It wouldn’t be fair to say that BMW Motorrad missed the mark with its final iteration of five R nineT 1200cc models. On the contrary, the BMW R nineT Urban G/S, designed with a nod to the R 80 G/S of 1980, might be the best of the bunch. Though theoretically the same on the inside, the BMW R nineT Urban G/S feels peppier than the other siblings. With a high front fender and knobby tires, the G/S looks ready for Dakar or Baja. However, it more greatly resembles the BMW R nineT Scrambler, released previously.
BMW R nineT Urban G/S: Not Your Grandson’s Scrambler.
So, why build two bikes with nearly identical capabilities and purpose? What is the real difference between the two? What choose the Scrambler over the G/S, or vice versa? BMW reps seemed a bit puzzled by these questions. In the end, it is simply about the looks.
“With its retro-inspired colors and the G/S badge, we think this bike will resonate with an older rider. One who remembers and identifies with the R80 model,” BMW Motorrad U.S. Product Manager Brian Carey said. “The Scrambler is one we think younger and newer riders will gravitate to, and want to customize.”
The massive Metzeler knobby rear tire looks as though it might roost the ground on which it stands, in a rugged, athletic pose. The high front fender and ground clearance give the mount quite an uncivilized profile and the BMW R nineT Urban G/S looks ready to conquer the world.
But this is an Urban G/S, which should give it away. The bike is powerful and comfortable, a surging beast on freeways. The snappy throttle activates waves of torque that might twist the frame into a pretzel, were it not as stout. But, as with most would-be scramblers, to venture off the pavement for very long would be a mistake.
BMW R nineT Urban G/S: Not Your Daughter’s GS
In no way should the BMW R nineT Urban G/S be confused with or substituted for BMW’s R 1200 GS, one of the most popular and versatile motorcycle in the world. The GS is more capable off-road and is priced nearly $10,000 more than the G/S.
Therein lies the purpose of this new release: to bring new buyers to the brand with offerings that are invitingly affordable. The BMW R nineT Urban G/S is both comfortable and easy to ride. Set the suspension marshmallow-soft for more comfort on longer rides, or tighten it up board-stiff for better cornering. The admission price buys a high-performance scrambler-look that excels in running around town and on medium-range jaunts.
BMW hopes to stir emotion with the R nineT Urban G/S, drawing in those who remember the R 80 G/S from nearly 40 years ago; the world’s first “touring enduro.” However, this completely different mount stands on its own merits.
The BMW R nineT Urban G/S features a responsive and powerful 1200cc boxer engine with a perfect blend of snappy responsiveness and throbbing power. The bike is exhilarating and fun right out of the box. Can you have too much of a good thing?