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BMW Battery Life

Our four year old BMW C-Evolution at the Parliament Hill athletics track for Night of the 10,000m

At the time of the launch of the all-electric BMW C-Evolution back in 2015, there was a rumour going around that the sales weren’t great because the long-term life of the batteries wasn’t tried and tested. Maybe this was the reason that BMW offered the new electric model with a five-year 30,000-mile battery warranty.

Around the same time, we took delivery of four of them for our camera fleet – they are silent and well balanced and for a whole host of other reasons, we find them to be the very best platform for filming running, cycling and triathlon events. Though it had to be said, that we also did have our own reservations about how well they would retain charge over time.

Now as BMW launch their latest fully electric motorcycle, the sexy and stunning looking BMW CE-04, I would imagine that the same doubts and reservations are planted in many potential purchasers’ minds.

So, last week with a challenging 88km of shooting at an athletics track on the cards, we opted for our oldest C-Evolution, to see whether it still held charge as well as it did when it was new, nearly four years ago.

RK68 FBU is our staff bike and my personal favourite. It’s true that all of the other bikes we have are newer. We have five other 20 plate C-Evolutions, three petrol BMW GSs and four brand new CE-04s which, as I write this, are currently being rigged in time for the Commonwealth Games in July.

As FBU is my favourite, I usually opt to ride it rather than any of its newer brothers. Two years ago, it turned up at the London Marathon as the odd one out. All the five other 20 plate Evo’s are presented in a eye-catching metal flake black whereas, FBU comes in a Marmite green and silver. The ugly brother.

The London Marathon, in itself, is something of a range challenge. We have the bikes rigged for RF in Darford before riding them 14 miles out to the start in Blackheath. Then there’s the 26.2 mile event before riding back to Dartford from The Mall along a convoluted route to avoid the London Marathon course. That’s a total distance of just over 70 miles.

In 2020 when the black Evo’s were new, and FBU was two years old, they all came back with around 25% charge. No battery degradation there then.

So, as I hopped on FBU at the Parliament Hill athletics track for the first race of Night of the 10,000m, two years later I checked that the battery indicator was at 100% and did a simple calculation.

When the Evo was new, it’s advertised range was 100 miles. Now, four years later, would it still be close to that? The 400m athletics track was the perfect testing ground. We did an initial 16 laps of the track for testing and familiarisation before the racing started. There were eight 10K races (25 laps each) and two 1600m races (4 laps each). Along with the testing, that was a total of 224 laps – that’s 89.6 km or 56 miles.

As it looks to many, as though we are just coasting around a perfectly flat track at 13 or 14 mph, some would argue that this doesn’t present a real-world test environment. However what people don’t see is what happens when the moto camera is not in use. For this event, as we hit the home straight, we have to hit the throttle hard to accelerate away (up to around 35mph) from the athletes in order to clear a fixed camera. We then brake hard behind a second fixed camera and come to a complete halt, before accelerating away again to go with the first athlete as they come past the second fixed camera. That’s every lap – 224 times. Arguably that’s probably a direct comparison to riding the bike in a commuting environment.

The result? As I rolled our trusty four-year-old FBU into the van at the end of the night, I checked what power was remaining. I was amazed to see it still showing 43%. So basically, it used 57% over 56 miles. That’s pretty much the same as the maximum range advertised by BMW when the bike was new. So, no degradation in battery life whatsoever over a four year period.

That came as a pleasant revelation to us as owners and operators of these bikes. But to anyone else, who is currently contemplating purchasing one of the new astonishing looking CE04s, they have absolutely nothing to worry about!


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