BMW’s maxi scooters are undeniably fine machines, which makes it surprising that the MSRPs aren’t substantially higher than the competition.
Styling (C 600 Sport)
Modest storage for a maxi
BMW C SPORT / GT
BMW released their C series of maxiscooters in two variants: Sport and GT for their 2013 entrance into the North American market. The GT variant (C 650 GT) remains on sale as of 2020, whereas the original C 600 Sport was dropped after 2014 and then returned to the USA only with updates for 2016 as the C 650 Sport until it was dropped again after 2018. Despite the use of both “600” and “650” in the model names, all of these scooters share the same 647cc engine.
The C 650 GT (above) is the more touring oriented C series scooter. This maxiscooter uses the same 647cc motor as the Sport model (which was initially strangely called a 600) but features greater rider comfort and storage for longer trips. This scooter has remained relatively unchanged since it’s 2013 introduction. The main updates have been changes to the instrumentation and handlebars for 2016.
The Sport version of the C series was initially launched as the C 600 Sport (below in blue) and was offered in the USA and Canada from 2013 – 2014. It was withdrawn for 2015 but returned to the USA only with updates for 2016 as the C 650 sport (below in orange). The 2016 updates included a styling overhaul, a new exhaust, traction control, CVT tweaks and a revised rear suspension. This model was then dropped after 2018.
Despite the new name, the motor returned unchanged for 2016. Presumably the naming switch was to more accurate communicate the motors true size. It was always baffling why BMW chose to call the original a 600 since this scooter has always used BMW’s 647cc motor, like the C 650 GT. Maybe it was originally called a 600 to better justify the GT’s higher price.
BMW’s concept behind these scooters was to combine the practicality of a scooter (storage, ergonomics, simple operation) with the power and nimble handling of a motorcycle. Where these two models differ is that the C 600/650 Sport is a stripped down design aimed at solo riders, while the GT is fully featured for touring use. Both models share the same 647cc twin cylinder motor, but the GT provides a stepped two person seat and has a larger rear end to provide more storage.
More specifically, the Sport model uses a long, flat seat that can accommodate two riders, but is most valuable as a solo seat allowing for a range of seating positions. Conversely, the GT seat has a raised passenger area, which is easily better for a passenger but restricts the drivers seating position. The other main difference is that the GT has a larger rear end that enables substantial internal storage, while the Sport model has a sleek rear end that can not swallow a full face helmet without deploying the “Flexcase” – an extendable fabric appendage that droops below the rear end near the rear wheel. As expected, this storage can only be used when parked and automatically disables the engine to prevent mobile use. The GT model also has a raised handlebar that is a few inches higher than the Sport bars.
The result of these differences is that the 650 GT gains $900 on the price tag and 26 lbs over the Sport model, weighing in at 575 lbs rather than 549 lbs. Both machines are reasonably light for their size, with competitors from Kymco and Suzuki both weighing in just over 600 lbs.
Powering both models is a DOHC twin cylinder engine with 647cc displacement that is designed by BMW, but with the manufacturing outsourced to Kymco. Kymco has a history of building engine’s for BMW and it’s purely a manufacturing arrangement, so these motors won’t be popping up in Kymco’s MyRoad Maxiscooter.
This parallel twin motor features all the usual goodies (liquid cooling, fuel injection, twin balancing shafts). Power output is a healthy 60 horsepower (at 7500 RPM) and 46 ft-lbs of torque (at 6000 RPM), which provides a 1 horsepower edge of Kymco’s 699cc MyRoad, and a 6 horsepower advantage over Suzuki’s Burgman 650.
Top speed is a lofty 112 mph, while typical fuel milage of about 45 mpg in mixed use. Gentle open road use can net 55 mpg, which is still a far cry from the triple digit numbers posted by miserly 4-stroke 50’s, although that’s a very unfair comparison as the BMW can do 0 to 60 in just over 7 seconds compared to never.
The only real downside to this motor is the premium fuel requirement. This requirement combined with mediocre milage means that road trips can get expensive. These scooters also have a relatively small gas tank (4.2 gallon plus 1 gallon reserve), which means owners will have lots of opportunities to purchase premium fuel with a range under 200 miles.
Features and Amenities
As you’d expect from a BMW Maxi, the C Sport and GT are packed with features. These scooters have a seemingly standard “Highline” package, which might technically be optional but non-equipped models don’t seem to exist. This package contains a heated seat, heated grips and an alarm, which is much appreciated on a machine this nice. The heated seats and grips are linked, and can be set to low, high or auto – which heats based on ambient temperature and velocity. There’s also standard ABS, which in combination with dual piston calipers and three 270mm rotors (two up front, one in the back) makes for outstanding braking. One novel feature of these scooters is a kickstand activated parking brake, which makes using the kickstand less error prone on angled surfaces.
Both models include a windscreen, but the C 600 Sport model uses a cheaper 3 position manually adjustable wind blocker while the C 650 GT gets a proper electronically adjustable and larger deflector. These models share the instrumentation panel, which is a fantastic arrangement of multifunction LED screens and analog gauges which provide all the information you could ask for. The speedometer is analog, while a large LED screen nearby provides instantaneous fuel consumption, oil-level, RPM, temperatures and power.
Storage is one area where these BMW machines lag or at best equal their competitors. The sleek rear end of the C 600 Sport means that helmets won’t fit internally without deploying the fabric Flexcase, which is better than nothing but seems more like an after thought. The C 650 GT has a wider and longer back end that can swallow a full face helmet plus a half lid, which is good but still not quite as commodious as Suzuki’s Burgman 650. At the front of the machine, both models use dual storage cubbies which seems to be the norm in the maxi-scooter market. The left cubby contains a 12V socket, which conveniently charges your devices but doesn’t work easily for GPS use as there is no provision for routing a cord out of the storage area. As these scooters have a robust 588 watt alternator, there’s no shortage of juice for running extras.
For 2016 BMW added to the features list with standard traction control (“ASC”) and blink spot warning indicators.
BMW’s maxi scooters are undeniably fine machines, which makes it surprising that the MSRPs aren’t substantially higher than the competition. The C 600 Sport was listed at $9590 in the USA, while the C 650 GT adds $900 to that. That’s similar to Kymco’s MyRoad 700 ($9699) and actually cheaper than Suzuki’s Burgman 650 ($10,999), although the essentially mandatory Highline package adds $500 and BMW adds $100 for most of the C 650 color options as of 2015. Compared to these models, the BMW’s offer superior power, handling and braking, but lag in storage, fuel costs and repair costs (BMW parts are expensive).
Unless you can find a substantial deal on Kymco’s MyRoad, the BMW scooters are easily the better choice. The Burgman is a tougher competitor however, as Suzuki has invested a lot of R & D into making that machine something special. Most likely performance oriented buyers will prefer the BMW, while the Burgman 650 makes for the more comfortable touring machine as Suzuki has lavished that machine with amenities. More specifically, the C 650 Sport is a stand out machine for performance driven riders, while the C 650 GT competes very closely with the Suzuki Burgman 650 and the decision warrants a test drive.