BMW may be new to the scooter market, but its entry is well worth taking note of. The C400X is the first of what could be a whole line of mid-size scooters to come. Based on our short time with the bike, it's something to look forward to.
The C400X isn't exactly BMW's first relatively small scooter. A decade ago, BMW used to sell a small 200cc scooter with its own roof, called the C1. Since that bizarre model, BMW has avoided the segment for a while, until its recent return with the C600, manufactured by Bertone, with engines sourced from Kymco. The C400X, by contrast, was designed from a blank slate by BMW, with the engine developed in-house. It may be manufactured by Loncin Motors in China, but is 100% BMW.
This mid-size scooter was designed to appeal to the many fans of the segment in Europe and compete against maxi-scooter favorites like the Yamaha TMax, Suzuki Burgman, and Kymco Xciting.
The C400X has refreshingly boxy and angular design, compared to its competitors that are typically round and bulbous. It takes a page from its off-roading siblings, the F and R GS's by integrating a distinctive asymmetric headlight.
The LED headlight also has the same Y-shaped daytime running lamp as the R1250 GS. A chunky swingarm and exhaust make it a bit wide at the rear. It all comes together to make the bike look high-tech and robust in an almost Gundam kind of way.
Powering it is a 350cc liquid-cooled, single cylinder engine. This 4 valve SOHC unit produces 34 PS at 7,500 rpm and 35 Nm at 6,000 rpm. It delivers power to the rear wheels via a CVT. BMW has also fitted a unique bearing system on the swingarm that eliminates vibration on the seat. Quite surprisingly, the engine vibration is still transferred well to the handlebar, giving you tactile feedback on the throttle.
It's held aloft by a conventional fork in front and twin shocks with adjustable pre-load in the rear. Bringing it to a stop are a set of twin cross-drilled discs in front and a single cross-drilled disc in the rear, governed by ABS. There's also automatic stability control (ASC).
The handlebars feature very crisp switches. You'll find controls for flashers and hazard lights on the left handlebar. After sharp turns, the turn signal even turns off by itself. Unfortunately, you can see some cutout outlines where more buttons should be. It would be nice if it were just a flush piece that doesn't remind you that you bought the base model.
Perhaps the best part is the amount of storage. There are two glove compartments on the front shield (one large enough to fit an iPhone X Plus or Note 9). Under the seat is even more storage space. In its regular configuration, it can store two open face helmets.
The Flexcase compartment in the rear can expand to fit a full-face helmet. Take note that the bike will not start until the expanded compartment is retracted. The underside of the seat itself has elastic bands that can hold in tools and relevant documents.
Our unit was the base model (PhP475,000) with a standard LCD screen. It shows relevant info on a 6.5-inch monochrome LCD screen. It shows trips, fuel consumption, range and various other details. ABS and ASC can also be turned off in the menu.
The premium variant (PhP555,000) with keyless start, a full color LCD screen, navigation, and phone connectivity is PhP80,000 more. Both come with BMW's industry-leading 5-year warranty.
Nonetheless, the basic package is already quite appealing. The bike itself is very accessible, even to riders who are short of stature, thanks to the low seat height. It's quite heavy, tipping the scales at 204 kg., particularly when walking the bike. It gets much easier to maneuver once you get rolling.
Like I mentioned earlier, you don't feel any vibration on the seat, but get good feedback on the throttle. The exhaust note at low speeds is not so pleasant, but begins to sound more like an F650 GS the faster you go. Twist the throttle and the power comes instantly. It's got some serious neck-snapping acceleration, and continues pulling well into triple digits speeds. BMW says its top speed is 140 km/h, but it feels like it can easily do more. The brakes are very powerful and ABS kicks in very reliably and unobtrusively.
Around the city, the C400X is great in heavy traffic despite its perceived width. I had no trouble squeezing in between vehicles at stoplights to get to the front. At stoplights, the bike attracted a lot of attention, and I'd get questions and compliments at practically every intersection.
It's also got very enjoyable handling. Unlike most scooters, this C400X has dynamics similar to a big bike. Countersteer and you'll find it will eagerly lean in. It's also easy to keep it leaned in through rough patches of road. It's quite enjoyable to ride out of town, thanks to the very palpable and responsive power and surprising stability.
Its 12.8 liter fuel tank should be good for a range of about 350 kilometers. Expect an average of 26 km/l in the city in heavy traffic and even better fuel economy on the highway.
We only have minor complaints, like the lack of a lockable glove box, no power outlet, and the lack of a keyless start system. Many of these, of course, are available in the higher end model, but for a staggering PhP80,000 more.
As it is, the C400X is a very enjoyable scooter that will perform well both in the city or out of town. The starting price of PhP475,000 is quite a lot compared to its competition, but it's got a leg up in terms of performance, comfort, stability and its very long 5-year warranty. If you have the extra cash, the more expensive Connectivity model is highly recommended.
It will be tough to win over fans of the more affordable Japanese, Taiwanese, or even Italian maxi-scooters with that price tag. However, for current BMW bike owners that need a more practical daily bike, this is the perfect fit.