A Rolling Tribute To The Grand-Daddy Of All Dual Sports

BMW expanded its R nineT lineup ahead of the ’17 model year with the Urban G/S that brings old school adventure bike looks to the table along with the same modern performance as the rest of the line. Power comes from an 1,170 cc flat-twin engine that adds character and historical panache at the same time to make the “GS” something of a rolling tribute piece. Although the “GS” sports some special gear that sets it apart from the rest of the range, it’s still just a platform that can be shifted between the stock road-running setup and a more offroad friendly build for what is, essentially, two bikes in one. Rider safety is also available in varying levels, so I would argue that this ride is probably appropriate for riders that land near the bottom of the experience scale along with riders who are looking to cross between the black and the brown.

Continue reading for my review of the BMW R nineT Urban GS.

BMW R nineT Urban GS Design

2018 BMW R nineT Urban GS
- image 791033
This bike is capable enough to actually “see” some light terrain, instead of just “looking” like it might.

The design concept follows much the same path as that of the original Gelände/Straße (offroad/street), and for the same reasons. Beemer built the R80G/S between ’80 and ’87 with a split personality that earned it the distinction of being the Grand-daddy of all dual-sports. The new-in-MY2017 R nineT Urban G/S borrows the headlight housing from the original, complete with flyscreen, plus the large, tripletree-mount mudguard and fork gaiters that fans of the early models will instantly recognize.

Thankfully, Beemer opted for a more interesting tank design for this newest generation. The 4.5-gallon fuel tank carries a rather flat flyline before a steep drop to the bench seat right at the very end. The overall shape may be modernized, but the graphics and color choices are yet another nod to the original all the way across the board with Light White “sheet metal” and two-tone blue graphics followed by a red seat.

Enduro-style footpegs serve as the lowest points of contact opposite a taller-than-stock handlebar that encourages an upright riding posture, and the seat design allows for unimpeded movement fore and aft as well as side to side to enable whatever kind of body English you have in mind.

An exposed subframe area gives the GS an all-up-front look accentuated by a minimal mudguard/plateholder, and for once, I won’t advocate for a hugger since this bike might actually see some light terrain. You know, instead of just looking like it might.

BMW R nineT Urban GS Chassis

2018 BMW R nineT Urban GS
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Pick your poison for the wheels and tires: cast-aluminum wheels and street tires for urban missions, or the optional laced rims and knobbies for actions farther afield.

A modular, three-section frame uses tubular members for the bulk of the structure with the drivetrain itself used as a stressed member to eliminate part of the standing rigging along with its weight. The two-up subframe section can easily be removed and replaced with a single-seat version if you prefer your adventures to be solo in nature.

For the roundy-round parts, you choose which surface your GS prefers: cast-aluminum wheels and street tires for urban missions, or the optional laced rims and knobbies for actions farther afield. Up front, a 19-inch wheel rides with 4.9 inches of travel while the rear wheel drops down to a 17-inch diameter but boasts 5.5 inches of travel to round out the terrain-defeating measures that set the GS apart.

Unlike so many of its other products, Beemer supports the front of the R nineT with a set of conventional, 43 mm front forks rather than using its unusual Duolever system, but the Paralever system makes an appearance out back with adjustable spring preload and rebound damping on board. Brembo provides the four-piston anchors that grab the dual, 320 mm front discs to provide the bulk of the stopping power with a single-pot caliper and 265 mm disc out back.

Plus, as part of the stock equipment package, Beemer provides its proprietary ABS feature that allows you to safely get the most out of them. That’s great as far as it goes; too bad it’s the only safety equipment that comes with the stock package unless you count the steering damper that promises to fight excessive kickback.

