BMW’s CE 02 scooter will tug your heartstrings, drain your wallet

AI SaaS

A man rides a small electric scooter in the rain
Enlarge / It wasn’t the best weather for riding, but we braved the elements anyway to try out this adorable-looking machine.

Daniel Kraus for BMW

While I wouldn’t say the BMW CE 02 has universal appeal, there is something incredibly compelling about the thing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever thrown a leg over a motorcycle or scooter or whether a two-wheeled means of conveyance makes any sense for your mobility needs.

Take one look, and you’ll probably want one.

Unfortunately, reading the particulars of the bike reduces its appeal dramatically. With a top speed of just 59 mph (95 km/h), a range of only 56 miles (90 km), and a recoil-generating base price of $7,599, the CE 02 is a tricky proposition.

But none of that answers the key question that has been on my mind ever since BMW started showing off the CE 02 as a concept back in 2021: Could this little bike actually be fun to ride? On a windy, rainy day in Portugal, I finally got a chance to find out.

The CE 02 makes just 15 hp (11 kW) and 41 lb-ft (56 Nm) of torque from an electric motor that drives the 14-inch rear wheel. That size is a bit particular, splitting the difference between a typical scooter and a typical motorcycle. That, though, is in keeping with the rest of this genre-defying bike.

BMW says this is a new category of two-wheeled mobility, which it calls “eParkourer.” As I can’t see that term catching on, I’ll just call it its own thing. Regardless, in the US at least, it is a thing that will require a motorcycle license.

The CE 02's handlebars and controls.
Enlarge / The CE 02’s handlebars and controls.

BMW

Is it quick enough and sharp enough to charm someone used to riding a proper motorcycle with some multiple of the CE 02’s power and top speed? It helps if you’re a tech-friendly sort of rider. The CE 02 has a greater-than-average selection of buttons to fiddle with. Though the LCD display is diminutive, at just 3.5 inches on the diagonal, the CE 02 offers plenty of features through buttons under left and right thumbs.

But that’s just the beginning. Connect a smartphone, and you can control that, too, within the BMW Motorrad Connected app at least. You can cue up custom routes to share with friends and even look up weather forecasts ahead of your ride. (The phone I tested this with was without a local SIM, so I couldn’t sample this particular feature, but then, I wouldn’t have liked what it had to say anyway.)

After a few minutes in the saddle, it’s all intuitive enough, and the major controls (lights, horn, turn signal) are where you expect them. Only the mode button, down low on the right, is an awkward reach.

There are three modes available: Flow, Surf, and Flash. I confess I had to run through them all a few times before I could tell the difference. With just 15 hp on tap, no amount of toggling will make this feel like a rocket ship. The changes are nuanced, with Flash giving a sharper bite to the throttle, helping it get moving somewhat more quickly.

Regardless of mode, once you’re above 30 mph (48 km/h) there’s not much acceleration left. This should be no surprise given you’re already more than halfway to the CE 02’s terminal velocity.

The more significant change between these modes is regenerative braking. On Surf, regen is disabled, thus leading to its namesake floating feel. I like a lot of regen, so I quickly settled on Flash, which has the sharpest acceleration and regen. It’s not quite a one-pedal mode, as you’ll need to grab the brake to come to a stop and stay there, but it’s close.

AI SaaS

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