NEWS FROM THE PRESS
BMW's C1 was the first scooter - or motorcycle - to include
convincing passive safety features in its specification. Its distinctive roof is
there as part of an integrated safety cell, which BMW claims offers almost as
much protection in a head-on collision as a small car.
You also get a four-point seatbelt system, a front crumple zone and high-level side protection bars. Although you can still hurt yourself in a C1, you're less likely to be injured than in a similar crash on a conventional scooter. The aim is to win over those people who know that scooters are a good solution to their transport problems but think them too dangerous.
Now BMW has followed up the original 125cc version with the C1 200 (actually 176cc), hoping to spice up a performance inevitably dulled by the machine's considerable 408lb mass, some 130lb more than a typical, well-equipped, conventional 125cc scooter. With an output of 18bhp instead of the 125's 15bhp, it's not a huge increase, but the enhanced torque at lower revs is the most useful aspect of the newcomer, helping to launch the bike from stationary more briskly.
There's a more relaxed feel to the 200 compared with the buzzy 125, as you'd expect, and its top speed of 70mph compared with the 125's 64mph gives you more of a chance on open roads, although motorways and dual carriageways are still battlegrounds between you and HGVs. And you're well advised to concede.
But for its extra performance, the C1 200 is identical to the 125 in other aspects of its ride, which means it's still more awkward than a conventional scooter. You notice this particularly at walking pace, stopping for junctions and so on, where being held so firmly upright within the cockpit makes balancing more precarious (in addition to which the centre of gravity is higher). Come to a halt on most scooters and you often tend to lean the bike a little to one side and your upper body the other way as your foot touches the ground. On a C1 you can't do this as the shoulder protectors and seatbelts prevent it, so staying upright depends on being better balanced.
It's not particularly difficult, but it can spell the difference between being confident and a little intimidated, especially to a relative novice to two wheels. This is why I suspect that more C1s will be dropped while parking than other scooters.
In other ways there's lots to commend it, crash protection aside. You get a proper windscreen and wiper, which is an enormous advantage over the usual back-of-the-glove wipe of the visor, and with the variety of storage options (mostly at extra cost) the C1 has plenty of luggage room.
As with the smaller C1, three versions of C1 200 are available: the basic version, the Family's Friend (all you get for £350 extra is a luggage attachment kit and large storage compartment) and the Executive, which adds a reading light, storage net, rack and mobile phone holder for a further £175.
It's not a machine which you'd buy to entertain yourself with its handling or power (although it will keep the neighbours amused), but if you do have safety concerns regarding two-wheeled transport, the C1 stands tall as the only machine with serious credentials in this respect.
BMW C1 200
Engine/transmission: 176cc, single-cylinder four-stroke, with liquid cooling, fuel injection and four valves; 18bhp at 9,000rpm, 12.5lb ft of torque at 6,500rpm. Automatic, variable-ratio belt drive.
Performance: top speed 70mph, average fuel consumption 85mpg.
From www.telegraph.co.uk web site.