The early part of the day was spent on open country highway and there really isn’t much to report. The bike was never put in a situation where anything was really put under stress, so there’s not much I can report apart from it just doing it’s thing.
However, later in the day it was time to hit a 60km stretch of tight twisty mountain road to truly test the chassis, suspension, brakes and tyres to their limit in dry conditions. I’m an ex-road racer, albeit not a very good one, but an ex-racer nonetheless, so this is the area where I really enjoy my motorcycling.
Corner speed is where it’s at for me. I’m not a straight line throttle jockey and more often than not will back the throttle off on the straights and just play in the corners. So I was pleasantly surprised with how well the R nineT Urban G/S performed in this environment.
It rounded up several pure sports bikes along the way, with the big wide bars making transitions from full lean to full lean a simple matter of lightly pushing the bars. The brakes have a light yet smooth feel to the lever and are plenty powerful. The more you squeeze, the faster it stops, simple stuff!
The suspension is great considering it is fairly basic by BMW standards. The forks are non-adjustable, but I never felt the need to alter anything. The spring rates were good and the damping was spot on. The rear shock is also well sprung and the damping is about right. If doing a lot of pillion work, firming up both the spring and rebound damping might be needed, but solo, I wouldn’t touch anything. Just like the rest of this bike it just worked!
On this tight section of the test I gave the gearbox a bit of a workout and I just couldn’t fault it. I never missed a gear anywhere and it went up and down the box super smoothly. Clutchless upshifts were a doddle! Just back off the throttle a tad while pre-loading the gear lever and snick, it’s in the next gear. Luverly!
This further enabled me to play with that motor. It really is a ripper donk. It honks off the turns and will happily run out to the upper reaches of its rev range without ever feeling strained. Meaning you can short shift it and ride the torque curve or you can let it rev and really enjoy some acceleration. When asked it jumps off the turns like a good one and you need to watch it or you arrive at the next corner with far more speed than you might have envisaged. The Urban G/S is deceptively fast.
Handling is however something that you need to get used to. Yes, it handles exceptionally well. However, it does run a 19 inch front wheel, which means it doesn’t feel like most modern bikes do, which run 17 inch fronts. There is a bit of a change in technique required to really ride it fast. Just cruising along, you probably won’t notice it.
But when the pace is upped to competent sports bike rider levels, it requires some finesse to get it to keep pace. I found that loading the front tyre under brakes and carrying them right to the apex, squaring the turn off and then using that motor to grunt off the turns was the best method. Riding the Urban G/S like this is huge fun and it will still keep most sports bikes at bay due simply to the combination of grunt and the big wide bars, which provide both braking stability and rapid side-to-side transitions.
Try and carry too much entry speed and the 19″ wheel/TKC80 combo will have the front end letting you know it’s not happy. But, I should point out that most riders will never get it to this point. For 99 per cent they will be blissfully unaware of this. It’s only when you try to ride it way outside its design brief that you will ever notice it. And those that can, will also know what to do to make it work for them.
Having said all that, even when pressing on at silly corner entry speeds, it was never reason to raise my heart rate. Meaning it was completely under control. The 19″ front wheel is not only there as homage to the original R80 G/S of yesteryear, but also as a concession to the fact this bike may well see dirt road usage. In that situation, the owner will see the benefits of having a 19″ front wheel and will easily agree that the compromise is well worth it.
As one of the best value new BMW boxers available, this new R NineT Urban G/S is a winner in my eyes. It’s not often I say this of a new bike. But I would happily own one. It’s a cracking thing to ride and I was reluctant to turn and head back to hand over the Urban G/S at the end of the test.
The bike has got a rare combination of visual appeal with a true heritage and pure riding enjoyment that few new bikes manage to bring together. It’s a modern version of the do-it-all motorcycle but with looks which link you back to its origins in the 1980s. It’s simple. It’s raucus. It performs. It’s comfortable. It looks brilliant. Nostalgia has never been so enjoyable!
BMW R nineT Urban G/S Specifications
- Engine – Air/oil-cooled flat twin (‘Boxer’) 4-stroke engine, two camshafts and four radially aligned valves per cylinder, central counterbalancer shaft
- Bore x stroke – 101 x 73mm
- Capacity – 1170cc
- Rated output – 81 kW (110 hp) at 7750 rpm
- Max. torque – 116 Nm at 6000 rpm
- Compression ratio – 12:1
- Engine management – Electronic intake pipe injection / digital engine management with overrun cutoff, twin-spark
- Clutch – Single dry plate clutch, hydraulically operated
- Gearbox – Claw-shifted six-speed transmission with helical-cut splines
- Drive – Shaft drive
- Frame – three-part frame concept with front frame and two-part rear frame, load-bearing engine gearbox unit, rear-set frame removeable for one-up riding
- Front suspension – Telescopic forks, 43 mm fixed-tube diameter, 125mm travel
- Rear suspension – Cast aluminium single swinging arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; central spring strut, spring preload fully adjustable by hook wrench, adjustable rebound-stage damping, 140mm travel
- Wheelbase – 1527 mm
- Castor – 110.6mm
- Steering head angle – 61.5°
- Wheels & Tyres – Cast wheels, 3.00 x 19″, 4.50 x 17″, 120/70 R 19, 170/60 R 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
- Length – 2175mm
- Width (incl. mirrors) – 870mm
- Height (excl. mirrors) – 1330mm
- Seat height, unladen weight – 850mm
- Inner leg curve, unladen weight – 1890mm
- Wet weight – 221kg
- Usable tank volume – 17L
- Contact – BMW Motorrad Australia (link)
- Price – From $18,750 + ORC