Why is the R ninet’s subframe detachable? Q
Although the BMW’S subframe will only weigh a few pounds (sections of steel tubing, pillion pad, pillion footrest hangers, undertray, number plate, rear indicators and rear lights), it’s all in the worst possible place. Popping out the eight bolts that hold the subframe on will noticeably improve the ninet’s handling, giving a more nimble steering response as its weight tips forward onto the front wheel.
But if you remove the subframe, where do BMW suggest you fit rear lights and numberplate? Well, technically they don’t suggest anything because they’re selling the ninet as compliant with UK Construction and Use Regulations (among various worldwide alternatives), which means the rear tyre should not be the furthermost rearward extension of the bike; it should have a hugger of some sort. As an owner, you don’t have to comply and can take it off. If you do that, it may or may not be a coincidence the plastic rear ‘hugger’ fitted to an R1200GS bolts straight onto the ninet’s hub, giving you the ideal platform for a light and a numberplate.
The ninet’s second innovation is twin wiring looms. The first carries engine, ECU, ABS and fault diagnosis data, and the other handles lights and ancillaries. This simplifies the customising process so owners can fit something like, say, a rear light cluster to a new rear hugger without having to hack into a sensitive wiring harness. It’s almost plug-and-play customising.
Giving owners a push to get in the garage and get modifying shows BMW can’t help innovating, even when they’re building a retro.