A sophisticated nostalgia kicking some dust.

LISTEN 15:10

Success was not a problem with BMW, especially for their R NineT. It has absolutely been a hit story for the German ever since it launched the R Nine T in 2013. It was so good that BMW struggled initially to keep up with the demand and they released one version after the other in succession to the world stage that includes the Pure (roadster) and Racer (café/endurance-style), as well as the Scrambler. It is a no brainer that BMW Motorrad will see it fitting to extend their range even further.

The GS motorcycles refer to either Gelände/Straße (German: off-road/road) and are distinguished by their long travel suspension, upright riding position and larger front wheels. Taking up the same moniker is the Urban G/S which is a purpose built street-oriented motorcycle that has a charm bound to resonate with onlookers. Based on the ‘Lac Rose’ concept seen at Wheels and Waves earlier last year, the German finally took the wraps off their new 2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S at the previous EICMA in Milan.

Paying homage to the original 1980 BMW R80G/S, this urban combines the classic motorcycle with modern technology and sophisticated craftsmanship that can transport anyone back to the days when the GS abbreviation meant a sense of freedom and the passion for adventure on two wheels, both on-road and off-road. But this time they’re for looks and not for bashing your way across unpaved expanses of Africa.

  • 2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Displacement:
    1170 cc
  • Top Speed:
    143 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
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  • Overall:
This urban combines the classic motorcycle with modern technology and sophisticated craftsmanship that can transport anyone back to the days when the GS abbreviation meant a sense of freedom and the passion for adventure on two wheels.


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BMW R NineT BMW R NineT Urban G/S
2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 719890

Channelling the lines and look of the original R80 GS, the bike that essentially created the adventure-touring class, BMW has given the Urban with fork gaiters, "bear claw" pegs, MX style mudguard, and that throwback paint job and flat red seat. All that said, this Urban is basically an aesthetic only exercise to the R NineT which is designed to make us remember of its ancestor.

Just like 35 years ago, the fuel tank and the mudguard are finished in striking Lightwhite and two tones of blue non-metallic paint job that are even matched by the headlamp mask. The dual section front mudguard gives the motorcycle a classic enduro look while the splash guard is mounted just above the front wheel in conjunction with a fork stabiliser. The profile is defined by a pronounced horizontal line. White body elements and the narrow, slightly longer red seat revive the spirit of the legendary R 80 G/S from 1980. This is also highlighted by the blacked engine and frame elements.

2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S
- image 719897

The two-man seat in bright red completes the BMW Motorsport colours of former years.Matching the headlamp mask harmoniously is the instrument cluster that consists of speedometer designed as an analogue circular instrument, indicator lamps and a two-line LCD screen. The instrument panel, however, lacks a rev meter. Such a shame.

Detailing is not uncommon on any BMW, and with the Urban, you can expect a lot of touches. They include the vast use of aluminium in places such as the fork bridges, the clamp for the aluminium double-butted tubular handlebars, aluminium fuel tank with brushed side surfaces and much more besides.

2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 719892

Large 19” front wheels gives it a menacing stance while the rear carries a 17” wheel. Another classic touch is the screwed thermal panel on the exhaust in brushed stainless steel and the steel footbrake lever. These features promise an enjoyable driving on dirt and gravel with the security of a bike derived out of the R NineT.

Overall Dimension

Make Model 2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S Triumph Street Scrambler Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
Length 85.2 in 85.66 in 86.6 in
Width 34.2 in 32.7 in 37 in
Height 52.3 in 44.1 in 47.8 in
Wheelbase 60.1 in 58.8 in 59.3 in
Seat height 33.5 in 33.1 in 33.9 in
Wet weight 485 lb 478 lb 456 lb
Fuel Tank 4.5 gal 3.2 gal 3.57 gal


2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S
- image 719901

The Urban might be a homage to the yesteryears but has a heart made of a modern and a sophisticated package. Similar to the R NineT, the Urban makes use of an air/oil-cooled, flat twin 1170cc boxer engine that is endowed with a lovely long spread of power that produces 110bhp at 7550rpm and maximum torque of 85.5 lb-ft at 6000rpm. It is paired with a new fuel map and new, larger controlled 3-way catalytic converter making it up to date with the Euro4 emission standards.

The mill also features electronic intake pipe injection / digital engine management with overrun cutoff and twin-spark ignition. There is a central counterbalancer shaft that minimises swaying especially during idle which otherwise swindle the motorcycle from side to side due to the flat twin engine arrangement. Claw-shifted six-speed transmission with helical-cut splines taking power to the rear wheel via shaft drive. The clutch system, however, does not feature any ride by wire, fussy riding modes or slip assist but is hydraulically assisted.

2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior
- image 719881
There is no tachometer and hence you’ll have to use the rev-limiter to find the 8,500 rpm redline. And when that happens, expect a bellowing megaphone which otherwise burbles through ride around town while it pops and bangs on the overrun.

All of this is possible because of the electric servomotor controlling an acoustic valve to meet the desire for a sonorous boxer sound.

