BMW’s funky R nineT was launched by the Bavarians in 2014 as gift to themselves to celebrate 90 years of building motorcycles, and the result is a good looking bike with retro styling which is bang on for the hipster trend which was, and still is, sweeping the country.
The bike is powered by the German’s venerable 1,170cc air-cooled Boxer engine, which used to power the mighty GS. It’s a perfectly capable motor, and its 110bhp feels spot on for UK roads. It’s a proven unit, and the smooth spread of power and torque will keep you entertained for mile after intoxicating mile.
It’s not just the engine that delivers a lot of smiles per mile, the noise it makes is just as entertaining, the bark from the twin Akrapovic megaphone silencers creating an addictive, deep bark with booming pops and bangs on the overrun.
On the move the fuelling feels crisp and accurate, and there’s a pleasant dollop of grunt when you hit the middle of the rev range, which is perfect for motorway overtakes. This isn’t a speed machine by any means, this is a machine which is more suited to enjoying the ride and the scenery, but it still has plenty of top end grunt which will propel it to a datalogged 132mh, on private roads obviously.
The handling also reflects this more relaxed take on life. It struggles with the tight and really twisty stuff, initially feeling reluctant to turn in, but it’s perfectly happy on the slower, more sweeping bends, feeling stable and predictable. I guess that’s down to the front forks, which is taken from the company’s mighty S1000RR.
It’s a very pure experience – there is no sophisticated suite of electronic riders aids here, just ABS, and this a bike which rewards smooth, accurate riders.
This is a bike which demands to be ridden, and if you can tear yourself away from the saddle for any length of time, you’ll be greeted by a machine which has been beautifully finished. Everywhere you look you’ll notice the attention to detail and quality materials – the tank and accessory seat hump are fashioned from hand-brushed aluminium, and this finish is also applied to the fork yokes, handlebar clamp and intake ducts. Then there’s the small BMW roundel at the centre of the headlight lens, the way the clocks have been taken from the R1200R but reworked to give them a classic, timeless feel while still being contemporary. It’s a hard trick to pull off, but BMW has got it just right with this bike. It passes the garage test with ease, and you could while away many an hour simply bathing in its beauty.
But the really clever thing about the R nineT is that BMW have recognised that owners will want to add their own touches to the bike, and to this end the headlight, exhaust and pillion seat can all be unbolted and replaced with other parts, allowing quick and easy customisation.
The R nineT is a bike which combines the looks and ethos of yesteryear with the reliability of today, and it’s well-built, it’s a joy to ride and it’s easy to add your personal touch to get the bike ‘just so’. BMW may well have crated the ultimate retro-stylesd riding machine.