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BMW round out the R nineT range with the Pure and Racer

Words by Ralph Leavsey-Moase


Does this tell you anything? The retro ranges of Triumph, with the Classics; Ducati with the Scramblers; and BMW with the R nineTs have all been a huge success. Indian, meanwhile, is an all-retro brand and you could argue that Harley-Davidson is much the same. Yamaha is also doing well with its one-model retro ‘range’, the SR400.

BMW R nineT Racer
Retro ranges are making a huge comeback with the BMW R nineT Racer and Pure the latest to join the craze

Not since I let a bargain BMW HP2 slip through of my fingers for a ridiculous knockdown price have I ever watched the world of Boxer twins with so much interest. We have been served up a savoury entrée with the naked R nineT and Scrambler retro models and finally BMW Motorrad has dished up one of the coolest and best versions of a ‘70’s café racer since, well, we built our own ‘70’s café racers.

BMW R nineT Racer
Arguably the coolest offering in the segment is the BMW R nineT Racer

That’s the R nineT Racer, and for dessert at the launch, we also got to have a whip around on the pared-back Pure. Marty also recently let loose on last of the final R nineT range to arrive this year, the Urban GS, check out that yarn here (Link).

BMW R nineT Pure
Also on hand for testing was the BMW R nineT Pure

As part of the heritage supply line at BMW, this pair of 1200cc retro models are purely cosmetic adaptions aimed precisely at their target markets, and what a decent makeup job BMW has done. It’s recreated the thrill and ride experience of a Café Racer and managed to produce, with the Pure, the look and feel of a plain urban naked in its purest form.

BMW R nineT Racer
Both take the base R nineT and produce unique offerings with some relatively simple changes and new styling

Just play around with hardware like footrests and the ‘bars, change the look and presto change-o you have a new model. Not a bad day’s work, creating two new ‘dishes’, with clearly distinct models from what is basically the one platform.

The German factory has saved us a lot of effort by extending its heritage breed into these two markets. Built around reminiscing but clearly also suitable as an everyday ride, both the Racer in its BMW race colours and its simple, upright, naked-styled entry level Pure are a lot more than meat and three veg.

The Racer's performance is as impressive as its looks.
The Racer’s performance is as impressive as its looks.

We, the reptiles of the press, had a gentle ride around the foothills of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and a few blasts up and down some old-school escarpment climbs and I can report that the Racer is as satisfying as its sexy looks. It is so in my psyche that I would have to just love the Racer regardless of any major failings or blemishes – but thankfully there are none.

Well, unless you call being extruded into a riding position with my arms stretched out to almost the front axle and my neck reminding me of too many ‘racing incidents’.

BMW R nineT Racer
The long stretch to the bars reveals the dual clocks with integrated digital displays

Built in the low and long fashion of a racey bike, the fuel tank is the right length, and the seat the correct shape with just the right amount of padding, to make a morning’s sprint through the back-country lanes a magic experience.

The screen is low enough to look like it means business, and if you were twenty five again you could tuck down low enough so that the ‘ton’ could be achieved with another two gears to go. The fairing allows just enough engine noise to produce an encouraging ‘thrumm’ and the exhaust noise offers some proud memories of flogging along at a ‘decent clip’.

BMW R nineT Racer
Suspension is commendable and nowhere near as harsh as the bike’s looks may suggest

I was impressed by the ride, expecting the Racer to be unforgiving and a bit harsh (not that I would have cared). But there is plenty of compliance and comfort from the suspension with predictable sharp steering as long as you are prepared to put some effort into the clip-ons. For under $20,000, the Racer is going to give other retro rockets a serious scare.

It will also give more than a few café racers more free time to ride rather than ponder and build. There is something indefinably classy about the Racer. It is happy and elegant at any signposted speed yet once it has been let off the leash the build quality and ride become something unexpectedly ‘special’.

