World Exclusive: BMW confirm 'Heritage' R nineT range

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BMW will reveal three new R nineT spin-off models using the air/oil-cooled engine and chassis as it surges ahead with the development of a separate ‘Heritage’ department to run alongside the existing modern motorcycle business.

MCN’s sources enabled us to pre-empt this official confirmation with details of a new R nineT range back in October 2015.

All three bikes will be revealed at the Milan motorcycle show in November this year and the news was exclusively confirmed to MCN by the boss of BMW Motorrad, Stephan Schaller. While BMW will not be drawn on the model names and exact specifications so far in advance of their launch, MCN understands that they will complement the R nineT and Scrambler with three distinct variations on the theme, which we believe will look very similar to our computer-generated images seen here.

The R nineT has been a stunning success for BMW and has established itself as a big seller around the world. In terms of total sales it now sits as the fourth best-selling BMW of all; only pipped by the ever-dominant R1200GS, R1200GS Adventure and the R1200RTtourer.

R nineT spawns new models

Schaller is the President of BMW Motorrad and heads the entire two-wheel side of the company. He has overseen the large-scale expansion of the BMW range, introduced the R nineT and imminent new Scrambler version, and is also overseeing the new G310 small-capacity family, with the G310R due for release in October this year. He told MCN: “We will have three new models to add to the Heritage range and you will see these at the Milan and Cologne shows this year.

“We tested the water with R nineT a few years ago and that has been a big success for us. More family members will be added to this range later this year. We already have the R nineT and the Scrambler has been shown too. This will be launched very soon.

“You are right to assume that these new models will be based on models like the GS or RS from our history. But hopefully there will be a surprise too!”

Schaller’s confirmation of three new heritage models fits in with the creation of BMW Heritage – a new department that will look after everything from the design and engineering of new bikes through to all of the lifestyle and accessory parts for those bikes. There is even going to be a change to the way dealerships look to soften the style and make them more accessible for a wider range of people who may not already ride, or be a stereotypical BMW rider.

This new department heralds a significant amount of financial investment into an area of the market BMW believes offers potential for growth.

Schaller added: “It wasn’t a shock to have the R nineT succeed but it wasn’t expected to be as huge as it has become. We only do a new project if we know there is going to be a return on that investment. If the returns are there for us to see in the Heritage range then there is no limit to what we can develop. This new department will have the freedom to develop new bikes but as with everything we do, it must be a success with buyers.

“We want to make dealers more inviting for all customers. Heritage is something on top of the existing range. We still have a major focus on adventure as this is the main focus of BMW Motorrad. Heritage is an additional segment. It’s too early to say if this will be a bigger part of what we will produce in terms of motorcycles into the future but there is a lot of potential for growth for BMW there.”

And Schaller refuted accusations that heritage focused product is a mask for motorcycle companies reworking old designs in new bikes. He told us: “BMW will also have leading technology no matter what the segment may be. This you will still see in the Heritage range as well as the rest. You may not see it but that technology will be in the bike. We already have our world of supersport, the world of adventure, urban mobility, an electric scooter, and now we have the world of heritage.”


The R80G/S homage

The R80G/S Dakar model is one of the most famous of all BMW bikes, and the grandfather of the R1200GS/A that is enjoying such global dominance right now. With values of good original examples of the R80G/S now accelerating upwards at an alarming rate, a modern tribute to that bike could be just what the market ordered. With 110bhp from the air/oil-cooled boxer twin’s 1170cc motor, the performance will be more than adequate, while the reliability and versatility of the engine is far greater than the R80 could dream of. As Schaller pointed out, these bikes will be brimming with technology, so expect many of the riders aids from the R1200GS to find their way onto this variant. Lead amongst them are likely to be rain and road modes, as well as an enduro mode, while ABS will be mandatory, and traction control likely.

The ‘base model’

BMW are very aware of the appetite for customisation, and that the R nineT will be dismissed by many as too expensive and too high-spec to be bought for ripping apart. So the idea behind this bike is to offer buyers something akin to a blank canvas, at a more affordable price – which we expect to be close to £8500. Not only do all of the expensive parts from the R nineT get removed in order to cut costs but the bike is kept deliberately simple so as little as possible needs to be removed before customising can begin. BMW’s own, ever-expanding, aftermarket catalogue will help the less engineering focused modifiers to create a bespoke bike, while the pros have a perfect starting point.


The half-faired S model

This is one model that has been missing from the BMW line-up for some years. Not since the demise of the exotic HP2 Sport in 2012, and the R1200S of 2006/7 before it, have BMW had a half-faired sporty bike in the range. The introduction of the R1200RS last year has been a successful return for the RS model name, but it is a more refined and sports-touring orientated offering. This half-faired heritage bike is far closer in intent to the HP2, but without all the exotic parts, or price tag.

This should be a light and nimble HP2-lite, still providing owners with an easy start point for further customisation, while already addressing the overall styling work. Like all these new models, it will be devoid of high-end cycle parts,  but we expect there to be plenty of scope in the parts catalogue to turn this into more of an HP2 botherer.


Images: Kar Lee design

Searching for a retro BMW, but can’t wait for the new models? Check out the R nineT’s currently for sale at  MCN Bikes For Sale website or use MCN’s Bikes For Sale App.

Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter