BMW Motorrad CE 04

The BMW CE 04 Scooter.

Electric. For many a swear word. Alternative energy sounds better. 

“It will never happen”, is something we hear a lot of these days, but evidence suggests otherwise as more and more electric bikes make their way to our shores.

Like it or not, its here. To stay? Well as long as we have Eskom, no, but still manufacturers like BMW foist these bikes onto us…

BMW Motorrad CE 04
100% Fully charged.

The conversation in the office went something along these lines:

Sean: “Is the BMW Electric scoot fully charged?”

Deon: “Yes”

Sean: “How much range does the display say we have?”

Deon: “Anything from 90 to 115 km depending on which mode you choose”

Sean: “Where can we charge it and how long does it take to charge up to full so we can plan our route accordingly?”

Deon: “Not too sure and about 10 or so hours?”

Sean: “Industry standard and real-world norm on all EV’s realistically seems to be you can safely do about 80% of the displayed range, which means we can only go out about 40 clicks on this scoot so that we can make it back to the office safely, because we sure as nuts do not have 10 hours to sit around and wait for it to charge up again.”

 And that is the reality of owning an EV of any type in South Africa. The other huge problem is the draw on the power grid to charge it. At the office we run completely off grid on solar and it is a MAKULU system, that runs 4 households, our office and workshop and all the pressure pumps for the borehole without any strain. Plug the BMW CE 04 and the solar just tunes “Aikhona Baba… Too much!” and falls over tripping out the entire system and causing many an angry expletive to erupt from the various housewives and Grannies watching their Soapies and Teenagers playing their Xbox. Due to various factors, range being primary amongst them, we had to run this review as well as the photo and video shoot for it over two days. And that is where the negativity ends for me with the BMW CE 04, from here on in it is all positive… mostly.

BMW Motorrad CE04
The pelvic support seat.
BMW Motorrad CE04
Huge grin factor
BMW Motorrad CE04
The awesome brakes.

Is it a scooter?

Well unlike most of the big ones, this doesn’t lean towards a tourer but rather a strict urban commuter. The only common denominator it shares with the scooter you know is its step through design and automatic transmission. After that first twist of the throttle when the electric motor comes alive it takes you by surprise. Damn this thing launches so fast that if it was not for the aftermarket “pelvic support” stepped seat, someone would probably slip off the back. The trepidation about riding a scooter vanishes, you’ll smile from ear to ear as you take off down the street.

 BMW tells us that the CE 04 will do 0 – 50 km/h is 2.6 sec. It feels faster and runs to a top speed of 129 km/h, 9 km/h faster than the brochure says. You can’t help yourself running the scooter at full taps, the 31kW 42Hp output it produces is almost impossible to ride at normal speed. The CE 04 is quite agile and easy to play with in the fun stuff and the suspension absorbs most of the lumps and bumps our South African roads chuck at it with a fair amount of ease. The brakes are quite entertaining, particularly the re-gen braking, especially if you are new to the concept and tech. Roll of the power and the brake start engaging quite strongly which took some getting used to and learning how to ride properly for that particular feature. Once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. I did get used to it quite quickly and became a bit too complacent with it expecting it to bring me to a full stop at some points… which it didn’t… even at low speeds.

The modes come into play mostly on the torque and then on the range. In Rain or Econo modes you get the most range but vastly reduced acceleration, Standard and Dynamic modes are more fun and make overtaking much easier but destroy your range. We did a little stint around ‘The Cradle’ and tilting through long sweeping bends was a breeze.

BMW Motorrad CE04
Toothed belt & gearbox fixed transmission.
BMW Motorrad CE04
Radiator for the liquid cooled synchronous motor
BMW Motorrad CE04
Ready for the twisties

We used the BMW on the busy streets in town. 

Gliding from robot to robot is nothing for the electric motor. But, not all robots are always free of traffic, and most are free of electricity up here in Gauteng. Effortless is a true understatement. Flowing traffic always has that one person who does not actually know how the accelerator works or is too busy concentrating on the cell phone while driving. The CE 04 navigated the unevenly stopped cars like a pro despite its size. 

Yup, this is one big ass scooter. We were a bit worried that it would not fit onto the back of our H100 Bakkie. Seriously massive. Even with such an uncomplicated test ride you still need to pop in for some lunch and negotiating the parking lots is almost child’s play. And they even throw in a reverse gear to simplify things further. 

We took the scooter out for the day with a 100% fully charged battery to see what kind of range we could get out of it. We set it to ECO mode and off we went. We tried our level best to adhere to all speed limits “I promise”. We pushed the permanent-magnet liquid cooled synchronous motor just to give it a proper test “giggling inside”. It’s impossible to keep it pinned all the time, now and then you have to close her down for speed humps and the many potholes that South Africa freely provides. We shared the fun as we took turns in following the road rules. We got back to the office after running the CE 04 for 80.6km and we had 7% of battery left.

