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BMW rnineT Scrambler is bare thrills with no frills

The BMW RnineT Scrambler is all thrills
The BMW RnineT Scrambler is all thrills

BMW rnineT Scrambler

IT’S out with the new and in with the old for many bike manufacturers.

BMW is the latest to join the scrambler party, with its latest addition to the R nineT family.

When BMW Motorrad Ireland handed me the keys to an R nineT Scrambler for a week of testing at the start of November, I was told: “Take it for as long as you want.”

I had every intention of giving the bike back the following week, but to say this machine has grown on me would be an understatement.

The retro-styled Scrambler shares the same air-cooled Boxer engine that is used across the R nineT range. Since 2014, the R 1200 GS has come with a new liquid-cooled engine and 15bhp more power.

And a quick search online for a second-hand GS tells you that they are generally ordered dripping with extras and rider aids.

But it’s the pared-back nature of the Scrambler that sets it apart from other BMWs – and makes it a far better-value proposition than other bikes in this class.

This is one handsome machine – a brushed-steel frame, 19-inch front wheel, high-level Akrapovic exhaust and worn-leather style seat all make for a real head-turner.

Take a closer look, however, and you’ll notice some subtle differences in the parts used on the Scrambler’s R nineT brother – giving the Scrambler a competitive €14,500 price in standard form.

There’s a simple analogue speedo (including a small digital display), the front brakes are non-radial affairs, and there’s no choice of riding modes or traction control. In fact, only ABS comes as standard.

The ‘basic’ engine, lack of gadgetry and sparing use of cosmetic adornments are the very things that make the R nineT a joy to ride.

The last-generation boxer engine is the perfect match for the high-mounted exhaust system, producing a beautifully guttural, throaty note. 

Peak power of 110bhp and 116Nm of torque are well able to propel the 220kg machine (fully-fuelled) with gusto.

The seat, while slim, is comfy enough to ward off numb bums on the commute or for short weekend rides.

The Scrambler, with its 19-inch front, knobbly (though road-biased) tyres and high(ish) bars might not be as agile as the R nineT, but it’s still a good handler and well capable in urban traffic and on the open road. 

However, due to the lack of fairing, anything above 80kph results in a bit of neck strain, as with any naked bike.

In a world of electronic gizmos and rider aids – which are welcome from a safety perspective, but arguably detach us somewhat from the physical relationship with our machines – the R nineT Scrambler delivers a connected, involved riding experience. 

You can customise as much as you want, as with any BMW, but you’d be diluting the heart and soul of the bike in the process.

One last thing  – I still haven’t returned the bike.

Tech Spec:

Model: BMW R nineT Scrambler
Price: From €14,500
Engine: 1,170cc, air- cooled, two-cylinder boxer
Max Power/Torque: 110BHP/116Nm
Weight: 220kg, fully-fuelled.
Seat height: 820mm
Tank/Range: 17 litres/240km (est)