Frame: Three-section frame consisting of one front and two rear sections, load-bearing engine-gearbox unit, removable pillion frame for single rider use 
Front suspension/Travel: Telescopic forks, Ø 43 mm/ 4.9” (125 mm)
Rear suspension/Travel: Cast aluminum single swing arm with BMW Paralever; central spring strut, spring preload fully adjustable by hook wrench, rebound damping adjustable/ 5.5” (140 mm)
Castor: 4.4” (110.6 mm)
Steering head angle: 28.5 °
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels 
Rim, front: 3.00 x 19"
Rim, rear: 4.50 x 17"
Tire, front: 120/70 R 19 
Tire, rear: 170/60 R 17 
Brake, front: Dual floating disc brakes, 4-piston calipers, diameter 320 mm 
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 265 mm, dual-piston floating caliper 
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS

BMW R nineT Urban GS Drivetrain

2018 BMW R nineT Urban GS
- image 791882
Although most of the visual impact of the historical touches is tied up in the color palette, the engine itself provides another link to the past with its flat-twin configuration.

Although most of the visual impact of the historical touches is tied up in the color palette, the engine itself provides another link to the past with its flat-twin configuration. The boxer has a classic look — no less than Harley’s V-Twin or Triumph’s parallel-twin — and it’s the same style that pushed the original, though the new version packs 1,170 cc away in those air-cooled jugs.

An oil-cooling system carries the worst of the waste heat away from the heads and eliminates it through a small radiator mounted discreetly right up under the steering head. Dual, over-head cams time a quartet of poppets per cylinder, and induction control falls to the electronic throttle bodies that help the mill meet EU-4 emissions standards and eke a total of 44 mpg from top-octane pump gas. Yeah, you can thank the 12-to-1 compression ratio for that, and the oversquare, 101 mm bore and 73 mm stroke. It’s worth it in the long run; the oilhead cranks out 110 horsepower at 7,750 rpm with 86 pound-feet of torque that maxes out at six grand, and it’s got a balance shaft that is tuned to let you access that power without loosing any fillings.

A single-plate dry clutch couples power to the six-speed gearbox that comes with quiet, helical-cut gears, and power makes its way to the rear wheel via drive shaft. All told, the drivetrain pushes the GS to speeds upwards of 125 mph...if you have the nerve to twist it that hard.

Engine: Air/oil-cooled 4-stroke flat twin engine with balance shaft, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication 
Bore x stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Displacement: 1,170 cc
Rated Output: 110 hp (81 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 86 lb-ft (116 Nm) at 6,000 rpm 
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection 
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standards EU-4 
Clutch: Single dry plate clutch, hydraulically operated 
Gearbox: Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears 
Drive: Shaft drive 2.91:1 

BMW R nineT Urban GS Pricing

2018 BMW R nineT Urban GS
- image 791034
You'd better like the red, white and blue livery, 'cause that's all you get.

The stock 2018 R nineT G/S rolls for $12,995, but you’d better like the red, white and blue livery, ’cause that’s all you get.

Standard Features: ABS, Modular Frame Concept, Adjustable Rear Shock Rebound Damping and Spring Preload, Telescopic Fork with Gaiters, Steel Fuel Tank, Disc Brakes, Steering Stabilizer, Smoked Turn Signal Lenses, One Piece Bench Seat, Cast Aluminum Wheels, 19" Front Wheel, LED Rear Light
Color: Light White
Price: $12,995

BMW R nineT Urban GS Competitors

2018 BMW R nineT Urban GS
- image 791041
2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100
- image 756332
Price-wise, they're neck-and-neck, but the Duc comes with more electronic fandanglery.

When it comes to relatively large-displacement, dual-purpose bikes, it’s hard to not think of Ducati’s scrambler-on-steroids, the Scrambler 1100. Equally classy and tasteful, the Duc has something of a more essential nature, and a more austere finish. The headlight can is minimal, as is the front wheel-fling protection, but the beefy inverted forks lend it a visual strength that inspires faith in the underpinnings.

