BMW’s 'Cult Bike', the R nineT Reviewed

NOV 12, 2015 - As with anything in life, when those in charge make a special mention of someone or something, everyone should take note, if not for a variety of reasons.

If at work and the boss speaks for a good thirty minutes about how great Bob is, someone should be prepared to lose their nice office with that awesome view. If, on the other hand, a particular model in a motorcycle manufacturer’s line-up is singled out for praise, riding enthusiasts should take a closer look.

Clutch and Chrome is writing about the latter and more specifically, when BMW Motorrad made note of its classic roadster, the R nineT in the company’s record-breaking September sales numbers. To be fair, this is the best thing we could write about as it is a motorcycle and this is a motorcycle website. But more importantly, as we do discuss this unique ride no one loses an office.

At least we don’t think anyone does.

Writing about BMW’s R nineT has been on the Clutch and Chrome to-do list since we ran the story about the German motorcycle manufacturer’s runaway sales month on October 8th for a few reasons. Not least of which is the simple fact the motorcycle has been in showrooms for a few years now and it appears to have found its lane with BMW Motorrad calling it a ‘cult bike’. The motorcycle firmly establishing itself in 4th place in the German motorcycle manufacturer’s sales ranking confirms this confidence from BMW.

The BMW R nineT was introduced in 2013 and reportedly created to mark ‘90 years of BMW Motorrad’ with the German motorcycle manufacturer stating the model ‘radiates purism and power in undisguised form, it skillfully blends the boxer engine’s rugged character and the design traits of various motorcycle eras with cutting-edge technology and a modular concept that offers the rider maximum scope for personalization’.

Labeled as a classic roadster, BMW Motorrad has said this particular bike is built to cater to the many motorcycle enthusiasts who yearn for unadulterated, stress-free riding pleasure.


From drawing board to motorcycle - Source BMW Motorrad

One of the overriding design objectives was to reduce the bodywork as far as possible in order to achieve a ‘puristic’ look. These classic looks extend to the instruments, consisting of speedometer and tachometer which harken back to historical times and emphasize the essential and minimalist visual appeal of the motorcycle.

It could be this blend of old and new which has made the unique motorcycle so popular. Like the first ever BMW motorcycle from 1923, the legendary BMW R 32, the new BMW R nineT is driven by the classic flat twin boxer engine with its punchy response from standstill. The air/oil-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke flat twin engine comes in at 1,170 cc which produces 110 hp at 7,750 rpm and musters up a maximum torque of 88 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm.

While BMW Motorrad certainly gave motorcycle enthusiasts a reason to be happy with the twist of its throttle, its unique concept was designed to keep customization fans busy. During each stage of the roadster’s development, the focus was very much placed on enabling riders to tailor the BMW R nineT to their personal preferences in a variety of ways. The choice of modifications ranges from BMW Motorrad genuine accessories to custom-made add-on or accessory parts from specialist customizers, making it possible to create a truly unique machine.

This was seen in February 2015 when notable bike builder Roland Sands and his design company worked with BMW Motorrad to develop custom engine breast plate, valve covers, oil filler caps, the so called flat out Enzo seat, a gauge housing, a headlight bezel, rear axle plugs and many other parts.


BMW’s R nineT - Source BMW Motorrad

The high scope for customization offered by the nineT is down in no small part to its special frame concept. The tubular steel spaceframe that was specially developed for the nineT incorporates the boxer engine as a load-bearing element. The frame’s basic construction consists of a front frame section with integral steering head and a rear section with swingarm mounting.

The removable pillion frame allows the nineT to carry a passenger or to be set up for just a solo rider, when it cuts a truly stylish figure. Together with the aluminum tail cover available as a special accessory, this injects the nineT with a striking solo character that is reminiscent of the early café racers.

This attention to customization was even given to the exhaust, positioned on left with twin silencers and personalization options.

The exhaust system that runs down the left-hand side with two silencers placed one above the other is fully in keeping with the concept of a classic sporty roadster. There is room for customization here too, courtesy of the BMW Motorrad accessory range. Adding a real touch of technical finesse to the nineT, for instance, is the Akrapović unit made of titanium. By fitting a short or long connecting pipe, the silencer can furthermore be mounted in either a lowered or a raised position, radically altering the appearance and character of the nineT.

Another example of possible changes to the bike's appearance, the removable rear frame with enough space for 6 inch rims and many other options. Even though the BMW R nineT offers so many modification opportunities the German manufacturer stresses it remains a real BMW motorcycle from a technical point of view.

The housing for the rear axle drive includes three mounting points that can be used to attach a bracket for positioning the license plate and light unit on one side, for instance. What’s more, the swingarm on the nineT is designed in such a way that a 17-inch wheel with a width of 6 inches can be fitted instead of the standard 5.5-inch-wide version and submitted for individual approval if applicable.

Speaking of performance, the BMW R nineT is equipped with an upside down fork at the front and with the BMW Motorrad Paralever at the rear. It’s a shaft driven motorcycle that has a curb weight of 459 lbs. Standard-fitted ABS ensures highest-degree safety for the nineT, too.

The BMW R nineT starts at $15,095 and as detailed above, offers a myriad of opportunities for riders to make the motorcycle their very own. If a rider likes the idea of the R nineT but doesn't see exactly what they want, check out these news stories from Clutch and Chrome detailing the initial announcement, outlining the long and open road for the model.

Share this article

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

About us

Clutch and Chrome covers every aspect of the motorcycle lifestyle. Daily news, in-depth articles, reviews and anything that would interest a rider.


We not only produce our own motorcycle related videos but scour the internet to bring our readers the latest, greatest two-wheeled hits online.

Last posts


Want to really stay in touch? Here's our newsletter!