BMW’s new electric scooters have graphic visual appeal

As BMW Motorrad showcases its latest Definition CE 04 electric scooter concept, we consider the other end of the brand's offering, by way of the retro-inspired R 18 cruiser

White and orange electric scooter
(Image credit: TBC)

BMW Definition CE 04

BMW Electric Scooter concept display unit

(Image credit: TBC)

The BMW Definition CE 04 is an electric scooter concept that, according to BMW, sets out to redefine this hugely important segment. Designed as both a means of transport and a means of communication for urban commuters, the CE 04 embodies the brand’s new ‘Plugged to life' motto. Intended to mix the rider’s analogue world with its digital one, BMW believes it has created a highly emotional mobility experience. The design of the Definition CE 04 is a break from the conventional scooter look. The low elongated vehicle body contains a compact drivetrain and battery, and the low centre of gravity helps the handling. It also allows for new storage solutions like the illuminated side-openings, perfect for a helmet or small items of luggage. The striking floating-style seat bench can be easily approached either from the side, or from the rear, and allows improved ergonomics for both riders and passengers. It can be individually adjusted by pushing it back and forth, meaning even tall riders can sit comfortably.

Two colours dominate the CE 04’s distinctive design: metallic white for the main bodywork panels and matt black for the technical centre of the vehicle. The darker section stretches from the front to the rear and includes the tyres, front lights (made up of two minimal U-shaped LEDs), the drive unit and the suspension components. At the rear of the vehicle, lights have been integrated into the rear side panels in the form of two C-shaped light elements.

Graphic design is an important part of the CE 04’s visual appeal. Gerald Höller, graphic designer at BMW Motorrad Design explains: "Thanks to the new architecture, we have created something completely new with this vehicle - and in the future we want to use graphics and colours to emphasise this even further. We see the CE 04 Definition almost as a moving screen with which a customer can express his personality - from modern elegant to urban.” The CE 04 features a 10.25-inch display – the largest ever on a scooter to date – which acts as the interface between the digital and analogue worlds of the rider, via their smartphone. The designers of the CE 04 also focused on rider equipment, including a parka that features integrated light guides in the sleeves and hood for greater visibility in traffic, plus a pocket phone charging function, to ensure riders remain connected on the move.

BMW R 18

Black BMW R18 Electric Scooter

(Image credit: TBC)

At the other end of the spectrum, and one of the most recent new production bikes BMW, the R 18 is a large combustion-engined cruiser that couldn’t be more different in concept to the CE 04 – or indeed any other BMW bike on sale. BMW Motorrad is clearly not afraid of developing machines that push the design envelope in both directions, and enthusiasts might remember the impact the brand’s S1000RR had on the sports bike segment when it was launched in 2008. Available now in both First Edition and Classic format, priced from £18,995, the R 18 evokes the brand’s heritage in a way that few other bikes have done so ever before. Unashamedly paying tribute to BMW motorcycles of the pre-war era, such as the elegant R5, the R 18 is an exercise in upmarket minimalism alongside sheer Germanic brutishness.

Revealed in glossy black paintwork and with generous amounts of polished chrome for the exhaust and cylinder head covers, it cuts an elegant, low-slung dash. Power comes from a mighty 1,802 cc two-cylinder boxer engine, which is the largest of its type BMW has ever built. Fed to the back wheel via an exposed nickel-plated shaft drive, the unit delivers 89bhp at 4,750 rpm and a mighty 117ft lbs of torque at 3,000 rpm. Riders have three power modes to choose from, Rain, Roll and Rock, but cruise control is not fitted as standard. In an era of tightening emissions and engine downsizing, be in no doubt that this 345kg bike is a brave move from BMW. As you might expect, the R 18 is supported by a huge list of accessories designed and built in partnership with bike gear specialists Roland Sands and Vance & Hines, meaning that in original specification, the R 18 is a gloriously blank canvas for your creativity to run wild.