Like many motorcycle riders, a scooter was my initial entry into the world of two-wheeled motorized travel. While I was fascinated by motorcycles from grade school years, they were strictly forbidden in my family (dangerous! flammable! ridden by criminals!). When I turned 18, I was able to convince my folks that if I just had an inoffensive, efficient, non-threatening scooter, I wouldn’t need to buy my own car, wouldn’t need to use/crash their car, or have them drive me anywhere. Ever again. Maybe.
It worked, even though I had to buy the scooter with my own minimum-wage earnings. But at least, finally, I had taken a major step toward owning a Real Bike… someday (or approximately six months later, and in secret). It’s a story many motorcycle riders and ADVrider.com denizens likely share to some degree. Few new riders get their start on GS or SuperTen machines.
Now, following the announcement that the upcoming BMW CE 04 electric scooter is due out soon and will come stateside at some point (depending on covid delays, chip shortages, etc.), BMW is showing a second e-scoot, the BMW Motorrad Concept CE 02, which is a “concept” for now, but we’ll see how that pans out after it gets more exposure at the upcoming IAA Mobility 2021 conference, which focuses on e-mobility tools like the CE 02 and other EVs.
BMW is plainly investigating going after the newly minted driver/youth market with the CE 02, saying in a press release that the clumsily named rig “clearly appeals to a new target group: people aged 16 and over, who have not ridden a motorbike before but are open to new experiences, smart technology and, above all, combining mobility with fun.” I do seem to recall that while my old Honda scooter was deathly slow, it was still fun, so here’s hoping.
Tech-wise, the CE 02 has some decent scooter numbers. The 11,000-Watt drive motor translates to just under 15 horsepower driving 15-inch disc-type wheels, plus a likely stout bushel of unspecified torquies as per usual for an electric mount. No battery stats were hinted at. Top speed is about 90kmh/55mph and it will go about 90km/55 miles on a charge says BMW, but probably not at 55mph the whole way. Drive is by toothed belt and the rear end is held up by an almost cartoonish monoshock. Clearly, the CE 02 is going to be an Urban Express kind of ride. Speaking of names… well, never mind.
Numbers like that put the CE 02 clearly in the mini-moto class with the Honda Grom, Kawi Z125 Pro and other city-only fun machines (the electric Cake Ösa Plus comes to mind), but you plug this one in at night rather than gas it up. BMW also says that the CE 02 is built tough: “it just works – even if you occasionally don’t treat it as carefully as you might.” And with endless customization options including stickers and tape and stuff (no, really), it’s a teenager customizers perfect first blank canvas. There is also a dedicated space to haul a skateboard and straps on the “tank” section for holding takeout and such.
BMW also says the CE 02 could have its own line of fashionable rider wear. “Two jackets inspired by contemporary trends indicate a whole range of new possibilities for both functional and fashionable clothing with innovative materials and processing techniques.” That apparently includes transparent materials as well as some user-customizable options.
Yes, the CE 02 is a “concept” at this point, and BMW has muddied the waters a bit by saying the machine “is neither a classic motorcycle nor a scooter, [it] is an exciting and highly emotional mobility offer.” Well, OK BMW, but it looks and works like a scooter. BMW has clearly put a lot of thought into the CE 02 “new rider” idea as it touches on a common lament within the motorcycle industry as a whole: In a phone-addicted world that has transport options at every turn, where are new motorcycle (and scooter) riders going to come from?
Today, tech-savvy young people have myriad options for getting around that many of us never did: Uber and Lyft, car sharing, motorcycle sharing, ebikes, eskateboards, rentable urban electric scooters, and ever-improving mass transit. Who needs to own motorcycles (or cars) any more? Not many people, and if you’ve travelled abroad, you certainly recognize the huge utilization and popularity of scooters in other countries. Inexpensive, non-threatening, typically reliable and yes, fun, scooters move billions of people around the globe every day. Make it electric and you’ve got a possible advantage in terms of both operating costs and performance numbers, as well as reduced maintenance costs and simplicity. The era of the scooter has arrived – in many places.
In countries where scooters and motorcycles are still seen as leisure and recreational vehicles, there will always be a percentage of riders for whom the scooter is a stepping stone to a motorcycle. The scooter is and always has been the gateway drug to bigger bikes. BMW is certainly barking up the right tree in their search for future buyers of GS and other machines.
What do you think of the BMW CE 02? Would you let your kid ride it? Was your first ride a scooter? Which one? Do you own a scooter now? Why? Let us know in comments after these CE 02 images from BMW.