The 1100 comes with the same adjustments out back as the GS, but those funny upside-down stems rock the full trinity of adjustments, and BMW has no counter for that here. Same with the brakes; both come with ABS protection, but the Duc’s protection is a bit better as it comes with corner-sensitive technology against Beemer’s vanilla anti-locks. The Duc’s safety equipment extends its lead over the GS with Riding modes and Power Modes on top of the corner sensitive ABS and traction control. Power from Ducati’s L-twin falls off a bit with 86 ponies and 65 pounds o’ grunt against 110/86, so it looks like all that fandanglery comes at the expense of performance. Pricewise, the two are neck-and-neck at $12,995, so it really comes down to raw performance versus safety gear at the end of the day.

He Said

“Having developed my skillset long ago, I’d pick power over protection. Plus, the looks of the Beemer is far and away more to my liking than Ducati’s over-fed funbike. It would be nice to see the traction control added to the standard equipment package instead of hiding it away in the optional equipment.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The nice wide bars puts you in a comfortable riding position. The instrumentation is very basic with a dial speedometer and a small LCD display for a few other things, but no fuel gauge. It’s basically an R nineT Scrambler with a few of its own bits, but the bits really give it its own feel. Handling is quite nice even on twisty roads and has plenty of get-up-and-go.”

BMW R nineT Urban GS Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Air/oil-cooled 4-stroke flat twin engine with balance shaft, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication 
Bore x stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Displacement: 1,170 cc
Rated Output: 110 hp (81 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 86 lb-ft (116 Nm) at 6,000 rpm 
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection 
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standards EU-4 
Clutch: Single dry plate clutch, hydraulically operated 
Gearbox: Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears 
Drive: Shaft drive 2.91:1 
Chassis:
Frame: Three-section frame consisting of one front and two rear sections, load-bearing engine-gearbox unit, removable pillion frame for single rider use 
Front suspension/Travel: Telescopic forks, Ø 43 mm/ 4.9” (125 mm)
Rear suspension/Travel: Cast aluminum single swing arm with BMW Paralever; central spring strut, spring preload fully adjustable by hook wrench, rebound damping adjustable/ 5.5” (140 mm)
Castor: 4.4” (110.6 mm)
Steering head angle: 28.5 °
Wheels: Cast aluminum wheels 
Rim, front: 3.00 x 19"
Rim, rear: 4.50 x 17"
Tire, front: 120/70 R 19 
Tire, rear: 170/60 R 17 
Brake, front: Dual floating disc brakes, 4-piston calipers, diameter 320 mm 
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 265 mm, dual-piston floating caliper 
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 85.2” (2,175 mm)
Width (incl. Mirrors): 34.2” (870 mm)
Height (incl. Mirrors): 52.3” (1,330 mm)
Wheelbase: 60.1" (1,527 mm) 
Seat height, unladen weight: Standard Seat: 33.5", Low Seat: 32.3"
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: Standard Seat: 74.4", Low Seat: 72"
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled: 487 lbs (221 kg)
Permitted total weight: 948 lbs (430 kg)
Payload (with standard equipment): 461 lbs (209 kg)
Usable tank volume: 4.5 gal (17 l)
Reserve: Approx. 1 gal (3.5 l)
Maximum speed: Over 125 mph 
Fuel consumption (WMTC): 44 mpg
Electricals:
Alternator: Three-phase 720 W alternator
Battery: 12 V / 14 Ah, maintenance free 
Details:
Standard Features: ABS, Modular Frame Concept, Adjustable Rear Shock Rebound Damping and Spring Preload, Telescopic Fork with Gaiters, Steel Fuel Tank, Disc Brakes, Steering Stabilizer, Smoked Turn Signal Lenses, One Piece Bench Seat, Cast Aluminum Wheels, 19" Front Wheel, LED Rear Light
Color: Light White
Price: $12,995

References

Ducati Scrambler 1100

2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100
- image 756328

See our review of the Ducati Scrambler 1100.

BMW R nineT Scrambler

2016 - 2019 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 752422

See our review of the BMW R nineT.

BMW R nineT

2017 - 2018 BMW R nineT
- image 790542

See our review of the BMW R nineT.

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- image 789359

Read more BMW Motorrad news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: bmwmotorcycles.com, ducatiusa.com

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