A successful classic is always reinvented, it’s just a matter of time. For FORD, it was the Mustang, for Honda it's the Cub, and for BMW it's a full reinvention. The timing for BMW to re-live some memories of yesteryear have fallen on a point in history when the crossroads of an aging baby boom population intersects with a well-established blue-collar era who’s ripe for the target marketing.
New world design, capability, and safety have found themselves alongside the cherished looks of the past. The BWM Heritage line is a cross-section of the whole market. There’s the budget-friendly R NINE T, the rebellious R NINE T SCRAMBLER, the exciting R NINE T RACER, the stripped down R NINE T PURE, and last of the new legendary classics is the R NINE T URBAN G/S. Will take a look into three of the top sought after models to see what makes up these modern classics.
PURE. A Striped Down Set Of Wheels.
Pure and simple, the 2018 BMW R NINET PURE is the stripped down edition of BWM’s Heritage line up. As far as this line up is concerned, it is the simplest of the lot, though I wouldn’t consider it a blue-collar budget-bike. Coming off the showroom floor with an MSRP of $11,995, and weighing in at 483lbs without any fuel or added kit. If you can’t afford to put fuel in it, you could still push it out the door.
Overall it’s a relatively lightweight and well-balanced motorcycle. Promoted as an air-cooled engine, it performs well under the power of a 1170cc, two-cylinder, six-speed engine. Mainly a bike for the open road, the sixth gear will give you a nice comfortable ride, with a bit of clutch-fluttering needed around the inner city.
Personally, I think the marketing and design team are clever in that the Pure model is a bike with a lower end price tag, touted as “fully customizable." Translation: you can get into a BWM for cheap, then with every paycheck slowly add on more upgrades and customized changes. Not terribly different than a standard around the world dual-sport, you buy the base model than bolt-on upgrades that eventually double the cost of the bike.
For the Pure, there are some BWM and aftermarket additions that can be had with a click to your favorite online retailer. The bike already lends itself to a retro look, and the addition of the Puig front number plate can, alongside your own thick-zippered leather jacket and dome helmet with matching number give you throw-back, flat-track racers look. To solidify your racer look with a bit of racer sound and a hint of performance you can hand over part of your paycheck and pick up an Akrapovic slip-on exhaust, a sleek and simple upgrade.
BMW offers some additions right off their website, like a more extensive Pillion seat upgrade, or the plastic cylinder head cover. As for the seat, I'd shop around for a more stylish aftermarket one like the custom leather seats by French company BAAK Motocyclettes. As far as a plastic cover goes, if you really drop the bike, I’m not sure this piece of plastic is going to save your baby from total defacement, and it certainly doesn’t enhance the look of the bike. Everyone has their own styling options though.
Overall it’s a great looking bike with a few notable styling designs like the rounded headlamp and rounded out tachometer that signifies its hints to a yesteryear look, alongside a very modernly capable motorcycle. You won't be standing out so much that every Tom, Dick, and Larry will be coming up to ask you questions about the bike. Yet you'll see be turning some curios heads from those who appreciate your sophisticated choice of a roadster.
The Fast Track To Freedom. The R NINE T RACER
This bike is cool, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when you spot the R nine T Racer. You can’t possibly spread yourself across this silhouette of machined sex appeal without a showroom leather jacket or BMW racer helmet that has a paint job matching pin-striped look to it. The epitome of what you used to see in print ads of the '70s, you'll need at minimum a five o'clock shadow of stubble across your face to ride this bike, and a pair of aviators would be the first recommended upgrade. The bike lends itself to the look of the classic Café Racers, and if you're savvy enough, you might be able to pull off the look too. Seriously it’s one cool looking beauty with bespoke capabilities.
Visually the most notable of the Racers characteristics is the half-fairing that hugs the nose and kisses the fuel tank, allowing an unrestricted feeling for the rider. The handlebar positioning has a lower placement for better control while the foot positioning is set slightly back leaving your body at the mercy of the front forward distribution. The Racers original design is meant for the solo rider with space to sink your backside in and spread your weight across the bikes mid-section. If you're looking to get two up, the foot pegs can be adjusted, and a separate two-person seat added.
