Do you remember BMW’s enclosed motorcycle/scooter called the C1?  Its enclosed concept even had the approval of the then US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Joan Claybrook.

But its life was short-lived, due in part to its bizarre look and somewhat anemic powerplants of 125cc and 176cc for the heavy machine.  Ultimately, it was produced for only two years (2000 to 2002).  And, during that time, the bike only sold 12,000 units worldwide.


BMW’s C1 enclosed motorcycle/scooter did not meet with success. Photo credit: BMW Motorrad

But BMW apparently has not given up on the enclosed motorcycle.  MCN reports that the German manufacturer has filed no less than 15 patent applications for a new, battery-powered, C1 replacement.

A new BMW C1?

Like the C1, the new electrically powered two-wheeler aims to provide car-like levels of safety on two wheels.   But unlike its predecessor, the new enclosed BMW will offer its customers the option of removing the entire safety cell.  MCN says that BMW’s…

“…new design offers customers the option of removing the entire safety cell – creating a dual-purpose machine that can be a fun, open-air motorcycle at weekends and a car-like commuter during the week.”

I’m not sure I understand that logic.  If someone wants to buy an enclosed moto for safety, that’s fine.  But why would a buyer then turnaround and remove the safety features for the weekend?   Particularly if the new C1 will not be cheap, as MCN says.

BMW C1-E carbon fiber

The BMW C1-E “roof” will be made of carbon fiber. Image credit: BMW Motorrad

Why would someone invest more money for a machine that they later turn into a bike no safer than one they could buy for significantly less?  Perhaps it’s the ability to have “open-air riding”?  I don’t know, I must be missing something.

Cycle World is also talking about the new C1.  The mag calls it the “C Evolution.”  They seem to have delved more deeply into the bike’s patents than MCN and provide several details about the machine’s design.

The C Evolution will have more than just a roof for safety.  It features other automobile-like safety features such as a carbon fiber safety cell, crumple zones, seat belts, side airbags, rear impact protection, and active aero.  That sounds a lot like a car.

A niche that needs to be filled?

But I get the point.  If you have to commute and you fear being placed close to many people, having a “safer” moto may be your answer.   And, since it’s a moto, it could potentially avoid congestion charges and exorbitant parking fees.

BMW C1 C1-E concept

BMW’s C1-E concept bike as shown in a European patent application. Image credit: BMW Motorrad

The instant torque of battery power could help solve the potential weight dilemma that the C1 Evolution could have.  BMW is hoping that the liberal use of carbon fiber, as opposed to the earlier C1’s aluminum, will trim pounds and help the batteries provide a decent range.

So it will be interesting to see whether BMW brings the C Evolution to production.  Good luck, BMW.  Perhaps you’ve seen and created a niche in the commuter two-wheeler market.  And made it safer to boot.

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