Words by Maynard M. Marcelo Photos by Jerel Fajardo
We love scooters for their tiny size, agile handling and twist and go practicality. But what if the scooter is as big as a sports tourer and cost as much as sub-compact sedan? Well, it could only be a maxiscooter. Maxi scooters are the best compromise between the twist-and-go practicality of a scooter and the mile-munching ability, ride comfort, and power and handling of a big bike. But the catch there is the word “compromise”, because more often than not, maxi-scooters compromise on handling for the sake of comfort, or compromise power for the sake of fuel efficiency. But there are a few maxi-scooters out there that truly blur the thin line between scooters and motorcycles; the BMW C650 GT is one such maxi-scooter. Launched locally last year together with the sportier C600 Sport, the C650 GT is what you’d expect a BMW maxi-scooter to be–no compromises.
Let’s start with the styling. Viewed up front it’s easy to mistake the C650 GT for a BMW R1200RT with its wide fairings, twin headlights and tall windscreen, which is fine by me because it’s probably the view most car drivers will see on their rearview mirrors while cruising on the highway. I can even say it’s quite intimidating because I noticed cars giving way, which is quite a rarity in this country, just to let me pass. They probably mistake me for a highway patrol copper but then again I guess it’s one of those privileges one usually gets when riding or driving something with the spinning blue and white logo. So whenever cars give way I make sure I don’t disappoint them by crawling past them. I see to it that I put on a show by pinning the throttle to the stops and blowing past them like there’s no speed limit. Of course, not before waving my appreciation and beeping the horn twice to say thank you. That being said, the C650GT has plenty of overtaking power from its 647cc dohc, 8v, liquid-cooled parallel twin motor. Churning out 60 bhp at 7,500 rpm and 49 lb.ft. of torque at 6,000 rpm it has plenty of reserves left until it reached its 175.42 km/h top speed. Engine noise is quite bothersome at low speeds and wide open throttle but once the CVT shifted to higher ratio, the noise dissipates considerably.
During its one week stay with us, I was lucky enough to get some free time to ride the C650GT on a variety of roads and riding conditions, and I must say it’s on the city where I find it the most difficult to ride. Yes, you can commute on the C650GT as long as you don’t mind getting stuck in traffic like every other big bike does, but then again that totally defeats the purpose of riding a two wheeler if beating traffic is your objective. But if you truly must, then you’d appreciate the C650GT’s powerful acceleration, allowing you to outrun almost everything in traffic with just a twist of the throttle. Despite its 261 kg. wet weight, a handful of throttle will catapult the C650GT to the next intersection surprisingly fast. Just don’t expect it to filter easily during rush hour traffic. But it’s on the open roads where the C650GT makes perfect sense. On the expressway, I appreciate its high speed stability, and the fact that it truly felt like a middleweight sport tourer on the move. Only I don’t need to shift gears manually.
Ride quality can be described as taut, even feeling a bit harsh on really bumpy road surfaces. But that taut suspension tuning allows the C650GT to curve corners like nobody’s business. Scrubbing speed is also made effortless courtesy of a powerful triple disc brakes setup with standard ABS.
Living up to its name, it’s perfectly clear that the C650GT is designed for Grand Touring more than anything else. The riding position is perfect for extended time on the saddle, with wide comfortable seats for both rider and pillion. The rider even gets standard backrest that help reduce fatigue, and like on most touring bikes, the pillion seats a bit higher for a better view of the road ahead. I particularly like the electrically adjustable windscreen because it allows you to adjust the screen’s height even on the move. When the screen is placed on its highest setting, it effectively diverts the air over your head allowing you to ride with your visor up without fear of being hit by insects on the face. There were some instances however, like when I was negotiating the twisty mountain roads of Sierra Madre, when I adjusted the screen to its lowest setting for an unobstructed view of the road and for more ventilation. In my opinion, that flexibility alone justifies the 60k premium over the fixed windscreen on the C600 Sport. Anyway, another standard feature we love about the C650GT is the central locking function, allowing you to open the seat via the ignition switch. There’s also the auto deploying parking brake cleverly integrated into the sidestand. A thoughtful feature is the 12v auxiliary outlet located on the front glove compartment where you can charge mobile phones or plug a navigation system. The C650GT also boast most storage capacity in its class. So take on the urban sprawl or escape it entirely when you feel like it, the C650GT can do it all in perfect style.
Engine: 2-Cylinder, parallel-twin, 4-stroke, dohc, liquid cooled engine, 4 valves
Displacement: 647 cc
Max Power: 59 bhp @ 7500 rpm
Max Torque: 49 lb ft @ 6000 rpm
Seat Height: 810mm
Fuel Capacity: 16 liters
Dry Weight: 231 Kg.
Top Speed: 175 Km/h (108.75 mph)
Price as Tested: PhP 760,000
+: Performance, practicality
–: Pricey for a scoot
Editor’s rating: 9/10