BMW R nineT Pure
The R nineT Pure lives up to its name

Compared to the Racer on the same roads, the Pure needs so little effort or commitment and comes across not only as lighter and simpler but… wait for it… purer. Fun and a roguish demeaner reign from the wide handlebars down, and this is a motorcycle that everyone should ride at least once.

BMW R nineT Pure
The single-sided swingarm on the Pure is a particularly nice touch

You’ll discover what the ‘…ing’ in motorcycling is all about. Stripping the nineT of USD forks and replacing them with more period-correct telescopic forks as well as reducing the instruments from two to one pod and changing the twin mufflers to a single low-slung unit all works.

BMW R nineT Pure
The R nineT Pure features traditional forks as opposed to the USD items on the Racer, as well as a single clock dash

The Pure feels better for the tweaking – and the price drop. Here is a bike that has its nomenclature nailed. This latest nineT could have been called ‘Fun’ although ‘Pure’ tells the whole story well.

Just in case either models doesn’t quite make the statement you want to make, BMW has an extensive after-sales catalogue sufficient enough to keep you off cruising the internet on a lonely winter’s night.

The Racer and Pure also have available a broad range of BMW accessories for further customisation
The Racer and Pure also have available a broad range of BMW accessories for further customisation

With the addition of these two models, new riders have been given an even wider choice; the Pure for the city and outer urban rides and the Racer for Sundays and twisty roads. Both are bikes that really should be on your menu at some stage.

BMW R nineT Pure
BMW R nineT Pure

2017 BMW R nineT Racer (Pure) Specifications

  • Engine – Air/oil-cooled flat twin ‘Boxer’ 4-stroke engine, two camshafts, four radially aligned valves per cylinder, central balancer shaft
  • Bore x stroke – 101 x 73mm
  • Capacity – 1170cc
  • Rated output – 81kW [110hp] at 7750rpm
  • Max. torque – 116Nm at 6000rpm
  • Compression ratio – 12.0 : 1
  • Engine management – Electronic intake pipe injection
  • Emission control – Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
  • Maximum speed – Over 200 km/h
  • Fuel type – Unleaded fuel, octane number 95-98 RON (rated output at 98 RON)
  • Alternator – Three-phase alternator 720 W
  • Clutch – Single dry plate clutch, hydraulically operated
  • Gearbox – Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gear teeth
  • Drive – Shaft drive
  • Frame – Three-section frame consisting of one front and two rear sections, load-bearing engine-gearbox unit, pillion frame mountable for pillion rider use (accessories)
  • Front suspension – Telescopic forks with 43mm fixed-tube diameter, 125mm travel
  • Rear suspension – Cast aluminium single swinging arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever, central spring strut, spring preload steplessly adjustable by hook wrench, rebound-stage damping adjustable, 120mm travel
  • Wheelbase – 1491mm (1493mm)
  • Castor – 103.9mm (105mm)
  • Steering head angle – 63.6° (63.4°)
  • Wheels & Tyres – Cast wheels, 3.50 x 17″, 5.50 x 17″, 120/70 ZR 17, 180/55 ZR 17
  • Brakes front – Twin-disc brakes, diameter 320 mm, 4-piston callipers, BMW Motorrad ABS
  • Brakes rear – Single disc brake, diameter 265 mm, double-piston floating caliper, BMW Motorrad ABS
  • DIMENSIONS
    • Length – 2105mm
    • Width (incl. mirrors) – 920mm
    • Height (excl. mirrors) – 1105mm
    • Seat height, unladen weight – 805mm
    • Wet weight – 220kg
    • Usable tank volume – 17L
    • Reserve – App. 3.5L
  • Regular Price – $19,150 + ORC ($17,690 + ORC)
  • BMW 2017 Model Rollout Pricing:

The BMW R nineT Pure offers the purist vision of the model
The BMW R nineT Pure offers the purist vision of the model

BMW R nineT Racer
The Racer features the typical cafe racer tail and single seat

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