By Kevin Kocur
BMW’s C 600 Sport Looks Quick,
It sounds like a bobcat trying to escape from a burlap sack – growling, snarling and sounding really, really pissed off.
Normally, the engines that make those noises are often a V-twin or V4 configuration, usually hung from a trellis frame. In this case, the engine is a parallel twin tucked under the rider and the bodywork is adorned with roundels. Also, this growling beasty isn’t the latest and greatest sport bike—it’s a scooter.
I first reported BMW’s intent to bring the C600 Sport ($9,590) and its sibling, the C650GT ($9,990), to the United States in MMM #135. I’d been (almost patiently) waiting to get my hands on one, and finally did in late summer when I rode down to Leo’s South, which graciously loaned us a bike.
So, a couple of first impressions. The engine making all the wonderful noise is a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, eight-valve, parallel twin displacing 647cc and good for 60hp, 49 ft.-lb. of torque and a top speed of 109mph. Like every other maxi-scooter, there’s no shifting. Unlike a lot of its competition, it has triple-disc ABS brakes, heated grips (and seat!!!) and the windshield can be easily adjusted to one of three positions. Fit and finish are typical BMW, which is to say outstanding. The dash layout is both handsome and wonderfully designed, with a large speedo and a multi-function LCD display. The ergonomics also are spot on and while it’s still a step-through, there’s a fair amount of rise in the floor, which takes some getting used to.
Also taking a little getting used to is that while the engine cuts out when the side-stand is deployed, it will idle on the easy-to-use center-stand.
Weighing 549 lbs., the bike’s heft is in GS territory. The odd thing is that, unlike my GS, the C600 doesn’t feel that heavy and I never had an issue moving it into, out of or around the garage. Like the GS, you would never guess you’re riding something weighing over 500 lbs. The weight seems to disappear once you’re moving.
Storage is OK. A bigger motor means that room had to be taken up somewhere (floorboards, for example) but my full-faced Shoei fits in the frontal part of the underseat storage – if you put it in upside down. There’s additional storage courtesy of a BMW innovation called Flexcase. It’s essentially a fabric pouch that drops down to hover just above the rear tire. I like the idea, but my Shoei wouldn’t fit in there. Underseat LED lighting is a welcome touch.
As previously mentioned, the windshield can be manually adjusted to one of three positions. The lowest position obviously looks sportiest, allows the most airflow and works wonderfully around town. No surprise that the middle position offers the best combination of comfort and looks, so that’s where I usually left it. Taking a big trip, or have a long, freeway commute? Pop it up to the highest position and settle in. The buffeting is minimal (I’m 5’11” and can still see easily over the top of it, although the optical clarity is outstanding for those that can’t).
I thought the engine sounded great upon startup. Well, it sounds even better when you’re moving, and made me look for any excuse to twist my right wrist and make the beast howl. It is an … intoxicating sound.
As mentioned, the Kymco-assembled mill allows the BMW to crack the ton, but you’d be surprised to learn at how quickly it gets there. Folks, I will go on record – here and now – and tell you that this is the best accelerating scooter that I have EVER been on. It’s just that quick.
And it’s a scooter that inspires confidence and just begs to be pushed in the corners. Rolling on 15-inch aluminum hoops shod with Pirelli Demons (rapidly becoming a fan favorite Ninja 250 tire) the C600 Sport is nimble and well controlled by a nearly horizontal shock in the rear and inverted forks up front.
Scrubbing speed comes from a pair of 270mm discs squeezed by two-piston floating calipers up front and half that hardware out back. ABS is standard. The brakes work well enough and the tires are plenty grippy. Still, I was able to cycle the ABS a couple of times. OK, some hooliganism may have been involved.
Suggested MSRP is pushing $10K. Yes, that’s a lot of money for a scooter, a vehicle that is supposed to be fairly inexpensive and cost-effective, but for that money you could do much worse. Commuting? Made to do it. Alphabet roads on Saturday? It will shred them. Thinking of heading to Portland for a couple of days? Grab your iPod, a few clothes and hit the road.
Putting things in perspective, my 1988 BMW K100RS was the first production bike to offer ABS and was also $10,000. That bike passed 100,000 miles some time ago, and I expect another 100,000 from it, easily. If that’s any indication, spending the money on a BMW maxi-scoot, to me, seems like a no-brainer.
Big thanks to Leo’s South for use of the BMW C600 Sport.