...SHE'S IN Italy on a German bike launch, which is pleasingly symmetrical. Even more so since both bikes are largely made in China.
Here's her first thoughts on the new BMW C400 X middleweight tech-scooter.
"It’s pushing 35 degrees Celsius and I've spent today riding BMW’s new C400 X scooter, in a heavy leather jacket and thick Kevlar jeans. I’m about as sweaty as a pro wrestler post-fight right now, but before I plunge under a cold shower I thought I’d treat you to a brief first impression of the scoot.
So what can I say? This is an all-new scooter for BMW – the manufacturer’s debut entry into the mid-size scooter segment – and despite the name, it actually features a 350cc engine. The 34hp single cylinder unit is also new, and is coupled to a seemingly-infallible CVT gearbox, which provided fluid acceleration today, even uphill or after heavy braking. Our test route took in about 50 miles of twisting mountain roads to the north-east of Milan, interspersed by the occasional fast stretch of more open highways.
The C400 X was a delight to ride – it felt agile, and far lighter than its 204kg wet weight. The torque of 35Nm peaks at 6,000rpm, but there's plenty of grunt throughout, and the compact 400 easily hits the ton with a bit more to give. Thanks to a ‘vibration decoupled engine mount’ – rubber bushings damping the engine vibration – the bike is remarkable smooth, and there’s very little shake through the bars and mirrors. In fact, even at higher speeds you could still get a clear view of what's behind you.
It’s designed to compete with Yamaha’s XMAX 400 and Kymco’s Xciting S 400 and, for me, it looks miles better than both. BMW's engineers put a lot of effort into making the rider triangle as close to a motorcycle as possible, and while there’s no pretending that this is anything other than a maxi-scooter, it does feel much more like you’re sat on top of – in command of the scoot – rather than sat in it as with the XMAX. I haven’t yet ridden the Kymco to compare."
"My test bike featured the BMW Connectivity TFT dash – a £500-ish extra on the scoot’s base price of just below £7,000. It’s a pretty comprehensive system, and through the app you can use satellite navigation, make telephone calls and listen to music through a Bluetooth headset/helmet intercom. The navigation aspect is scaled back for urban riding and is actually pretty simple - just direction arrows on the screen and distance. But apart from a couple of wrong turns it works pretty well. A couple of other journalists did complain about the app crashing, but this was an iPhone update issue."
The bold Ms Thomson is now en route to her next engagement in Il Bel Paese but she'll be filing a full first ride report on the C400 X asap. More on the new BMW midi-scoot as we get it from her...