BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine

This is an electric BMW moped, customised to be beach-ready

Vagabund Moto sets its sights on BMW’s CE 04 battery-powered runabout, accidentally goes full Deus

Published: 02 Mar 2023

As much as this may look like an image from an upcoming Mr Porter catalogue (yeah, we said it; if we ever say edit without near-fatal amounts of sarcasm, feel free to chastise us), it’s actually the first image of a reimagined CE 04 electric moped from BMW Motorrad. 

The designers and custom builders have served up a slice of the bohemian, surfing aesthetic, which is sure to go down a hit in Vagabund’s home country of Austria. 

Advertisement - Page continues below

Examinations of the surfing scene in landlocked alpine countries aside, there’s no reason those hooks couldn’t hold a stand-up paddleboard, perhaps, or even a set of skis or a snowboard. But perhaps they didn’t want to be too Austrian about things. 

And besides, it’s hard to come down on Vagabund, or its founders, Philipp and Paul, because beyond the hipster beards and beanies, there’s just such a sense that no one’s taking themselves too seriously. It’s a small group of people creating what they like to look at, regardless if it’s legitimate art installations or rolling pieces of sculpture. 

Which probably helps explain why they’re customising a moped. While any number of bike tinkerers start their builds with the R nineT (for obvious reasons) and now the R18, it requires a certain mindset – and amount of bravery – to start with something so clearly made for utility, rather than utopian ideas about the open road. 

The CE 04 is a £13,000 exercise in ultimate practicality, jam-packed with handy cubby holes and sporting wind deflectors that rival touring bikes. It even drives the rear wheel with a toothed belt, so riders don’t have to worry about cleaning and oiling chains – or putting muck on their fancy threads. There’s a bit more than 40bhp on offer, which grants a 2.6-second dash to 30mph from a standing start and 80 miles of range if you’re not a complete pillock about things. It’ll fast charge from dead flat to 80 per cent in about an hour, if you have to, but it’ll be a doddle to skip it entirely with overnight top-ups from the wall socket. If it were any more useful, it’d tidy up your shed while it was there. 

Advertisement - Page continues below

It's BMW’s sole electric offering so far, and we’re only entirely miffed in every possible way that the awesome CE 02 concept remains a concept. The inherent desirability drop in all things practical is one thing, but it sure doesn’t help that the CE 04 is... uh, perhaps not as stylistically resolved up front as it could be. To put a finer point on it, a Sinclair C5 that’s crashed into a crate of orange Tic Tacs is more stylistically resolved. 

And while Vagabund’s end result is more makeover than mammoth reworking, it somehow works better than BMW’s original design. We’d still be ditching those wind-deflecting side-pod things faster than you can say ’18-volt cordless impact driver’, but then we’re the kind of people who circle our motorbikes, looking for things we can remove. Because even if the drivetrain is completely electric and flows as smoothly as MC Rakim, we’re still going to want it to look more like Iron & Air than Mr Porter. 

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

More from Top Gear

See more on BMW

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine