The handling is firm, but forgivingly fun when you manage to break free from the traffic and attempt a more ambitious ride. The weight of the batteries makes for a solid centre of gravity and despite the front end feeling a little light and skittish on occasion, there are no real complaints. The brakes do an admirable job of keeping the bike’s 265kg in check and no part of the equation feels under-delivered. Torque Control Assist (TCA) is a welcome addition, keeping the rampant torque delivery under control at low speeds, and there's a handy reverse gear too, useful when paddling it back into a tight parking spot.
The thump of instant acceleration from the 53ft/lb of instant torque on tap - which surges you forward to the electronically restricted 75mph limit with decent gusto and nothing but an electric whine for company - is a real joy. It's like riding a child's toy, but with the daunting task of negotiating city traffic in rush hour.
Reliability is a bit of a grey area since electric bikes are still in their very early stages, but it's a BMW so it should be built to a very high standard.
You can’t consider an electric vehicle of any type without taking the dreaded spectre of battery charging into account. BMW quote four hours as the official duration for a full charge of the lithium-ion cells, but the charge time of this type of battery is not strictly linear. In truth the first 50% of the capacity charges quicker than the final half, so whilst four hours would deliver full range, you could be ready to ride 30 miles in less than half that time. Final decisions over practicality and cost will ultimately be left to personal circumstance.
As you turn the key, a stunning colour LCD display flashes into life and you're greeted with a mesmerising blast of numbers and graphs – all suitably Star Trek – before being asked to start the motor. The regenerative braking system offers at least some familiarity by acting like engine braking, especially in 'Dynamic Mode' where speed can be scrubbed-off quickly by just releasing the throttle. 'Road' and 'Eco Pro' settings do the same, but with 'Road' offering less regenerational charge back into the batteries, while 'Eco Pro' restricts the rate of acceleration, improving battery life. The most peculiar feeling comes in 'Sail' mode, which removes all regenerative return, allowing you to coast down hills like you’re riding a massive skateboard.