So here I am, stood by the R nineT, the shiniest of all the BMW toys, and I’m in complete awe. I have just had the pleasure of test riding this gorgeous machine and it’s safe to say, it left me hugely impressed. Me? A sports bike freak, a speed junkie and a racer-wannabe! It’s no secret I like my bikes sporty, and that’s exactly how I approached the R nineT.
It didn’t take me long to realise this bike doesn’t like clutchless shifting and dropping a gear before dropping the speed causes a little, yet unsettling wobble. As natural as it feels to move your body on a sports bike, the R nineT wants your rear mounted on the seat and it simply doesn’t like high speeds. I was comfortable up to 70 mph, very uncomfortable at 90 mph, and I let go of the throttle at 125mph, due to the fear of being blown off of the bike.
And then I relaxed…
I opened myself to the new experience that this bike certainly was to me. And oh my, did I enjoy it! It may expect you to be sat comfortably on the, may I add, softest seat, but it’s just so wonderfully ‘flickable’, you forget all about the knee-dragging malarkey and still welcome bends and corners with a massive grin.
As soon as you realise there’s no point struggling with the wind and slow down, you discover what a beautiful duo the 1,170 cc engine and the standard double-barrel Akrapovic exhaust make, and trust me when I say this, this is by far one of the sexiest sounding motorbikes I have ever had a chance to experience first-hand. And did I mention the over-run pop making its appearance at very frequent intervals? Is there a better music to our ears than that sexy splutter on the over-run?
I simply can’t enjoy a motorcycle without confidence in brakes and, knowing it takes next to nothing to lock up the rear wheel in my sporty Yamaha R6, I was eager to test the standard anti-lock brakes and I wasn’t disappointed. The Brembo monobloc callipers are very efficient and allow you to rapidly drop plenty of speed, with the ABS giving you only a gentle, yet reassuring tickle on the foot. You can slam the rear brake at high speed and expect it to have your back. It significantly increased my confidence and sense of safety.
The biggest surprise to me was how capable the R nineT is power-wise. The 110bhp motor offers you plenty of torque in all gears. Here’s the surprising part; the power and acceleration in the 5th and 6th gear is shockingly superior to my R6 yet it is very smooth throughout the full range of speeds and revs. It allows you to go for a relaxed cruise without worrying about constant gear changes. You can safely stay in the 6th gear, drop the speed to 25-30mph with no risk of choking, and still have plenty of power available to accelerate and overtake. How liberating!
As a rather petite, 5’4 tall rider, I found foot pegs to be in the way, when coming to a stop, as well as the handle bars a little too wide and not easy to reach. At 222kg fully fuelled it is also a little one the heavy side. I did however feel it was fully compensated by the low, 30.9 inch (78.5cm) seat and in no way was this bike intimidating size-wise for me.
I shamefully admit that chain maintenance is not my favourite thing to do and the R nineT being a shaft-drive, offering relatively maintenance-free operation, long life and cleanliness, got the lazy girl in me very excited!
Aesthetically, the R nineT swept me of my feet. I struggled to believe it was stock as it looks absolutely magnificent straight out of the crate! From a hand-brushed aluminium and high-gloss black paint, to beautifully stitched seat, there’s nothing I would change or want to improve. This is again something very different and new to me. The first thing most new-bike owners do is invest in few cosmetic improvements like tail tidy, smaller indicators, and slip on exhaust, to name a few. The R nineT leaves the factory looking perfectly and tastefully polished.
However, in my humble opinion the single most exciting thing about this roadster is that it was designed to be a blank canvas. No matter how much love and carbon you throw at most motorbikes, they are still easily recognisable but not the R nineT. It truly is the most transformable bike on the market. Many parts come off with just a few screws and the options for customisation are endless. You can easily turn it into an old-fashioned cafe racer or a mean-looking off-roader. If riding a one-of-a-kind motorcycle is something you want in life, this bike is your dream come true.
So here I am. A sportsbike hooligan, surprised with how thrilling riding at legal speeds can be, and completely mesmerised with this elegant, sophisticated, yet very exciting motorcycle.
It made me feel like a lady. It made me ride like a lady.