Motorcycles are superior to cars in many ways, but practicality certainly isn’t one of them. Yes, they offer a thrill and sense of freedom, that car drivers will probably never experience, but let’s face it, most of us have at some point experienced the dread of facing many miles in adverse weather conditions, with nothing but some money and a phone in a pocket, and wondering if maybe, just maybe, a car would be a nicer option.
It’s not like there isn’t a whole variety of options available.
You can get a sports bike which will get you places fast and looking mighty-cool (whilst you’re on the road), but it comes with next-to-none storage or weather protection, back ache after a long journey, and the risk of looking like an idiot, if you rock up to a business meeting or a fancy lunch in your full leather suit, carrying your helmet and a massive rucksack with your oh-so-not-sexy, waterproof ‘onsie’ stuffed inside.
You can get something naked, which will be kinder on your lower back but harsher on your neck, should you decide to reach your destination in a timely fashion, and you still will be extremely restricted with storage options.
You can of course get something that will allow you to fit all your junk in the trunk, and keep you nice and a cosy behind a massive screen, but then you compromise the biggest advantage a motorcycle has to offer – your ability to navigate through traffic. This option is also far from ideal for vertically challenged riders like myself. I can brave an adventure bike, in an off-road conditions or on an open road, but stick some panniers on it and ask me to filter through London, and I will run for my life.
There are many alternatives out there, but it seems like there is no perfect, ticks-all-the-boxes option. Or is there?
On a cold and wet, January afternoon I took something ordinary out for a test ride and found it to be the most extraordinary of all.
Are you ready? It’s the new BMW C650 Sport.
Yes, it’s a scooter. A 650cc, 60 hp scooter, that offers a grin-triggering amount of torque and a top speed of 110 mph, as well as confidence inspiring, especially in winter conditions, features like ABS and traction control (part of the standard package). Being bottom heavy, it’s very flickable and enjoyable on twisty roads. Decent suspension and a soft seat make for comfortable ride even on a bumpy surface, and although the heated seat didn’t feel particularly hot, paired up with heated grips it did reduce the discomfort of the January chill, significantly.
It’s available in three colour schemes, and in my personal opinion, the Valencia Orange is the least appealing one. Black (Blackstorm Metallic) and white (Lightwhite uni) both look terrific.
The biggest highlight of this scooter is the storage capacity. As a sports bike rider with nothing but one internal pocket in my leather suit, I may be easily impressed, but two decent-sized compartments at the front and an extendable under-seat space, plus the optional top-box sound like an immense amount of room to me!
With a reduced-power, A2 legal version available, I believe this maxi-scooter to be a great bike for petite as well as beginner and inexperienced riders, who are not entertained by the idea of a small “hair-dryer”, your typical starter bike. At 249kg wet, the C650 Sport is on the heavier side, however a low centre of gravity and the 800mm seat make it manageable even for a short person. I can’t speak for tall riders, and admittedly, I do wonder how much their comfort decreases due to their height, but being only 5’4 (164cm) myself, I found the large screen providing me with more than a reasonable wind protection, within the speed limits, and I felt, having to lean forward and crouch ever so slightly was a small price to pay for a completely wind-free enjoyment of the full range of speed available. Whether you’re a beginner rider, still stressing about gear changes and stalling on a busy junction, or just don’t like the hassle of a manual gearbox, I think there’s no need to rationalise the appeal of a simple twist-and-go. The only two places, where one truly favours a manual over automatic, are track and off-road, which are also the only two things I can think of, that this bike is not suitable for, at all.
It is suitable for a mind-blowing range of tasks, nonetheless.
Want to go on a Europe tour with your man and pack as many pairs of high heels as possible, to totally rock those evening dinner dates? You can.
Want to go to a business meeting, leave your helmet in the boot, and swap biker boots and leather jacket for elegant shoes and a briefcase? You can.
Want to go on adventure with your friends, take your tent and sleeping bag with you and camp overnight in the most remote places? You can.
Want to get home as quick as possible in a rush hour, picking up some groceries on the way back from work, and not having to cary your helmet around a supermarket? You can.
Want to have a bike that you’ll be able to use for boring commute as well as those spirited, weekend rides with your mates? You can.
Want to have a practical bike, but still look cool? You can! Just buy the black one ;)