I rode the BMW CE 04 and it acquired me enthusiastic about the way forward for electrical motorbikes

Key Takeaways

  • The BMW CE 04 is an all-electric “maxi-scooter” designed to compete with inner combustion-engined rivals when it comes to efficiency and energy.
  • Regardless of the preliminary battle to regulate to the moment torque of EVs, the CE 04 gives a clean and highly effective driving expertise, with acceleration similar to high-performance bikes.
  • The CE 04 boasts superior know-how, reminiscent of built-in map navigation and smartphone compatibility, making it a technologically superior choice within the scooter market. Nonetheless, the excessive value might deter some potential patrons.

As a person with a storage that’s creaking below the burden of leaky, typically damaged Japanese bikes from the Nineteen Seventies, I am in all probability the final individual the BMW CE 04 is marketed at. Name me old school, however I like the sound of an inline-four engine and actively hunt down the odor of two-strokes simply so I can have sniff.

It is barely embarrassing, however with regards to bikes, I really feel they need to be loud, brash and distinctly free from any gimmicks. A purist’s mantra that the majority electrified machines fail to stick to.

Rewind the clock just a few days and I used to be in a glorified plane hangar, making an attempt to work out find out how to change on a fantastically futuristic gunmetal gray BMW CE 04 – the most recent all-electric “maxi-scooter” providing from the German model – and wishing for an ignition slot, so I might insert a key. Bear in mind these?

Value and powertrain

Designed to do battle with 400cc, inner combustion engined-rivals, it pairs a 60.6Ah (8.9kWh) battery pack – mounted as little as attainable within the chassis for higher steadiness – with a 31kW (42hp) electrical motor that powers the good stable metal rim of the rear wheel through a strong carbon belt-drive system.

Within the UK a minimum of, you may want an A1 licence to trip the CE 04, which requires doing a correct bike take a look at, moderately than ambling round for a day throughout a CBT. It is the identical story in North America, the place the punchiest outputs require a full bike take a look at, though a lower-powered choice is accessible to some markets that negates the necessity for extra certification.

However again to the glorified plane hangar and the overly contrived ignition sequence. As soon as up and operating, I instantly change the driving mode to Rain, as I do know the moment torque supply of EVs takes some getting used to.

Regardless of this, a barely overenthusiastic blip of the throttle has the again wheel spinning on the polished floor of BMW’s glossy employed venue and the ability of the electrical motor instantly reveals itself.

Fortunately, it’s way more of a pussycat on the open street, the place regular ranges of grip are afforded, and switching it into Street or Dynamic modes permits for the kind of acceleration that go someway to justify the lofty price ticket.


Once I say lofty, I truly imply painful. Costs for the CE 04 begin at £13,070/$12,195, which when in comparison with rival petrol-powered scooters of an analogous dimension, equates to over double the worth. After all, you’ll be able to argue the price of possession can be decrease, as charging from a home socket in a single day can be low-cost. On prime of this, there isn’t a oil change and sophisticated engine to service regularly, it will likely be a case of changing consumables like brake pads and tyres, all being nicely.

2023 BMW CE 04

Everlasting-magnet liquid-cooled synchronous motor

Energy Output


81 miles

Cost Time
1hr 40mins

Weight and driving expertise

The highest velocity of the CE 04 is pegged at round 75mph, making motorways nearly doable, however it’s the dash away from the lights that I discovered so addictive. It beats just about something bar the wildest sports activities bikes. What’s extra, the battery packs are mounted in such a manner that the BMW CE 04’s ensuing body is lengthy and slender, making it easy to string by busy site visitors.

At 231kg, it’s undoubtedly not the lightest scooter on the market, however the German engineers have labored wonders with the packaging to make sure the CE 04 stays nimble and ridiculously simple to trip. BMW’s world-renowned construct and trip high quality is clear all through the CE 04. It by no means feels clunky, or rattly or low-cost in any manner. It is a correct BMW.

Regenerative braking nearly does away with the necessity to pull the levers, whereas dynamic traction management, ABS and automated stability management solely provides to the peace of thoughts. The latter limits electrical motor torque in relation to rear wheel slip, so the bike mechanically cuts energy when it senses one thing is awry. Take it from expertise, polished concrete flooring are an important place to check this know-how’s limits.


