BMW RnineT Racer 2017 Review
By Alan Dowds
- Looks incredible
- Lots of optional toys
- BMW residuals
- Riding position too committed
- A lot of money for the performance
A remake of the Disney flick Beauty and the Beast is out in the cinema, and according to my wife and daughter, it's a cracker. Its probably not for me though (I'm more a Trainspotting 2 kinda guy), so I'm not exactly rushing out to see it. I've been checking out a different beauty of late though – BMW's new 2017 RnineT Racer, which we rode on the official launch in Spain the other week.
It's certainly a beauty – indeed, most folk considered the Racer to be one of the most attractive bikes on display at the various bike shows last year. With its ice-white paint, BMW Motorsport coachlines, natty round-headlight fairing and retro-race style, it really caught the imagination of loads of UK bikers.
Under that beautiful exterior though, the Racer is also a bit of a beast. It's powered by the now-legendary 1,170cc oil-cooled Boxer twin that's made BMW bikes so strong in the past decade or so, in a basic version of the RnineT roadster chassis. That means a steel tube frame, with standard RWU forks, vanilla Brembo brakes with ABS, and a monoshock rear end. Spoked wheels accentuate the styling, while the single seat, rearset pegs and clip-on styled bars give a low, laid-down riding position.
We're here in Mojacar, near Almeria, to take the RnineT Racer for a spin, and see if she goes as well as she looks. We're also riding the basic RnineT Pure, and the updated BMW S1000R hyper-naked roadster too, so a pretty wide range of machinery. I spend the first part of the day on the S1000R (see our launch report on that for more), but after the first coffee stop, I leap aboard the Racer for a blast.
The big old Boxer lump puts out 110bhp...
The first impressions are of a fairly old-school riding position. I'm stretched out over the long tank, reaching forward to the low bars, with my feet tucked up underneath me. It's not a struggle at first, but as the miles tick over on the pretty retro clocks, my neck gets a bit of a crick, and my wrists start to complain at the stress on them. The little nosecone fairing diverts a bit of windblast, but once you get up to speed, it takes some pressure off your wrists. When we come into the towns and villages of southern Spain though, the Racer is a bit of a faff to manhandle round the narrow streets.
But, when you get a move on, the Racer is a treat. The big old Boxer lump puts out 110bhp – still a decent output even these days – and there's stacks of low-down grunt too. It's nothing like the S1000R of course, but compared with something like Triumph's smaller Bonneville range, the BM is far stronger. The suspension is simple stuff, with limited adjustment and not very sophisticated operation, but it's quite in tune with the bike. Ditto the brakes: you get a good ABS system of course (though not a leaning IMU setup), but the old-school non-radial mount calipers aren't the last word in power or feel. Nevertheless, it all works together very well, and added to the throaty bark from the single silencer, you get a very pleasing 'WWI biplane' effect when you're on it.
At the end of the riding day, we’ve had some terrible rain, and I'm soaked to the skin. The Racer still looks great, but I'm feeling its effects through my neck and wrists. I'm definitely not the correct shape for this bike (5'8" and 13 stone) it seems, which is a shame. She's definitely still a beauty to look at – but the Racer is a bit of a beast in terms of riding comfort, for me at least.
If you're still in love with the look though, get along to a dealer for a test ride. Switching fairy tales for a moment, if the Racer fits you like that crystal slipper fitted Cinderella's dainty foot, you could be onto a real winner…
Price: £10,775 OTR (base model), £11,360 OTR (S version with spoked wheels, heated grips, chrome silencer, LED indicators)
*BMW wants the RnineT range to be used as the base for your own customised bike. So there are plenty of options: traction control (£310), a bare aluminium tank £920-£1,020), heated grips, spoked rims, pillion seat and subframe, and lots more…
Check the BMW Motorrad configurator page for all the details: www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk
Engine: 8v flat-twin, DOHC, air/liquid cooled, 1,170cc
Bore x Stroke: 101x73mm
Compression Ratio: 12:1
Max Power (claimed): 110bhp@7,750rpm
Max Torque (claimed): 85.5ft lb@6,000rpm
Transmission: six speed, final shaft drive
Frame: steel tube trellis
Front Suspension: 43mm forks
Rear Suspension: Paralever monoshock
Brakes: Dual 320mm discs, Brembo four-piston calipers (front), 265mm disc, twin-piston caliper (rear), ABS
Wheels / Tyres: Cast aluminium or tubeless spoked rims, 120/70 17 front, 180/55 17 rear
Rake / Trail: 26.4°/103.9mm
Kerb Weight (claimed, full fuel tank): 220kg
Fuel Capacity: 17 litres