Review: 2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler
BMW's R nineT Scrambler offers great rideability and character in a stylish package. Here's our review. Test: Kris Hodgson, Jeff Ware Photography: Kris Hodgson
BMW’s R nineT Scrambler is another addition to the R nineT family, which now boasts, apart from the standard model, the Racer, Pure and Urban G/S variants.
The Scrambler is, as the name suggests, inspired by the trend in the ‘50s through to the ‘70s and offers slightly revised geometry, with a raised exhaust and leather stitched seat, with of the era round mirrors.
The on and off-road capability is further reinforced by the knobbly tyres, with standard features like the Boxer-twin engine, modular frame for customising, 19in front and 17in rear wheels and strong Brembo front brakes promising a characterful machine.
Starting with styling the R nineT Scrambler is simple, well finished and almost rustic in my eyes, with the classic theme offering plenty of room for customisation, which BMW encourage with a lengthy list of possible accessories.
The single headlight, traditional forks, simple dash, long tank and seat all serve to highlight the defining feature of the Scrambler – a 1170cc boxer-twin engine.
Realising the exhaust is standard kit was certainly a moment, as it’s on the opposite side to usual due to the shaft drive, but has a seriously sweet exhaust note.
In fact it’d have to be one of the best standard exhaust notes I’ve heard full stop. It’s not overly loud, in my opinion at least, but it’s felt as much as heard. Starting the bike up, it bursts into life with initially higher revs, a feature that is sure to find a place in any motorcyclists heart.
There is the expected rocking from side to side on the sidestand, and you would not want to have parked the bike in a precarious position and have started it up without steadying the bike.
Jumping on to the bike there’s a reasonable reach over the large tank to the ‘bars for an upright seating position, while the ‘pegs are ideally positioned for a relaxed ride. That said it’s also easy to transfer your weight into the ‘pegs as needed. This is thanks to BMW modifying the Scrambler in numerous small ways from the standard model to offer more relaxing ergonomics.
The simple dash is easy to read, with a small analogue speedo, and the switchblocks control the trip display, heated grips and all the usual controls.
Setting off on the R nineT Scrambler, the first thing that becomes apparently is how much of a gem that boxer twin engine is. The throttle to engine connection is direct, with linear torque that just continues pulling.
There’s no tachometer so it’s all about the seat of the pants experience, with the hydraulic clutch remaining light in all but the worst traffic, where you’ll probably see your hand tire. Gear changes are positive, and just audible, and while tapping down into first gear provides a noticeable engagement, you can tap the gear pedal down with a fair amount of travel once in first, unlike on most machines.
The knobby tyres fitted on this model certainly fit the Scrambler theme, but I can’t help but feel that they detract from the road experience. While they’ll no doubt be a great boon for those who’ll be enjoying both on road and off-road action, they were just unpleasant to ride on after we pumped them up to recommended pressures. At the super low pressure we received the bike at they actually felt noticeably better on the road, and helped soften the ride on the rear end, but the trade off was cornering performance.
The non-adjustable forks were spot on for my 70kg weight, with the rear Paralever suspension slightly too stiff on the settings provided, but also offering adjustability if you owned the bike.
The Brembo front brakes are axially mounted calipers but offer plenty of bite and power, with the rear controlled via a dirt-bike styled lever that offers good grip.
BMW present this version of the R nineT as a Scrambler, with the emphasis on further customisation, which is greatly supported by a number of design options, genuine BMW accessories and no doubt aftermarket options as well.
But where the R nineT Scrambler really impressed me was as a simple, jump on and ride machine.
The Boxer twin is incredibly characterful, and there’s no criticism there, it’s simply a great powerplant for this machine.
Torque is available from right down low and the drive on offer is great, with the six-speed gearbox offering easy access to all the power on offer. 110hp isn’t superbike power, but riding this bike it is more than plentiful.
Add ASC traction control (optional equipment) to the standard ABS and you’ve got not only a great performer, but also a bit of modern technology to keep you in one piece on our crazy roads.
Grip is extensive and the rear hooks up well, even with the knobby tyres, with the main disadvantage of these tyres on the road for me being the fact that they feel quite strange as you transition onto the side of the tyre. Something an owner may get used to but in a short testing period they remained the only real thorn in my side for the bike, and the bike is available with standard road tyres.
The Scrambler is easily punted along as speed however and incredibly stable, offering great tourability and a relaxing experience. Even suburban U-turns are effortless and the bike draws envious looks and numerous enquiries wherever you take it.
Obviously the price reflects the BMW Motorrad attention to detail and level of quality, and does place this bike at the more expensive end of the spectrum, however you really can’t put a price on real character – not foibles dressed as character – and the R nineT Scrambler has real character by the spadeful.
Taking the bike along roads like the Old Pac only highlight just how much fun there is to be had, and you don’t need to be doing an insane pace to get that real feeling of speed either.