The 4-stroke, two-cylinder, air-cooled, 1170cc engine, will take you from standing still to over 125mph in a smooth six gears. The fuel tank is a recognizable design built around the rider and is of robust steel construction. Its set on telescopic forks and ABS is standard if you’re looking for more control an additional Automatic Stability Control package can be added. Across the dash is two separate sets of information, both a tachometer and RPM gauge for better knowledge of what’s going on inside the engine. It comes in just a couple of pounds heavier than the Pure edition, at 485lbs dry weight.
The price tag comes in a touch heavier too, with an MSRP of $13,545. Not really a deal breaker in the BMW line up, more of an expected price tag in the Heritage category.
Again the Racer line can be kitted out or kitted up with some options from BMW or some aftermarket retailers. BWM has some knee pad and tank grip options, as well as seats and handlebars that can be configured. However, one of the cooler things you can do to the bike is add on one of three BWM Motorrad Spezial kits. The 719 milled kits take their name from the code used for specialty made products in the Berlin shops. The 719 kits come with personalized parts all including; cylinder head covers, oil filler screw, belt cover, adjustable brake and clutch levers (5x), expansion tank covers, seat holder, rider footpegs (adjustable in 12 increments). The differentiating aspects of the kits are the styles they come in. The Classic kit comes in a pure aluminum finish that gives the bike that elegant final touch. The Storm kit comes in a contrasting look that ranges from a flat to polished finish. Finally, the Club Sport kit comes in a bold black and golden anodizing aluminum. The kits give you just enough finish to round out a more accentuated final look.
Sexy In The City, With Backcountry Soul. THE SCRAMBLER
Last on this list, but not least in the full line up off Bavarian beauties, is the Scrambler. Boasting the same boxer engine as the others, it feels even more defined by its looks. With the Scrambler, they roll out a more rugged look that is clearly illustrated by the stitched brown seat, and off-road orientated 19” front and 17” rear tires on cast wheels.
It feels more like an addition to one's motorcycle collection or the go-to bike for the mid-life crisis x-enduro rider. You could comfortably ride the city in blue jeans or carve the countryside in brown leather pants to compliment the sea. The Scrambler gives the impression of confidence that can handle itself at cocktail parties or campfire cookouts.
BMW made sure to highlight some critical features on the Scrambler, making it easily definable in a crowd. The speedometer is a complementing analog design set above the round VCR-ages headlight. The 4.5-gallon fuel tank is steel, likely more for cost than looks, it is well finished and can be upgraded if you want it in lightweight aluminum.
Two of the more stylish features are the raised handlebars that aid in the upright rider positioning on the bike. The similarly raised exhaust with dual ports gives it a more performance look and more powerful capabilities. Similar to the Racer, the dry weight comes in at 485lbs with all the standard options like ABS still in place. As for the price tag, they still aim at the value market with an MSPR of $12,995.
The Scrambler seems to have more options available for it from BMW and obviously loads more from the aftermarket retailers. To get more of a genuinely off-road look, they offer up a set of cross-spoke wheels. Then if you’re looking to lug along a loved one, there's the two-person seat upgrade. When shooting for more performance and looking to shed a few pounds, the addition of the Akrapovic silencer is an easy bolt-on upgrade, though the original duel-ported one fits better with the look. They also offer a windscreen in the design of a racer number plate, on its own it’s a tad Plain Jane. I'd slap a sticker on there or have BMW custom paint a retro number design to give it a touch more personality. Motorrad also has an aluminum bash plate too, though the one from SW Motec looks a bit beefier and likely more practical if you think you’ll ever use it.
As for those of you who are never satisfied with the horsepower that the engineering pros with hundreds of thousands of dollars of education tune up and turn out, well then, there is an upgrade for you too. The genesis at OE Tuning can take your peak horsepower from 110 to 124 for a cool $495 investment.
No matter your desires it would seem BMW has something to fill the void. Anyone of the Heritage bikes could easily find parent and child riding side by each feeling fulfilled. No matter if you like to start simple and stay simple with a motorcycle like the PURE. Or outfit it with some of the ever well-marketed upgrades or kits, you can quite literally come out with any personalized finish you please. A showroom finish bike like the RACER might be as likely to scrape the pegs as it is to go over 125mph, but who cares, ride it like you’ve got nothing to prove. As for those of you grappling with the identity of off-road freedom that might seem slightly less attainable these days. Grow your beard out, dirty up your leather jacket, and set the wheels of the Scrambler free even if the only dirt it sees is down the alley to your garage.
*All images via BMW Motorcycles