BMW R nineT: Boxer twin, meet cafe racer

Here's BMW's R nineT.
Here’s BMW’s R nineT.

When they introduced the new liquid-cooled R 1200 GS, BMW promised they wouldn’t abandon fans of their classic air/oil-cooled motors. This week, they made good on that promise, unveiling the new R nineT in Munich.

Nary a cafe in sight ...
Nary a cafe in sight …

What’s the R nineT all about? It’s BMW’s way of celebrating 90 years in business, by building a cafe racer. That might seem odd, as Beemers aren’t really known to be popular cafe bikes, but who are we to argue with the Germans?

The R nineT’s 1170 cc flat twin motor (DOHC, four valves per cylinder, mated to six-speed transmission) makes 110 hp at 7750 rpm and 88 lb-ft at 6000 rpm; it’s air/oil cooled, just as they promised. Overall, the machine is based on the Concept 90 that Roland Sands designed for BMW, and carries over many design cues from that bike. It’s intended to be easily customizable, with touches like a removable section of frame that allows you to ditch the passenger seat for a traditional bum stop saddle, as seen on so many bikes from the 1960s.

BMW has designed the machine to be easily modified.
BMW has designed the machine to be easily modified.

BMW has designed the exhaust to be easily customized to customers who want high pipes or low pipes; there’s an accessory Akropovic exhaust available, but the stock exhaust has two cans coming up the bike’s left hand side (looking sort of like a Sportster XR1200R). For further customization, BMW designed the blinker, plate and taillight mounts to be easily moved around.

The bike shuns cast wheels, going for wire wheels instead. There’s a Paralever single-sided swingarm in back, and upside-down forks up front. There are radial four-piston monobloc brake calipers up front, with stainless steel brake lines and floating 320 mm discs. The rear wheel is a 17-inch unit, and you can fit a six-inch tire on there, thanks to careful swingarm design (180/55 ZR 17 tires are standard). The front wheel is also a 17-incher, and takes a 120/70 ZR 17 tire.

The passenger's subframe can be easily removed for a stripped-down look.
The passenger’s subframe can be easily removed for a stripped-down look.

The machine weighs 222 kg, at the curb, and has a 785 mm seat height. The aluminum fuel tank holds 17 litres; parts of the fuel tank have been left unpainted, making it easier to attach kneepads – this is a cafe racer, after all.

Of course, part of the cafe racer ethos is to have a machine you crafted yourself. That’s probably why BMW’s press kit has references to the machine’s “hand-built feel.” They’re also working on bringing a bunch of bolt-on accessories for the bike to the market, which will make it easier for customers to tweak their machine’s look. This is very similar to what Yamaha did with the Bolt, and what Harley-Davidson has been doing for years with all their bikes.

The R nineT will arrive in Canada in the spring of 2014, with a $16,200 base MSRP.

We’ve got a gallery full of pix below, with several of them showing the bike’s accessories, or different variations of customization.


Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.


  1. […] BMW has been making horizontally opposed twins since 1934, and commemorated in 2014 the 90th anniversary of its first machine, the R32, by introducing the retro-styled R nineT, a machine that is proving to be a huge bit for the company and one I thoroughly enjoyed, and which we tested here. […]

  2. […] When the R nine T was unveiled last fall, there was a sigh of relief amongst BMW’s airhead and oilhead fans. Sure, the big R 1200 GS might have moved towards liquid cooling, but at least there was still one bike in the lineup that relied on air cooling (sort of – technically, the R nine T is oil-cooled). And the bike looked pretty cool, too. Could the future really be a friendly place? […]

  3. I love it … everything the R series never achieved IMHO … a good basic motorcycle in the motorcycle tradition without design elements from kitchen appliances. I also like the young gay models but they are too young for me …

  4. Still not a café racer, but the high ‘scrambler’
    exhaust is a start. Anything bar the dual-can fiasco.

    Also, the models in the shots are soooo gay looking.

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