2013 BMW C600 Sport & C650 GT Review - Video - Motorcycle.com

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

A few days ago I left Malibu, California, bounding down the Pacific Coast Highway, the 10 and 405 freeways on my way home to Long Beach. When traffic allowed, speeds crept in excess of posted limits, and where traffic snarled to a crawl, lane splitting ensued. It’s a route I’ve traveled many times in the same fashion, only in this instance I wasn’t aboard a motorcycle. I was riding a scooter, for chrissake.

BMW’s C600 Sport, and its sibling C650 GT, however, aren’t normal scooters. These things are motorcycles masquerading as scooters by way of their step-through chassis and smaller wheels. When I think of a scooter, the ability of zipping around a tour bus in the HOV lane of SoCal freeway traffic doesn’t come to mind, but that’s exactly what I was doing on my ride home from the C600/C650 GT’s press launch.

The ability to aggressively navigate Southern California’s notorious 405 freeway on the cusp of rush hour should be testament enough of the confidence I have in C600’s performance beyond the typical scooter realm. But we also tested it along the winding, undulating hills behind Malibu and in the narrow streets of Venice Beach to sample how BMW’s new scooters handled these dissimilar environments.

The C Series scooters, the C600 Sport and C650 GT, are the first models in BMW’s new 'Urban Mobility' classification. With a nod to increasing congestion, higher fuel prices, stricter emissions regulations and market trends, look for more to come from BMW in this category.

The 647cc parallel-Twin powering both models produces enough power to accelerate either scooter well above any legal speed limit. Common among CVT transmissions, the C600/650 experiences a brief lag when launching from a stop, but by 4,200 rpm the centrifugal clutch is fully closed and you’re accelerating at max capacity. Around town, in the canyons or on the freeway the spritely nature of the engine is evident, and only the heft of the scooter holds it back from better performance.

With claimed wet weights of 549 lbs. and 575 lbs., for the Sport and GT, respectively, both C scooters aren’t lithe, but they are in the same realm as Suzuki’s Burgman (claimed 613 lbs wet) and Honda’s Silver Wing (claimed 551 lbs wet).

Look closely and you’ll see nearly limitless cornering clearance. We have yet to touch down a hard part. Notice also the attractive single-sided swingarm, a fixture on both models.

The weight’s carried low in the chassis, and combined with the 15-inch wheels, makes for a nimble scoot, even with their 62.6-inch wheelbase (4.2 inches more than BMW’s own R1200RT). The 26-pound heavier GT carries its extra weight high in the rear of the scooter, but this doesn’t cause any noticeable ill-handling effects.

Where you feel the weight of the Sport or GT is when the scooter gets a little off-center, which is easy to do considering their seat heights of 31.9 and 31.3 inches for the Sport and GT, respectively. The first stoplight we came to, in fact, caught me off guard when the reach to the ground was further than I was expecting.

Instrument clusters are slightly different from one another, but both supply the needed information in an easy-to-read format.
When parked, the Sport can increase its storage capacity via the 'flexcase.' When not in use the flexcase easily collapses and secures to the bottom of the scooter.

As a six-footer with no seat height issues (especially when riding scooters) I couldn’t help but wonder what BMW engineers were thinking creating a scooter with easy-to-ride parameters for people with no or limited two-wheel exposure but with a seat height bothersome to someone of my stature and experience. I mean, 31.9 inches is taller than the seat height of most sportbikes!

Beneath those towering seat heights exists a 4.2-gallon fuel tank (enough go-juice for a 200+ mile range between fill-ups) and ample storage space. The GT boasts room enough for two full-face helmets at any time, while the Sport is outfitted with a “flexcase” that expands to fit two lids (or whatever) when the scooter is parked to allow for additional storage. Due to the close proximity of the rear wheel to the expanded case, the Sport will not start nor run until the flexcase is closed and secured. Both scooters feature an LED trunk light, a nicety you never knew you needed until experiencing it.

In addition to seat height and storage capacity, the GT differs from the Sport by way of better wind protection via its “Wind Guide Vanes,” an electric windscreen, more leg room between the seat and forward floorboards, a three-position adjustable rider backrest, and a slightly different instrument cluster. For all that, BMW asks only an additional $400 be paid: $9590 for the Sport and $9990 for the GT.

