Automobiles

2022 BMW CE04 first ride review: Looks like the future, rides like the present

BMW's cyberpunk-looking CE04 may be expensive, but it sets a high benchmark for midsize electric scooters.

The CE04 is great for getting around the city.
BMW

The two-wheeled world has been slightly slower to embrace electrification than the four-wheeled one, but that's beginning to change with bikes such as the LiveWire One and Zero SR models. Now, BMW is bringing electrification to a more accessible scale with the utterly futuristic CE04 scooter.

This BMW is unique for several reasons. Being a scooter, it's the company's most approachable bike with the broadest range of potential riders. Being attached to the larger BMW car brand also affords the CE04 a few technological advantages, which it borrows directly from the carmaker's i-series vehicles.

How cool is this cutaway of the CE04's electric guts?

BMW

The battery cells in the CE04's air-cooled pack are the same ones used in the new iX and i4 EVs -- on a much smaller scale, natch -- and the electric motor is derived from the unit found in the X3 and not-for-US 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid models. Specifically, the CE04 scooter uses a third of a passenger car's liquid-cooled motor with a shortened stator and rotor, as well as a modified case to fit them both. In the CE04, this motor produces 42 horsepower and 46 pound-feet of torque, and combined with the 8.9 kilowatt-hour battery (8.5 kWh of which is usable), the bike is good for a maximum estimated range of 80 miles on the European WLTP cycle. (The official US EPA numbers aren't yet available, but will be a bit lower.) That doesn't sound like much, but this range will likely be plenty in the real world, especially considering the CE04's intended use case. If you want to cross the country, buy an R1250 GS.

Charging can be handled in one of two ways. With a Level 1 wall outlet, you can go from a dead battery to a full charge in 4 hours and 20 minutes. If you plug into a Level 2 charger and have the optional quick charging feature, that figure drops to approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. This isn't lightning fast, but again, is more than acceptable given how this scooter is likely to be used.

Even more than its drivetrain, the CE04 is notable for its futuristic, almost manga or cyberpunk styling. It looks utterly unlike anything else on the road, yet the styling doesn't detract from the CE04's practicality. The mod-cons that you'd expect to see on a typical internal combustion scooter are all here. There is a large lockable storage area under the seat that opens electronically and will swallow most full-face helmets without issue (my XXL AGV K6 didn't quite fit, but my massive noggin is an outlier).

The 10.3-inch TFT display is easy to read while riding.

BMW

There is also a lockable compartment for your phone in the front fairing. It has a USB-C port to charge and connect your phone to the scooter, and the compartment is actively ventilated, which should help prevent your phone from overheating on longer rides. Plugging into the scooter is something you'll want to do, given the CE04's standard navigation and other connectivity features. All the infotainment functions are laid out on a bright and very legible 10.3-inch TFT display. That screen is controlled by typically busy-looking BMW control pods, but everything is relatively straightforward and easy to figure out.

Another critical aspect of scooter design is that it must be comfortable and accessible. The CE04 meets these requirements thanks to its low standover height and firm but comfortable seat, which allows for plenty of room for a rider to move fore and aft. The scooter's long footboards also make it so riders of all sizes can get comfortable. BMW will offer the CE04 with six different saddle options, including ones with heat. Three-level heated grips are optional but highly recommended, even if you ride in warmer climates.

The CE04 further adds comfort thanks to its very competent suspension consisting of a preload-adjustable rear monoshock and a conventional, non-adjustable front fork. The bike's suspension is nicely tuned for both compliance and handling, and it's happy on tightly curved Spanish roads taken at moderate speeds. It's a lot of fun, too.

Scooters like this are popular in Europe, but they have real appeal for US cities, too.

BMW

The CE04 also comes with excellent brakes. The dual-disc front setup has excellent initial bite with decent feel at the lever. The rear disc seems a bit redundant given the available regenerative braking, which is both strong and easy to modulate. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard, but if you want lean sensitivity, you'll have to spring for the Dynamic package, which also adds an adaptive headlight.

This scooter is a classic case of BMW doing what it does best: engineering the hell out of a product that fills or creates a niche. The CE04 is the platonic ideal of electric scooters, but whether that's what the public wants -- particularly in the US where scooters just aren't that popular in general -- remains to be seen, especially given the BMW's lofty $11,795 starting price tag. Look for the wild-looking CE04 to hit BMW dealers this spring.

Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.