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BMW's anniversary special: The NineT

Published: 10 May 2013

Updated: 20 November 2014

BMW’s soon-to-be-launched R1200-based café racer – designed to celebrate 90 years since the firm launched its first bike – will be called the NineT.

It’s been months since BMW revealed its plans to launch the new bike, which is set to go on sale immediately after its unveiling this summer as a 2013 model. Delays aren’t acceptable, since the machine is intended to mark the 1923 launch of the R32, BMW’s first production motorcycle.

Although BMW hasn’t officially revealed the new model’s name, trademark applications have been made around the world for the name NineT, detailing the fact that the name will be used on a motorcycle.

Spy photos and a silhouetted teaser image released last year show that the new model, which has been confirmed as using the old 1200cc air-cooled boxer twin rather than the latest water-cooled version, will draw its inspiration from 2008’s Lo Rider concept bike.

That means retro-style café-racer lines allied to modern sports bike suspension and brakes. Unlike the Lo Rider, the NineT will use a traditional-looking round headlight and low-level side-mounted exhaust; the earlier concept had stacked projector lights and a high, scrambler-style pipe.

Uniquely among modern BMW boxers the bike will use normal upside-down forks instead of the firm’s patented Telelever front suspension. That in turn means its chassis is entirely new, as the existing BMW boxer frames are designed around Telelever, and hence lack the stiff front section and headstock needed to support normal forks.

The back is more familiar BMW territory, with the usual shaft-drive and Paralever suspension.

Although an anniversary model, and one using an engine that’s nearing the end of its life, the amount of work that’s gone into the NineT’s design suggests it will remain in production beyond the end of the 90th anniversary year.

No specific launch date has been set, but the bike is likely to be the star at BMW’s annual Motorrad Days at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in July, where the celebrations have been extended to an extra night to account for the firm’s 90th birthday.

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