MCN Award winner: BMW R nineT

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It’s the final week of 2014, so we got some of our MCN Award winning bikes of 2014 together for one last blast. Here’s our favourite retro, BMW’S R nineT.

Stretching from Oundle to Corby the A427 is a road tester’s dream and is draped across the Northamptonshire countryside like some kind of demented roller-coaster track. There’s a delicious mix of up and down, slow and fast technically-demanding corners. They’ll test a bike’s handling in a way a flat, grippy racetrack can never do.

Some bikes are scary through here and others a joy. The old Aprilia RSV-R V-twin would break into a tankslapper over every crest, but the Honda CBR600RR was pure, screaming supersport bliss.Villages dotted along the A427 provide respite from the madness and a chance to check a bike’s basics – low-speed manners, throttle response and smoothness of controls. 

But this road’s piece de résistance is the Shell Grip piece of tarmac just outside Upper Benefield. With so much grip you could flick older bikes with naff ground clearance from peg to peg through its series of flip-flops. And of course, it’s a great place to get big lean in pictures when it’s dry. 

BMW’s new retro-cool R nineT never breaks a sweat on this inspiring road and that’s the key thing about this incredible machine: it mixes fantastic old-school design and beautiful build quality with modern day road manners, handling and performance. With its S1000RR front end, fat sticky tyres, and taught chassis, the R nineT is in and out of corners like Wile. E. Coyote chasing Road Runner, but the BMW is loaded with old-fashioned charm.

There’s a slight pitching from the Paralever rear on the gas, the faintest whiff of oil from the old-generation 110bhp air-cooled boxer engine and that rocking motion when you blip the throttle at a standstill. It’s easy to see why BMW sold out of NineTs even before they even arrived in dealers back in March and one of 2014’s biggest success stories.