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BMW and scooters - From the 2000-2002 C1 to the C1-E Electric scooter project


by Marc Cantin ,

Rumours have been floating about in Europe regarding a possible re-entry by BMW into the scooter market, after an earlier foray from 2000 to 2002 with the ill-fated and ahead-of-its-time fully faired C1. The recently announced C1-E project from BMW, a fully electric scooter that looks like a shrunk C1, with a roll cage and side protection, stirred up even more interest.

Here are just a few of the 15 or so C1s parked on the sidewalk in front of the shop. Some are ready to roll, others have been dropped and are awaiting repairs or restoration.

BMW obviously made a visual link between the two machines, and I could not resist doing the same when I was in Paris this past November.

Executive Concept ( is a BMW C1-only shop located in greater Paris, that buys, repairs, restores, upgrades and sells only C1 machines, their accessories, and a spedial "Executive Concept" customized model. Starting in 2010, they will also rent them for about $60 per day. I walked in unannounced on Arnaud, the new owner of the business, who was only too happy to let me ride their customer loaner, and let us have a close look at the device.

The C1 - A fully dressed scooter
The idea of a single seat, fully faired machine, with a roof, full windshield and wiper, was unfortunately ahead of its time in 2000. Attitudes towards scooters have evolved positively since then, as scooter sales are now close to or beyond motorcycle figures in urban areas in Canada and Western Europe, and engines range from 50 to 800cc, so performance is now there if you want it.

The C1 was a precursor to this wave, as it already featured weather protection and space for a huge top case, in addition to the roll bars and wrap-around rider seat, rather than a simple saddle. The C1 used a water-cooled, fuel-injected 125cc (15hp) single, with a 176cc model (18hp) coming out in 2001. The mechanically controlled Constant Velocity Transmission (CVT) transmits torque to the standard swing arm and rear end assembly.

You sit in a cocoon-like shell, held in by a standard car seatbelt (Lap and chest) and an extra chest belt, so that belts cross on your chest and keep you safely in the seat, where the side protection for the shoulders can do its work. Legs and feet are tucked in behind the nose, with the standard levers and switch gear within easy reach.
Executive Concept have developed a "Fully Dressed" version of the C1, with high quality body and paintwork, more storage space and better fit, finish and comfort. The machine looked great, and I was not about to risk this jewel, the MV Augusta of scooters, on damp Paris streets.

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