While the European motorcycle industry is in crisis due to dramatically falling sales, BMW is moving in the opposite direction thanks to its loftier perspective of the mobility (as opposed to motorcycle) industry. After years concentrating on larger capacity two wheelers, it is moving into the scooter field.
Having already shown an electric version of its ultra-safe C1 scooter, plus several MINI scooter concepts in recent weeks, BMW Motorrad yesterday unveiled a maxi scooter concept. Two premium scooters will be derived from the concept vehicle in the near future and there’s also an electric version being investigated.
BMW Motorrad’s Concept C study (C stands for Commuter), is yet again embarking on a new path and demonstrating a fascinating mobility option for the future. Here, C stands for "commuter". Particularly in view of the traffic development in urban areas, it presents the prospect of an innovative, sporty big scooter for the future premium segment.
For many years, scooter segment riders were looked down upon by regular motorcyclists, and it was only when Suzuki kicked off the maxiscooter craze with a lively 400cc engine just over a decade ago that the scooter form factor got some respect.
The feet-forward riding position of the scooter offers a combination of the relaxed “chopper” riding position, but with protection from the weather and somewhat greater protection in an accident.
With plenty of storage space, full instrumentation, plus the excellent suspension and running gear of the maxi-scooter, and the form factor becomes a desirable and practical alternative to the motorcycle, particularly for extended commuting purposes.
It was however, the performance of subsequent maxi-scooters which earned them respect at the stoplight GP and a legitimate place in motorcycling.. Yamaha followed Suzuki’s 1999 Burgman 400 with a 40 horsepower 500cc T-Max in 2000, then Honda trumped that with the 50 bhp Silver Wing 600 twin, then in 2002, Suzuki raised the bar further with the Burgman 650.
The Burgman 650’s CVT transmission gets it off the line very quickly and one of the many memorable moments motorcycling has given me was blowing away an “outlaw” on his much larger bad-ass Harley sportster at the stoplight. He was so embarrassed that he rode straight through the next lights (they were red) rather than face the scooter a second time.
In more recent times, the scooter form factor has gained even more power in the form of the Gilera GP 800, an 850cc 75bhp 90 degree V-twin motor with a top speed of more than 120mph.
BMW Motorrad appears set to go straight to the top of the performance scale in the maxi-scooter area, notifying its intention of “combining in these scooters the outstanding handling of the motorcycle with the particular agility and conceptual comfort of the scooter for the maximum experience of dynamic riding.”