Powered by a 350cc single-cylinder engine, the BMW C 400 X & C 400 GT are aimed at CBD and suburban riding and are packed with features... Review: Jeff Ware Pics: Luci Luci
We recently spent a day testing the new C 400 models by BMW (check out our Video Review here) and despite riding in wet and windy conditions for much of the day, the scooters proved to be awesome machines that were fun to ride in and out of town…
The mid-sized scooter segment is a new area for BMW and the C 400 models are important for the brand, with huge lengths undertaken to keep the machines competitively priced without compromising too much on the expected BMW build quality. They are actually 350cc, I’m not sure why they are called 400s.
Although Australia is one of the smaller scooter markets, the mid-sized segment is enormous in Europe and growing in Asia. It makes sense here, too, as the mid-capacity scooters enable owners to travel further and wider, without the compromises in town that a full-sized maxi scooter carries.
Performance-wise the trade off versus a maxi is not too much, thanks to less weight (most maxi scooters are seriously heavy). The price point is certainly a motivating factor as well, with the bigger C 650 Sport and C 650 GT costing from $16,420 and $17,350. With a wide range of options and accessories, as well as impressive specifications, the C 400 X and GT models sit above the Suzuki Burgman 400, Yamaha XMAX 300 and Kymco Downtown 350 in specification and technology, for a slightly premium price.
For the full info on model variants and the differences, check out the BMW Motorrad Australia site.
We had both versions of the C 400 to ride at the launch, the C 400 X and C 400 GT, both were the ion specification. The upgrade to ion is one I would order. The X ion gets a heated comfort seat, heated grips, TFT display, BMW multi wheel, daytime riding lights and LED headlights. The GT ion gets heated comfort seat, heated grips, TFT dash and daytime riding light. Pillion seats aren’t heated. Some of the bikes also had a scooter canopy (lap blanket) fitted, which came in handy given the atrocious conditions we rode in…
I chose a C 400 X ion for the first half of the day, being drawn to its sportier look and ergonomics. I guess that is the sportsbike rider still lurking in me. Looks are subjective but for me the X is horn. I really like the design, from any angle, even the twin rear shocks – which have copped a fair bit of criticism globally, being tagged a styling after though.
The first thing I checked out on the 400 was build quality. The machines are assembled in China at the Loncin assembly plant, where BMW have had long running success building the G 650 GS since 2005 (Loncin build over 2.5-million motorcycles and 3 million engines per year for various brands).
Quality is good, with neat fit and finish, nice paint, seats and switchgear. The C 400 X and GT are top spec, as you would expect from almost anything wearing the BMW badge.
Once on board the scoot and after a quick tutorial on the TFT display and general functionality, it was time to familiarise myself with the controls and get comfy. At 187cm tall I fit in the X easily. With my feet flat on the footboards and lower legs vertical the seating position is bolt upright, with a relaxed ride triangle and a natural reach to the relatively wide ‘bars. The dash is huge and you can’t miss it, the switches too easy to navigate, even in winter gloves, particularly the awesome scrolling multi wheel.
With my clumsy size 45 boot on the forward footwell I am more cramped. In fact, I can’t fully fit my foot in the well, so have to angle my foot to point outwards, which is not comfortable. I stick to the flat foot boards for the day…
Firing the 400 up reveals, as expected from a Euro 4 compliant super efficient scooter, an awkward silence. However, that doesn’t stop a bunch of immature journalists from drag racing each other off the first set of lights a few hundred meters from BMW Motorrad HQ! We had to do something to break the mood the miserable weather was setting so three sets of lights in we were all pissing ourselves laughing and exchanging big grins. It was going to be a good day…
You would think a BMW scooter would be about as boring as it gets but the C 400 X is awesome fun. Two wheels, a good motor, strong brakes and neat handling will do that… The looks on the faces of some of the drivers around us is priceless. Check out the video review to see what I mean!
