Firstly, a disclaimer – I, like many of you out there, have a deeply ingrained dislike of scooters. Sure, I’m as open minded as the next guy, but the whining noise and pip-squeak power I’ve witnessed from this genre never fails to grind my gears. Nonetheless, BMW’s C650GT has given me cause to rethink and I am man enough to admit that this particular maxi-scooter is both capable and powerful. In fact, the C650GT is one of the quickest and most effortless urban commuters I’ve ridden, and very enjoyable in the tight stuff once you get over your scooter-phobia and put some faith in the 15-inch Metzelers.
The model forms part of the Bavarian manufacturers ‘urban mobility’ range alongside the C650 Sport, and has benefitted this year with sharper styling, more seamless power delivery and a sportier end-can. The pick up from opening the throttle is virtually instantaneous thanks to the improved Continuously Variable belt Transmission (CVT), and the engine note is also refreshing – unlike anything I’ve heard from a scooter before.
At 647cc the BMW C650GT is the biggest in its class with a strong in-line twin cylinder engine that delivers a satisfying punch down low to rocket you towards 80km/h in the blink of an eye. It takes off like a scalded cat from a standing start, and there’s so much power running through the shaft driven rear tyre that it’s not uncommon to feel the traction control kicking in even when the road is dry! Giving the throttle a handful of beans is undeniably addictive and I have my suspicions that this maxi-scooter would out-drag just about everything else on the road. To it’s credit, the C650GT is both comfortable and easy to ride while blurring the lines between scooter and sportsbike thanks to motorcycle chassis DNA and a generous dose of ‘twist and go’ power. BMW has equipped this model with a USD fork and disk brakes so you can take advantage of the mumbo on tap and push the riding experience a little closer to the edge. It also stops on a dime and regardless of how hard I tried I couldn’t fault the ABS system. It’s fair to say that the binders on this beast are so efficient that even the most performance pampered car drivers will be satisfied.
The GT model we tested came in ‘highline package’ trim with of optional extras such as automatic heated seat and grips, in addition to the traction control system, user friendly cruise control function, huge electric screen, and boot-like storage capacity that are all standard issue. After a thorough test I was left with little doubt regarding the bike’s touring appeal thanks to this plethora of features, and very impressed with its performance while zipping from A to B. There’s no doubt that the C650GT does its best work in an urban environment but it’s still nice to know that this scooter won’t be city bound like many others on the market. At over 200kgs it’s no light-weight, but the extra lard does result in greater stability when you’re navigating patchy roads, or eating up the miles with a seat load of luggage. However, the size can be a bit of a chore when pushing it around or manoeuvring in slow, tight circles so this is something to keep in mind.
Essentially, this maxi-scooter is well suited to new riders who are seeking some experience on two-wheels before stepping up to a fully fledged motorcycle, or those transitioning from smaller capacity scooters. As an option for comfortable and storage packed commuting the C650GT gets full marks for utility, but perhaps more importantly – it’s also a bucket load of fun!
By Paul McCann
Images by Antoinette Dakota