The model we tested was fitted with the optional ASC Traction Control, LED indicators, Cross Spoke Wheels and Off-road tyres, with heated grips standard fitment on the Australian model along with the chrome exhaust.
It’s worth noting the off-road tyres are optional equipment at no extra cost, and I’d personally recommend testing the bike with road tyres, if most of your riding is on the tarmac.
You can also get the hand brushed aluminium fuel tank options, or a High Seat (Brown) option for a roomier ride, as well as an Anti-theft alarm system, at drastically reduced pricing as optional equipment on the machine, rather than at regular pricing. A massive list of accessories is also available for those after BMW’s high end items to customise their machine a little further.
So if you’re in the market and have even thought about the BMW R nineT Scrambler, I highly recommend you give this bike, or at the very least one of the R nineT models a try, as there’s something very special about that boxer twin, and it’s a great package.
Tech Talk: 2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler
The BMW Motorrad Scrambler features a air-cooled, flat-twin boxer engine with a capacity of 1,170 cc. It delivers an output of 81kW at 7750 rpm, develops a maximum torque of 116Nm at 6000rpm and, with the new engine mapping meets the requirements of the EU4 pollutant class. ASC Traction Control as fitted to the model tested is an optional accessory.
Control of the four valves is via two overhead chain-driven camshafts (DOHC) per cylinder. Valve activation is taken care of by very light and therefore speed-resistant rocker arms, and valve clearance compensation is by means of light hemispherical shims.
Power transmission to the rear wheel is via the well-established 6-speed gearbox and the universal-shaft drive. As befits the aspirations of the new BMW Motorrad Scrambler in terms of riding dynamics, a shortened final driver ratio is used for best possible acceleration and optimum gear connections.
The raised exhaust with two vertically arranged rear silencers are made of blasted high-grade steel and an electric servomotor and acoustic valve offer the true boxer sound while still complying with noise emission regulations.
Suspension is standard 43mm forks, non-adjustable, while the rear suspension is a Paralever central spring strut setup, with preload and rebound adjustment. Rubber gaiters on the forks offer the true Scrambler look, while front wheel travel is 125mm, and on the rear 140mm.
Brakes are four-piston Brembo axial mount calipers on 320mm rotors, and a single dual-piston BMW rear caliper on 265mm rotor. BMW Motorrad ABS is standard fitment and the swingarm is a cast aluminium unit incorporating the shaft drive.
Cast wheels are standard with these black anodised cross spoked wheels optional equipment, with a 3.00in x 19in front wheel, and 4.50in by 17in rear wheel. Off-road tyres as tested are available as a free option instead of standard road tyres.
The frame is also of note, consisting of three sections, with a load bearing gearbox unit, and removable pillion frame, for those after the single rider look. Likewise the electrical system has been designed to ensure easy customisability, such as fitting a different headlight or indicators, with professional customisers in mind.
Differences to the standard R nineT model include higher ‘bars, reduced seat upholstery, and repositioned footpegs, with a modified wheelbase and trail. BMW claim with the Scrambler that neutral handling and a relaxed seating position were the main.
The dash is a simple analogue speedometer with LCD multifunction display, toggled by the left switchblock.
Mirrors are round classic-style items, which offer reasonable but not great rear-vision. The rear brake light is also an LED unit.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 BMW R nineT Scramblers
Price: $19,150 RRP + ORC
Warranty: Two-year/unlimited kilometre
Colours: Monolith metallic matt
Claimed power: 81kw[110hp]@7750rpm
Claimed torque: 116Nm [85.5ft-lbs]@6000rpm
Claimed wet weight: 220kg
Fuel capacity: 17L
Engine: Air/oil-cooled flat twin ‘Boxer’ four-stroke engine, two camshafts and four radially aligned valves per cylinder, central balancer shaft, 101mm x 73mm bore x stroke, 1170cc, 12:1 compression, Traction Control, shaft final drive
Gearbox: Constant mesh six-speed gearbox with helical gear teeth
Clutch: Single dry plate clutch, hydraulically operated
Chassis: Three-section frame consisting of one front and two rear sections, load-bearing engine-gearbox unit, removeable pillion frame for single ride use, cast aluminium single swinging arm
Suspension: Front: Telescopic forks with 43 mm fixed-tube diameter
Rear: BMW Motorrad Paralever; central spring strut, spring preload steplessly adjustable by hook wrench, rebound-stage damping adjustable
Brakes: BMW Motorrad ABS, Front: Brembo dual 320mm rotors, four-piston calipers
Rear brake: Single 265mm rotor, dual-piston floating caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Black anodised cross-spoked wheels, 3.00 x 19in, 4.50 x 17in, 120/70 R 19, 170/60 R 17
Seat height: 820mm
Overall Height: 1330mm
Overall Length: 2175mm
Instruments: LCD multifunction display