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Review of the BMW C-Evolution eScooter

JaimeC

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Joined
Jul 2, 2013
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Hicksville, NY
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I had a chance to demo this beast today at Americade. From a quick walk around compared to my C650GT scooter it has far less storage capacity. The majority of the underseat area is the massive battery pack. I was informed it is two cells from the BMW i3 electric automobile. The passenger seat lifts up and has a storage area big enough to hold one full face helmet. HOWEVER the BMW rep said that if you carry the charging cables in there, there won't be enough room for a full face helmet (perhaps a 3/4 would fit?).

What looks like two glove boxes on either side of the fairing is deceptive. Only the right side cover hides a storage area. The left side covers up the J1772 charging port.

The low windshield is non-adjustable. It keeps the majority of the wind off of your chest to reduce fatigue but your head is completely in the airflow. I'm 5'10" and there was no buffeting, it was essentially "clean" airflow.

The riding position is more reminiscent of the Yamaha TMAX than the C650GT. I could not straighten out my legs for a stretch like I can on the C650GT, or as I was able on the C650 Sport. The passenger has fold-away foot pegs, not a running board like the GT scooter.

Now comes the part most of you will be interested in hearing. Starting the scooter is reminiscent of the Victory Empulse TT. Besides turning the key, you have to hold in the brake and press the "Start" button. I have NO idea why they feel this is necessary but there you have it. Once you press the "Start" button a whole array of displays appears on the front dash panels. It has several driving modes. "Dynamic" was full power and full regen. Compared to the Zero S, the full regen felt like you dropped an anchor. It really does slow the scooter down, and not gently either. I switched it into "Road" mode and that felt more like my "Custom" setting on the Zero S. They also have a mode called "Sail" which has no regen at all... cutting the throttle just causes the bike to coast like a 600 lbs bicycle. There is also an "Eco" mode but I didn't try that so I don't know how it feels. It looks like it provides full regen and limits your top end power.

As for that power: If you have an "R" model Zero you'll know what I'm talking about. This thing pulls like a FREIGHT TRAIN right on the get-go. I was seriously impressed by that, let me tell you! Despite the weight, it handled very well as all the weight is carried very low.

The BMW reps said they're not sure when it'll go on sale in the United States, or how much they'd charge for it. They told me in Europe their biggest customers were not individual buyers but corporate fleet orders. So I don't know when you might see these in the dealerships. It was nice, but I'm more than happy with my Zero S.
 
The passenger seat lifts up and has a storage area big enough to hold one full face helmet. HOWEVER the BMW rep said that if you carry the charging cables in there, there won't be enough room for a full face helmet (perhaps a 3/4 would fit?).

What looks like two glove boxes on either side of the fairing is deceptive. Only the right side cover hides a storage area. The left side covers up the J1772 charging port.

With only 15 miles of ownership on my new Evolution Plus, i can confirm that the right hand storage compartment can fit the charging cable so that you can have the underseat storage completely available for your 1 full face helmet. Still not masses of space but it does help a little.

Oli
 
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My stream-of-consciousness review as a new owner...

The C Evolution feels smaller - and looks smaller too (at least compared to my C650GT). There are few electrical amenities not related to the drive system other than the OBLIGATORY BMW Heated Grips. No heated seat. No electromagnetic locks on the seat, fuel door (eh, no fuel door at all unless you want to call the fairing pocket where the charging port lives a fuel door). Fixed windshield position (there is a touring windshield available as an accessory). No Tire Pressure monitors either. There is a Hella/BMW euro-style accessory power outlet in the right fairing pocket. Surprisingly, it has halogen headlights. Not surprisingly (for the USA anyway) it has incandescent bulbs in the rear turn signals. Both of the brake levers are reach-adjustable. The color display is amazing with 3 trip meters and all the usual info plus some new ones. Consumption values are presented in miles per kw/h instead of mpg.

The side stand still sets the parking brakes. And did I mention that it has a REVERSE! It's kind of eerie how you turn the key, hold a brake lever and push the Start button. Then, there's nothing. The only change is to the display where the initial ignition on message "Brake and Press Start" changes to the odometer, and the headlight turns on (again probably just in the USA) at that point just roll on the throttle.

It has ABS and Torque (traction) Control. The under seat storage is limited to 1 helmet's worth under the pillion portion of the seat. Purchased the BMW top case, which was keyed to the ignition key by the dealer. The EVSE charge cable takes up a lot of room - which is supposed to fit in the right fairing pocket. It would be tight, and fiddly I'm sure, but it will probably fit because the pocket is very deep. I think the charger is the same one provided with BMW's i3. In addition to the charger and battery packs, there are quite a few other electrical components shared with that vehicle, and it's built in the same plant in Germany. The fit and finish is superb. The 'comfort' seat is amazingly comfortable. I'm roughly 5' 10" w/ 32" inseam and could use a little more leg room.

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I went for a ride to dinner the first day; about 35 miles (round trip) on hilly urban streets at speeds of about 40 mph or less. That trip decreased the projected range by only 27 miles. The lack of engine noise and vibration is a kin to sailing vs motoring. Road mode is very similar to riding a ICE bike; throttle is very linear and the regenerative braking unobtrusive. Lightly squeezing the brake levers will increase the regeneration before applying the brakes with additional pressure. The display graph provides visual feedback as to the current levels of power or regeneration. Dynamic mode does offer more acceleration and regenerative braking. I've dabbled but probably not mastered it yet but you can definitely ride without ever touching the brake with just a little planning ahead. In Dynamic, the twist grip acts more like direct speed control without any coasting, if that makes sense. You do not want to 'chop the throttle' in Dynamic under normal circumstances. It doesn't seem to be as efficient as Road mode either. I haven't tried Eco or Sail modes yet.

On day two I took it across town on the freeway - a round trip of about 42 miles at speeds of 50-70. It's perfectly happy on the freeway. It tracked straight and true across some grated bridge deck which has not been the case with several of the motorcycles I have owned over the years. The low windshield is fine in my opinion, even in light rain at 70 mph. Head and helmet is in clear, smooth air with absolutely no buffeting whatsoever. I returned home with about 40% charge remaining, and a projected range of 40 miles. My conclusion is it is more efficient at 35 than 60, but what vehicle isn't? I guess I am still experiencing a little range anxiety. My commute is about 32 miles round trip with a mix of freeway and downtown surface streets so I will not have any problems with range even if I have to go to any one of several other work locations in the region. We have (at least) four Level 2 (240v AC) EV Chargers at work so I could probably charge there instead of home as much as possible and save additional money.

I don't anticipate making too many modifications. One necessity is going to be a phone mount and more accessible power port. I popped off the center part of the handlebar cover and found the standard BMW GPS accessory plug zip tied to the handle bar. Now to decide where to put a Ram mount. I am also concerned about the brake light with respect to the regenerative braking - I've confirmed that it doesn't come on until you actually activate it with the brake lever. So I will be looking at deceleration warning devices. I will also probably pay a visit to Cyclops Adventure Sports for LED upgrades to the headlamps and rear turn signal lamps. That should do it!

Courtney in Seattle
 
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