Here’s a quick impression i got test riding a consignment R nineT at the local dealership here in Albuquerque:
1) It’s f#$%ing beautiful: I hate the Eurotrash touring/adventure look that BMW does with all it’s bikes. This one, on the other hand, looks fantastic! The black and brushed chrome really sets it off, and the classic single round headlamp looks better than the polygonal, mismatched sizes ever will. Everything about is nicely finished, and the look of the whole bike just flows.
2) It’s powerful: The power comes on fast, and the bike really nips along. I never got out of 4th, even at highway speeds. The engine has a nice feel to it, shifts quietly and easily, but at stoplights has a thumping, urgent sort of noise and feel that smooths out as soon as you are moving.
3) It can stop…Lordy, can it stop. The Brembos on this are almost too powerful, but the ABS keeps you from locking them up. Actually found this a bit off-putting.
4) Comfort: the saddle is comfortable, if a bit too wide for me. The seating position is very nice — about the same feel as a Bonneville. That said…the stock bars were too wide; almost dirt-bike like. I felt I had to work a lot more than I do on other machines to turn her. Bringing us to..
5) Handling: It turns well enough, but the handlebars coupled with the fatter tires than I’m used to made her feel unresponsive and I nearly went too wide in a turn that I would have hooked with no issues on my Thruxton.
6) Overall — It’s a nice standard-style bike with a lot of potential for personalization, but it’s not $14,000+ nice. Sorry, Beemer fans, but there it is. This was aimed at the cafe/retro crowd and stylistically its competition is the Thruxton and the new Honda. But in reality, performance-wise, it’s more aimed at the naked sportbike crowd, so when comparing it to the Thruxton, the numbers are going to vastly favor this bike.
But here’s the thing — maybe it’s because I was very cognizant this was someone else’s bike, I found the RnineT experience a bit disconcerting. It was fast and stopped well, no doubt, but she felt heavy — despite being about the same weight as my Triumph — and I thought the maneuverability was lacking. New bars might correct that. The motor had a lot of character, especially at idle, and it’s a supermodel looks-wise…but when I hopped on my Thruxton afterward, I felt she handled much better, gave better input to the rider about what it was doing, felt lighter, had a more smooth motor, and…well, for the price was a better bike for popping around town.
Would I turn down the gift of an R nineT? Nope! Trade my Thruxton for one? Nope.