Intermot: R nineT Racer leads BMW's retro revolution

Published: 04 October 2016

BMW’s reinvention continues in 2017 with more new models that mark the German firm out as one of the most innovatively on-trend manufacturers in the market. And leading the charge is this beautiful R nineT Racer.

Looking every inch the retro HP2 Sport, it takes the basic R nineT platform that has proved so popular for BMW, strips it of its high-end cycle parts, and adds some of the most understated and classy café racer styling seen on any modern classic.

The most obvious headline addition is the Imola-style half fairing, which blends function with beautifully subtle form, clean lines and carefully thought-out design solutions. Rather than being bolted to the fairing, the mirrors are mounted beneath on the subframe, so that they can be removed without needing blanking plates.

Long and low looking, the similarities to the Concept 90 revealed in 2013 are clear to see, both unashamedly harking back to the seminal 1970s R90S. Continuing the café racer theme, the Racer gets clip-ons, rearset footpegs, and a neat – if perhaps slightly short – café seat unit. The back end is a lesson in minimalism, and the fact that BMW have given no option for a pillion means that the R nineT’s slightly cumbersome pillion peg/seat subframe is missing here, significantly cleaning up the rear.

If you do want/need to carry someone on the back, all the parts are available in the genuine parts catalogue to enable the fitment of a dual seat and pillion pegs. Alternatively, tell them to get the bus.

While the fuel tank looks near identical to the one fitted on the Roadster, it’s actually a 17-litre steel item, rather than handcrafted aluminium, which also helps to keep costs down. If you want the more authentically 70s aluminium option, it is available in the options list, replete with external seams.

What is left of the three-part modular main frame is now painted silver to help distinguish it from the Roadster, Pure and Scrambler models, while the Racer will also only be offered in what was always going to be the best possible colour option – this Motorsport blend of pure white with blue and red detailing. 

The wheelbase of the R nineT Racer is 2mm shorter than the Pure, at 1491mm, while the head angle is also steeper at 63.6° to the Pure’s 63.4° – giving a marginal improvement in agility over the naked option, that will be further improved by the sportier riding position. 

While aesthetic purists might have preferred some laced rims to roll on, the Racer comes on a set of newly designed cast five-spoke alloys with tyre sizes that are a pleasingly sporty 120/70 ZR 17 and 180/55 ZR 17. If you really want the joy of cleaning spoked rims, they are available on the options list.

At the Racer’s core is the 1170cc air/oil-cooled boxer engine – now Euro4 compliant, that’s developing 110bhp at 7750rpm, and 85.55ftlb of torque at 6000rpm (the redline sits at 8500rpm). The exhaust system is stainless that’s been polished to a high shine, and which boasts an acoustic valve that BMW claim will give the Racer a decent Boxer bellow, while allowing it to sneak though noise testing.

Owners looking for something a little more bespoke-looking will be pleased to know that there are genuine accessory options available, too.

The cockpit gets an attractive pair of circular analogue instruments, each hosting a small LCD panel for the Racer’s onboard computer, which shows gear position, remaining fuel range, trip distance, service intervals, average speed and fuel consumption.

The suspension is more basic than the more expensive R nineT Roadster model, with a RWU 43mm fork that boasts no adjustability, and Paralever single-sided swingarm and monoshock that is preload and rebound adjustable. ABS is standard fitment, while ASC (Automatic Stability Control – or traction control) is available as a factory option.

There’s no word on price yet, but we’d expect it to be similar to the Scrambler, at around £10,500.