Test Ride: BMW R nineT – The essence of motorcycle

I have a confession to make. I am a nut for sports bikes. My ideal ride is one where I am wrapped around a petrol tank like a tattoo on an arm, flying along at the speed of light. Although I’ve always appreciated cafe racers and cruisers, I have never really pictured myself riding one… That all changed the minute I laid eyes on the BMW R nineT.


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All my preconceived ideas were blown across the tarmac and excitement took over. I was impressed. Not just impressed, I was wowed. This is a seriously cool bike, and it would only take engaging the ignition for me to imagine owning one of these bad boys. The Internet, with all its glossy images, does not do this bike justice. You must see it in person.

NineT stands for ninety –it’s an anniversary celebration for ninety years of BMW motorcycles. And what a way to celebrate. If a scientist were to distil a motorcycle down to raw ingredients, they would end up with the nineT. Two wheels, a motor, a seat and some handlebars. Pure and simple. The essence of motorcycle.

Five minutes on the bike and you begin to feel noticed; people are looking. A lady even flirted with me in the street. Her eyes sparkled, and her posture softened as she came close enough to talk. I’d like to say it happens all the time, but it doesn’t, it was the nineT! That beast of a machine is not only the essence of motorcycle, but the essence of man. A brute and reckless mongrel with twitchy eyes and rough stubble. A wild adventure that reeks of danger, but one you can’t resist taking.

I was already feeling like more of a man just knowing I had the nineT parked in my garage. Sitting on it is one thing, starting it is another, but that first twist of the throttle and it’s game over baby! You are transported to another world where you are a better version of yourself. The rumble between your legs gives you super powers, and the hearty roar from the exhaust blasts your worries away.

I remember fixing a motorcycle with my grandad, years back. He could not believe it had a water-cooled engine. This was equally puzzling to me, as I couldn’t imagine anything else. Man, he really is old, I thought to myself. An air-cooled bike, what a concept. You can imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting on a brand new BMW motorcycle that was, you guessed it, air-cooled! Back-to-essentials is in no way an exaggeration of what BMWhas achieved with the nineT; it is just a raw and pure machine.

Jumping up through the gears, I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the engine became. The nineT seemed to glide along effortlessly. It was almost like a different motorcycle. The roar faded into the distance, and it was very easy to corner and manoeuvre.

Being a good winter’s day, it wasn’t long before the cold set in and cut through my layers. I decided to try out the handlebar grip heaters and see if they made a difference. Turns out they do! Initially, I used the first setting. As the day grew colder I cranked it up and man was I toasty. It is amazing how much warmer your entire body feels when your hands are warm.

Heated grips isn’t the only technology that the nineT comes with, but the great thing is, you don’t notice any of it. Attention to detail is one of BMW’s finest attributes, and the nineT is no exception. The modern electrics do not compromise the hand-built style of the bike in any way. Look closely and you will notice details such as the beautifully exposed weld that runs proudly down the centre of the tank and a tiny BMW logo that sits in the headlight. An aluminium tail cover completes the café racer style and makes for a damn good-looking motorcycle.

Buying a 30 or 40-year-old bike and doing it up has never appealed to me. The cost and effort are too high. At the end of the day, I am more interested in riding. The nineT is a great option if you want that retro style but in a modern machine that is ready to ride now. Part of its design allows for easy customisation, so you can personalise it without the hard work.

In summing up, the BMW R nineT is an absolute blast. It’s fun to ride, looks great, feels great and sounds amazing. Your mates will be envious, and girls will go weak at the knees.

See it in person, don’t rely on photos from the Internet!

CHECK IT OUT

Written by: Nicholas Colditz

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