Motoring / Motoring News

Hendri Pelser
4 minute read
9 Dec 2014
10:30 pm

BMW R nineT – An existential impasse (video)

Hendri Pelser

Sleek lines, a retro feel, black and silver intermingled, and the double exhaust all come together to make the R nineT a sexy bike.

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

On any other motorcycle, the golden front forks would look garish. On the R nineT they just make the machine even prettier.

However, the noise the 1 200cc boxer engine delivers is what makes it beautiful – the hearing loss in your left ear is a small price
to pay.

It is by no means a cheap machine – for the base price of R152 400 all you get is ABS, no traction control and no heated grips, just a fun-filled tar-eater.

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

Before you go down the rabbit hole too far and order your own R nineT, there are three major issues with the bike that need to be
addressed first.

It has no fairing or windshield. This is actually not a problem, as a couple of sneaky designers and engineers did not let a little thing
like a windshield hamper their genius.

In fact, the control panel and petrol tank have been designed to deflect most of the wind away from the rider.

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

The second issue is the control panel. It has a minimalist look, as does the rest of the bike, and the electronic display panel gives you
less than a handful of readings (time, trip counter, fuel consumption and gear).

This is just plain stupid.

For example, you can see your average fuel consumption all the time but the petrol level is hidden until you hit empty. The same goes for the temperature gauge.

If the bike has space on the instrument panel for additional information, then why not use it?

This brings us to the last and most problematic issue: the minimalism of the bike is almost contrived almost to the point of being pretentious – possibly the result of having been overthought.

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

Perhaps it is all the hipsters that fill BMW’s marketing material for the bike, or the pretentious extras you can buy with the machine
that leads to this (probably) misconstrued remark.

The bike is beautiful, quick, solid and a joy. Looking at a conditioned beard and scarf in the pamphlet just ruins the experience.

So, if you can manage your way past this complicated existential crisis, the answer is pretty simple: don’t speak to anyone, don’t read any of the marketing material and avoid all hipster joints in the northern suburbs. Buy the bike and hit the highway.

You won’t regret it (until you run into a hipster who has paid for all the extra “customisations” that BMW offer on the R nineT).

The bike is quite a different machine from their traditional offerings. There are also little special design elements that make the bike, well, just “feel” different.

These include the very cool air intake pipe and the BMW logo in the middle of the headlight, for example.

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

BMW R nineT motorcycle. Picture: Supplied

Initially, the ride feels hard if you are used to adjustable suspension. But the R nineT has a manual suspension adjuster that makes it more pleasant on some of our more potholed roads.

However, as soon you get used to the harder ride – as well as the riding position – the bike suddenly becomes fun.

But it deserves respect because it will remind you that it kicks out 81kW (110hp) at 7 500rpm when you forget. The maximum torque is rated as 119Nm at 6 000rpm in the official literature.

The bike comes across much shorter and lighter than it actually is (1.26m and 222kg) and it is nippy in traffic.

It is also a low ride with a seat height of 785mm. If you are used to a higher riding position, commuting on the bike takes a little getting used to, but it is not a deal breaker.

In fact, the low riding position is actually one of the elements that make the bike so much fun.

Also on the plus side, the noise does seem to clear a bit of a path in standing traffic.

Winter commuting might not be much fun on the R nineT, as the lack of fairings and grip heaters will be a lot more evident.

It is light on juice, with Motoring’s test bike averaging around 4.6l/100km at varying speeds.

It is definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of machine and it is doubtful your kidneys will be able to make the trip between Joburg and Cape Town.

So if you are looking for something to whizz around Gauteng on, it’s a winner.

– The author owns a BMW motorcycle.


Click here to visit our multimedia feature Seven days of seren-Italy.

The Foscagno pass near the Swiss border in northern Italy. Picture: Hendri Pelser

The Foscagno pass near the Swiss border in northern Italy. Picture: Hendri Pelser