Every so often a motorcycle is released that changes the game and redefines its genre. When BMW released the R NineT back in 2014 it did exactly that – setting the benchmark for the neo-retro segment.
The R NineT was originally designed and built by and for BMW Motorrad in an attempt to ‘use up’ units of their air/oil-cooled boxer engine. Expected to be a limited run, BMW cobbled together parts from existing models to produce the first R9T roadster. Little did they know at the time, but the R9T would go on to be a huge success for the company and is now available in five different models.
Character is often a term that is used interchangeably with unreliable in the motorcycle world. Old Guzzi’s for example are usually described by owners as having character – which is of course their way of saying the bike only runs when it wants to.
But the R9T is different. Here character means charm, individuality and charisma. Smooth as butter through the gears, a loud bark from the exhaust and that addictive ‘torque twist’ when you yank back on the throttle. Character doesn’t always mean unreliable.
The R9T has plenty of punch, however it doesn’t deliver it all at once. With max power right at the top of the rev range, it’s the torque that you notice immediately. But the great thing with the R9T is that the torque is extremely linear, meaning it just pulls and pulls, almost from any gear.
If you’re looking for a bike with buckets loads of raw power, you’re probably going to be slightly disappointed by the R9T. With a shaft final drive and that horizontally opposed boxer twin you were never going to get anything else but a refined ride. Don’t let this fool you however as the R9T is still more than capable of getting up and boogying, leaving cars and other skeptical motorcyclists in your dust.
We found the ride to be incredibly comfortable, with plenty of support from the saddle and a relaxed, if not slightly forward leaning positioning on the bike. Given the wide handlebars, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the position on the R9T would be extremely relaxed, almost upright. However this isn’t the case, as the rearsets are set back a tad and the bars are pushed forward. It’s certainly not uncomfortable, but is was unexpected.
Handling is superb and the bike corners on rails, and whilst most people are going to buy the R9T for their weekly commute, it’s more than capable on twisty country roads. With steering dampening, an upside down 46 mm telescopic fork and weight low-down in the chassis, the bike is a joy to ride quickly through corners.
Braking isn’t a problem either, with Brembo radially-mounted 4-pot callipers on 320mm twin discs up front, and a 2-pot calliper on a single 265 mm disc at the back.
The R9T is almost exclusively a styling exercise and has been designed with customisation in mind. For instance the entire rear sub-frame and pillion footpeg supports can be removed if you favour a single seat option, and a bevy of aftermarket parts are available from companies such as Motogadget, Unit Garage and Hookie.
Whilst heavily customisable, the R9T comes factory with some high-end equipment. Mounts and brackets are CNC-machined from aluminium and stainless steel, the wheels are spoked and the paint job on the tank is first class. Of course you can also choose a number of BMW factory accessories, or opt for the Option 719 package. The latter of which adds a hand-painted tank, engine head covers and some other bits and bobs.
- Incredible build quality
- High-end components
- Flat torque curve a pleasure
- Arguable the best looking motorcycle in its class
- Price – a good $2-3k more than its competitors
- Non-directional indicator for turn-signals
- Lacks some punch
The BMW R NineT is a great motorcycle that’s incredibly well-suited to its urban environment. Packed full of character (the good kind), high-end components, and with plenty of grunt, it’s definitely worth a trip to your local BMW dealer to check one out.
BMW R NineT Specs/Features
- Engine capacity: 1170cc
- Power: 110 hp (81 kW) at 7750 RPM
- Torque: 116 Nm at (6000 RPM)
- Engine type: air/oil-cooled 2-cylinder boxer engine
- Clutch: hydraulically activated dry clutch
- Gearbox: constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox
- Final drive: shaft
- Fork: Upside down 46 mm telescopic fork, fully adjustable
- Suspension: BMW paralever, fully adjustable
- Front brake: Brembo hydraulically activated twin disc brake, 320 mm disc (4-pot)
- Rear brake: Single-disc brake, 265 mm disc (2-pot)
- BMW Motorrad ABS
- ASC (Automatic Stability Control)
- LED Indicators
- Heated Grips
- BMW Motorrad Paralever Dynamic Brake Light