BMW R nineT Ur­ban G/S


Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Contents -

The mod­ern retro mo­tor­cy­cle trend is very much alive and thriv­ing what with the spike in sales and num­ber of mod­els of late in this sub-genre. The very lat­est from BMW, dubbed the R nineT Ur­ban G/S, per­fectly ex­em­pli­fies the trend in new mod­els.

Aptly, the R nineT Ur­ban G/S draws in­spi­ra­tion from BMW’s leg­endary R80G/S that rose to fame in the 80s. Not only re­garded as one of the orig­i­nals of the dual-sport ad­ven­ture bikes genre, the R80G/S was also a ma­chine of sub­stance, go­ing by its Paris-Dakar Rally wins and its many other suc­cesses else­where.

The R nineT Ur­ban G/S is a mod­ern day trib­ute to the R80G/S, mir­ror­ing it al­most per­fectly. Repli­cated are its dis­tinct white and blue race liv­ery, or­ange seat sad­dle, dirt bike-like head­light cover and front wheel mud­guard. Yes, the Ur­ban G/S looks the part.

It’s sim­ple and well built, some­thing you’d ex­pect of any BMW. Some, how­ever, might ar­gue the kit list is tad spar­tan be­cause of the ab­sence of things like a rev counter, fuel in­di­ca­tor and gear po­si­tion read­out, fea­tures nor­mally ex­pected of bikes in this price range.

Nev­er­the­less, these small quirks are eas­ily over­shad­owed by the bike’s many fine char­ac­ter­is­tics, some­thing which it has in abun­dance. For in­stance, the seat is as com­fort­able as it looks, wel­com­ing just about all with its 850mm height, not to men­tion the am­ple pad­ding and space that makes it eas­ier to ac­com­mo­date that sig­nif­i­cant other.

Like any BMW R-series bike, the real magic be­gins when you thumb the starter, bring­ing to life that famed BMW air and oil-cooled 1,170cc boxer – or flat-twin cylin­der – heart. Not only does it look good with its hor­i­zon­tally op­posed cylin­der heads jut­ting out proudly on each side, it’s also a gem of an en­gine

renowned for dish­ing out big torque, es­pe­cially from low to mid-range.

Typ­i­cally BMW, the boxer heart is mated with a 6-speed box and shaft­drive setup. You go up and down all six cogs with your left foot as usual, just that this setup feels smoother and more pre­cise than a chain drive. There’s also the added bonus of this driv­e­line’s renowned low main­te­nance needs, mak­ing the bike eas­ier to own over time.

De­spite the ab­sent rev-counter, mas­ter­ing the pow­er­train’s rhythm is rather easy. The clutch lever’s feath­erlight pull helps. Get to grips with all that and you’ll find the Ur­ban G/S per­forms just as well as any mod­ern equal would. What’s ex­tra sweet is its low-end torque, which is a blast es­pe­cially in point-to-point sprints be­tween traf­fic lights and cor­ners.

Gen­er­at­ing 110bhp and 116Nm, the mill is more than ad­e­quate to get the 221kg bike up to speed, with the sound to match. The spe­cially tuned ex­haust plays a raspy, bass-rich tune. It’s thrilling and loud enough to ren­der un­nec­es­sary the ac­qui­si­tion of the op­tional slip-on or full sys­tem ex­haust kits that BMW of­fers.

Sur­pris­ingly, the Ur­ban G/S doesn’t stray too far off from the base R nineT’s im­pec­ca­ble han­dling abil­i­ties de­spite having a lower-end sus­pen­sion hard­ware and a slightly raised han­dle­bar height. We sus­pect the sure­footed grip lev­els of our tester’s Met­zeller tyres, not for­get­ting the un­ri­valled re­as­sur­ance of the ABSe­quipped Brembo twin disc an­chors up front, con­trib­uted to its han­dling ease over­all.

Most will agree this setup is a bet­ter fit for the tar­mac rather than the rough stuff. By the way, there’s a set of op­tional knob­bly off-road tyres and match­ing wire-spoke wheels avail­able should you wish to com­plete the bike’s off-road looks.

Off-road looks aside, how­ever, we’d agree with most ad­ven­ture rid­ing purists who might ar­gue that con­quer­ing ter­rains and cross­ing con­ti­nents is best done on the Ur­ban G/S’s not-so-dis­tant cousin, the R1200 GS Ad­ven­ture cousin. That said, the Ur­ban G/S is a de­cent ur­ban ad­ven­turer and a bet­ter cruiser in its own right. And through form and sub­stance, it cer­tainly is a bike that cel­e­brates BMW’s unique and il­lus­tri­ous mo­tor­cy­cling her­itage. BMW has shown it too can play the his­tor­i­cal homage game just as well as, if not bet­ter than, its Ital­ian and English ri­vals.

It comes at a price, of course: from RM82,949.72, be­fore fac­tor­ing in on-road costs and any of the tempt­ing extras within the R nineT’s ev­er­ex­pand­ing ac­ces­sories cat­a­logue.

Should the Ur­ban G/S look or feel a tad too rugged, there’s the pret­tier R nineT Scram­bler to con­sider at the same price. It also guar­an­tees rid­ing fun and style. THORIQ AZMI

A sig­na­ture de­sign el­e­ment found in all R nineT vari­ants

No chain drive here, just a smooth-op­er­at­ing shaft setup in­stead

Blue and white liv­ery plus the seat’s or­ange hue all hark back to the orig­i­nal R80G/S

Rear sus­pen­sionpre-load ad­just­ment lets you fine tune theride bet­ter

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