2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S - Back to the Future
We’ve already run BMW's R nine T Scrambler and Roadster through our gauntlet of tests and now it’s time to do the same for the Urban G/S.
BMW’s R nineT is a bike that doesn’t really need an introduction. It came onto the scene in 2013 and stunned by offering a fantastic package, with great neo-retro looks and represented the last hurrah for BMW’s iconic air-cooled 1200cc flat-twin. For 2017 BMW has built on the original and there’s now a fully fledged range, with the R nine T Roadster spawning Pure, Racer, Scrambler and Urban G/S variants. While the Urban G/S might seem a little bit ‘Remuera’ with its oxymoronic name, it harks back to the original big adventure bike, the 1980 R80G/S. That bike essentially created one of the biggest categories in motorcycling today, and the Urban G/S is essentially its great grandson.
Being based on the R nine T platform, you get the proven 1200cc air/oil-cooled flat twin, a great electronics system, and a comfy upright riding position. Mention of comfort, it even comes with heated grips as standard.
The G/S aspect comes into play with slightly elongated forks (longer by just 5mm), complete with fork gaiters, “bear claw” pegs, a motocross-style front mudguard, and the awesome throwback colour scheme. Our test bike came with the optional wire spoke wheels and BMW’s Automatic Stability Control. ABS is standard.
Thumbing the starter button on a boxer-engined motorcycle is always rather exciting. The whole thing rocks from side to side, and even more so when some throttle is applied. Which you’ll be doing a fair bit of, as the stock-standard Euro4 exhaust pipe is pretty much perfect. It’s quiet while you’re waiting for a red light to turn green, and raucous enough when you crack open the throttle. Not quite as guttural as an aftermarket unit perhaps but you really don't need to replace it. It’s more than happy to make a few bangs - especially when the engine hasn’t quite warmed up to proper temperature yet - and it helps keep the engine environmentally friendly.
In terms of outright on-road performance you’d probably want to eye up the Roadster or Racer models, as the Urban G/S is more designed for urban comfort. However that doesn’t mean it won’t perform on the backroads. We clocked a 0-100 time of 3.7s, just shy of BMW’s claimed time, and a 2.1 second dash from 80 to 120. The engine might be better suited to casual riding but it does love a good licking every now and again. The chassis and suspension set-up isn’t geared totally towards slaying curves but it handles these pretty well anyway.
That said, I couldn’t really recommend you can take the Urban G/S greenlaning either as evidenced by the huge skid I accidentally left on a slightly moist grassy knoll. Perhaps if you invested in some knobblies the going might be easier.
Niggles hardly rate a mention but we will for completion. There’s no rev counter but given it’s a big displacement twin you don’t need to rev it out anyway. The electronic part of the lone speed dial shows total and trip mileage, and the time but there’s no instant fuel consumption or fuel gauge. When you start running low on gas part of the screen changes to a flashing petrol pump icon. A yellow triangle with an exclamation point also lights up on the dash, which looks more like engine trouble than low fuel. The gear shifter is happy to move around in the dead zone below first gear and above sixth where other transmissions employ some sort of mechanical stopper. But we guess they’re there to inform you that you’ve hit low or high gears already.
When you start running low on gas part of the screen changes to a flashing petrol pump icon. A yellow triangle with an exclamation point also lights up on the dash, which looks more like engine trouble than low fuel. The gear shifter is happy to move around in the dead zone below first gear and above sixth where other transmissions employ some sort of mechanical stopper. But we guess they’re there to inform you that you’ve hit low or high gears already.
The pros of the Urban G/S easily outstrip the cons, most of which are minor.
The G/S seems to be designed for looking the part as much as anything else. And Lordy, what a looker this is. Every time you get off you’ll be craning your head back to get one last glimpse of that loud red seat and the two-tone blue and white detailing on the tank. The beak and headlight cowl only add to the retro aesthetic package.
The Urban G/S retails for $23,990 and it doesn’t exactly have much competition as a spinoff R nine T. You could eye up a Monster 1200 for slightly more go, or perhaps Bonneville Street Scrambler for more off-road capability. Then there’s BMW’s own R nine T Scrambler for that! The Ducati will cost more while the Trumpy will save you some money for accessories. However neither can match the Urban G/S for sheer presence which is hard to put a price on.
Model BMW R nine T Urban G/S Price $23,990
Engine 1170cc, air/oil-cooled, , , 81kW / 116Nm
Transmission 6-speed, shaft drive Vitals 3.7s 0-100km/h
2.1s (m) 80-120km/h, 52.35m 100-0km/h, kg