Channeling the homegrown spirit of the early scramblers, yet with improved performance and updated tech

LISTEN 10:59

BMW tweaked its R nineT family ahead of MY2021 with a handful of updates, and this refurbishment naturally includes the “Scrambler” model that reprises its role as something of an homage piece. It channels the homegrown spirit of the early scramblers. The update adds a potent and improved dose of contemporary tech in its safety and ride-control electronics suite along with an equally modern mill. Some of what was once billed as optional equipment now comes standard, as does the Euro-5 emissions package and redesigned internals in the classic boxer-twin engine.

  • 2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    1170 cc
  • Top Speed:
    124 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    13495
  • Price:

2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler Design

  • LED lighting
  • Classic round speedometer with LCD display
  • Blackout details
  • Metal fuel tank
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983326
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983333
The R nineT Scrambler carries itself much like the streetbikes of old modified for a dual-surface purpose/

The early scramblers were built mostly around the standard/UJMs of the sixties and seventies, bikes that were originally made for the street but were modified for a dual-surface purpose, and so it is with BMW’s newest scrambler model. The R nineT Scrambler carries itself much like the streetbikes of old with similar parts and proportions, but leans toward the custom culture right out of the gate with a pared-down front fender, bellowed fork gaiters, and blackout fork sliders. That cut-down front fender is partly to reduce weight in general, but more specifically, is meant to reduce unsprung weight at the front axle to improve suspension response and safety.

A classic round cyclops headlight splits the night with LED tech that spreads to include the blinkers, front and rear. The blackout paint makes it onto the tall standoff mirrors and hand-control levers. A clean little round gauge bundles all of the instrumentation and ride-control displays in one convenient location with LED idiot lights and a USB charging port as part of the extended equipment package for this model-year.

The 4.5-gallon fuel tank contributes a subtle hump to the flyline with generous knee-pockets that let you pull your legs into the bike and out of the slipstream somewhat. A tuck-and-roll bench seat accommodates passenger and pilot in a selection of finishes to match the quartet of color packages Beemer makes available for this particular model.

Subframe-mount passenger footpegs complete the passenger’s goodies, and on the left side, the upswept exhaust sports a couple of heat shields so your pillion doesn’t get the old hot-foot treatment. A high mudguard/plateholder finishes out the gear in the rear with more LED lighting to make sure you remain visible from the rear.

2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler Chassis

  • Lightweight modular frame
  • Eager in the corners and quick reversals
  • Motorrad ABS Pro
  • Dynamic Brake Control
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
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2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983334
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983342
The R9T Scrambler has a skosh of stability and tracking at speed, but strikes a balance with an eagerness to dive into the turns and make quick reversals.

The R nineT Scrambler relies on a three-section steel frame and a stressed engine-and-transmission unit to achieve its final rigidity. By using the engine as a load-bearing component, the factory eliminates a large chunk of frame along with its associated heft, and that leaves the R9T Scrambler with a curb weight of 492 pounds. That makes it relatively easy to pick up if/when you drop it, and tractable even on uneven pavement or light off-road terrain.

The steering head establishes a 28.5 rake angle with 4.4 inches of trail over a 60.1-inch wheelbase to give the Scrambler a skosh of stability and tracking at speed, but strikes a balance with an eagerness to dive into the turns and make quick reversals.

Cast wheels round out the rolling chassis in a 19-inch diameter up front for its terrain-tackling ability, and a 17-incher out back. I gotta’ say, this bike would look much better, and more scramblier (sic), with wire-laced rims, but there’s the options and accessories catalog for that. The hoops measure at 120/70 ahead of a 170/60, but somewhat contrary to its nature, the rubber rolls with a tread that is more suited to road work in wet or dry conditions, though you can hit the options for some off-road rubbers.

A cast-aluminum, single-side swingarm finishes the standing structure and relies on a single, new-for-this-year coil-over shock for support and damping duties, and it rolls with a handwheel for quick preload tweaks and variable rebound-damping features for a little bit of ride-quality control.

Up front, a set of right-way-up, 43 mm forks take care of business on fixed values with a 4.9-inch suspension stroke ahead of a 5.5-inch stroke out back. While that’s kinda’ short for heavy terrain, it’s plenty for the urban jungle and light terrain use, though I’m a little disappointed that we can’t dial in the front end. That said, the travel-dependent damping feature does put out a superior ride to plain vanilla forks.

The anchors are impressive. The Scrambler rolls with dual 320 mm front discs complete with four-piston calipers, which is plenty for a bike that weighs in under the quarter-ton mark. Out back, a twin-piston anchor bites a 265 mm disc to haul the rear end down, and it all comes under the control of Beemer’s own Motorrad ABS Pro feature plus a Dynamic Brake Control that adds a lean-sensitive component to the protection. Last year, this was optional equipment, but this is one of the areas where the factory sweetened the deal by making it part of the stock package.

