2023 BMW CE 04 represents a new era for the brand
We keep hearing news about an automobile manufacturer phasing out its internal combustion engine department or some sort of electric car being launched on a weekly basis. Motorcycle OEMs are taking things a lot slower, except BMW. As a brand competes with other electric automobiles, it’s not hard for them to take the lead.
This funky-looking bike also represents the new era of the BMW Motorrad. The brand will start looking to transfer other segments to a fully electric platform, and the 2023 BMW CE 04 is the first step. Although it was not the first attempt of the brand, It’s the first bike designed as a fully electric bike built from the ground up.
It’s not the creative styling that makes the 2023 BMW CE 04 unique, but BMW also used its automobile R&D to come up with a more competitive product. The electric 42-hp motor is a smaller version of the electric motor found on the BMW iX.
Speaking of the motor, it is placed in a unique location by scooter standards. The architecture of an ICE-powered motorcycle is not flexible; therefore, you don’t have many choices. With an electric motor, you have much more flexibility, therefore it allowed BMW to have design freedom when they designed the CE 04.
Like the electric motor, the 8.9-kWh battery pack is also taken from one of the 11 battery modules powering the BMW iX, which is a fully electric SUV. It’s located at the very bottom, which gives quite a low center of gravity, allows more space for storage, and better air cooling for the battery pack.
Traditionally, scooters had their storage compartment at the back, under the seat. Though you don’t have a big storage compartment, CE 04 has its unique design characteristics by moving the storage compartment to the center of the vehicle.
As a result, it has a unique exposed rear end design with the help of a compact electric motor and battery pack, which also helps tight turns when going through downtown traffic. I personally didn’t like the look of the rear wheel; it just looks like a spare tire. That’s a missed opportunity for BMW as it should look more upscale for the price range.
When it comes to tech, I was impressed with what BMW offers with the new CE 04. Everything is simplified yet intuitive. It comes with the latest gen 10.25-inch TFT screen as well as the most updated BMW software, which shows you a lot of information without having hundreds of different buttons, thanks to the BMW’s rotary knob that makes things so much user friendly for the rider.
The only way you understand the bike is running is to check the infotainment screen. The bike will not move or start-up when the kickstand is down, which makes it safer for newer riders but it causes more inconvenience if you try to move the bike in your garage. Once you start riding it, that’s where you feel slight electric whining noise like any other EV vehicle.
As soon as you twist the throttle, you feel the claimed torque of 45.7 lb-ft right off the line, which makes it so much more fun than any other traditional maxi-scooter. BMW claims it’ll do 0-50 km/h in around 2.5 seconds, and it’s happening without any type of engine noise.
The 8.9-kWh battery pack would only give you around 110 km of range on a good day if you switch to a less powerful ECO mode, and riding carefully would have extended the range. Of course, it depends where you ride, as you may get more mileage downtown than a high-speed highway ride.
The 8.9-kWh battery pack may not sound like the biggest unit, but that also means it charges super quickly. You really don’t need a level 2 EV charger at home as it can charge the battery for about 5 hours for 0-100% on a typical 110v home outlet. If you have a level 2 charger at home, or an optional charging cable, it is reduced to just 1.5 hours.
Braking performance is quite good, front brakes offer an excellent initial bite. The rear brakes feel a little bit numb and underpowered. However, you may never need them as the electric motor has a regeneration function that slows down the bike quite efficiently.
If you are coming from ICE-powered scooters, you may be skeptical about highway speeds and passing power, and the new CE 04 accelerates unexpectedly well below 80 km/h. It feels much faster than any sort of maxi scooter until you hit highway speeds. The bike has an electronic speed limiter at 127 km/h, so it’s definitely not a top-speed machine.
The seat looks very modern and unique from the distance, it just looks like a big bench placed longitudinally. It’s not meant for long rides, therefore not the most comfortable option. You get a lot of space for yourself and for the passenger. There is absolutely no back support for anyone, which makes it harder to keep yourself on the bike at higher speeds. You can choose an optional comfort seat if you are planning to have more seat time than usual.
Other than that, the geometry is a typical maxi scooter, it has a quite relaxed rider and passenger ergonomics. You have 2 locations for foot placement, one feels like you are sitting on a chair, and the other one feels much more like a cruiser.
Like many other European entries, you can heavily customize the bike based on your budget and lifestyle. However, CE 04 has a good standard feature list such as the Keyless Ride, riding modes, ABS, ASC (stability control), and an electronic reverser.
Our tester also had the optional Dynamic Package, Avantgarde Style color scheme, Quick Charger, Tire Pressure Control, Heated grips, Centre stand, and Alarm system. You can also get optional accessories including luggage carriers, a top case, and a quick charging cable.
Like many maxi-scooters, the 2023 BMW CE 04 comes with a few small cubbies in the front, one for your smartphone and the other for an electric charging port. It also comes with a USB-C charging port for your smartphone or electronic device.
The most impressive and unexpected feature of the whole riding experience is the general handling characteristics. It not only weighs 100 lbs less than the first-gen, but it feels extremely well-balanced due to the battery location. The suspension tune is perfectly fine, it absorbs all types of road imperfections.
Despite having 15-inch wheels, it gives a lot of confidence, planted in corners and nimble. I found it has a surprisingly good maximum lean angle. that the front forks work a little bit loud over the big bumps and that was my only complaint about the whole riding experience. It’s still not a corner carver, but it is great for what it is.
The 2023 BMW CE 04 is a great ICE-maxi-scooter replacement and I can see why BMW wants to end the ICE scooter era for the brand. If you are short-tripping, running errands around downtown, or riding just for no reason within a certain radius like many scooter owners do, you really don’t need a gas-powered engine.
2023 BMW CE 04 starts at $15,000 CAD and our tester, with all options listed above, is priced at $17,900. The price tag is probably the only reason why electric vehicles need more time to be a more mainstream option, and CE 04 is another example of that.
It’s 2 times more expensive than any other ICE maxi-scooter. However, if you are looking for a unique-looking electric scooter from one of the big OEMs, the 2023 BMW CE 04 might be the right choice for less price-sensitive riders.
For more details – please visit www.bmw-motorrad.ca