Despite being unlike anything seen so far in the plug-in scooter scene, propelled by Made-in-China commuter solutions, the BMW CE 04 is by no means a surprise. In Munich, they have been working for some time on their next-generation e-scooter, which has very little to do with the "old" C-Evolution and takes so much from the Helix's next-generation cars. We tested it to see if, beyond the lines, the CE 04 is really a breath of fresh air.
What It Looks Like
Rather than shaped by a pencil, the BMW CE 04 looks like the result of a series of scalpel blows dealt with surgical precision: the lines are sharp and taut, and three-dimensionality takes center stage while casting "smooth" the surface of the shield that houses the Full-LED headlamp and the dramatically impressive suspended seat. The 1,675 mm wheelbase and 160 mm rear tire in fact make one think of a Grand Touring motorcycle rather than a home-work protagonist in European metropolises, but the reason for such impressiveness is to be found in the features that unite this e-scooter with BMW's latest generation cars, such as the IX.
In fact, the CE 04 features the same cells as the Bavarians' electric SUV. These cells make 8.9 kWh with a range of about 80 miles in the WMTC cycle. It takes 3.5 hours to charge the batteries to 80 percent with the standard charger, but only 65 minutes on scooters equipped with the optional 6.9 kW quick charger. The CE 04 can be recharged either at home or at the charging station. Also of automotive derivation is the permanent magnet motor, which has a constant power output of 20 hp and a peak of 42, with 70 Nm of torque. The CE 04 can also be purchased in an 11 kW version for B and A1 licensees.
More traditional is the chassis with a tubular frame, 35 mm telescopic fork, and a side-mounted linkless monoshock. The 15-inch wheels feature 265 mm rotors—two forward and one aft— and carry are shoed with Pirelli Diablo Rosso in 120/70 and 160/60 sizes. There is no shortage of cargo space thanks to the lighted, side-loading storage compartment. There's even a dedicated compartment for your smartphone near the instrument panel, complete with charger and cooling fan. This smartphone compartment integrates perfectly with the control bridge where the star is the 10.25-inch TFT screen with connectivity and map navigation provided by the BMW Connectivity App.
Luxury goes through the details, and the CE 04 doesn't betray the rule: meticulous finishing, plenty of space on the footpegs, and, with the Pro seat equipped with lumbar support, just the right amount of comfort, too. The control deck emphasizes that this e-scooter is treated on par with BMW Motorrad's endothermic flagships, such as the R 18 Bagger or R 1250 RT, and what's more it has the very useful Emergency Call technology as standard, but it's the performance that puts the exclamation point on it: it is the firstborn of a new philosophy but it has a more than definite character, with the 42 hp that makes itself felt as soon as you turn the right handlebar grip (so much so that it forces a firm grip on the handlebars if you ride with a flat seat) and a dynamic behavior that you don't expect when you look at it on the stand.
Very stable on the fast, it holds the trajectory with ease and is quick in changes of direction it pays only for its mammoth size in the narrowest of rides, an area that does not belong to it, however. Its size penalizes it in the heaviest traffic, where zig-zagging with its abundant five-foot wheelbase must be well calculated, but the optimal weight distribution helps.
The engine maps make it the right scooter for every need: in ECO the engine brake is felt and liveliness is kept at bay, in Dynamic (optional in the Pro package), on the other hand, the possibilities of the powertrain are touched with a loose rein, and Road becomes the right middle ground. Surprising is the work of the suspension, which proves capable of doing an excellent job over potholes and city cobblestones without hiding good grip even when some cornering is called for, and the response of the dual front discs bitten by a pair of fixed 4-piston calipers is perfectly calibrated: modular and powerful enough. Admittedly, aerodynamic protection if you don't resort to the optional oversized plexi is practically nonexistent, but that's the only detail of the BMW CE 04 where design got the better of functionality.
The BMW CE-04 is more than an electric version of a maxi-scooter. it is way more fun to ride, features BMW's finest tech, and it makes you look like a time traveler. Form follows function, and the radical design matches perfectly with its features—very fast, very silent, and more comfortable than it looks. If money is not an issue, BMW CE-04 is the real deal in electric commuting, one of the few "green" options for a 400 cc petrol-powered scooter.