WRITER: Maya Khoury
Looking every bit the retro heartthrob, BMW’s new R nineT Racer takes a proven platform and strips it down before adding some of the most understated and classy café racer styling seen on a modern bike.
A few years ago BMW demonstrated its understanding of today’s largest growth area of the motorcycle market – customers who bridge the gap between Millennials and Generation Xers – by realising these consumers have generational envy at how cool their parents were and now want a piece of that action. By establishing its own vintage custom product – the R nineT – BMW has been able to offer up nostalgia by the bucket load. Created to mark the 90th anniversary of BMW Motorrad, the R nineT established a template for an old-school boxer marrying the opposed flat twin’s unique character to a retro design that still offers all the technological bells and whistles you’d find on any other up-to-date product. What we didn’t realise at the time was the R nineT was not just a bike, it was a platform for an entire range – and the first time we laid our eyes on the new 2017 R nineT Racer it all made sense.
Deliberately arousing memories of the sports motorcycles that were all the rage in the early 1970s, the R nineT Racer is proof that BMW has become the most imaginatively on-trend motorcycle manufacturer around. Crouched, compact and elongated, it conveys a sense of old-school sporty aspiration with its strikingly short half-fairing hump seat, stub handlebars and setback footrests. Yet – and this is crucial to today’s uncompromising customer – it combines all these old school traits with state-of-the-art modern technology.
At the Racer’s core is the 1170cc air/oil-cooled boxer engine that we first got to know on the R nineT. The aluminium fuel tank however has been swapped for a steel one, basic unadjustable forks replace the original nineT’s more complex upside down ones and the Racer gets regular four-pot brake callipers instead of monobloc radially mounted ones. The upswept exhaust is all new, helping the bike meet Euro4 emissions standards, and is paired with a new fuel map and a new, larger catalytic converter, which will make for a reported 110 horsepower. The sound is fantastic too, thanks to the fact BMW has fitted the bike with an acoustic valve that gives the Boxer a real bellow, while still allowing it to sneak though noise testing. ABS comes as standard, but BMW’s Automatic Stability Control traction control is an option.
The only potential drawback we could find is that this 14,500 USD motorcycle is a racer in the truest sense, so BMW has given no concession to carry a passenger. That being said, if you do plan to take someone on the back then you can buy pillion pegs from the genuine parts catalogue so as to enable the fitment of a dual seat. Then again, you can always tell them to catch a cab.
MODEL BMW R nineT Racer
ENGINE Air/oil-cooled twin boxer
OUTPUT 110hp at 7,750rpm
TORQUE 116Nm at 6,000 rpm
0-100 KM/H 3.5 seconds
MAX SPEED 200 km/h
PRICE 14,500 USD