Frame: Three-section frame consisting of one front and two rear sections, load-bearing engine-gearbox unit, removable pillion frame for single ride use
Front suspension/ Travel: Telescopic forks with 43 mm fixed-tube diameter/ 4.9"
Rear suspension/ Travel: Cast aluminum single swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; central spring strut, spring preload steplessly adjustable by hook wrench, rebound-stage damping adjustable/ 5.5"
Caster: 4.4"
Steering head angle: 61.5°
Wheels: Cast wheels
Wheel, front: 3.00 x 19"
Wheel, rear: 4.50 x 17"
Tire, front: 120/70 R 19
Tire, rear: 170/60 R 17
Brake, front: Dual 320 mm disc, 4-piston calipers
Brake, rear: 264 mm disc, double-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS Pro

2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler Drivetrain

  • 1,170 cc flat-twin engine
  • Expanded powerband
  • Two Ride Modes
  • Optional Ride Modes Pro with Dirt mode
  • Automatic Stability Control
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983344
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983330
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983349
The redesigned heads boost output, especially in the 4,000-to-6,000 rpm range.

We need look no further than the engine on the R nineT Scrambler to find even more such yummygoodness for this year. First, the new Euro-5 emissions rating comes at a price. The factory sacrifices a single pony to meet the requirements – down to 109 horsepower from 110 – but maintains the same torque output with 85.5 pounds o’ grunt on tap. Plus, the powerband was expanded downward to make that top power come on 500 rpm sooner at the 7,250 rpm mark so you don’t have to wind it up quite as far as the previous unit to get to the good stuff.

The redesigned heads bear a new turbulence system that helps with fuel atomization, which in turn helps with complete combustion. That boosts output, especially in the 4,000-to-6,000 rpm range, increases the fuel economy, and reduces the free hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream, all of which contribute to the new EU-5 emissions rating.

Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads under revised valve covers that deliver a new look for the lump. Beemer’s Automatic Stability Control joins the ABS Pro in the electronics suite along with stock “Rain” and “Road” riding modes that lets you dial in the power delivery for the prevailing conditions, be it inclement weather or nice-and-dry surfaces.

Bore and stroke measure in at 101 mm and 73 mm respectively to give the mill its 1,170 cc displacement and spicy 12-to-1 compression ratio that will definitely have you at the premium pump or at least toting a bottle of octane booster. The transmission crunches the ratios with a total of six speeds to help you keep the engine in the tractable powerband, and said power gets to the rear wheel via shaft drive with a final drive ratio that turns out a top speed over 124 mph.

Engine: Air/oil-cooled two-cylinder, four-stroke boxer engine with two camshafts and four radially arranged valves per cylinder as well as central counterbalance shaft
Displacement: 1,170 cc
Bore x Stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Rated output: 109 hp @ 7,250 rpm
Max. torque: 85 lb-ft. @ 6,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.0 : 1
Mixture control: Electronic port fuel injection
Emission Control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-5
Clutch: Single dry plate clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gear teeth
Drive: Shaft drive

2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler Price

2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983350
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983327
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983332

The new R nineT Scrambler rolls with a choice of four distinct paint schemes. The Kalamata Metallic Matte comes with a tan leather seat while the Granite Gray Metallic sports a burgundy bench. Beemer subjected this model to the Option 719 treatment, and that bears out in the two-tone, Cosmic Blue Metallic/Light White package, and my favorite, the Black Storm Metallic/Racing Red palette with red paint on the frame as well, a detail that really makes the design pop. The 2021 R nineT Scrambler starts out at $13,495, and the factory provides plenty of opportunity to inflate that sticker with a full line of accessories.

Standard equipment: LED headlights, Speedometer with on-board computer, Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Ride Modes: Rain & Road, Drivetrain and final drive in black, USB charging socket
Optional equipment: Ride Modes Pro with Dirt mode, Heated grips and cruise control, New paintwork, Cross-spoked wheels I & II, Option 719 billet packs I & II, Off-road tires
Optional accessories: Rev counter with on-board computer, Short rear, Rear tracker, Functionally-integrated turn indicators, Cylinder head covers in 2V style
Warranty: 3-year warranty
Color: Kalamata Metallic Matte, Granite Gray Metallic, Opt 719 Cosmic Blue Metallic/Light White, Opt 719 Black Storm Metallic/Racing Red
Price: $13,495

2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler Competitors

2019 - 2020 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC
- image 804100
2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler
- image 983335

As is so often the case, British giant Triumph Motorcycles has a worthy competitor for its Bavarian counterpart, so let’s see how the Scrambler 1200 XC stacks up in comparison.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC

2019 - 2020 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC
- image 803960

Whether you love it or hate it, the Trumpet rolls with a decidedly-British look that draws on the brands own deep historical roots. The shape of the tank, the parallel-twin engine, and the straight-back shotgun exhaust all combine to deliver a certain je ne sais quoi that is tough to beat.

