Retro is the word in motorcycling at the moment. All manufacturers are fiddling with them in one way or another; even Suzuki has joined in with their take on the Katana from the eighties. BMW, on the other glove, has been at it for a while with their classic styled R nineT range and here’s the one I haven’t tried, until now.
So there are four of these things to tempt a new owner; the basic R nineT, the Scrambler version and the Urban GS, which have the names the wrong way round in my mind. Shouldn’t the Urban GS be the Scrambler and the Scrambler be the Urban GS? Anyway, Triumph and Ducati also use that name with their take on the ‘scrambler’ and maybe others as well?
But this time around I’m certainly scrambling nothing and leaning forward instead in a cool and timeless café racer stance that’s been around since the late 1950s. So say hello to the R nineT Racer which is, without doubt, the best looking of the four classic options BMW has on offer. It is basically the same platform as the other three with a single seat, a retro styled big, single headlight half fairing and a very distinctive BMW racing paint scheme which is very nice to look at on all counts.
The platform is the usual BMW shaft drive rear end with ‘normal’ Sachs forks instead of the complicated/weird ones found on later GSs. BMW also use their last incarnation of their air-cooled 1,170cc boxer engine with a healthy claimed 110hp and 116Nm of the torquey stuff. This is to keep things simple with no electronic assistance besides ABS working with those hugely powerful Brembo front discs. You’ll need powerful arms as well, as the reach to the ‘racer’ ‘bars is quite a long one and around town it can become a little heavy in the wrist area. And the little single seat (optional two seat conversion available in the huge accessories BMW book of parts) can become painful. I don’t mean the padding more about my ‘gentleman parts’. Don’t wear thin and loose pants because the gap between the seat and the long 17-litre tank can cheekily ‘nip’ your bits when braking, just thought I’d pass that on to us old folk, or maybe young folk too?
You see, I think this bike will appeal to all ages who want a nice, powerful ride on their own, without moaning pillion, as one gracefully carves through their favourite country roads, then the Racer version makes sense. It does handle surprisingly well for its 220kg mass and still has the old ‘blappy’ sound of an early Boxer engine before water-cooling was attached. It’s fast as well because I easily went off the sweet analogue classy clocks (220km/h is on there). While up at those speeds the attractive white faring is highly effective when the chin is caressing the top of the petrol tank. Being a BMW I’d be surprised if it didn’t with their wealth of available wind tunnels.
So how much of your wealth do you need to own this Bavarian beauty? R177,600 is the answer which is quite pricey for a such minimalist motorcycle but all the café racer mods are done for you and it won’t break down every time you go out, like the homemade/shed made garbage of the past. And of course it’s a BMW with all benefits that are associated with that brand. If I was going buy any of the R nineT range it would certainly be this one, it just makes you feel cool, special and happy after a day in the ‘ball-nipping’ saddle.
Go to www.bmw-motorrad.co.za to locate your nearest dealer for a test ride.