Spot the difference! BMW modernise retro range with new R12 nineT

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BMW are preparing to reveal their next generation of retro roadsters, teasing a new R12 nineT model to a select group of journalists at their Motorrad headquarters in Munich.

Although no official specs or details will be released until November 2023, MCN can confirm that the R nineT replacement retains the air/oil-cooled 1170cc boxer twin engine from the non-shiftcam R1200GS, with a host of new electronic and ergonomic changes to bring the bike up to date.

“We used the package from the R1200, which was already there from the GS with the airbox, and the frame so that was basically a little bit of a compromise… because it was not a roadster package.” BMW’s Head of Design, Edgar Heinrich said, speaking about the original model. “There were not some super perfect conditions in terms of ergonomics, for example.”

BMW R12 nineT 1170cc boxer twin engine

Since introducing the first R nineT in 2013, which was mated to a pair of front forks from the S1000RR superbike, BMW have gone on to sell around 106,000 bikes across the globe – spawning derivatives including café racers, scramblers, and even retro adventurers. This new bike looks to build on that success, retaining the old looks with claimed greater refinement.

“You will also know the derivatives of the R nineT,” Heinrich continued. “They had a very nice design but for the purpose it was probably not always 100% spot on, and we said we have to fix this, with a completely new package, still using our air-cooled boxer engine. 

“This was the main target for the new R nineT,” he continued. “We tried to clean all of the clutter, and make it very straight, and make it more dynamic with [improved] ergonomics, and super dynamic in terms of riding.”

A left-side view of the BMW R12 nineT

From the brief look in person and the images provided, it appears the twin cylinder motor will be held in a revised tubular steel chassis, which is indicated most clearly by the revised pipework surrounding the comfortably set rider’s foot pegs.

Still appearing to use the motor as a stressed member, other notable changes include the cylinder head covers, bodywork tweaks, and revised 17in spoked rim design, which come dressed in Michelin’s competent all weather Road 5s.

The angle of the shock is also completely different – changed from upright to sloped forwards. Featuring manual adjustment, it bolts in beneath the single seat, with further access presumably granted with the removal of the glossy nineT-badged coverings running down either side.

BMW R12 nineT rear seat hump

“Of course, we wanted to keep the heritage look of the bike, but underneath everything is new, basically,” Heinrich continued. “On one hand, you need to meet the latest regulations with the Euro5 and noise emissions, and this is not easy with all these new electronics that you need to have.”

Given the vast range of R nineT versions that have come before, it’s pretty safe to assume the R12 will give rise to multiple variants.

When questioned on whether this would include a smaller cruiser, to sit alongside the R18 he added: “I’m not allowed to talk about future motorbikes but maybe that’s a good idea.”

Sounds very promising. Check back for more news coming soon.