A while ago, I unfortunately got injured while off-roading and had to take a two-month break for recovery. As my left hand was still healing, I decided to request a scooter from my wife for commuting and occasional trips. After all, scooters are the most convenient option for navigating the city with its numerous traffic lights.
I’ve never been drawn to the design language of Japanese scooters, so the only European option that remained was the BMW C400GT.
First and foremost, let’s talk about its appearance. The design language is completely different from the Japanese counterparts. The iconic angel eyes, previously used in BMW’s RT and K series motorcycles with a circular design (and only two rings), are now incorporated into the scooter. The overall angular and modern design gives it a rugged look. The unbeatable large backrest is particularly friendly to middle-aged riders. I opted for the white color, sacrificing some high-end features of the black model (such as heated handlebars and seat) but spent an additional $2,000RMB to have the heated handlebars installed.
Controlling scooters with a weight of over 300cc and their seat height can be challenging. However, thanks to the low position of the fuel tank, the center of gravity is also low, making it slightly easier to maneuver and move at slow speeds compared to other motorcycles of the same weight. With my height of 172cm (5’8″), both of my feet touch the ground with the front of my foot. Since I previously rode ADV models, I adapted well to the seat height.
In the past couple of years, BMW has introduced large TFT color screens on motorcycles, and the overall UI design is consistent with their cars. In this aspect, the Japanese manufacturers are lagging behind.
The scooter’s infotainment system connects to your phone and Bluetooth helmet, allowing you to control music playback and answer calls using the ancestral scroll wheel on the left hand. Unfortunately, due to well-known reasons, the navigation feature is disabled.
In terms of driving experience, I cannot make a direct comparison with other Japanese scooters in the same category. Based on my personal feeling, the handling is excellent, and it even gives me a sense of riding a larger motorcycle when leaning into corners. This might be due to the scooter’s weight, which exceeds 210 kilograms (460 pounds), providing excellent stability.
The front dual-disc brake configuration is highly advanced for its class, delivering strong braking power, although the tactile feedback is slightly lacking. When compared to the front double-disc Brembo calipers on another scooter model, the difference is noticeable, but so is the price gap.
There are two downsides to mention. Firstly, the engine produces noticeable vibrations at low speeds, supposedly due to the belt in the transmission components (which reportedly Japanese scooters excel at). Secondly, the suspension is too stiff, resulting in poor shock absorption on bumpy roads, transmitting every small vibration to the rider’s backside.
The navigation feature cannot be used mainly because BMW’s motorcycle app is not available for download in China. Even if I downloaded it from foreign markets, it doesn’t provide map downloads for China. Although navigation is not available, the app still records various information such as the route, duration of the trip, whether ABS or traction control was triggered, throttle opening, and speed. For models equipped with IMU tilt angle sensors, such as the water-cooled models, it also records the lean angle during cornering. Once again, the Japanese manufacturers are lagging behind in this aspect.
Lastly, as a commuter vehicle, the keyless start feature is simply fantastic.