Common Tread

2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S pays homage to the original ADV bike

Nov 08, 2016

Just in case someone (not Spurgeon) thought the BMW R nineT Scrambler was too off-road oriented, the R nineT was retro but not quite the right kind of retro, the R nineT Racer was too racy and the R nineT Pure was too stripped, BMW has added another option to the line: the R nineT Urban G/S, a production model based on the Lac Rose concept bike.

This means that by now everyone who might possibly want an R nineT should have a model to suit his or her tastes.

2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S
In stock trim, the BMW R nineT Urban G/S lives up to the Urban parts of its name more than the G/S part. Cast wheels and street tires aren't meant for serious dirt, regardless of what the fender says. BMW photo.

The new Urban G/S mixes its metaphors a little by paying tribute to a formidable adventure bike with its looks but skewing toward the street duty implied by the Urban designation. The Urban G/S comes on cast wheels and street tires, with a 17-inch rear and 19-inch front, though spoked wheels and knobby tires are options.

The inspiration dates to the bike that essentially created the adventure-touring class. Today, you can't win the Dakar Rally on a BMW boxer, but that actually happened four times in the 1980s, when the famous rally really did go to Dakar. BMW celebrated by building the R 80 G/S Paris-Dakar model, with a high front fender, big gas tank and an orange solo seat. Today's Urban G/S also gives you the high fender and bright seat, but this time they're for looks, not for bashing your way across unpaved expanses of Africa.

Underneath the styling, the Urban G/S uses the same drivetrain as the original R nineT, from its 1,170 cc air/oil-cooled boxer engine to its shaft final drive. As with the Scrambler, a regular fork with gaiters replaces the inverted unit on the original R nineT and provides a fraction of an inch more travel. Brakes are the same and ABS is standard. The seat height is 33.5 inches, a bit taller than the base R nineT and even smidge higher than the R nineT Scrambler. BMW says it weighs 487 pounds.

2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S
The homage to the 1980s R 80 G/S Paris-Dakar is clear. BMW photo.

BMW has already ginned up some accessories, including a solo seat, in case you want to get even closer to the look of the original P-D boxer.

In one year, we've gone from one bike in the BMW "Heritage" line to five, just as other companies, from Yamaha to Ducati, have rushed to put out new models to capitalize on the affinity for retro looks. It will be interesting to see how that trend holds up in 2017 and if BMW tries to slice this market into even thinner slices with even more R nineT variations.