BMW CE 04 review: A fast, stylish electric motorcycle

This create Light cycle?that bike from shake? A stormtrooper with two wheels? The first impression of the CE 04 is a motorcycle that travels from the future back to the past. Radical aesthetic sketched in the 1980s for riding in the 2080s.

It’s still relatively rare for a vehicle to put it into production that closely resembles their design-forward prototype, but eagle-eyed motorcycle geeks will recognize BMW’s 2017 CE 04 motorcycle concept link and its updated 2020 trailer, definition. The final production bike appears to have changed very little: modular plastic panels, a “floating” slatted seat, a sloping fork, and long Extrude the outline…it’s there. BMW has been able to ditch the rulebook due to the need to accommodate traditional constraints such as the combustion engine, airbox and exhaust system.

A full motorcycle license is required to ride CE-O4 (“04” refers to a 400 cc equivalent internal combustion engine size), but you can designate an e-bike as a lower category motorcycle license. This makes the full-fat version of the CE-O4 exclusively for riders who are “serious” about their bikes, not the novice or rebellious fast food courier just getting basic training.

With a mighty 31 kW (42 hp) from a liquid-cooled electric motor, the CE 04 will get you to over 30 mph in two and a half seconds. This is equivalent to”Wow!”, which means there is hardly anything that will keep you away from traffic lights. In short, the CE 04 doesn’t accelerate; it takes off.

Coupled with incredible acceleration, with a top speed of 75 mph (120 km/h), the CE 04’s realm extends to the open motorway. In fact, the potential of this electric motorcycle seems to be much greater than its surrounding marketing suggests. My daughter (the back seat passenger in the WIRED test) has been encouraging me to ride the sport bike with the lights out.

All this dizzying power is powered by a whopping 8.9 kWh battery, the same battery that fuels BMW’s own battery IX and i4 car. These batteries provide up to 80 miles (130 km) of range in Eco mode.By comparison, the Vespa Elettrica has a range of 62 miles and costs almost half as much as the BMW — but it’s very electric moped.

The CE 04’s most important charging time is: empty to full in 4 hours and 20 minutes, the optional fast charger can reduce the charging time to 1 hour 40 minutes, or from 20% to 80% in 45 minutes, Thus achieving “long coffee break” charging is almost possible. However, note that the fast charger is an extra £850 in the UK, and is included in the $1,665 Premium package in the US, along with features like adaptive headlights and seat heating. The battery itself sits flat under the bike’s long bottom plate. It’s a neat way to keep the weight light for stable handling.

Almost everything related to electric vehicles boils down to batteries, batteries and batteries. The capacity of your bike will affect your ride from speed to range. The CE 04 is ambitious enough to take riders from the central city to the suburbs, with the option of weekend trips on those faster roads. For a 5-mile round-trip commute, the rider will (as Wired did) easily get through the week without even worrying about a wall outlet. Two days of real world city riding, in the fastest setting, with passengers half the time, my bike battery was robbed by 30%, going from full to 70%.

Easy Rider

Photo: Joerg Kuenstle/BMW

Lighting a bike is a piece of cake. Hold the rear brake and press the ignition button. Now the bike is ready; just flip the stand up (it applies the brakes on the way down, like a kill switch) and you’re off.

Power is distributed through one of three driving modes, Eco (I may be fast, but I’m saving the planet), Rain (I may be fast, but I’m a responsible rider) or Road (I’m just plain fast). Riders also have the option to upgrade to the Sport package for additional dynamic driving modes (I may be fast, but I’m also rich).

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