BMW C EVOLUTION (2014 - 2020) Review

Highlights

  • Electric commuter scooter from BMW
  • Cheap to run but great for the city
  • No reliability issues reported

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £50
Power: 47 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.7 in / 780 mm)
Weight: High (584 lbs / 265 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £7,000 - £10,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Final decisions over practicality and cost will ultimately be left to personal circumstance but the BMW C evolution is an excellent - if marginally compromised - maxi-scooter, well worth your consideration if you’re looking for the ultimate in clean urban refinement. And as a statement of BMW's intent, the C evolution is a fascinating debut.

As well as this in-depth review, MCN also spent a week with the BMW C evolution to see what it's like to live with.

Tester Liam commented: "A week with the C Evolution is enough for me to see the future is bright. Yes it’s expensive, and the range isn’t that great, but that’s the price of being an early adopter of new technology. And, of course, there is the fuel saving that makes the asking price a bit more bearable. Give it a few years for batteries to get smaller, lighter and ranges to go up, and electric bikes could be serious competition for petrol bikes."

During 2016 BMW launched a pair of new versions of this bike: one with an extended range and one restricted for A1 licence holders. Both used the same batteries as the BMW i3 electric car.

The new Long Range got an 11bhp (8kW) increase in power, with the range extended to 160km (99 miles), which was a significant improvement over the 62 mile range of the 2014 model. Top speed was electronically limited to 80mph.

The Europe-only A1 licence version had power capped to 15bhp (11kW) and had the same 62-mile range as the current model. Top speed was limited to 74mph.

The C evolution went off sale in 2020, ahead of a renewed push on electric motorbikes by BMW over the coming years. The first sign of this was the news that the BMW C1 looks set to make a comeback as an electric commuter. 

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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 & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The C evolution seems was built by BMW, so the build quality felt excellent from new. Our BMW C evolution owners' reviews show very positive comments, with the quote "Perfect commuter for many" summing up the bike perfectly. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Specs

Engine size -
Engine type Electric drive via drivetrain swingarm, liquid-cooled permanent magnet synchronous motor, toothed belt and ring gearing, prismatic lithium-ion cells
Frame type Hybrid chassis, load-bearing die-cast aluminium battery casing, steel-tubed rear frame
Fuel capacity -
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 265kg
Front suspension 40mm inverted telescopic forks
Rear suspension Single-sided swing arm with directly controlled spring strut, 7-stage adjustable preload.
Front brake 2 x 270mm discs with twin-piston floating calipers, BMW Motorrad ABS as standard
Rear brake Single 270mm disc with single-piston floating caliper, BMW Motorrad ABS as standard
Front tyre size 120/70-15
Rear tyre size 160/60-15

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax -
Annual service cost £50
New price -
Used price £7,000 - £10,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 47 bhp
Max torque 53 ft-lb
Top speed 75 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 62 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Released in 2014 as the first electric bike produced by a major traditional motorcycle manufacturer

Other versions

None

Owners' reviews for the BMW C EVOLUTION (2014 - 2020)

2 owners have reviewed their BMW C EVOLUTION (2014 - 2020) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW C EVOLUTION (2014 - 2020)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £50
4 out of 5 Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it
01 July 2021 by Robert Williams

Version: Plus

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £50

5 out of 5 if it had rapid charging

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

It’s a lot of bike to stop in a hurry but callipers good quality and do a good job. I ride mine all year round and have done over 21,000 miles on it. Regen braking is great when you get used to it and 90% of the time your don’t touch the brakes. Calliper bolts rust which is not really good enough on a bike this expensive.

Engine 5 out of 5

The motor is an absolute gem, away from the lights there’s not much that will keep up from it. There is a slight delay when you first twist the front but then it just motors.This is coming from someone that also rides a GS 1250.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Has been faultless and costs nothing to maintain

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

£220 for a 3 year 30000 mile service agreement (I really don’t think they do much to it when it goes in) 4 out of 5 as needs to be cheaper to buy up front. The price does mean you are in an exclusive club in the uk, I Think they have only sold something Like 100.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Needs a connected app to check charging. I had BMW 650 scooter before this and it had electric screen and heated seat. For the price I would’ve expected to see these on the C evolution. The biggest thing that is missing though is fast charging it takes 4 to 5 hours to charge it from empty. If it had fast charging I could seriously see me getting rid of my bigger a bike.

Buying experience: Purchased from Williams in Manchester, I have now had three bikes from them and the experience has been fantastic with all of them.

5 out of 5 Perfect commuter for many
26 June 2018 by David P

Year: 2014

Brilliant. If you have a garage and commute less than 40-50 miles a day nothing will put a bigger smile on your face!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

It's a very firm ride given the weight of the bike, so you feel bigger potholes, however it does make it a fun ride when you are out on good roads at speed.

Engine 5 out of 5

The torque is like no other bike or vehicle. The silence makes it feel faster. It's probably the faster bike you can buy for urban driving.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

BMW built, all feels well made and high quality. Feels much more solid than my previous Japanese motorbikes.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Absolute pennies to run. A full charge probably costs about £1. No fluids to change. Brakes barely get used because of the regen braking, few moving parts or chain. Tyres are pretty much the only thing you ever need to change.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The riding modes are great - I find myself using sail for open roadsand dynamic in town in particular. Colour screen looks great, and I love the single sided swing arm which isn't blocked an exhaust! Some sort of connected app would have been nice but realise this is a 14 reg bike.

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