When BMW first announced the R nineT back in 2014, all of us who follow the world of motorcycling knew that the Bavarian giant had just opened the floodgates for custom bike builders. This new retro styled roadster was simply a blank canvas for customizing. However, it looks like BMW Motorrad had their own design team trying to take the fight to the custom bike builders by launching various R nineT iterations of their own. Over the years, we’ve seen BMW Motorrad roll out the R nineT, R nineT Pure, R nineT Racer, R nineT Scrambler and the R nineT Urban GS.
In focus here is the BMW R nineT Scrambler, a motorcycle that revives the Scrambler era in a special way. It has everything that defines this motorcycle type, filled with a distinct spirit and created for motorcycle fans that love things that are purist, reduced to the essentials and non-conformist. What the Scramblers offered their riders in the 1950s to 1970s was not just motorcycling fun on winding country roads but also great off-road capability and therefore an extended range of use. Like the motorcycles themselves, the people who rode Scramblers were not bound by established conventions. And they could be seen virtually everywhere: on winding country roads, stony mountain passes and sandy beaches.
The Scrambler features the same classic air-cooled flat-twin boxer engine that we’ve grown accustomed to in all of the R series motorcycles before the liquid cooled iteration was launched. It delivers an output of 110hp at 7,750rpm and develops a maximum torque of 116Nm at 6,000 rpm. Like all boxers, the torque is well spread across the rev range.
One of the most distinguishing feature of the R nineT is its raised exhaust with two vertically arranged rear silencers to meet the requirements of a classic Scrambler look. It is fitted very close to the body of the bike produces a deep and throaty boxer sound. Similar to the R nineT Roadster, the frame concept is a key aspect in terms of the Scrambler’s extensive customisation capacity. The specially developed steel tubular space frame integrates the boxer engine as a load-bearing element and consists of a front section with integrated steering head and a rear section with swinging arm mount.
Our test bike came with spoke wheels but street tyres, so I couldn’t really try it off-road. With some initial feedback, I could tell that the suspension is more suited for the road and the front will bottom out if you try something too serious. Then again, this is a recreational machine and if you are into serious off-roading, you’ll probably end up getting the R1200GS anyway. The lack of a fairing does make it a bit uncomfortable on our roads. Cruising at high speeds isn’t ideal but that’s the same on all naked bikes.
The passenger frame can be dismounted, thereby allowing the R nineT Scrambler to be used either by two people or by the rider on their own. Staying true to its retro roots, the front suspension is in the form of a telescopic fork with rubber gaiters and a spring travel of 125 millimetres. Rear wheel suspension is taken care of by a Paralever single-sided swinging arm as used in the other boxer models. The standard Scrambler is fitted with light alloy cast wheels but the test bike we rode came with the optional spoke wheels. In typical Scrambler style it has a large 19-inch front wheel with tyre sizes of 120/70-19 at the front and 170/60-17 at the rear.
A relaxed upright seating position is one of the key features of a Scrambler. With handlebars that are higher as compared to the R nineT, slightly reduced seat upholstery and rider footrests that are positioned somewhat lower and further to the rear, the new model gives the rider a relaxed ride feel. From all angles, the Scrambler is defined by a blend of classic and modern elements of motorcycle design style.
The simple round headlamp gives it an expression of freedom, independence and serenity, while the speedometer with its analogue display features keeps things classic. BMW Motorrad has paid a lot of attention to details and it shows. Everything is top quality and it is very evident that BMW hasn’t cut corners and the trademark quality remains.
With the Scrambler, BMW Motorrad has an absolute ace up their sleeve. Yes, it does have a lot of competition in the market and Triumph has the Scrambler nameplate going strong for just over a decade. However, they are both very different machines built for the same purpose and come with a very unique character and soul. BMW Motorrad does command a higher price point like all of their motorcycles but those who want one will get one and when you do, I doubt you’ll regret it.