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The BMW CE 04 is electrified urban insanity on two wheels

Neck-snapping acceleration and sci-fi feels for P895,000

Futuristic style will have people chatting you up at every stoplight. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The future, whether you like it or not, is electric. It will depend on how quickly the infrastructure steps up and how aggressively manufacturers transition from focusing on ICE-equipped vehicles to EVs, but it’s going to happen in 10 or 20 years. And we’ll all be zipping around in a dystopian future like we’re in Minority Report or Blade Runner.

But if you can’t wait a few decades and you like the appeal of scooters but would like to try something radically different and, oh, you’ve got P895,000 (!) to spare, make your way to the nearest BMW Motorrad dealer and get this rocket, the CE 04.

A torque of 62Nm to the rear wheel via belt drive. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

First, the bare facts. It has an electric motor derived from the one in the X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid, generating 42hp and 62Nm. Its lithium-ion battery originally came to life in the iX and i4 EVs, rated at 147.6V and 8.9kWh.

To reduce unsprung weight, the motor is bolted to the chassis rather than the swingarm as with traditional scooters. A toothed belt drive turns the rear wheel. It weighs a little over 226.8kg (500lb), and is only 50mm shorter than an R18, which (if you’re familiar with it) is about as long as a sofa.

Only a hoverbike would be cooler...if it were actually available in the first place. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

And with its futuristic shape, characterized by angular panels, fairings, and aerodynamic details that wouldn’t look out of place in a Robotech episode, it looks like nothing else on the road. But typical of BMWs, getting comfortable is almost immediate and intuitive.

The “floating” bench seat is 780mm high, enabling most riders to flatfoot at a stoplight. The floorboard offers a lot of options on where to place your feet, although the fat spine will discourage you from placing your pet or your groceries there like you could on a Vespa.

The switch pods are from the BMW parts bin, so there’s nothing strange or alien except for the welcome addition of a Reverse button. To engage it, simply press the button and twist the throttle. Very useful for getting out of a parking slot while your friends do the usual heave-ho with their Jurassic-era motorbikes.

The graph lights up to the right under acceleration, then swings back to the left to show the regenerative braking. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The big 10.2-inch TFT display has the familiar BMW interface as well, with navigation done by a rotary dial on the left switch pod.

You get the usual features like Bluetooth navigation and vehicle status, but really, the only thing you’ll actually care about is the Mode button and its four levels of electric magic: Eco, Rain, Road, and Dynamic.

As the titles suggest, they determine just how much power you can manage with the throttle. Use Eco as your warm-up or if you’ve somehow drained the battery and are down to around 20%. Rain will save you from spinning out and hurting yourself when the road is wet as the power comes on slowly, akin to a regular maxi-scooter. Road is sporty with max power output and regenerative braking, but Dynamic takes it up to 11 and will put the biggest smile on your face since the day you first learned how to balance a bike. It’s batshit-crazy.

The Reverse mode greatly eases parking maneuvers. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO
Choose the Dynamic mode to get your money's worth of crazy acceleration. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

You see, by itself, 42hp is a decent number, but nothing extraordinary in the 400cc class which the CE 04 is equivalent to. It’s in the torque—and how it’s delivered—that really defines the bike. Peak torque is achieved at just 1,500rpm and maintained all the way to the 4,900rpm redline, by which time you’ve already hit 120km/h in just a few seconds.

That top speed is nothing to brag about on the expressway, but in the urban setting, that’s more than enough. BMW quotes a 0-50km/h time of just 2.6 seconds, but double that time and you’re already at 100, give or take a few milliseconds.

In Dynamic mode, roll-on throttle response is instant like a gunshot: one moment you’re pootling along at 30km/h or so, the next your vision becomes blurry, and a peek at the TFT display shows triple digits.

I had so much fun engaging warp drive on a calm and traffic-free Sunday morning that getting back on a regular, gasoline-powered motorcycle made me feel sleepy by comparison.

Stoplight timer counting down to zero? Twist the throttle hard and you’ll nail the hole shot each and every time, swarms of normal scooters hundreds of meters behind, choking on your nonexistent dust because, of course, it’s a zero-emission vehicle. If you have a pillion rider, warn him or her to hold on tight because there’s a real danger of slipping off at full throttle.

The bench is long enough for two adults. Hold on tight, though! PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

“Boss, ilang cc iyan?” was the most frequently answered question thrown at me every time they’d catch up at the next stoplight to ooh and aah at my arctic white spacecraft. And then I would explain that it was electric but the power was equal to or better than a 400cc, and then they’d nod and do some more oohing and aahing—requesting for another electric show of force once the light turned green. Which I was happy to oblige, of course.

With a full charge, the nominal range is 130km or so, but your mileage may vary depending on how addicted you get with the power. Charging is quick and easy with the home adapter kit easily plugging into your regular 220V outlet.

It will charge from zero to 80% in around 65 minutes, and the dash will helpfully show you how much time remains to charge so you can go have a coffee first and visit the loo.

A storage compartment under the seat is big enough for a helmet or the charging kit, but not both (I tried, but no joy). Fortunately, BMW will happily sell you some storage accessories to make your CE 04 even more useful.

It only needs 65 minutes to go from zero to 85% charge. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The rest of the bike is pretty much basic scooter spec. The braking system is a mix of J.Juan and ByBre components; the wheels are a five-bolt disc design; and the suspension is a basic telescopic fork and a single rear strut. Everything is covered with a fairing whenever possible for aerodynamics and for that cool sci-fi look.

Handling is basic maxi-scooter fare, nimble and easy to filter, aided by a low center of gravity. It is rather long, though, making U-turns just a little bit trickier than usual.

The storage compartment is big enough for a helmet or the charging kit, but not both. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Like all other e-scooters, the CE 04 is not the one you roll out the garage for a breakfast ride several hundred kilometers away. But among all the e-bikes in the market today, this represents just how much fun going electric could be. As an urban commuter for the rider with deep pockets and a hankering for neck-straining acceleration with a look like no other, the BMW is the one to get.

Andy Leuterio

Andy is both an avid cyclist and a car enthusiast who has finally made the shift to motorcycles. You've probably seen him on his bicycle or motorbike overtaking your crawling car. He is our motorcycle editor and the author of the ‘Quickshift’ column.