BMW RnineT Racer review

6th October 2016


Boxer | Café racer | Rear-sets | Clip-ons | Specs


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BMW Cafe Racer for 2017


It's bold, it's basic, it's classic and it's cool. It's the new BMW RnineT Racer, the latest and (for us) the most stylish model on the RnineT podium. At a glance, this motorcycle looks as if it could have been built anytime in the 1970s through to the 1980s, but naturally it's very much up-to-the-minute, albeit in a simplified, no-frills way.


The heart of this Beemer is the established 1,170cc air/oil-cooled boxer four-valve-per-cylinder flat twin engine that's been antiseptically cleaned and is now Euro4 compliant. That means that emissions-wise, it's all set for the next few seasons.


BMW Cafe Racer fairing and headlight


BMW claim that this 6-speed motor delivers 110bhp @ 7,750rpm. Maximum torque is 85lbs-ft @ 6,000rpm (but the redline is a comfortable enough 8500).


To make that lump sing, or at least grunt in the Germanic tradition, some kind of valve has been deployed in the exhaust which, we're told, will make appropriately soulful sounds between the ears, but won't let it fail any noise test that happens its way.



BMW Cafe Racer handling


Compared to the RnineT roadster, and despite the fact that this bike is conceived as a racer, the suspension is basic. Why? Simply to keep the costs down? Or to keep it "raw" for the purists? Or maybe a little of both?


Either way, the bike sports a simple 43mm front fork with no adjustment, but the rear monoshock on the Paralever (shaft drive) single-sided swinging-arm can be owner-tweaked for preload and rebound. ABS is standard. Traction control (or ASC; Automatic Stability Control) is optional.


Actually, a lot of stuff is optional on this bike, such as a dual saddle, sub-frame and pillion pegs. Or an aluminium tank (a la RnineT roadster) to replace the 17-litre steel item on this Racer. And if you don't like the cast wheels (120/70 ZR-17 and 180/55 ZR-17), BMW will upgrade them to a pair of wires. Beyond that, there's a thick catalogue of accessories to keep owners coming back for more and more.


The rest of the frame is the RnineT's tubular modular design.


The brakes, incidentally, are fairly basic four-pots as opposed to the radial monoblocs on its less cost conscious stable mates. They'll no doubt do the job, but probably not with as much aplomb.


BMW Cafe Racer reat sets


The clip-ons and rear-sets remind us, as if we need reminding, that this is an authentic factory café racer designed and built for latter day coffee bar cowboys and urban rockers. And the cherry on this cake is clearly the half fairing. It's simple. Unfussy. And understated. And to avoid adulterating it, BMW mounted the mirrors on a subframe to facilitate clean removal when required.


BMW Cafe Racer instruments


The instruments are equally basic analogue clocks (speedometer and rev counter), and if you want the extra info that's available from the onboard computer, there are a pair of LCD panels embedded in those clocks detailing fuel consumption, trip distance, service intervals and average speed.


Overall, we like this bike a lot. The company has pulled off a neat trick of building a very cost-conscious motorcycle that doesn't exactly scream budget at you. Not at first glance, anyway. That's because the general look and poise temporarily throws the facts to one side giving you a moment of respite before reality kicks in.


BMW Cafe Racer fairing


The lack of pillion provision is, after all, going to niggle some riders. It means dipping a little deeper into their pockets for items they'll feel should have been there as standard. Meanwhile, anyone with deeper pockets probably won't mind stumping up a little extra cash when the initial deal goes down.


But it's a cool bike, and it isn't likely to be confused with anything else on the road, except maybe a 1970s BMW R90S, or similar. And there's just the one colour which is BMW's classic motorsport livery (but maybe there are a few more paint pots in the catalogue. It's possible).


And the price? BMW hasn't yet told us. So we're guessing at anywhere between £10,000 and £11,000.



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