Millennials, I hate to be the one to break the bad news but despite your very young age it appears your time is over. Well, not quite, but with the release of its BMW Motorrad Concept CE 02, the German manufacturer has made no secret that this is a two-wheeled vehicle aimed squarely at Generation Z. Set to display in a weeks time at the IAA Mobility Show 2021 in Munich, the electric powered bike is designed to introduce a whole new generation to the joys of two-wheels and start their journey where BMW firmly believe the future lays; electrified. But in doing so they haven’t cut corners and this learner-friendly machine offers plenty of glimpses into the company’s commitment to quality bikes of all sizes, that no longer run on gasoline.
You’ll notice I haven’t yet uttered the word motorcycle, a point that the company is very clear about. “At first glance, there is little about the BMW Motorrad Concept CE 02 that is typically BMW Motorrad – it’s something completely new. We want to strive for something novel and be pioneers – which is what we’ve proven ourselves capable of with various projects in the past,” says Edgar Heinrich, BMW Motorrad’s head of design. Here it’s hard to argue with BMW, having already unveiled their CE 04 Scooter in production ready form and it to stays true to its own initial concept.
“The Concept CE 02 features new proportions and modern forms of single-track mobility in an urban environment. In addition, we wanted to achieve a level of design innovation that we have not had before at this level. Straightforward use was important, but above all the emotional component was crucial, as well as riding fun,” Heinrich continues. So the takeaway then is that this is in reality a motorcycle, just that we are yet to come up with the appropriate word to truly describe what BMW is angling for. But enough of the corporate speak, what does it offer in the real world.
The first thing you notice is the funky styling, it’s futuristic without being so ridiculous you can’t work out exactly how the thing operates. Here BMW have made a smart decision, the truth is we are used to two wheels, handlebars and brake levers from the time we ride our first bicycle; so in asking the world to accept a new way of powering their fun, the company hasn’t also demanded we unlearn that universal skill of riding a bike. It’s also not tiny, yes it’s small, but looking at the shots of a full-sized adult straddling the machine, this is no toy.
To give some real world comparisons, the seat height is 730mm, which is significantly lower than the average learner legal sportbike variation, usually around 810mm. This makes it perfect for the age group targeted, but it’s also not so low that a large adult won’t fit. A Harley Davidson Softail Slim has a seat height of 605mm, so landing right in the middle gives the BMW the perfect compromise of confidence-inspiring two feet on the ground, with enough legroom to still be comfortable. The weight ready to ride is just 120kg, that’s a third of a big HD, and you can start to feel how it would be to sit aboard the CE 02, light, easily manoeuvrable, and with a low centre of gravity.
Power on the other hand is exactly what you’d expect from an Urban bike aimed at a youth market, with the electric motor spitting out 11kw. This is a very deliberate figure as it keeps the machine A1 legal for 17-year-olds with a brand new license. There is little doubt BMW could have achieved double the power if they’d desired, but they’d have simply removed the bike from the acceptable list of their target market. Torque too it must be remembered is instant with an electric motor, so it’ll be no chump at the traffic light GP with such little weight to pull. The top speed is 90km/h, which should prove more than enough for its intended use of carving up the city streets.
The range is also tailored for its environment, 90km should be more than enough to get you to school/work/uni and back a few times before you need to plug it in. The rest of the mechanical package is very familiar to us gas guzzlers, a beautiful single-sided swingarm at the rear features a covered wheel, with a conventional disc brake and 15in rim. While upfront, inverted forks slot through some gorgeous alloy triple clamps, a radial-mounted caliper grabs a conventional disc and another 15in rim supports the generous rubber. I’ve deliberately stayed away from the overall appearance, however, not because I don’t like it, but it’s purely subjective and you’ll all let the pictures tell a personal story.
Functionality however is excellent, LED lighting is bold and yet clutter-free, there is clever storage spaces and straps to secure some luggage in front of the rider. The handlebars are cool as can be, the instrument clear and concise, and there is also the option to fold in the footpegs and use your skate deck to support your feet. BMW has also released a range of clothing that utilises GRDXKN® technology, a printed on material that turns the graphics and logos on your jacket into impact absorbing and abrasion-resistant protection.
Is it for you and me? We will all have our own take, but if I was from Gen Z and had never known the smell of two-stroke in the morning, I’d definitely ride this down to the local skatepark in my recycled ocean plastic helmet and vegan sneakers.
[ BMW Motorrad ]