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BMW r9t

You again!

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Feb 2021

The good, the bad and the ugly of factory clones

(See the 'You Again' home page here.)


bmw r9t

Part 4: BMW R NineT
Retro mystery

As you may have noticed, the bikes we’ve so far mentioned can all draw a distinct relationship to their famous predecessors, even if it is at times a little hazy. Not so much with this one and that has been to its benefit.

bmw r90/6

BMW points out the R NineT has a boxer twin engine, just like the company’s very first powered two-wheeler, the R32 of 1923. And it looks as much like an R32 as I do a jockey. (Trust me, that’s worlds apart.) And, okay, the name tips its hat to the R90 series of old. (That's an R90/6 shown above.)

In fact, there’s a deep suspicion that BMW has pulled off some sort of trick with smoke and mirrors with this model. While every rider and their dog will swear blind it’s a retro-class motorcycle that has clear links to the brand’s motorcycle history, the links are surprisingly vague.

Look at the individual components, and you’ll discover a front end off an S 1000 RR superbike, for heaven’s sake. The list goes on. However the company has produced some truly great all-rounder naked boxer twins over the years and this model somehow seems to sum up a lot of those in the one unit.

BMW is also keen to point out that the machine has been intended from day one to allow a lot of customisation – the motorcycling equivalent of a blank canvas. Expensive canvas, perhaps, but the designers do have a point.

Here’s the thing. Throwback motorcycles are a lovely idea, but the one thing you want to avoid is throwback dynamics to go with the package. Old bikes are fun in their place, but sometimes you just want something that works.

By all accounts the 1200 R NineT does that in spades and seems to get old BMW fans misty-eyed on sight. Not a bad trick.

Power 81kW @ 7550rpm
Torque 119Nm @ 6000rpm
Weight 222kg wet
Rating: 4/5
Only vaguely reminiscent of a host of predecessors, it’s somehow become an exemplar of clever retro design.

bmw r9t


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