BMW R nine T - Form over Function
Only motorcycle that I have ever considered buying without test riding. Happy that I did not.
Honestly, I have wanted to ride with an R9T since 2014, when I saw first pictures of it. Review of this beamer in Motorcycle USA is still one of my favorite pieces of motorcycle journalism. I loved story about this bike so much, that I read it to my daughter as a bedtime story for a couple of times. I liked the looks of this bike so much that it has been probably the only bike that I have ever thought about buying without riding it first.
Now but wanting to ride with one and actually getting to ride R9T was way more difficult than I expected. In Estonia where I live the local dealership is not so much interested in selling bikes as much as selling BMW cars, so they don't have a demo bike. In Minnesota, where I travel often, there were also no demo bikes at hand. I finally was able to locate one in Orlando Florida in Magic City cycles. They too didn't have a demo bike, but they did have a used one on sale and thankfully they were willing to give me a small go. And by small I mean really small - only 7 miles. So to be honest, this is not really a review, more like a description of the first smell of this bike. But beggars can't be choosers, so I was super excited about that 7 miles anyway.
But let's start from the most important - the looks of this bike. It looks incredible for a factory, especially BMW factory bike. It already looks good on pictures, but even better in real life. That classical front light, golden forks, then the beautiful saddle and one sided swing arm. This bike belongs more into a living room than it does to a garage.
But still this is motorcycle blog and although I have several friends who say that looks are more important than function, I'm not sold on this. My bikes also need to ride well. So how does the R9T ride?
The first thought after sitting on the bike is that it's small, my 185cm tall frame is quite cramped, especially the legs. I don’t see myself doing long distances on it, but I bet it would work great for my 20 cm shorter wife. She too has been excited about this bike since the first pictures she saw.
The second thing that started to bug me is the fuel delivery. It's not smooth, to say the least. I think that has probably something to do with getting it approved for emissions. Probably any tuner can fix it, but makes you ruin the nature a bit more.
What is really good though is the torque on this boxer engine. Give it some gas in neutral and the handlebars will push a bit left. Doing this is quite addicting, you will start doing it behind every traffic light. Torque also makes this bike easy to wheelie.
But that brings me to a new topic. Because this beamer looks so good and refined it makes doing wheelies, burning rubber and general hooliganism bit, how to say - it makes you feel out of place. Kind of like getting a bit too drunk and burping at fancy dinner party. Sure you can do it, but it doesn't really belong there. A friend of mine was riding on her Ducati Monster and when she wheelied off the traffic light it made me think surprisingly to myself - there is no need for this kind of riding. Is that good or bad, well that depends on how you look at riding? But for sure R9T is more for cruising than for thrills. Built for looks not for speed.
I think because - of the high torque or something - I had trouble with locking up the rear on downshifts. With matching revs, I was able to fix it but somehow it required more work than with any other bike I have ridden. Some say this is a fault of the bike, some say that it's the character of the bike, take your pick. Cruising is amazing with it, because it sounds great even with stock exhaust and if you get revs right on downshifts you are rewarded with an incredible symphony from the exhaust. It's almost as if the bike awards you for changing gears like it likes it.
So to conclude, it doesn't ride as good as it looks, but I don’t think I was really expecting that. And although I only got to ride for 7 miles, I actually did not want more. When our circle ended I was already looking forward to the time when I can sit next to it and just look at it. Every time I do, I discover new details about it.
You don’t buy this bike for riding or to have fun, you buy this because it suits you. It suits with your velvet jacket, brown leather shoes, and mac computer.
For me personally, I take burping with friends in the pub over a posh dinner any day.