There are now five bikes bearing the R nine T moniker, and this is the latest addition to the family – the Racer.
Essentially the sporty version of the range, the Racer S definitely looks the part. Long and low, the Racer comes with a fairing complete with BMW Motorsport paint, a steel fuel tank, a set of clip-on bars, new rearsets and a single seat. The rest – the headlight, clocks, the tail – has already been seen on the original R nineT. Yes, it may be a spare parts lash-up, but the overall effect is stunning – this looks every inch the carefully crafted cafe racer. This is in no small part down to the fact that Boxer motor looks perfectly so at home in a café-racer, especially one as sleekly proportioned as the Racer.
The first thing that makes itself known when sitting on the bike’s comfortable and beautifully sculpted solo seat is the long reach to the bars. It’s really, really long and effectively forces you to lean forward across the long petrol tank, putting pressure on your wrists, forearms and neck.
Trundling through town this splayed riding position feels counter intuitive, but leave town, head for the open roads and wind the throttle on and you’ll notice that that low fairing does a good job of directing some of the wind from your chest, allowing you to take some weight off your wrists.
On the move, the dohc, 1170cc eight-valve Boxer engine, which is based on the unit which previously powered bikes such as the R1200GS, has a broad spread of torque and enough power for very lively and engaging ride. The fuelling is crisp and the mid-range acceleration is strong, meaning that the Racer pulls cleanly at low speed, surges past traffic with a twist of the throttle, and sits smoothly and effortlessly at the legal limit.
It’s vibey though – its unique configuration, whereby both pistons go in and out at the same time, means you’re always aware of the engine thumping furiously below you. Admittedly, it’s never that intrusive, but it’s still there nonetheless. No doubt BMW owners would refer to this as ‘character’.
Push on and you’ll notice just how much mass there is over the Racer’s front wheel. This, when combined with the narrow clip-ons, means that the Racer struggles with the tight and really twisty stuff, initially feeling reluctant to turn in, but it’s perfectly happy on the more flowing, sweeping bends. It’s very much a bike which responds to firm rider input and feels stable and predictable, allowing you to push it to the limit of its modest ground clearance.
As you’d expect from BMW, there are a wide range of accessories for the bike with everything from a brushed aluminium petrol tank to a pillion seat available. And if customising your Racer feels too much like hard work, there’s even a Racer S version, complete wire wheels and heated grips.
So, the Racer is a very good looking bike which is perfect for short Sunday blast and popping down to the local bike meet for a drink and a blether. Try one, you may just like it.