Engine Specification

Make Model 2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S Triumph Street Scrambler Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
Capacity cc 1170 900 803
Bore/ Stroke mm 101/73 84.6/88 88/66
Output 110 bhp @ 7750 rpm 55 bhp @ 6000 rpm 75 bhp @ 9500rpm
Torque 86 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm 59 ft-lb @ 2850 rpm 50 lb-ft @ 7500rpm
Type Air/oil-cooled 4-stroke flat twin engine with balancer shaft, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin L-Twin, Desmodromic distribution, 2 valves per cylinder, air cooled
Clutch type Single dry plate clutc Wet- Multiplate with assist APTC wet multiplate with mechanical control
Transmission 6-speed 5-speed 6-speed


2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 719882

Since this motorcycle has an enduro character to it, the handlebar and footpeg positions are rather high. Contrasting is the higher saddle, and wider rear mounted footrests making an upright and confident riding position. BMW has given a steering head angle of 61.5° which is exactly not superbike territory but is going to be a comfortable and practical ride around town. The ergonomic design ensures a driving experience in the maximum relax whether you ride solo or in pairs.

The Urban frame consists of three components: a front and rear main frame with integrated end piece and a passenger frame which will assist in a more neutral cornering response. At lower speeds, however, the front end seems to be a bit vague if not completely relaxed.

2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior
- image 719898

Suspension setups are not exactly sophisticated to be precise. BMW has chosen to give it a decent package rather than an expensive one with the conventional telescopic fork at the front while the BMW Paralever having rebound damping is applied in conjunction with a central spring strut at the rear which is fully adjustable.

Factory fitted light alloy cast wheels don the Urban G/S. 19” at the front and 17” at the rear which is in keeping with the typical enduro-style look of a classic bike. Clutching them are Brembo 4-piston brake callipers, steel-wrapped brake lines and twin-brake discs measuring of 320 millimetres at the front and single disc brake measuring 265 mm at the rear with double-piston floating calliper. BMW Motorrad ABS is a standard feature ensuring effective and stable deceleration on road or gravel.

2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 719891

Apart from the ABS, there is not much of a tech-ridden spec sheet here. You will, however, be able to opt for ASC (Automatic Stability Control) to prevent the rear wheel from spinning on slippery roads, which is available ex-works.

Chassis Specifications

Make Model 2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S Triumph Street Scrambler Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
Frame Three-part frame concept with front frame and two-part rear frame, load-bearing engine-gearbox unit, rear-set frame removable for one-up riding Tubular steel cradle Tubular steel Trellis frame
Suspension / Front Telescopic forks with 43 mm fixed-tube diameter KYB 41mm cartridge forks, 120mm travel 46mm fully adjustable USD forks
Suspension / Rear Cast aluminium single swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; central spring strut, spring preload fully adjustable by hook wrench, adjustable rebound-stage damping KYB twin shocks with adjustable preload, 120mm rear wheel travel Kayaba rear shock, pre-load and rebound adjustable. Aluminium double-sided swingarm
Brakes / Front Twin disc brakes, diameter 320 mm, 4-piston callipers, BMW Motorrad ABS Single 310mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS 330 mm disc, radial 4-piston calliper with ABS as standard equipment
Brakes / Rear Single disc brake, diameter 265 mm, double-piston floating calliper, BMW Motorrad ABS Single 255mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS 245 mm disc, 1-piston floating calliper with ABS as standard equipment
Tyres / Front 120/70 R 19 100/90-19 Pirelli SCORPION RALLY STR 120/70 R19
Tyres / Rear 170/60 R 17 150/70 R17 Pirelli SCORPION RALLY STR 170/60 R17


2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior
- image 719900

The Urban G/S, which pays tribute to the original adventure bike, the iconic 1980 R 80 G/S, will retail for $12,995 (plus a $495 destination fee). The R nineT Urban G/S will be featured in one colour tone: Lightwhite non-metallic combined with fuel tank decor in two blue tones with a bright red seat.

Being a BMW, there is obviously the ex-works. Be it off-road looks or a retro vibe, the Urban can be customised to suit your lifestyle with possibilities being literally endless due to the modular frame concepts. Options such as a single seat saddle, crash bar, engine guard, protective headlamp grille, spoked wheels, various tanks, ASC (Automatic Stability Control), heated grips and LED turn indicators. BMW Motorrad will also give you specially fabricated add-on components such as their new Machined parts to not have any restrictions to your imaginations provided you have a deep enough pocket.

Make Model 2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S Triumph Street Scrambler Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
MSRP $12,995 $10,700 $11,595


There is no motorcycle in the segment that can match the Urban for its engine dynamics. But giving the Urban a tiff will be a British made an effort to prove that they still can rule the popular scrambler category. Triumph revealed the much-needed answer everyone was asking for at the EICMA. Meet the Triumph Street Scrambler. Then there is the Italian Desert Sled making Ducati feel the need for some off-road adventure.

Triumph Street Scrambler

Bringing in a significant update in capability and style to the iconic British company, the Scrambler builds on the Street Twin’s position as the fun and accessible machine and vies for top honours at the crowded segment which every motorcycle manufacturer is going collectively mad over. Luckily for Triumph, they have a history with the Scramblers that dates back to the legend Steve McQueen.

