Circumstances can be bring about some surprises. A punctured tyre for example...
Out on my BMW R1200RT, when something went into the tyre causing a 2cm cut in the central tread area. Deflation within 30 seconds, from the initial twitch of the rear to watching the pressure on the dash dropping from 2.7bar to 1.8, to 1.2, to 0.5..by the time I got to stop and dismounted, the gauge was down to zero.
Fortunately I'd managed to pull up on a cafe car park, so several cups of tea later the recovery vehicle arrived. Agreeing the tyre was beyond repair, the RT was loaded up and conveyed to Marshall Motorrad, the nearest dealer who I had contacted whilst drinking tea, and who could supply a new tyre the following day, with the loan of a bike to tide me over (deliberate pun taken what the weather had in store!)
After a short discussion with Jess, the service manager, and an explanation that I needed the loaner for a couple of days due to work commitments, she said there was only one option available. The BMW C400GT - or, as she described it "The Scooter"!!
I'm not a bike snob, I will ride, and have ridden, anything, but feeling a bit sorry for myself having had the flat and being recovered, I had a feeling of indignity!
Looking out at the bikes parked on the lot, RT's, GS's, GSA's and S1000's etc, the C400, in what I would describe as primer grey paint scheme, sat at the end of the row. Like the runt of the litter. The unwanted puppy. Torrential rain didn't make it look any more attractive.
Still, wheels are wheels and better than walking!
Jess showed me the basics, which was all the 'Scooter' had to offer!
Being positive though, it was a new machine to experience, so let's approach it with an open mind and review it.
Firstly, it is very much a scooter. Smaller wheels than a conventional bike, but not 'ped' size. 15" front and 14" rear, so only just smaller than conventional machines, but still scooter-like.
The looks were a little 'Judge Dredd' - not unattractive but not helped by the colour. A sharp front end, nicely sculpted and sporty looking, the headlamp reminding me of a Siamese cat. Seen head on it was OK, but side on the front looked a bit heavy.
The dash was straight from the parts bin - a leftover from the GS after the current ones were fitted with TFT. Limited information was on display, speed, fuel and heated grip/seat icon (both having three settings max/medium/off)
The bars were as basic as they needed to be, the grip/seat buttons being on the right side, and the only nod to it's GT moniker.
Jess opened the seat to reveal the storage space underneath. I had a soft briefcase with me that I needed to take with me, however, no matter which way I tried the seat wouldn't close with it in the 'boot' area. Operated with a button under the headstock area, there were a further two buttons, one either side of the fairing which opened two storage compartments, big enough for a set of keys or a wallet.
Surprisingly, it was fitted with keyless ignition, the standard BMW button to operate it being centrally mounted below the headstock. The standard BMW transponder key fob was redundant for locking the bike, but the steering lock was operated as normal, holding the starter button with the steering pointed to the left.
Step-thru in design, it was awkward to mount, as the central area (the step-thru part) is higher than the running boards, and incorporated the fuel filler cap. The seat was too tall/wide for a conventional mount, so I left a bit more dignity behind as I threaded myself onto it!
Brakes are 'pedal cycle' style, front brake on the right lever, rear brake left lever. The bike had a step-less CVT transmission, so wind and go.
As I set off it picked up fairly well, very light and easy steering, perhaps a bit too light initially, but I am used to the weight of the 1200.
As I made my way through the village I was impressed with how planted it felt, even in the atrocious conditions. I quickly realised the weather protection was rubbish, the screen being far too small (and a strange oval shape?) to protect from the rain, and the fairing legs being a tad narrow.
Pulling out onto a dual carriageway I opened the throttle and , erm, not a lot happened! I then realised the lack of power from the little engine was down to its small capacity and me expecting too much! Once I recalibrated my brain, it was actually quite nippy!
Negotiating a roundabout, carrying as much speed as I dare to keep the momentum due to the limited power output, the little Scoot again surprised me with its stability, as I went around leaving at the three o'clock position. Keeping the momentum and winding the throttle to its stop, saw the bike pull quite strongly, onto a national speed limit dual carriageway where it quickly span up to 70 mph.
The journey back home took me along some twisty rural roads, some very heavy with standing water and it handled everything admirably. Traversing the Humber bridge, with strong winds driving heavy rain from my right side, the lack of weight of the bike caused some minor instability, but again, I am used to the size and weight of a much bigger machine.
The rest of the route was along 60mph busy A roads, with the usual 45-50mph car driver making no progress. The C400 was quick enough to despatch them and get through the traffic at junctions due to its narrow width.
Reaching home, I again struggled to reverse the mounting procedure gracefully! Moving it around manually to turn it to reverse it into the garage was easy with its light weight and balanced feel.
I did the return journey a couple of days later to collect my bike in even worse conditions. Other than being blown about even more on the Humber Bridge, and again suffering with lack of weather protection, I found the ride to be comfortable, given the power limitations of the machine.
A great little bike, not sure it deserves the 'GT' badge, but certainly a better experience than I expected when first faced with the prospect of riding it!
As a second bike for commuting to work or for needing transport with no hassle it is perfect.
Think I will stick with the RT for the present though....