BMW CE 04 review: a fast and elegant electric motorcycle
The tron Light cycle? This bike of Akira? A two-wheeled Stormtrooper? First impressions of the CE 04 are of a motorcycle sent back in time from the future. A radical aesthetic sketched in the 1980s to roll in the 2080s.
It’s still relatively rare for vehicles to arrive in production that closely resemble their cutting-edge prototypes, but eagle-eyed motorcycle geeks will recognize the 2017 BMW CE 04. Link Concept Motorrad and its 2020 tease update, the Definition. Very little seems to have changed on the final production bike: the modular plastic panels, the “floating” board-like seat, a raked-looking fork, and that long stretched profile… it’s all there. Freed from the need to fit traditional constraints like a combustion engine, airbox and exhaust system, BMW was able to throw out the rulebook.
Riding the CE-O4 (the “04” refers to an equivalent combustion engine size of 400cc) requires a full motorcycle license, but you can specify the e-bike to be less powerful for a lower category motorcycle license. That puts the full-fat version of the CE-O4 squarely in the realm of riders who are “serious” about bikes, rather than newbies fresh out of basic training or renegade fast-food couriers.
With a powerful 31 kW (42 hp) liquid-cooled electric motor, the CE 04 will launch you to over 30 mph in no time in two and a half seconds. It equates to a real feeling of “Woahhh!and means virtually nothing will hit you as you drive away from traffic lights. Simply put, the CE 04 doesn’t accelerate; it takes off.
Add to that startling acceleration a top speed of 75 mph (120 km/h) and the CE 04’s domain extends to open highways. Indeed, this e-motorcycle seems to have a lot more potential than its marketing around town suggests. My daughter (the passenger passenger for WIRED’s test) was perpetually pushing me to race sportbikes out of the lights.
All that tantalizing propulsion is powered by a whopping 8.9 kWh of battery power, the same type of cells found in the batteries that power BMW’s own. iX and i4 cars. These cells offer a range of up to 80 miles (130 km) in Eco mode. For comparison, the range of the Vespa Elettrica is 62 miles and it costs almost half the price of the BMW, but it really is a e-moped.
The most important CE 04 charge times are: empty to full in 4 hours 20 minutes, with the optional rapid charger reducing to 1 hour 40 minutes, or from 20 to 80% in 45 minutes, making it takes a “long coffee break”. charge about possible. However, note that the fast charger costs an extra £850 in the UK, while in the US it’s included in the $1,665 Premium plan, along with features like adaptive headlights and seat heating. . The batteries themselves are laid out flat under the bike’s long floor plate. It’s a clever way to keep that weight low for stable handling.
Almost everything about electric mobility comes down to the battery, the battery and the battery. The capacity of your bike will affect your ride from speed to range. The CE 04 has the ambition to take cyclists from the city center to the suburbs with the possibility of doing weekends on these faster roads. For a five-mile round trip, riders (like WIRED did) will easily get through a week without even disturbing a wall outlet. Two days of real-world urban riding on the fastest setting with a passenger half the time robbed my bike’s battery of 30%, taking it from full to 70%.
Switching on the bike is child’s play. Hold the rear brake and press the ignition button. Now the bike is ready to go; just raise the kickstand (which incidentally applies the brakes like a kill switch when down) and off you go.
Power is delivered via one of three riding 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 am just simple fast). Drivers also have the option to upgrade to the Sport Pack for an additional Dynamic drive mode (I may be fast, but I’m also rich).