What a thing of great beauty this machine is, the BMW R nine T Racer
S. We’ve paddled the boxer twin into a ford to help Gary our renowned
lensman get some form of fancy shot. You know the type, all reflections
and arty stuff. Sadly, the weather hasn’t been playing the game recently
and the normally higher levels of water are sadly somewhat reduced.
what normally would be more like a ford with swift-moving water
offering a full-length reflection of the Racer’s beautiful lines is
actually more of a puddle. Being the hackneyed old scribe I am, this
location (five minutes from my place) has been used by me countless
times over the last 23 or so years to make lovely motorcycles look
jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but I can’t remember paddling in a
better-looking bike to this location.
As mentioned in
the test of the R nineT Pure C and the G/S some while ago, a base
chassis-shared bike has provided the foundation for three very
different-looking retro machines which hark back to a particular part of
BMW’s rich heritage.
This is the bike that probably is
in the range to make us remember the likes of 1974’s R90S, a bike which
mated a two-valve, push-rod, horizontally-opposed air-cooled flat twin
of meagre output to a sweet-handling chassis. It came with a useful
bikini fairing and in a lovely ‘Daytona Orange’ colour scheme. BMWs
wouldn’t become this cool for years…
While it could be
argued that the prototype precursor to the Racer S we have here (a
Roland Sands bike called ‘Concept Ninety’) did come in a lovely shade of
orange, the production Racer has a corporate BMW scheme of white with
blue and red striping and a decidedly single-minded look. No pillions
here, thank you very much… well, more of that later.
|You have to pick your line before pushing the Racer into the bends.|
Saddling up, you’d expect things to be
very similar to the Pure C but nothing could be further from the truth.
As opposed to the sit-up-and-beg comfort of the Pure, you’re welcomed by
twin (as opposed to single) clocks and a bit of a stretch around that
tank. The overall feel is that of being much more cramped on the Racer
(as you’d expect) and this takes a little getting used to.
same rorty exhaust note is there, though, as soon as I thumb the
starter button. My knees creak as I lift both of my pegs up off the
Tarmac to attach them to the Beemer’s pegs. And we’re off! And the first
thing that strikes me (strangely) is how much better the mirrors work
on the Racer over the Pure. Although they seem to be of the same basic
design and shape, the Racer’s seem to stick out more, so I’m rewarded
with more than just ‘textile elbow’.
Enough of that,
let’s re-evaluate that motor: oh yes… it’s got more than enough go, it
sounds lovely in a droning sort of way and is plenty punchy. I mean,
you’re really not going to need much more than 100 ponies on something
that is more styling exercise than sports tool. Which is why the next
big thing to hit you doesn’t really matter much either: if you want
something like this but quicker steering, go for the Pure. The leverage
afforded by the bars and seating position alone gives you much more of
an instant ability to change direction.
With the Racer,
it’s more about picking your line with precision and sticking to it.
Checking the stats you’ve got two mm less wheelbase with the Racer and
pretty much identical rake/trail figures – we are talking tiny
differences here. The only meaningful change can be the way you’re
spread over the front of the Racer, with your feet tucked just that
little bit further back on the Racer’s pegs.
this slower feel to the steering does translate into confidence as you
carve your way through the bends, but for some reason I did think that
the suspension felt that little harsher on the Racer, despite identical
Up front you’ve got
non-adjustable 43mm forks and a rear shock adjustable for only rebound
and preload. Personally I was having too much fun to fiddle, and I just
think that the different seating posture (putting me on the – shall we
say – less upholstered part of my backside) led to the feeling of
When things start to slow down among the
urban sprawl, you do start to feel that the seating position and bars
make much less sense. You’ll suddenly find that the weight on your
wrists and the overall ergonomics of the Racer make for a more painful
proposition while bimbling around town.
apart from that, what’s not to like? Well, checking my notes the one
thing that did seem to do the job was the brakes. Like the Pure, these
are Brembo four-pots with BMW’s excellent ABS system attached. The only
niggles really were in the controls… The twin analogue clock-set was
attractive and gave you all the information you needed, along with a
useful gear indicator and other LCD-based info. The only issue was
having to dip your head to see what speed you were doing and the
indicators didn’t have a positive ‘feel’ to the button (normal button
now, thank God) so I kept checking as to whether they were ‘on’ or not.
course, this being a BMW, there are a fair few options. The model I got
to ride was the Racer S, which comes with spoked wheels, heated grips,
chrome exhaust and LED indicators for £11,615.
model is available for £10,900. Other options can really whack up the
price of your Racer… how about billet covers to the cylinder heads for a
cool £2550? Or an alarm, Automatic Stability Control, an aluminium
weave-look tank or sorting out pillion provision for your Racer? You’ll
soon find the cost of your Racer heading upwards – but this is the way
of things now and other manufacturers including our very own Triumph
know that we love to make bikes ‘unique’ to us.
overall the Racer is a delightfully delicious-looking machine, but if
you suffer from aches and pains you do need to be honest with yourself
as to whether the comfort levels of the bike are going to suit you. But,
as a bike to go out on for a blat on a summer’s evening on fast,
sweeping bends and to roll up in the pub car park on and get some
admiring glances, it could well fit your bill.
Labels: BMW, New Bike Review, Review