Through the outer suburbs of Melbourne, in light traffic moving at a moderate pace, the C 400 X is in its element. It is that 50 – 80km/h speed range where swift acceleration is needed to stay ahead of the cars off the lights and the ability to cruise at traffic pace once there that makes the scooter good here. Smaller scooters just can’t cut it, generally swarmed by agro drivers within 300m of launch! Maxi scooters are a bit big and heavy to comfortably negotiate the tight or stopped traffic and are generally overkill in town. The C 400 feels nimble and carries its 212kg (still no lightweight) well at even the slowest speeds.
The 34hp four-valve single easily leaves the traffic behind off the lights, the ASC hooking up the rear wheel at times, stopping spin over the white paint lines. The C 400 accelerates rapidly enough to be good fun and is doing it really easy cruising at 70 – 90km/h, with good surge on tap all the way to well over 100km/h. Top speed is around 135km/h. The throttle is smooth in the traffic and the heated seat and grips are super luxurious, while the brakes are strong with good feel and modulation – the rear brake being enough at the lower speeds. Playing around with the features of the TFT dash is fun at the lights, while having the ability to take and make calls is good for the busy rider.
Up in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges it is freezing cold, foggy and pissing rain but I’m feeling content on the little 400 X with the heated seat and grips cranked up and my fully waterproof gear on. The only issue I’m having? A foggy visor, as I forgot to fit a Pinlock. I have to ride with the chin of my modular AGV up but luckily the small screen on the X actually does a top job deflecting wind and water. You can see how wet and dark it is in the photos and video.
As far as wet weather handling goes, the C 400 X is good. No doubt the Angel Scooter hoops provide great chemical and mechanical grip but they are backed by a very confidence-inspiring package put together by BMW. The ‘real’ frame, larger wheels, firmly sprung yet compliant suspension, riding position and heavy weight all help make the package stick to the road. We have a fair few good runs through some of the sets of twisties at a pace that, to be honest, would be difficult to match on many normal bikes. I don’t feel the ASC on the open road or in the hills but the ABS is working and overall I feel comfortable and safe on the C 400 X.
After a quick feed (Audi Burger with chips, should have gone the KFC), we switch bikes for the ride back to base. I’m fortunate enough to score a GT with a BMW Scooter Canopy, an accessory you will see all over Europe but one that I think we can live without in most parts of Australia. I don’t mind the canopy but the weight of it around my neck is annoying the crap out of me and I also get my feet caught up under it a few times when coming to a stop, almost dropping GT. It is keeping me warmer and dryer though, I’ll admit that…
The Gran Turismo feels surprisingly different to the X, being more upright and with a riding position that is more compact in the leg area, due to the back support, which for me locks me forward – meaning more elbow bend and knee flex and less room. The taller screen should be a lot better protection-wise but I’m perched high on the GT due to the seat, so in actual fact the screen is directing water right into my face. I prefer the riding position of the X, hands down. Other riders have the opposite preference. Best to ride them both if you can…
Aside from the seating position, the GT is the same to ride as the 400 X. It is the same scooter, with the small variations listed in the Tech Talk breakout. Small variations that make a big difference though, at least if you are a taller rider…
The run home gives the opportunity to experience the suspension over some faster, bumpier roads and to test the brakes further, with some hard braking (for the wet). The overall suspension package is great and after riding in a range of conditions, from sporty to touring, I reckon BMW has done well to tune both ends to work just about everywhere, never easy without linkages and with so much weight. The ride is firm but that means a pillion could jump on, no dramas, and it is not superbike hard, I’m talking scooters here of course… It’s sporty for a scooter, let’s say that.
The brakes are impressive and after the motor, they are my favourite feature of the C 400. Stopping power is strong, with great feel, minimum effort at the lever, predictable initial bite and good ABS intervention. It really pulls up hard, good insurance for a heavy scooter.
At the end of the day, after riding in pissing rain and freezing cold, we arrive at BMW HQ still laughing as much as we had been when we left in the morning. If the C 400 X and GT were no good, we wouldn’t have been. They made us all smile. They must be good!
