First unveiled by BMW Motorrad in 2021, BMW’s CE 04 is priced at $28,490 plus on roads, with the CE 04 currently the only road-going electric offering on sale from any major European motorcycle manufacturer in New Zealand. That will change, however, with its less sophisticated sibling – the CE 02 – also in the pipeline to join it in local dealerships.
The CE 04, however, is a true showcase of BMW Motorrad’s forward thinking in the market.
Aimed at providing an electric alternative to the brand’s C 400 scooter range, the CE 04 is motivated by an electric motor from the brand's cars (such as the Mini Electric and 2-Series Active Tourer) while the 8.9kWh lithium-ion battery comes courtesy of the BMW iX.
As a result, the CE 04 boasts a rather long wheelbase for its class at 1675mm, with the rear wheel hanging out well behind the rider. You’d think that this would dynamically cripple the CE 04, but surprisingly this wasn’t the case and it handled well during our test within inner city Auckland.
Unlike other electric motorcycles we’ve tested, BMW has delivered an exceptional charging experience with the CE 04. Not only can you plug it in at home via the supplied wall charger unit, but it also comes with an adapter to make use of standard EV fast chargers. Plugging in is simple, just pop open the charger port door on the right-hand side of the dash and away you go. No fiddling with underseat mechanisms!
Depending on which charger you use, charge time varies from the standard 4 hours and 20 minutes to as little as 1 hour and 40 minutes from completely flat.
Max power is 31kW, while maximum range is a claimed 130km, though as with all EVs we’ve tested that maximum range really does come down to riding conditions and how aggressive you are with the throttle. The battery regen is very good, however, and it wasn't until we started cruising Auckland’s motorways that we saw the estimated range start to drop significantly on the bike’s massive 10.25in TFT dash.
Despite the multitude of tech behind the scenes, BMW has kept the dash a simple affair, with the crystal clear readout giving you essential info at a glance, or if you want to get nerdy you can delve deeper into the system.
With a weight of 231kg, you need decent stopping power and the CE 04 provides this in spades. Not only do you have a set of J. Juan calipers clasping twin 265mm discs at the front, but the battery regen on deceleration is enough to haul the bike up by itself in most traffic conditions.
That weight isn’t a problem dynamically either, with the skateboard design of the bike placing the heavy battery at the lowest point of the chassis, the CE 04 is far less intimidating than its initial size implies.
The real magic, however, is when you twist the throttle and go.
Not only is it a breeze to operate, its sheer acceleration leaves its competition utterly in the dust and 0-50km/h is dealt with in just 2.6 seconds. It’s one of those bikes that you really have to hold on tight if you enjoy the traffic light drags.
Motorway commuting is also well within the realm of the CE04, with the bike topping out at 120km/h. The CE 04 feels more like a 400cc class machine here, with a more gentle acceleration up to the legal limit than its brisk inner city alter ego.
Despite the overwhelming positives of its electric powertrain, the CE04 isn’t without its drawbacks.
Unlike other bikes in the class, wind protection for the rider’s upper body is lacking on the CE 04, and disappointingly there currently is no accessory option for a larger windscreen.
With such a high price point, its market will be limited here in New Zealand, where the maxi scooter already struggles against traditional smaller scooters and motorcycles.
BMW CE 04
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled permanent magnet EMP 156 electric motor