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BMW R nineT: All-Out Sport Roadster

By Arv Voss, March 21st, 2015

A unique bike in a class of its own, the BMW R nineT is specially developed to commemorate BMW's 90 years (hence nineT) of building motorcycles; motorcycles generally considered to be large sport touring machines for older gentlemen.

The unusual BMW R nineT exhibits a purity of design and power. It combines the iconic character of the boxer engine and classic styling traits of motorcycles from a bygone era with state-of-the-art technology in a modular form that invites a host of personalization and customization opportunities.

It may well represent the most significant departure from anything BMW Motorrad has brought to market yet. The R nineT draws upon influence from the Concept 90, a partially faired tribute to the RS90S that was victorious in the first AMA Superbike Championship in 1976.

As with BMW's first-ever motorcycle, the legendary 1923 BMW R 32, the BMW R nineT draws its motive force from a classic flat, opposed-twin Boxer engine that serves up rapid acceleration off the line. This 1170cc 8-valve oil/air-cooled Boxer features an Akrapovic twin-pipe left-side exhaust, as well as an acoustic, electric servomotor-operated exhaust power valve, with opening and closing cables. It produces 110 horsepower at 7,550 rpm along with 88 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,000 rpm.

Energy is geared to the rear wheel through a six-speed sequential manual gearbox via a cardan shaft drive unit as the final drive. Suspension componentry consists of Premium Gold anodized inverted forks with 4.7 inches of wheel travel up front and a Paralever, single-sided swingarm with a central spring strut and 4.7 inches of wheel travel in the rear.

Braking is via radial four-piston monobloc Brembo calipers paired to dual floating 320mm discs for the front wheel with a single 265mm disc with a twin-piston floating caliper for the rear wheel.

The bike is designed as an all-out roadster, and follows in the tracks of past role models featuring stainless-steel wire-spoke wheels with black anodized alloy, non-flanged rims.

The R nineT customizability is largely due to its special frame concept. The tubular steel spaceframe incorporates the boxer engine as a load-bearing element. The frame's basic construction consists of a front frame section with an integral steering head and a rear section with the swingarm mounting. The pillion frame is removable, by undoing the eight bolts that hold it in place, allowing the nineT to project a stylish design whether riding solo or two up.

The instrument cluster houses two classic round speedometer and tachometer gauges, smoothly and harmoniously integrated into the overall front-end design. The gauge's simple styling reflects the classic inspiration behind the nineT's engineering, while at the same time incorporating the convenience and amenities of modern technology.

My test 2015 BMW R nineT came with a base price of $14,900. The BMW R nineT leaves the factory in the form of a classic, sporty roadster capable of carrying two people. Despite the low 30.9-inch rider's seat height and narrow straddle width, both rider and pillion passenger can enjoy comfortable seating. An optional comfort rear seat provides not only a larger seat area, but also extra cushioning for the passenger.

The 1170cc flat-opposed-twin motor is indeed torquey and the 110 horses make their presence known even when first firing the bike up. There is a strong right side thrust. Acceleration is smooth and steady over a broad range however, and the final shaft drive is void of any jacking effect found in many other similar setups. The exhaust note is melodious and authoritative rather than raucous.

The riding position is ideal for a wide range of physiques -- the bars are well positioned, the seat is well placed, and the foot controls are comfortably located. The ride quality is both compliant and comfortable, and it is easily maneuverable and well balanced.

The R nineT provides the ideal pallet for personalization with BMW Motorrad's range of special bike accessories specially tailored to the nineT's overall character, which may be installed by authorized BMW Motorrad dealers or by customers themselves.

The 2015 BMW R nineT represents a breath of fresh air for BMW's bike production. It not only looks great, it is great fun to ride, with its blend of old school flavor and up-to-date technology.

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