in scooter terms.
Apparently, adding traction control as an optional extra in the future isn’t completely out of the question, but it's dependent on customer feedback from this model. The twin-cylinder engine’s poke only catches me off guard the once, and the rest of the time I relish the punchy acceleration and as we charge out onto the highway the smooth, precise delivery continues to pull without reservation towards triple figures.
It’s then I realise I’ve made an error by forgetting to raise the windscreen. It’s such a simple procedure (twist two knobs, lift the screen and twist both knobs to tighten,) that I seriously contemplate having a go at it on the move. But it requires the use of both hands and I need at least one to remain on the handlebars even though the Sport feels reassuringly stable at speed. So I wait.
In the screen’s lowest position, the wind protection is minimal but acceptable, and at its highest, it’s probably fine if you’re of average height. The riding position is fine for long distance work. I’m not the most compact rider in the world but I don’t feel cramped on the C 600 Sport.
In fact, it has a rather comfortable riding style. Its flatter handlebars, harder seat and rider footboards – with footpegs for the passenger - are closer together and the ergonomic triangle feels more active for the rider than on BMW’s other scooter the C 650 GT.
The C 600 Sport needs little persuasion to tip into turns and it flicks, not with the agility of a sports bike, but with impressive handling and oodles of ground clearance. As for the suspension, the 40mm upside-down front fork and rear suspension deal with rougher road surfaces, aggressive riding and gentle pottering with a pleasant ease and the fact that it doesn’t attract attention means it’s working well, as does the low-maintenance chain that’s submerged in an enclosed oil bath.
As for storage capacity, a full-face helmet fits neatly under the saddle, and another in the FlexCase. It’s basically an expanding sack that lowers from the belly of the scooter’s tail unit to almost rest on the rear tyre. The FlexCase is made from slash-proof Kevlar and in the interest of safety, you can’t ride away with it down. There are also two cubbyholes in the front fairing. The right one is wallet sized and not lockable. The left can hold at least two 50cl bottles of water, has a power socket and it is secure when the scooter’s steering lock is on - which is a hit and miss affair as the mechanism seems to require patience - and ‘the knack’.
The fuel cap is neatly tucked away at the front of the seat so your pillion could stay put while you fill the 16-litre tank. Another unbelievably simple touch is the side stand, which also acts as a handbrake. It’s so clever, so easy and so practical.
Characteristically, the CVT doesn’t offer any discernible engine braking when you back off the throttle, but that’s what brakes are for. The C 600 Sport’s anchors work with reliable conviction and BMW have included an ABS system weighing just 700g as standard.
Overall, the BMW C 600 Sport should be a big success for the Germans. It isn’t the cheapest scooter you can buy but the BMW badge offers a level of engineering pedigree that no other motorcycle brand can match. And if you already have a BMW 3 or 5 Series parked in your driveway at home, it’ll give you a matching set too.
Model: BMW C 600 Sport
Engine: 647cc, twin-cylinder
Power: 59bhp @ 7,500 rpm
Torque: 66Nm @ 6,000 rpm
Transmission: CVT automatic/chain in oil bath
Weight: 249kg wet
Seat height: 810mm
Fuel capacity: 16 litres