2019 BMW C Evolution First Ride Review: An i3 On Two Wheels?

BMW-C-evolution-rider

Unquestionably, a majority of testosterone-loaded riders shudder at the prospect of being seen aboard a scooter of any size, shape or form. But trust me, there’s nothing to be ashamed of about riding the BMW C Evolution scooter. The fuel economy delivered by the BMW C Evolution can’t be beat because there is no fuel – it’s electric.

Okay, there’s no big V-twin “potato, potato, potato” exhaust note, but your neighbors won’t be annoyed when you turn it on to take off on an early Sunday morning ride. There’s no oil to change, no coolant to worry about and there’s no clutch or foot brake to concern yourself with either – both front and rear brakes are operated by handlebar-mounted hand levers.

OVERVIEW

The BMW C evolution is a premium electric scooter that has been available in the European marketplace since 2014, but has only become available on our shores in recent months. Our test scoot’s base sticker was set at $13,995. That could have dealer prep and handling charges added that are variable per dealer.

Come to think of it, there’s also no transmission per se, the power delivery is direct drive by a toothed belt and ring gear transmission to the rear axle. There are four different ride modes, and the selection that may be selected on the fly. The modes are: Eco Pro, Road, Sail and Dynamic. EcoPro is pretty self explanatory, in that it limits acceleration. Road is for normal riding conditions. Sail is for coasting disengages the electric motor when releasing the throttle, with essentially no regen, but there’s also almost no drag. Dynamic is just that – acceleration is enhanced, as is regen – roll off the accelerator and a braking effect takes place.

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BMW C Evolution cutaway. [Photo: BMW Motorrad]

PERFORMANCE

Propulsion for the BMW C Evolution comes from a drivetrain single-sided swingarm with liquid cooled alternator. There’s a permanently excited synchronous motor with surface magnets and internal rotor, powered by a 94 Amp-hour battery pack. If that number sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same battery pack from the BMW i3.  The electric  driving the rear wheel through a shaft mounted to the scooter’s single rear swing arm. Brake horsepower generated is 48 @ 4,650 rpm (35kW), and the torque rating is 53 pound feet @ 4,650 rpm. 0-60 mph clicks off in 6.2 seconds. Parts of the electronic control system were also adopted from the i3 and i8. This covers voltage, current and temperature and ensures that the high voltage is securely activated and deactivated.

The stated range is 99 miles on a full charge, which will vary based on: the ride mode, terrain, speed, temperature and load weight. The charging rate is 3 kW with the integrated charging unit. An on-board charging socket is supplied with a region-specific plug.

Charging times are 9.2 hours on a standard 110-volt socket. – 7.5 hours for 80%; 220V 12A = 4.3 hours for 100% / 3.5 hours for 80%. Times are approximate and claimed. The C evolution is compatible with a Level 3 charger cable, which is even faster and allows the use of public charging stations or wall boxes for faster charging.

Ride and Handling

Suspension components consist of 40 mm inverted telescopic forks with 4.7-inches of travel up front and a Single-sided swing arm with direct-link spring strut and spring pre-load with 7 manually adjustable settings and 4.5-inches of travel in the rear. Rolling stock is a Metzler Feelfree 160/60 R15 M/C 67H tire up front and a 120/70 R15 M/C tire for the rear. Both are mounted on Black 5-slotted spoke cast aluminum alloy wheels. Bringing the C evolution to a halt are Hydraulic power assisted 270 mm double discs with 2-piston floating calipers and ABS forward, and a Single 270 mm disc brake, with a 2-piston floating caliper and BMW Motorrad ABS aft.

Riding presents a superbly balanced feel at both low and higher speeds, but the optimal speed for the ultimate level of comfort is in the 60-70 mph realm. More is certainly possible, but less is more economical as far as electrical consumption is concerned and Hypermiling can actually be a fun exercise. Acceleration of the line is incredible and braking is positive. I tried all of the drive modes and settled on the Dynamic as the most enjoyable in all circumstances. Power is at the maximum with no restraints and the regenerative factor negates having to actually use the brakes, except for a full complete stop.


COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

In profile you become instantly aware that this is not a motorcycle, but indeed a scooter, with its low cut-away step through. Seating is for two, with the passenger pillion portion which is set higher also serving as locking cover for a large illuminated storage compartment, suitable for a full face helmet. There are foot pegs and grab handles for the companion, while the rider gets floorboards that happen to be awkwardly angled for longer-legged individuals (of which I’m one). The front fender is also silver metallic, as is the seating platform. The tail assembly and rear fender are finished in flat black. A large, bright neon-like Electric Green panel appears in a mid position making the C evolution instantly recognizable. BMW logo badges appear on both fairing sides.

The IP features two compartments flanking the ignition switch. The left compartment contains the charge port, while the left compartment serves as a locking glove compartment. Ahead and above the handlebars is a multifunction TFT display screen with an on-board computer. Info displayed includes: a digital clock, multiple trip info, odometer, Graphic digital speedometer with power and charge level bar charts, temperature, range balance and percentage of charge remaining in both analog and digital readouts, and ride mode selected. Visibility is ideal even on bright sunlight.

TFLCAR’S TAKE

The BMW C Evolution is actually a lot of fun, and isn’t in the least gender or age-specific. It has more power to offer than many motorcycles, is more comfortable and more economical to operate as well. Electric cars continue to offer extended range with larger, more powerful and more efficient batteries, which ultimately weigh more. Scooters are limited in space and have restricted weight limitations, having to do more with less. It comes with a 5-year/30,000-mile battery warranty.

This is not low-cost transportation, mind you, considering the initially high purchase price. The addition of an accessory plug-in outlet, an adjustable position passenger pillion, a revised footboard angle and a taller stock windshield (an optional touring windshield is available along with other convenience accessories) would perhaps make the price for palatable for potential consumers.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 BMW C Evolution

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $13,995
Price as Tested: $14,245
Engine: Drivetrain swingarm with liquid cooled alternator; permanently excited synchronous machine with surface magnets, internal rotor. Traction Battery with High-Voltage Technology, Central Cooling Air Duct, 3 Battery Modules with 12 Lithium-Ion Battery Cells per Module. With Reverse Assist
Horsepower: 48 hp @ 4,650 RPM
Torque: 53 lb-ft @ 4,650 RPM
Transmission: Belt drive
0-60 Acceleration: 6.2 seconds (BMW)
Top Speed: 80 mph (weight dependent)
Suspension: Front: 40 mm inverted telescopic forks with 4.7-inches of travel

Rear: Single-sided swing arm with direct-link spring strut and spring pre-load with 7 manually adjustable settings and 4.5-inches of travel

Brakes: Front: Hydraulic power assisted 270 mm double discs with 2-piston floating calipers and ABS

Rear: Single disc brake, 270 mm, 2-piston floating caliper and BMW Motorrad ABS

Tires: Front: Metzler Feelfree 120/70 R15 M/C

Rear: Metzler Feelfree 160/60 R15 M/C

Battery capacity: 94 Amp-hours
Range: 99 miles

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 63.4 inches
Length:  86.2 inches
Seat height: 30.1
Rake: 24.1 degrees
Trail: 3.7 inches
Ground Clearance: 4.5 inches
Curb Weight: 606 pounds (dry)

 

Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.