I certainly appreciated the GT’s extra legroom, and the small backrest kept me from slouching when my feet were positioned forward. During a long-haul trip (of which either scooter is fully capable) the comfort the backrest supplies will grow exponentially.

Because you never really know how you want a windscreen adjusted until after you’re in motion, the electrically adjustable windscreen of the GT is far more preferable than having to pull over and manually adjust the Sport’s windscreen.

Both models offer dual, non-locking glove compartments. Our testers were equipped with heated seats and handgrips, a luxury of the Highline Package.

Both scooters are equipped with ABS brakes, and gripping handfuls of front and rear brake levers—with twin 270mm front and single rear disc brakes—commandingly hauls the hefty scoots to a standstill. Here again, less weight would only heighten braking performance, but at least BMW’s ABS system only adds an additional 1.5 pounds to the scooters’ weight issue.

Speaking of brakes, parking brakes automatically engage whenever the sidestand is extended, making sure your $10k scooter doesn’t inadvertently roll downhill.

Nearly 600 pounds rolling on 15-inch wheels, but you’d never know it by its handling mannerisms. The chassis of the GT and Sport allows a rider to attack the twisty bits with the kind of aggression usually reserved for sportbike pilots.

According to BMW, more GT models are scheduled for the U.S. than the Sports, while a large percentage of both models will come equipped with the Highline Package ($605), which includes heated seats and grips, a tire-pressure monitoring system and an anti-theft alarm.

While not as cold as other regions, California does experience winter, and riding the Sport to and fro at night with warmth emanating from the seat and grips is a worthwhile pleasure. Is the Highline Package worth the asking price? If you’re truly considering purchasing a $10k scooter, what’s another $600?

BMW’s research shows that the majority of purchasers will opt for the more expensive GT model with the additional priceload of the Highline Package. Having ridden both and experiencing no real downside to GT ownership, we agree that the extra amenities of the GT for just an extra $400 makes it the more rational choice.

By the Numbers
BMW C600 SportBMW C650 GT
Engine Typeliquid-cooled in-line Twin four-stroke
Bore x Stroke79mm x 66mm
Horsepower60 bhp @ 7500 rpm
Torque49 ft-lb. @ 6000 rpm
Compression Ratio11.6:1
Valve GearDOHC, chain driven with bucket tappets
Valves2x31.5mm intake / 2x27.1mm exhaust
Engine Oil Capacity3.5 quarts
Engine ManagementBMS-E BMW Digital Engine Management
FuelPremium unleaded
Fuel Capacity4.2 US gallons
Charging System588 Watts @ 14 Volts
Battery12 Volts 12 Amps/hour maintenance-free AGM
Cooling SystemWater-cooling with oil heat exchanger
TransmissionCVT with centrifugal clutch
FrameTubular steel with die-cast aluminum sections
FrameTubular steel with die-cast aluminum sections
Front Suspension40mm upside-down fork with 4.5 inches travel
Rear SuspensionSingle-sided swingarm with 4.5 inches travel
Brake SystemBMW Motorrad ABS - Standard
Front BrakesDual discs, two-piston floating calipers
Front Rotor10.6 inch dual rotors
Rear Rotor10.6 inch single disc
Front Wheel3.50x15 cast aluminum
Rear Wheel4.50x15 cast aluminum
Front Tire120/70 x ZR 15
Rear Tire160/60 x ZR 15
Length84.8 inches87.3 inches
Width34.5 inches36.0 inches
Wheelbase62.6 inches
Seat Height31.9 inches31.3 inches
Steering Angle64.6 degrees
Front Wheel Trail3.6 inches
Dry Weight509 lbs. excluding options and accessories536 lbs. excluding options and accessories
Wet Weight549 lbs. excluding options and accessories575 lbs. excluding options and accessories
Maximum Load981 lbs. GVWR
Available ColorsTitan Silver Metallic
Sapphire Black Metallic
Cosmic Blue Metallic Matt
Sapphire Black Metallic
Vermilion Red Metallic
Platinum Bronze Metallic Matt
Available Equipment$605 Highline Package (heated seats, heated grips, TPM)
$395 Anti-Theft Alarm

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Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

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