First Ride: BMW C400X - Mid-size madness

Published: 22 June 2018

BMW’s decision to enter the mid-sized scooter market this year was based on numbers. Worldwide, this sector sells a constant 35-40,000 units a year, so represents a stable market in which to make an impression. However in order to make this impression, BMW have had to design a ground-up new 350cc single cylinder scooter, which is competitively priced due to the fact it is built to BMW’s exacting standards by Lonchin in China.

The heart of the BMW C400X is a 350cc, SOHC water-cooled 4v motor with a CVT (twist and go). BMW have tailored their CVT for acceleration and the C400X is nippy off the line while also delivering good levels of torque, virtually no vibrations (the mirrors remained clear at all speeds) and the ability to pull the bike up to an indicated 86mph. Not to mention a claimed 80mpg and a tank range of over 220 miles, which should be music to a commuter’s ears.

ASC (traction control) is a standard feature, which is helpful when accelerating on loose gravel or wet roads, but in all honesty a 33bhp twist-and-go single with 25.8ftlb of torque isn’t likely to worry the traction levels of the rear Pirelli Angel tyre when at speed.

Unlike some rivals’ mid-segment scooters (Yamaha’s XMAX 400, the Suzuki Burgman 400 and Kymco Xciting 400i), BMW have given their bike more of a sporting edge (it lacks a traditional feet forward riding position to keep it short and agile) and as a result its storage space is a bit more limited. As well as two lockable cubbyholes, the right hand of which also contains a 12V plug-in point, the C400X has enough underseat storage to fit a half-face lid and other items, but it isn’t that generous. However, that said, once stationary BMW’s Flexcase system expands the underseat storage area to allow space for a full-face lid to be stored alongside a half-face one and a 30-litre top box is an optional extra. Is this lack of storage for a better handling scooter a sacrifice worth making?

BMW designed the C400X to be a sporty middleweight, hence the lack of feet-forward riding position, a necessary compromise to keep it short and agile. And it works.

In town an excellent turning circle allows the C400X to easily be U-turned in a road and its light feel and narrowness means you can zip through gaps while the riding position means your feet are always close to the ground. Although the brakes lack some feel, they are strong enough and the ABS isn’t too intrusive.

On the open road the BMW turns quickly and is fun in the bends while at speed (80mph) it remains stable. The suspension is a bit choppy, especially the shocks, but overall it’s a comfortable riding position, although a taller screen would be beneficial for extended dual carriageway riding.

As it won’t arrive in the UK until October, BMW haven’t yet set a definite price for the C400X, however they say it will cost ‘just over £6000’ and you will get ABS and ASC (traction control) as standard. The Yamaha XMAX 400 is £6149 and has ABS, TC, an adjustable screen and a keyless ignition as standard while the Suzuki Burgman 400 relies on just ABS for £6299. The £5599 Kymco Xciting 400i is smartphone connected and has ABS and an adjustable screen, however the updated S Xciting model, which arrives in August, also has TC. So the BMW will command a premium over its rivals, especially the Kymco.

If the C400X is ‘just over £6000’ when it arrives in October as BMW claim it puts it in the right ballpark as its competition, although once you add extras it will inevitably be the most expensive mid-sized scooter. On riding fun and handling it is a winner, but the BMW is lacking a bit in terms of practicality due to its smaller size, which is a downside. The C400X looks and feels a premium scooter, and has an excellent array of accessories, so it’s down to what a rider’s priority is, either agility or practicality, whether they opt for the BMW over its competition.

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