R ninet Urban G/S rolls back the years to BMW’S adventure original
When BMW launched the R ninet back in 2013, few could have predicted what a rampant success story it would become – and even fewer would have predicted the four versions that have arrived since: the Scrambler, Racer, Pure, and now this – the Urban G/S.
But the R ninet sold so fast that BMW struggled to meet demand with bikes at first. Now the firm has worked on creating a family of new versions to further broaden the platform’s appeal.
The Pure, essentially a base model, was launched with the sleek retro Racer a month ago. The two are now joined by this homage to the original R80G/S from 1980. Styled as a stripped-back adventure bike, the Urban part of the name suggests that BMW are well aware this iteration will likely never sully its tyres with mud. But if you want the full look, or the option to head off-road, they have made concessions to help. The protective fork gaiters are standard, and while the Urban G/S comes on fivespoke alloy rims and road tyres there are both laced wheels and knobblies available in the options list.
The styling is another jump into the dressing-up box, but the foundations of this model are shared with the rest of the R ninet range. The main rolling chassis and 1170cc air-cooled boxer twin are common throughout (now also Euro4 compliant in all guises), while this Urban G/S is part of the more budget-focused group of R ninets, rather than the high-spec Roadster (see right). That primarily means less-expensive suspension, a single clock instead of the Roadster’s more comprehensive dials, a steel fuel tank in place of the aluminium work of art on the expensive version, and lessflashy braking components.
It’s not devoid of nice touches though. There are plenty of forged aluminium parts including the fork bridges, fat handlebar and bar clamp. The footrests also mirror the G/S’S off-road styling with bear-claw pegs fitted with removable rubber inserts, and the simple stainless exhaust system is classy and sleek. There’s also a cute double front mudguard, with an MXstyle main fender complemented by a shorter wheel-level deflector.
But what really defines this bike is the overall visual effect. It takes you right back to the original 1980 G/S in a heartbeat, with that familiar paintsheme accented by the garish red bench seat. It looks set to be a big hit.
The Exclusive model is the road-focused version of the new duo, aimed at riders who want a GS because it delivers a superb everyday riding experience, exceptional touring capability, and has the versatility to go anywhere when the road (or lack of one) demands.
It’s also aimed at riders who want all the GS sophistication without being too shouty in terms of colours, or Action Man add-ons that hint at global travel pretentions.
At the core of this subtle approach is the ‘Iced Chocolate metallic’ paintjob. The fuel tank side trim panels are finished in ‘Monolith metallic matt’ and also feature bold R1200GS decals on each side. The frame is powder-coated in Agate Grey metallic matt, while the drivetrain is all finished in black, with gold-coloured brake calipers providing a flash of contrast.
There are no other special parts with this version, meaning that it’s effectively a bit of blank canvas for owners to spec to their taste – from Pro rider modes through to the new self-levelling next-generation Dynamic ESA semiactive suspension, and myriad luggage and protection add-ons.
While the new Exclusive option doesn’t add a great deal to the model line-up in terms of diversity, the new Rallye really does. The R1200GS aftermarket catalogue has always been big enough to exceed a pannier’s weight limit, meaning that you could build pretty much whatever version you want, but this new version panders to those who wanted the stock GS blended with some of the more off-road focused cues from the GS Adventure – without having to buy the more imposing GSA.
The GS Rallye comes on cross-spoke laced rims for improved off-road capability and versatility, and while they still come on road tyres, you can spec it to arrive on knobblies. Owners can also remove the luggage bridge and passenger footrests, blanking off the resultant holes with covers that are provided with the bike.
The Rallye also gets a raft of little touches to differentiate it further, including a Rallye seat, sports windshield, radiator and frame guard, and wider enduro footrests. Suspension upgrades are also available if you want to really go tonto off-road.
Optional knobblies and spoked wheels complete the look
It’s part of BMW’S retro R ninet family, but something of an honorary GS too
Bold red seat is a powerful, instant reminder of BMW’S 1980 R80G/S
Rallye sits halfway between GS and Adventure