Text and photos by The Lenspeed Team
I don’t get to ride motorbikes that often. But when I do, it’s always a feast for the senses. Better than any caffeine hit in the morning, a bike ride will invigorate you, work some rusty muscles and have you break a sweat. It’s macho stuff, but I can almost swear it is almost like waking from the dreary routine of life.
So I can’t really say how well the R nineT rides compares to its peers, neither can I say either how quick it is benchmarked to the competition. What I do know is, I enjoy riding it, and it puts a smile on my face every time I start it up.
Like many things these days, retro is in, which is why the R nineT has a place in the BMW Motorrad lineup today. People want to re-live the good ol’ days, to hear the sounds and see how things were done before.
It sure looks the part. With its gold forks, lovely polished exhausts and brushed metal accents, it somehow manages to blend modernity with a nostalgic look to the past. It’s even marketed as a blank canvas for customisation, so you can literally change many parts on your bike to differentiate it from another R nineT. The bike we rode was especially spartan in spec though, maybe because it remained a blank canvas for future customisation. It did not even have a fuel gauge, only a warning light that comes on if the reserve tank comes to play.
The riding position is easy going, with no need to lumber down your back or hang your ankles uncomfortably. This could almost be the easiest bike I’ve ridden so far.
The engine helps, a generous 1,170cc flat-twin boxer engine with heaps of torque. You can move off easily in 2nd gear, maybe even 3rd. It’s always relaxed, preferring to surf on its torque curve rather than aim for the redline. But it suits the bike very well. It’s air-cooled though, so if you’re stuck in a jam, you might have quite a hot time. It also protrudes out from the sides quite obviously.
Because of its relaxed riding position, it’s also an easy bike to handle. The turning radius is reasonable, there is a lot of ground clearance and you have great visibility and a sense of how the bike is placed on the road. You tend not want to push it too hard though, as it’s just not that sort of bike.
As a cool addition to the garage, perfectly suited for the daily commute (sans panniers) and with heaps of style, the R nineT certainly fits the remit very well. A tourer it is not though – best to keep it within the urban setting, in which it unreservedly excels.