When it comes to a scrambler, you would expect it to be the barest of the bare minimum. But even though Triumph has pushed their Scrambler further into the dirt this EICMA, this version seems to focus much more on looking stylish on the street. Cleaner lines and contemporary finishes outline the unmistakable silhouette of the Bonneville with its iconic styling cues.The stripped back custom styling includes distinctive Scrambler features such as interchangeable pillion seat, aluminium rear rack, removable pillion pegs, ‘Bear Trap’ adventure style front pegs and bash plate.

The mill remains similar to the Street Twin models including the Street Cup that boasts a ‘high torque’ 900cc motor capable of 54bhp @5900 rpm. Not much one would say but is enough to wind around in the urban city more comfortably. The torque figures are in the range of 80Nm at 3230 rpm which is significantly higher compared to other scramblers around. The firing interval with this charismatic 270° is optimised for smooth and linear power delivery and is specifically tuned to provide the rider with a better power band to play with.

This scrambler gets its dedicated chassis and suspension setup giving it a more dynamic Scrambler poise. Specific front fork and shocks with additional travel raise the back end for additional ride height. Braking will be handled by the high-value 2-piston sliding axial Nissin calliper with machined branding and switchable ABS accessible through a toggle in the instrument panel. Featured on this bike are ride-by-wire tech that enhances throttle response, switchable traction control and engine immobiliser.

The Jet Black Scrambler will set you back $10,700, but the Matte Khaki Green fetches $10,950 and the two-tone, Korosi Red / Frozen Silver commands the premium price at $11,200.

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

2017 - 2018 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer & Desert Sled
- image 709873

Till today, Ducati has been making Scramblers which could have been abused, but it pleased the urban way and masses, and hence they became glorified street bikes. With five models in the lineup, this Desert Sled is finally the machine that is ready to get its feet properly dirty. Reinforced for off-road duty, this Desert Sled is most certainly a Scrambler-esque iteration of the South-West California and the Mexico’s Baja scenes in the ’60s and ’70s.

Giving away the off-roader style is the marauding frame and suspension along with the 19 inch spoked wheels. Evidently the bike is surrounded with features that highlights the bike’s capability such as type-approved headlight mesh guard, the high mudguards, chain guard and, of course, the engine skid plate. The groundbreaking body trim is basically just the teal teardrop fuel tank with interchangeable side panels sporting the Urban Enduro inherited logo. The fact that the engine, exhaust with dual tail pipe and the suspension is totally exposed is why this Scrambler gets the raw factor from the design team. Kudos to them.

It is really a commendable job done by Ducati to have managed to spin the same engine and create that many Scramblers each having their own character. The loveable air-cooled 803cc motor is bolted to the steel trellis frame, and the Euro 4 compliant engine develops 75bhp at 8,250 rpm and 50 lb-ft of peak torque at 5,750 rpm. Although it is the same motor, riders can expect this Desmodue engine to deliver simple and accessible bands of power on any terrain. It promises smoother delivery of power and faster throttle response, especially at lower rpm than ever before.

Worthy of its attributes, the Desert Sled gets a tough 46 mm upside-down Kayaba fork that is fully adjustable with increased travel of 200mm with preload and rebound damping. The rear also gets Kayaba shock with fully adjustable preload. Braking system mounted on this bike is the promising 4-piston Brembo M4.32B monoblock calliper with a radial attachment that bites the single 330mm disc at the front and a 245 mm at the rear. Bosch 9.1 MP ABS system with pressure sensor will provide you with enough punch and tech to keep you safe.

You can get your hands on this Scramblers for a price tag of $11,595.The Desert Sled is available in two colours, Red Dusk and White Mirage.


2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 719895

Just one glance of the Urban G/S is enough to capture the unmistakable source of inspiration, of the off-road spirit of that era it was destined from. Sequentially, its riding characteristics make it a true member of today’s R nineT family all the more.

It is quite different in style but equally classic in character. With this one can enjoy the confidence from the boxer engine and the comfort from the riding position enough to fall in love with the dynamics this bike carries. With being able to choose any customising options, one can literally turn the character of this bike to suit himself.

2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S High Resolution Exterior
- image 719894
Yes, it is not a tech-fest. And it is not wrong in expecting it for the price you may end up paying, but the very fact that all of it is missing helps you gain consciousness of the way things were before, {Maybe!}.

As BMW says ‘It reflects the way of life of that time: People knew where they wanted to go, and they knew exactly how they would get there’.

  • Leave it
    • Low end suspension unit
    • Higher saddle
    • Pricing
Sagar Patil
Sagar Patil
Motorcycle industry expert since 1997! - sagar@topspeed.com
Over the years, a deeper conscience of machines moving body and soul has given him a crisp grasp over the concepts of motorcycling. A sucker for details and common sense, he loves getting his hands dirty every once in a while. His love affair with motorcycles ushers in the specialist skillset making Sagar our go-to expert for everything on two-wheels.  Read full bio
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