Man­u­fac­tur­ers are re­ally cot­ton­ing onto the re-cre­ation of yes­ter­year’s bril­liant bikes – BMW more than any­one.


A mod­ern take on a boxer twin road­ster.

So, I’m sat atop the BMW R ninet Pure C, a ma­chine which BMW de­scribes as a ‘purist road­ster, for dy­namic, clas­sic rid­ing plea­sure on coun­try roads’. The mar­ket­ing blurb con­tin­ues: “The R ninet Pure em­bod­ies the essence of the purist, clas­sic road­ster – au­then­ti­cally de­signed, with­out frills and re­duced to the ab­so­lute es­sen­tials.” So, the Pure is the very essence of a good road­ster, boiled down, up­dated and repack­aged for us, the clas­sic-rid­ing masses. From my po­si­tion aboard it, I’m feel­ing the ‘clas­sic rid­ing plea­sure’ full-on. This bike is very good fun to ride. It’s all there, ev­ery­thing that you need – by which I mean ‘not a lot’. It’s got a grunty engine, it has good steer­ing and brakes, a sin­gle, soli­tary clock and – well, not a lot else. I’ve lit­er­ally thrown a leg over this bike and felt in­stantly at home, such is its easy-go­ing na­ture. Snaking along the curves near Sy­well Aero­drome in Northamp­ton­shire, the moist roads are not putting me or the Beemer off. That engine is so re­spon­sive to the throt­tle in­puts and the sound even beats the ca­coph­ony cre­ated by The Blades air dis­play team, whose Ex­tra EA-300 air­craft are bat­tling vainly to eclipse the lovely au­ral as­sault on my ear-drums. It seems an 1170cc, 108bhp boxer-twin beats four 300bhp Ly­comings ev­ery time… Keep­ing the plot tick­ing along nicely is the chas­sis. Now, the whole look of the R ninet fam­ily is sim­i­lar as they share the same chas­sis base, but ob­vi­ously changes are made be­tween the var­i­ous models, such as the R ninet Racer (which we will ride in a few months’ time) and the R ninet Ur­ban G/S (see Septem­ber 2017’s is­sue). So, what I will say in iso­la­tion for the Pure is this: those big bars give you a lovely amount of lever­age and the 43mm un-ad­justable forks do not in any way leave me want­ing some ad­justers to fid­dle with. There is also noth­ing bad in the notes about the rear sus­pen­sion. It’s all un­ob­tru­sive and it works. Pick your line, feed in the power and just – well – chill! The Pure C han­dles neu­trally and nat­u­rally and it’s like a plug and play de­vice, this R ninet Pure C just needs a rider and – off you go to have fun.

The view of the road ahead is un­ob­structed by mul­ti­ple clocks, just a sin­gle clock with a speedo (no tacho here) but with peak power com­ing at 8500rpm you’re prob­a­bly en­joy­ing thrust from around 2000rpm. As ba­sic as the clock-set looks, you do get an LCD dis­play with an odome­ter and a cou­ple of trips. And an in­di­ca­tion of engine tem­per­a­ture and whether you have the heated grips (a £250 op­tion) on or not. The Pure has some good an­chors, too, which pull you up in plenty of time and while I loved my day rid­ing it, there were some nig­gles. Firstly, the mir­rors could be more prac­ti­cal. For me the right-hand one showed some­thing of the road be­hind while the left one, not so much – de­spite some ad­just­ment. Then there is the over­all look: I liked it, but I felt it could look bet­ter. That ‘Cata­lano Grey’ is just very unin­spir­ing. And the seat could be more com­fort­able, but the big­gest crit­i­cism is for the rear of the bike. What is it with mo­tor­cy­cle de­sign­ers these days? Since the 2005 Tri­umph Speed Triple the rear-end of many naked mo­tor­cy­cles has seemed ‘cut-down’ and in­sub­stan­tial. It’s all fash­ion­able now, as the Hipster bri­gade who make café rac­ers or bob­bers out of any old bike they can lay their hands on seem to in­sist on hack­ing back the rear of the bike. In my opin­ion it leaves the whole plot as a ‘solo’ op­er­a­tion only. Road­sters are of­ten best shared, but the two peo­ple I asked to go on the back point-blank re­fused. BMW may as well re­move the rear foot-pegs and stop sod­ding about: in fact you can re­move the pil­lion frame any­way. I would… But let’s get back to this be­ing a blank can­vas… If you walked into a BMW Mo­tor­rad dealer to­day and fan­cied a naked boxer-pow­ered road­ster, you would be faced with a num­ber of choices. The stan­dard Pure is the very ba­sic model, priced around £10,100 and you can only have it in this dull grey. The Pure C that I’m rid­ing (£10,815) gives you wire wheels, heated grips, LED in­di­ca­tors and chrome ex­hausts. An ex­tra grand will see you with a choice of two alu­minium weaves on the tank – ei­ther a ‘sanded weave’ or ‘vis­i­ble weave’ as op­posed to the grey, steel tank. Next up is the R ninet, with spoked wheels which (for £12,300) comes in black only, but you can spec up a grand to get two funky/strange schemes, one of which looks like a vin­tage race bike – com­plete with sin­gle-seat. The big change here is the forks: on the Pure we have old fash­ioned-look­ing right-way-up forks but on the ninet you’re pay­ing ex­tra for those up­side-down golden legs and ra­dial brakes. The R ninet Scram­bler (£10,650) has the high-pipe look of such a ma­chine and (again) can be specc’d up to your de­sires, along with off-road tyres and spoked wheels once more. Again, the R ninet Scram­bler X has al­ready got some of the op­tions such as wire-wheels for your £11,295 out­lay. If all this seems like bike buy­ing has sud­denly be­come more com­pli­cated – it’s be­cause it has. In the old days you or­dered tea or cof­fee, to­day or­der­ing a cof­fee gives you more op­tions to select than those an­noy­ing au­to­mated tele­phone helplines… I am told this is a good thing, as you can choose just the sort of R ninet road­ster you want. Well, I can’t, as I want one with a bright red colour scheme and a more sub­stan­tial rear seat so I can ac­tu­ally take some­one out on the back of it. My mi­nor nig­gles aside I have to say I loved rid­ing the Pure: it is an unadul­ter­ated rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and – if you’re in the mar­ket for a retro naked road­ster, it’s well-worth get­ting a test ride on one.

IN DE­TAIL: 1/ Clock, not clocks: no rev-counter here. 2/ Won­der­ful boxer twin with plenty of lunge in it. 3/ Rear shock: it works. 3 2


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