BMW C 400 Tech Talk
The C 400 is powered by a newly developed single-cylinder 350cc four-valve SOHC wet-sump engine that makes 25kW@7500rpm and 35Nm@6000rpm. Power is delivered by a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Fuelling is taken care of via a 40mm throttle-body with BMS-E2 engine management. The engine is liquid-cooled and there is a thermo fan fitted. The C 400 has a stainless-steel muffler and a closed-loop catalytic converter with an O2 sensor in the headers. Bore x stroke is 80mm x 69.6mm, compression ratio is 11.6:1 and top speed is claimed to be 139km/h. The engine is designed to run on 95 but is E10 compatible. The clutch is a centrifugal unit driving a step-less CVT transmission with two-step secondary spur gearing. The starter is a 500w unit and the battery a 12v 9Ah maintenance free item. There is 316W generator. The engine features a counter-rotating balance shaft above the crank, which contributes to the smooth running of the motor. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 3.5L/100km.
The frame is a tubular steel cradle unit designed to be stable at high speed yet nimble at low speed and has a die-cast aluminium swingarm pivot area. The swingarm is a conventional alloy double-sided unit fixed to twin adjustable shocks (preload only), with 112mm of travel. The forks are 35mm conventional units with 110mm of travel, held by hefty triple-clamps to give real bike handling up front.
The engine and drivetrain are separated from the frame with a unique damping mounting system to give motorcycle-like handling. Brakes are impressive, with a trio of 265mm rotors, the front squeezed by four-piston radial-mount calipers and the rear a single-piston floating caliper. BMW ABS is featured.
The wheels are 3.50 x 15in front and 4.25 x 14in rear wearing Pirelli 120/70-17 and 150/70-14 rubber, with the material being lightweight cast aluminium. The C 400 X weighs 204kg wet, while the GT weighs 212kg wet. Rake is 63.6º and castor 81mm. Wheelbase is 1565mm.
Seat height is 775mm and fuel capacity is 12.8L with a 4L reserve. Total permitted payload is 203kg on the X and 201kg on the GT for total maximum weights of 415kg and 405kg respectively, something to keep in mind withy luggage and a pillion for any touring or commuting.
The ignition is keyless (with a fob) for ion X and GT, and there is a wide range of technical features on the C 400. LED lighting is standard, while the C 400 X ion and the C 400 X get a full 6.5in TFT display. The standard C 400 X gets an LCD dash. The TFT dash enables access to a range of vehicle and connectivity functions. It also has a Bluetooth connectivity function, enabling the rider to make phone calls, listen to music, use GPS and more. There is a 12V charge point to keep your smart phone charged. Both models feature BMW ASC (traction control).
Video: C 400 Connectivity
The ion and GT get the multi-wheel controller, heated grips and a heated seat. Prices for the two ion varieties are as follows:
• C 400 X ion: $11,290 + ORC (tested)
• C 400 GT ion: $11,890 + ORC (tested)
2019 BMW C 400 X (GT) Specifications
Price From: $8990 + ORC, ($10240 + ORC)
Claimed Power: 25kW[34hp]@7500rpm
Claimed Torque: 35Nm[26lbs-ft]@6000rpm
Dry Weight: 193kg (201 kg)
Fuel capacity: 12.8L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, OHC four-valve wet sump four-stroke, 80mm x 69.6mm bore x stroke, 350cc, 11.5:1 compression, BMS-E2 digital EMS, EU-4 compliant
Gearbox: Centrifuga clutch, stepless CVT gearbox, two-step spur gearing
Chassis: Steel tune with aluminium cast unit
Suspension: 35mm forks, 110mm travel, twin shock, 120mm travel,
Brakes: Dual 265mm rotor(s) (f), four-piston radial-mount calipers, 265mm rotor (r), single-piston caliper, ABS
Wheels & Tyres: 3.50 x 15in (f) cast alloy front wheel, 4.25 x 14in (r) cast alloy wheel, 120/70-15, 150/70-14 Pirelli ANGEL Scooter
Seat height: 775mm
Ground clearance: N/A mm
Overall width: 835mm
Overall Length: 2210mm
Overall height: 1305mm (1437)
Instruments: Full TFT display (ion & GT) or LCD (std X)