BMW Motorrad CE04
Incredibly long scooter at 2,285mm.
BMW Motorrad CE04
At a width of 855mm gliding through traffic is a breeze.

Sean Says: I am “That Guy”, if I can stick it to or give the authorities the middle finger I will and nothing would make me happier than strapping a solar panel to my helmet and plugging it into my bike and riding until the end of time without letting ‘The Man’ dip his sticky fingers into my pocket for fuel.

 This scoot looks like the StarShip Enterprise, very futuristic and has lots of gadgets and secret hidey holes and a very galactic “Weeeeeeeeeeeee….” sound as it voeters away from a traffic light. The CE 04 is a real head turner, mostly for its looks but also for the fact that it is so quiet and so quick. Motorists hung out of their cars to get a better look or just rolled their windows down to try and hear it. 

Surprisingly, at 2 metres tall I fitted on it easily. The riding position was sort of cruiser-esque when I jammed my feet into the footwells and it looked really cool to the observer, the foot boards also allowed me to move my feet around quite a bit and change my riding position as desired. I rode back along the freeway to BMW Motorrad Fourways who loaned us the big Scoot for a few days.

BMW Motorrad CE 04
StarShip Enterprise
BMW Motorrad CE 04
Big feet jammed comfortably into the footwells.

The CE 04 is a joy to ride down the long open roads, wafting along at almost silent speed in tranquillity, really enjoying the moment. Spending a good amount of time in the saddle really gave me a feel for a bike. The cruiser type position, as expected, became quite tiring on my lower back, which I alleviated by moving my feet to the pillion foot-pegs to achieve a more upright sitting position. It really was quite ethereal cruising along in silence… until I looked down at the quickly diminishing range and ‘Range Anxiety’ kicked in. I quickly swapped modes back down to Econo and rolled off the ‘gas’ and promptly lost all sense of relaxation as I started to monitor the range versus the distance we still had to travel.

 By now it was rush hour in Dainfern. Manic. Even more so with the lights all out due to load shedding and this is where the CE 04 came into its own. This is its natural habitat. It is narrow, it is powerful and it is agile and the jerks in the cars can’t hear you coming so the vindictive ones don’t have time to close up any gaps on you. The headlights, especially on high beam are extremely bright and do alert the considerate and courteous drivers to your presence who make a gap for you and then get all curious and start asking questions if you are close enough to them. 

I eventually made it back to BMW Motorrad Fourways with about 8% power left and 80 kays odd on the clock. Not bad considering we weren’t riding for economy and took this scooter beyond what and where it was designed for.

We stopped at a local fuel station to slake our thirst on a couple of crème soda’s and the petrol attendants all crowded around it asking a million question, one even mentioned he had seen us whizz by in the morning and was really excited when we stopped in on our way back to the office.

BMW Motorrad CE04
Riding through the Cradle.
BMW Motorrad CE04
Heading back to BMW Motorrad Foreways.
BMW Motorrad CE04
The bright lights so traffic can see you clearly.


On a full charge, more Urban, Deon got 80.6 KM’s with 8% charge left.

On a more rural high speed run, Sean got 86 KM’s with 11% charge left.

Top speed 129 KPH

Our opinion: 

In every way, this scooter is attractive in an industrial kind of way and you do feel kinda special riding it or arriving on it, it does make quite the statement.

 Not only is the styling futuristic, but it comes with all the bells and whistles. Keyless ride, ASC, a ventilated storage compartment with USB C port, a lighted side loading storage compartment (for a camera bag or helmet and to easily store the charging cable to use for all domestic sockets) and an epic 10.25” TFT display screen for all your to activate your BMW Motorrad Connectivity. For those cold winter days BMW can also provide you with heated grips and seats.  But we reckon that would probably reduce your motorcycle’s range.

 We reckon that with a much better range and quicker charging times and more charging stations available in this country, (Ha – Ha – blerrie HA!) BMW could be onto something here. 

The tech needs to become more affordable for it to make sense to the average Joe Soap, at a few bucks under R300k it’s a high end buy for sure.

This one came from the lekker guys at BMW Fourways. They have an amazing variety of new and used motorcycles on the floor. Go and have a looksee.

BMW Motorrad CE 04
Too much fun to take it back to the office
BMW Motorrad CE04
All the bells & whistles neat & easy to use
BMW Motorrad CE04
The 10.25" TFT screen
BMW Motorrad CE04
Ventilated storage compartment with USB C
BMW Motorrad CE04
The charging port
BMW Motorrad CE04
Keyless comfort
BMW Motorrad CE04
Side storage with charging cable

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