By way of acceleration, it effortlessly will get as much as 30mph, after which equally effortlessly carries on to 60mph. The truth is, after driving this round city for just a few hours, I can hand-on-heart say that it’s in all probability one of many best methods to fall foul of the legislation. The silent driving expertise and fighter jet-esque tears away from site visitors lights make it very simple to, ahem, press on. However when ridden extra sensibly, the electrical powertrain is such a doddle to reside with. Granted, most rival scooters are twist-and-go, however only a few are as clean because the torque supply on the CE 04. That is the fantastic thing about electrical motors.


In comparison with a few of the junk leaking oil throughout my storage, BMW’s electrical scooter is a technological delight, with a ten.25-inch TFT color display that not solely options built-in map navigation, it additionally performs properly together with your smartphone, so it may well show messages and make and obtain calls, ought to you could have a elaborate Bluetooth headset in your helmet.

Navigating the menu screens is just a little advanced at first, with a large jog wheel on the bars caring for a lot of the UI. You click on this proper to enter, left to return, whereas spinning it up and down rotates by the menus. It takes a little bit of getting used to, however it wasn’t lengthy earlier than I had the heated grips going and the furnace-like seat hotter turning my glutes into Filet Mignon.

None of these items sounds ground-breaking by itself, particularly for these with trendy electrical vehicles, however a lot of this tech is lacking on present bikes, and the thought of a built-in sat-nav is barely actually simply salting to filter by to the two-wheel world.

Charging and practicality

Official vary is slated at 130km, or round 80 miles, however that may actually depend upon an entire host of parameters, together with the way you trip it, whether or not you could have a pillion passenger and even the temperature on the day.

Though it’ll hit 75mph, the BMW CE 04 is not actually constructed for epic street journeys, and that’s mirrored in the truth that absolutely the quickest you’ll be able to cost it’s with a 6.9kW outlet that sees a full battery brim take 1 hour 40 minutes.



BMW factors out that if you’re going from 20 to 80 per cent, that point is lowered to 40 minutes, however it’s nonetheless much more than a break for the bathroom and a espresso.

Regardless, scooters of this nature are geared toward inner-city commuters that desire a fuss-free strategy to get from the suburbs into city. For that purpose, the CE 04 is greatest charged from a home socket, the place a full cost takes simply over 4 hours.

That’s completely manageable and does away with the necessity to set up a cumbersome wall charging unit, which is an actual ache for those who reside in a flat. As a substitute, an honest extension lead and any previous plug socket will see the CE 04 topped-up and able to go every morning. What’s extra, an growing variety of cities are putting in lower-powered charging factors in street furnishings, reminiscent of lampposts, which may be irritating for electrical automotive house owners and their large battery packs, however can be good for a motorbike like this.

Additionally, a definite lack of engine, exhaust pipe and different oily bits have allowed the bike’s designers to throw in some extra stowage. There is a ventilated drawer to your smartphone, full with USB-C connection, whereas the realm below the seat is the proper dimension for a helmet.



There’s even a locker on the facet that may fortunately home charging cables, or is loads sufficiently big to your passenger’s lid.

Last ideas

If you will get over the eye-watering asking value, there’s loads to like in regards to the BMW CE 04 – and electrical bikes generally. For some purpose, they’re innately extra sensible and the will to make use of one as an on a regular basis workhorse in some way supersedes that of any petrol engine bike I’ve personally owned, borrowed or ridden.

Maybe it’s the reality you’ll be able to merely hop on and go – or the shortage of engine be aware irritating the neighbours – that makes them extra approachable. The shortage of drama and theatre that some EV naysayers deride nearly makes electrified bikes like this much more alluring. They do not tug on the heartstrings like a basic bike may, however they’re undeniably much less advanced and much more helpful.

After all, the worth simply would not make sense for many in the meanwhile, however like Harley-Davidson and its LiveWire, that is just the start. BMW has a smaller, extra reasonably priced CE 02 on the horizon that might make emissions-free scooting extra accessible for a lot of.

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