Ninja 650 goes on a power trip

A fist fight be­tween BMW’S retro box­ers

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week In Mcn - matt wildee@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

BMW’S R ninet comes in many shapes, styles and sizes. The brain­child of BMW’S bearded de­sign guru Ola Stene­gard, it takes the mod­u­lar con­cept of man­u­fac­tur­ing mo­tor­cy­cles al­most to its limit. There is are two off-road mod­els, two naked mod­els plus my bike – the sports like Racer. But which is right for you?

I’ve spent time on both the Racer (£11,615) and the most sim­ple of the naked mod­els, the Pure (£10,100). Both bikes share the same en­gine and run­ning gear, but the dif­fer­ences be­tween them are greater than you might think. And con­sid­er­ing they’re ba­si­cally the same bike – the Racer’s just dressed in track­suit and train­ers – they feel so dif­fer­ent.

This is mainly down to the rid­ing po­si­tion. The Racer is as stretche­d­out as they come – at 91cm from seat to bars, it is a longer reach than any 1000cc su­per­bike. It’s far longer than the Pure’s, and the bars are much lower.

Like­wise, the footrests are fur­ther back, plac­ing you into a po­si­tion that forces more weight on to the bars.

All this means the Racer de­liv­ers a very dif­fer­ent rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. While the Pure is play­ful and nim­ble in low-speed cor­ners, and a joy in town, the Racer is the op­po­site. It’s pon­der­ous at low speed and harder to lever from side-to-side thanks to those lower, nar­rower bars. But as the speed in­creases it feels more and more com­mu­nica­tive, and gives feed­back that the Pure never could. And that front cowl gives it some wind pro­tec­tion too. Not much, but a lit­tle, enough al­most.

It’s a les­son in how a rid­ing po­si­tion can in­form a mo­tor­cy­cle’s dy­nam­ics and for the rid­ing that I do, which com­bines scratch­ing, town work and mo­tor­ways, the pluses and mi­nuses of each bike can­cel each other out. Of course, that’s not tak­ing into ac­count the Racer’s crip­pling rid­ing po­si­tion. It’s a lovely bike, but try be­fore you buy…

‘For the rid­ing I do, the plusses and mi­nuses can­cel each other out’

The beau­ti­ful Racer only suf­fers one real weak­ness – it’s will­fully un­com­fort­able

Pure and sim­ple. Wasn’t that a song ti­tle?

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