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The BMW R NineT Scrambler delivers ample riding enjoyment, combined with a retro, old-school aesthetic that delivers plenty of appeal.

30 Sep 2021

With extensive technology, ample settings and new-found tweak-ability, modern motorcycles can be rather complex machines.

There is, however, nothing wrong with the inevitable march of technology. Just as how our phones and computers have gotten smarter and better over time, so too have motorcycles (ostensibly).

Which is why riding something like the BMW R nineT Scrambler can feel like a breathe of fresh air.


The R NineT Scrambler certainly delivers retro cool vibes
There's no getting around it - this is a simple, uncomplex bike. As part of BMW's 'Heritage' lineup, the R NineT model line aims to deliver a more old-school experience. This particular Scrambler model is actually the more affordable option compared to the standard R NineT, but also aims to deliver a slightly different riding flavour.

To be fair, you don't get a whole lot of equipment and technology with this bike. There's a single dial speedometer with very limited functionality (you don't even get an rpm or gear indicator). The bike comes with a USB port, cruise control and heated grips, but that's about it as far as usable equipment. The bike also has ABS and Automatic Stability Control, as well as a LED head light with daytime running light, but that's all as far as tech features are concerned.

The seat is visually delightful, but the ergonomics will take some time to break into
Specific to this Scrambler model are the 19-inch front spoked wheel and 17-inch rear, a conventional front fork, a longer wheelbase, and a more relaxed riding position as a result of a reduced steering head angle.

Build quality feels high all around (you'd expect no less from BMW), and there's a straightforward simplicity to the R NineT that's refreshing.

Issues? The seat looks super retro cool, but the shape is a little odd, especially at your inseam. It flares out slightly (like a 'Y'), which then juts into your thighs slightly if you grip the tank tight or put your leg down at a red light. I would also have the brake pedal be slightly higher. As standard, it's slightly below the horizontal plane of the right foot rest.

Ramble on

The R NineT delivers plenty of on-road pace, combined with ample handling agility
On the road, the R NineT Scrambler is delightfully easy to ride. The 1,170cc Bbxer engine has ample power (107bhp and 116Nm of torque), the fuelling faultless, and the light clutch and throttle means there's a seamless ease to riding the bike. On the go, it also feels lighter than the listed 223kg weight.

The low centre of gravity of the boxer engine also affords the bike stability and control even when sweeping through corners. You can easily lean the bike from side to side, and transitions are smooth and well-modulated.

Admittedly, the ride isn't the most sophisticated (conventional fork and all). Over poorer roads, the busy ride can get a little tiresome. However, it's never bad enough to completely unsettle the bike.

Pared right

The pared down nature of the R NineT Scrambler in fact adds to its retro personality and all-around accessibility and fun
Yes, the R NineT Scrambler is in some ways a pared down offering. You get cheaper overall components compared to its fellow brethren, and the bike does embrace that retro, stripped-back feel.

More and more, I find myself really enjoying it. I think it looks fantastic (this Kalamata metallic matt paintwork is lovely), it's very accessible and easy to ride, and it still manages to deliver plenty of riding fun.

In the midst of the relentless technological forward advancement, the R NineT feels like a welcome breath of fresh air, retro as it may be.

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