Scooters of distinction: the BMW C 650 GT (left) and C 600 Sport

Motorcycle.com Names BMW C-Series “Best Scooter of 2013″

Aug 20 • Awards, BMW, In the press • 530 Views • 10 Comments

BMW set out to redefine the maxi-scooter segment with the C 600 Sport and the C 650 GT, and in the opinion of this reviewer, they’ve done exactly that. From the performance capabilities to the rider comforts, these two scooters have brought something new into an otherwise stale end of the scooter market. Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks so. Motorcycle.com has named both BMW C-Series scooters its “Best Scooter of 2013.”


It’s not often you’ll hear us say we were blown away by a scooter, but BMW’s C600/650 is not your average scoot. There’s nearly 600 pounds rolling on 15-inch wheels, but you’d never know it. The C-model scooters from BMW handle everything from twisty canyon roads to freeway commuting, but then ride either to the local supermarket and a week’s worth of frozen pizzas fit neatly in the under-seat storage.

The time I spent with these two BMW’s back in December of last year left me rather impressed. You can read my thoughts on these remarkable machines here and here. Buyers are responding to the C-Series scooters as well. As previously reported, demand for these bikes is actually exceeding supply. Commuters and scooter fans are snapping up these bikes as fast as BMW can build them. Next year, BMW plans to unveil an all-electric version of the C-Series, and frankly, I cannot wait to get my hands on one.

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  • DMP

    I have owned many a BMW twin..triple and four in my 50 years of riding and they (BMW) in my option where always highly over-rated and over priced……while I have not ridden one I have owned two 650 Burgmans and other than snob appeal see nothing in the write-ups by the major mags that would lead me to spend my hard earned money on one……this sounds like many mags today and just like yesterday that are writing promotions for products that clearly attempt to curry favor with manufactures….rather than evaluating and offering a critical critique in a manner that would genuinely assist a potential buyer to do other that consume the dribble I read here and while self disclosure says I do have a bias….the Burgman has been on the market for 10+ years to work out all it flaws and has gotten none of this gushing prose in all that time….smells fishy to me

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      The Burgman has indeed been around for a long time, making incremental improvements along the way. However, if I sound gushy about the C-Series BMWs, it’s because I’ve ridden them and they really are remarkable bikes. They’ve hit a level of refinement and capability that, nice as the Suzuki is, the Burgman just doesn’t quite achieve, in my opinion.
      And though you may not believe me when I say so, that opinion gains me nothing with BMW. It’s not as though they’re going to give me one because I am impressed. It’s easy to assume that all good reviews are corrupted, but it just isn’t so. Criticism isn’t just about finding fault (and we did find fault in the BMWs if you read our reviews). Sometimes a machine is objectively terrific and in my opinion, the C 600 Sport in particular is a great bike. It’s my job as a reviewer to tell that story.
      However, I also reject this notion that there can only be one winner. The BMW C-Series being great doesn’t make the Burgman or the Yamaha T-Max bad bikes. It’s a big market out there.
      Yet if it makes you feel better to accuse us all of pandering, I guess that’s your prerogative. While the Motorcycle.com article doesn’t say specifically who penned their opinion, I’m pretty sure I know who the reviewer was, and I’ll absolutely defend his integrity.
      In the meantime, if you don’t like BMW don’t buy one, but let’s not mistake complaining about a bike for reviewing a bike.

  • DMP

    I would add that I live in Chicagoland and frequent many a club and watering hole and have not seen-ONE-yet in the flesh

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      I have seen two in the wild here in Chicago myself. My sources on the west coast say California is just lousy with them. I have a suspicion that, if BMW’s assessment of their target buyers is correct, the people who are buying these aren’t necessarily “bike people.” So they may not do the group stuff as readily. Hard to know this early in the model run.

  • DMP

    One last bit…that few if ever mention ….that at the time 2004… effected my own Burgman purchase this was the excellent transmission..no dirty chains…no belts and a down shift button for curving roads or exit ramps for better torque and that overdrive 6th…which is all ..as far as I know the first and only bike in the industry to have such an animal and you can get Executives used for a song …..and while BMWs may ? hold their value in the minds of some… my years starting in 1968 with an R69…. tells me that the Japanese bikes like Honda and Yamaha ect. have long ago equaled if not surpassed BMWs in all respects….. So like Harley…..In ‘my opinion’ the individual is purchasing BMWs due to a perceived and bygone image more than the excellence of product…and there dealership network has.. as with most other brands.. shriveled up……the way the article was written makes it sound like some marvelous step forward in scooters ?__”BMW set out to redefine the maxi-scooter segment with the C 600 Sport and the C 650 GT, and in the opinion of this reviewer, they’ve done exactly that “__ and that in may opinion is a blatantly false statement that might have been mentioned…this in_my opinion_ undermines the credibility and integrity of your site

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      Well you’re certainly entitled to YOUR opinion. Thanks for your comments.

