‘Hey good look­ing’

Beau­ti­ful, so­phis­ti­cated, el­e­gant, Matt may not have much in com­mon with the R ninet Racer S, but they’re bond­ing…

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage -

In the last 15 years of test­ing mo­tor­cy­cles for a liv­ing I’ve never had the keys to a mo­tor­cy­cle as uni­ver­sally ad­mired as the BMW R ninet Racer. It draws at­ten­tion from ev­ery walk of life too – from one-piece-wear­ing race-rep rid­ers to skin­ny­jean hip­sters and their com­edy beards. There’s no get­ting away from the fact that from ev­ery an­gle the BMW is beau­ti­ful. I think it looks like sex on wheels.

Be­fore I’d even rid­den the BMW, I’d al­ready built a re­la­tion­ship with it be­cause I’d been lucky enough to spend a day with the BMW’S mav­er­ick de­sign chief Ola Stenegärd, the man be­hind the whole R ninet range. He’s a one-off: a track­day­ing, chop­per­build­ing rock fan who wields an an­gle-grinder for fun. He spent a whole day in Ger­many talking me through ev­ery sweep, slash, weld on the bike. It was fas­ci­nat­ing.

When I got back I was able to ride the first Racer in the coun­try – and it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence. The punchy en­gine com­bined with its nim­ble chas­sis and an easy-go­ing na­ture to find loads of grip in less-than-perfect con­di­tions. It ex­uded real class.

So, when MCN’S long-term R ninet ar­rived, I nabbed the keys – and so

far it has been en­light­en­ing. I’d had a few con­cerns about the BMW’S builtto-a-price run­ning gear. The Racer’s start­ing price is £1500 cheaper than the top-level R ninet, which boasts S1000rr-spec brakes and fully ad­justable sus­pen­sion, but the qual­ity of the 43mm con­ven­tional forks and ax­ial-mount Brem­bos, is im­pres­sive.

The Racer has a lovely rate of turn and a sta­bil­ity in fast cor­ners that’s sim­ply de­li­cious – you guide the bike from en­try to apex to exit, rev­el­ling in pre­ci­sion and feel, be­fore us­ing the grunt of that 1170cc flat twin to fire out of the other side.

And fast rid­ing is where the bike is at its best. That’s be­cause slow rid­ing is, quite lit­er­ally, a pain. The prob­lem is the stretch to the bars, which gives you a near-hor­i­zon­tal rid­ing po­si­tion and puts lots of weight on your fore­arms. You need the wind­blast on your body to coun­ter­act this – it makes a bike that should be perfect for ur­ban posers pretty bad in town.

So, what are the plans for this year? Firstly, I want to make the most of the bike’s sport­ing po­ten­tial, ini­tially by fit­ting stick­ier, more-tri­an­gu­lar pro­file rub­ber and se­condly by lib­er­at­ing a few more ponies and a bit more noise. At the same time, I want to im­prove ground clear­ance for the track, so a set of rearsets are a must.

I did have plans for light­weight wheels and high-spec sus­pen­sion, but I’m not sure the bike needs it. Dy­nam­i­cally, the R ninet racer is al­ready one of the sur­prises of 2017 and I’m look­ing for­ward to plug­ging into its abil­i­ties.

‘The Racer has a sta­bil­ity in fast cor­ners that’s sim­ply de­li­cious’

High speed blasts are fine but slow rid­ing around town is a pain Ola Stenegärd is quite pos­si­bly the coolest bike de­signer on earth

Has any­one ever looked hap­pier about get­ting the keys to a new bike?

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