In respect to the looks, Beemer definitely looks like the more modern machine. Looks can be deceiving though; the Triumph packs in the yummygoodness under the hood with ABS, switchable traction control, no less than five riding modes, and a slipper clutch for your riding safety and enjoyment. The takeaway is, don’t be fooled by the classic looks of the Triumph Scrambler, it’s a capable machine that brings 89 ponies and 81.1 pound-feet of torque to the table, though it falls behind the Beemer’s 109/85.5 output to leave the R nineT looking pretty good on paper.

Wire wheels and stealth knobbies make the Triumph arguably more suited to off-road work right off the showroom floor, though accessories and aftermarket parts will definitely level that playing field ex-werke.

At $14,000 MSRP, the Triumph Scrambler is a skosh prouder than the BMW Scrambler, but I doubt that cheese will be sufficient to make a brand fan cross party lines.

Read our full review of the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC.

He Said

“BMW is milking its relatively-new R nineT model family for all it’s worth, and so far it seems like more hits than misses. This Scrambler is no exception. It hits some historical notes along with its modern mien, and pays homage without becoming a slave to yesteryear’s designs, for a nice balanced blend of old and new.

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “There’s definitely smoother power and torque curves this year so you’ll get better performance in the mid-range, which is where you find yourself most of the time when bopping around town. Seriously, though, that’s pretty much where this bike is comfortable. Th R9T Scrambler is one of your commuting scramblers. Sure you can add laced wheels and street knobbies for some gravel and dirt road adventures, but if spending time off the blacktop is your intention, there are better bikes out there to choose from. Now, that said, this is a nice bike and lends itself well to entry-level riders as well as experienced folks who want a no-nonsense ride with a little electronic wizardry thrown in.”

2021 BMW R nineT Scrambler Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Air/oil-cooled two-cylinder, four-stroke boxer engine with two camshafts and four radially arranged valves per cylinder as well as central counterbalance shaft
Displacement: 1,170 cc
Bore x Stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Rated output: 109 hp @ 7,250 rpm
Max. torque: 85 lb-ft. @ 6,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.0 : 1
Mixture control: Electronic port fuel injection
Emission Control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-5
Clutch: Single dry plate clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gear teeth
Drive: Shaft drive
Chassis:
Frame: Three-section frame consisting of one front and two rear sections, load-bearing engine-gearbox unit, removable pillion frame for single ride use
Front suspension/ Travel: Telescopic forks with 43 mm fixed-tube diameter/ 4.9"
Rear suspension/ Travel: Cast aluminum single swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; central spring strut, spring preload steplessly adjustable by hook wrench, rebound-stage damping adjustable/ 5.5"
Caster: 4.4"
Steering head angle: 61.5°
Wheels: Cast wheels
Wheel, front: 3.00 x 19"
Wheel, rear: 4.50 x 17"
Tire, front: 120/70 R 19
Tire, rear: 170/60 R 17
Brake, front: Dual 320 mm disc, 4-piston calipers
Brake, rear: 264 mm disc, double-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad ABS Pro
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 60.1”
Seat height: 32.3”
Inner leg curve: 72.0”
Length: 85.6”
Height (incl. Mirrors): 52.4”
Width (incl. hand levers): 34.1”
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled: 492 lbs.
Permitted total weight: 948 lbs.
Payload (with standard equipment): 456 lbs.
Maximum speed: over 124 mph
Usable tank volume: 4.5 gal. with app. 0.9 gal. reserve
Fuel type: Unleaded super(premium)
Electrical:
Alternator: Three-phase alternator with 720 Watt nominal power
Battery: 12 V / 12 Ah, maintenance-free
Details:
Standard equipment: LED headlights, Speedometer with on-board computer, Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Ride Modes: Rain & Road, Drivetrain and final drive in black, USB charging socket
Optional equipment: Ride Modes Pro with Dirt mode, Heated grips and cruise control, New paintwork, Cross-spoked wheels I & II, Option 719 billet packs I & II, Off-road tires
Optional accessories: Rev counter with on-board computer, Short rear, Rear tracker, Functionally-integrated turn indicators, Cylinder head covers in 2V style
Warranty: 3-year warranty
Color: Kalamata Metallic Matte, Granite Gray Metallic, Opt 719 Cosmic Blue Metallic/Light White, Opt 719 Black Storm Metallic/Racing Red
Price: $13,495

Further Reading

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TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

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

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