Right off the starting line, this is not your father’s BMW. Gone are the days of sniggering comments by weekend neon-rocket warriors as they pull up next to old-man BMWs at the traffic lights. You won't be left behind in a cloud of performance-engineered Japanese combustion gasses anymore.
This bike is retro cool, with a touch of modern, both in terms of style and performance. The German manufacturer has purposefully positioned their new offerings with a distinct look towards younger riders and first-time buyers. The R nineT Scrambler offers an off-the-shelf package of both stock Bavarian bliss and a customisable base for riders looking for a one-of-a-kind ride.
The 1170cc air/oil-cooled boxer engine dominates the Scrambler's look. There is no clutter and everything is in place. For the price tag of Dh57,000, you get spoked rims and a choice of adventure or road tyres. The seat is “leather look”, rather than the real thing, but that is luckily only noticeable up close.
The standard exhaust system ends in two Akrapovic cans mounted on the left that produce a low tone, without it being loud enough to wake the neighbours when you head out on a Friday morning ride. That said, it packs nice grunt as you work through the gears.
The riding position is comfortable, with semi-dirt-tracker bars and wide, although skinny, foot pegs, and it only takes a couple of kilometres in the saddle to adapt to it. A non-cluttered approach to the single, analogue-style electronic speedometer is brought through into the controls, which are easy to understand, with small simplicities such as a single kill switch/starter button. The indicator switch could do with some more tactile feedback, however, to save the rider glancing down to see if it has been activated, which can prove a bit annoying, especially when negotiating traffic.
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Its rideability is smile-inducing. Throttle response is instantaneous, and matched with the 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, forms a good base for an on- and off-road-capable motorcycle. The Metzeler Tourance tyres fitted to my demo model give great grip while navigating corners, as well as urban traffic. Off road, they are less inspiring, but the Scrambler is so well set up, with telescopic 43-millimetre forks, that even with road tyres, the odd gravel track should pose no threat to keeping the bike upright – although this is definitely more of an urban scrambler than a desert wanderer. At a fuelled weight of 220 kilograms, you will need to know your stuff when you take it into less-explored areas.
First gear is short, but from second onward, everything is long and smooth. Acceleration comes by the boat-load in any gear – just a measured twist of the throttle and you are away. Braking is equally impressive, with two front four-piston callipers clamping down to get the job done quickly, with a single double-piston calliper at the rear. ABS is standard.
The R nineT Scrambler is an excellent platform and offers a great option for everyone from first-time buyers through to seasoned hands. And if the look isn’t your cup of tea, don’t fret, because customisable options abound to lend personal touches. Even without that, it is a bike with street credibility and great rideability included for no extra cost.