  • DMP

    And it’s not that I don’t like BMWs…I’ve owned 6 of them.. but in this riders opinion ….a spade is a spade and that for the money and lack of network ( we lost All the dealers on the north side of Chicago….. so you’ve got to either trailer or get a ride back from the suburbs….which if they offered somethings special ( like in the 60′s when they where the most reliable of bikes) it might be worth it…but that is no longer so…..One is far better served dollar wise….in my opinion… with other brands

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      I definitely agree that the dealer network here in Chicago is really thin. I don’t get it. There are also lots of great bikes to be had these days. Triumph, Honda and Ducati are all making remarkable machines at a variety of price points. Some more affordable than others, but the level of good choices available right now is the best it’s been in a decade or more. I do think, however, that BMW is making great machines, and I’m expecting them to have more down-market offerings shortly.

  • David

    I’ve looked at the BMW 600 and 650 maxi-scooters at the local dealer. They look like great machines. I haven’t ridden one but I can believe the ride is great.

    However, these are really, really big machines, and the seat is high for my frame (I’m 5’7″). I rather doubt I could handle one of these machines easily. At present I ride a Vespa 250, which is absolutely perfect for my size; it’s like it was custom built to my exact specifications. Also, I am 70 years old and weigh 150 pounds.

    So I’d be interested in your opinion, since you’ve ridden these, and since I would otherwise be interested in one of them aside from their size, of what you think of these machines for us smaller, and older, riders.

    Many thanks.

    david reese

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      David, back when all I’d ridden was scooters, all motorcycles and bigger scooters seemed gigantic to me. Riding anything bigger than 200cc or heavier than 300lbs just seemed insurmountable. Nowadays I own a 640lb, 1100cc motorcycle that, if you can believe it, is easier to ride than some scooters I’ve owned. Any bike with good suspension geometry will be instantly stable as soon as it starts moving. This is actually more true of bikes with larger wheels, such as the 16″ wheels on the BMW scooters. In fact, when I rode the C 600 Sport and C 650 GT at the press launch, I was particularly impressed with how stable and neutral they were at very slow speeds. So much so that at the time I actually wondered if I’d forget to put my feet down at some point and drop the bike.
      Seat height is definitely a consideration, and that’s true of any machine. If you can’t stand over it flat footed at a stop light, that’s not a good situation. If you can, however, you’re probably in good shape. I believe there’s a “low seat” option for those bikes as well. If not, the after market will likely soon provide one and getting the seat shaved wouldn’t be more than a couple hundred dollars at a good upholstery shop.
      As for being able to “handle” it, in so many ways it’s not that different from a Vespa GTS/V. It’s got a throttle and hand brakes just like any automatic scooter. It’s just got more power there. It’s not jumpy on the throttle, just powerful when you ask it to be. It won’t do unexpected wheelies or burnouts on you without you wanting it to. You’re not going to get yourself into any sort of trouble you couldn’t already get into on your Vespa — such as taking a corner too fast or mis-reading traffic. If anything, because the suspension is so capable, I’d bet you’re a little less likely to get “into trouble” on one of these bikes simply because the bike’s limits are so far beyond your own willingness to push them. Go a little hot into a corner and this bike will do a much better job of just leaning over and sticking to the turn. Because I have the motorcycle experience I do at this point, I wasn’t intimidated at all by riding these BMW scooters when I did, yet their limits were still well beyond my own willingness to push them.
      Meanwhile, if you’re willing to pay the premium, you’ve got a real go-anywhere bike with a load of creature comforts like heated seat and grips and tire pressure monitoring.
      I don’t mean to try to “sell” you one of these. They’re definitely not the right fit for everybody and there are other great bikes in this segment. I do, however, want to encourage you that bigger bikes aren’t as hard to ride as you might think. I’ve met guys in their 80s riding modern Goldwings the size of brahma bulls. You could likely handle a midsize BMW scooter.
      With any new bike, you’ll want to take your time getting to know it. Spend time in a parking lot getting to know its braking and slow-speed handing. Then venture out with caution and stay within your limits. Good luck! Let me know if you make a change.

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