Ninja 650 goes on a power trip
A fist fight between BMW’S retro boxers
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’