2017 BMW RnineT Pure launch test

Big engine, two wheels, some other bits - what else do you need for a good day out?
Big engine, two wheels, some other bits - what else do you need for a good day out? Picture: James Wright/Double Red

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If there’s one useful tip I’ve learned in my time on this benighted rock, it’s that over-promising and under-delivering is A Bad Idea. Much better to under-promise and over-deliver – manage people’s expectations effectively, and you can go a long way. And it applies to all areas of life; from the lunch you’re serving to your recalcitrant pre-teen kids, to a political party’s outline of an international treaty negotiation. Telling the kids that they’re getting Nutella-smeared Pom Bears with a side of Haribo Tangfastics, before providing steamed haddock, kale and broccoli, is a bad plan. As is suggesting (say) £350 million extra cash a week for a much-loved national institution, then asking most of its foreign workers to leave while saying you had your fingers crossed behind your back on that £350 million bus.

But back to the issue in hand – which is to say BMW’s RnineT Pure roadster. Now, even on the riding launch, where PR men have been known to get giddy with enthusiasm, there wasn’t a lot of fuss being made over the Pure. The under-promising was almost vehement, as the far-more-gaudy RnineT Racer S and S1000R hogged the limelight. That’s perfectly natural of course: the Pure is basic in every sense of the word. It’s the entry-level bike in the retro-classic BMW range, uses the old 1,170cc oil-cooled Boxer engine in a bog-standard chassis, and is very low on toys in base form. You get ABS of course, but the rest is almost Soviet in its utility: there’s not even a tacho in the bare spec (which had me wondering what other 1200cc bike you can buy with no tacho – maybe a Harley-Davidson? Answers on a postcard…)

On the rideout, all the pushy journos (I’m including myself here of course) put their fancy gloves on a Racer or S1000 straight away, like the apocryphal German tourists putting stereotypical towels on mythical Mediterranean sunloungers… The three Pure roadsters we had were pretty much consigned to the BMW staff keeping us on the straight and narrow.

Now the S1000 and Racer were both great – see the tests elsewhere for more (much more) on that. But, of course, I wanted a spin on the Pure as well, if only to throw the Racer into sharp relief (I thought). But bugger me if it’s not actually really good. The riding position was a reprieve from the wrist-ache of the Racer, and while performance is a significant level down from the S1000R, it’s still lively enough in a 110bhp kinda way. The engine, brakes and suspension are the same spec as the Racer (the geometry is slightly different), so it goes as well, but with an easier, less-committed riding position. There’s no wind protection at all, of course, so once you get towards the ton, it all gets a bit breezy. But for lower-speed backroad work, and urban dicing, the Pure gets a big thumbs-up. It even sounds good – the single silencer produces a great, rorty bark – and I really enjoyed the quick spins I had on it during the day.

Of course, the riding isn’t the only part of the ‘ownership experience’ – and BMW is keen to push the Pure as the gateway to a world of customising and fettling. The Munich massive offer an long list of options for the Pure, letting you create your own version of the bike, pretty much. A little like the Suzuki Bandit in the 1990s, it’s a bit of a blank canvas, onto which you can project your own idea of what a bike should be like. And the Pure has been designed to be almost ‘modular’ in its makeup – so stuff like the rear subframe and pillion pegs are bolt-on, not welded, there are easy-to-unplug connectors for lighting and the like, and you can easily spec a single seat, dual seat, aluminium fuel tank or spoked wheels from the factory.

Any flies in the ointment? Well, it’s still a £10k bike, no matter how unassuming it might be, and although (like most BMWs) you’ll probably get more cash back when you come to sell it or on a trade-in, that’s still a fair chunk of change. Something like Yamaha’s MT-09 will give a lot more naked-roadster bang for those bucks, certainly in terms of performance.

So there you have it. An unassuming, basic roadster, which seems to under-promise on performance and appeal ends up delivering more than you might expect. It’s not quite like getting a big bag of Haribo instead of a healthy low-fat meal – but I reckon it’ll still put a big grin on the face of your inner nine-year-old.

Specs

Price: £9,990 otr (base model), £10,575 otr (C (custom) model, comes with spoked wheels, hot grips, chrome exhaust, LED indicators)
*BMW wants the RnineT range to be used as the base for your own customised bike. So there are shedloads of options: traction control (£310), aluminium tank £920-£1,020), heated grips, spoked wheels, alarm, chrome manifolds, pillion seat and subframe, and lots more…
Get on the BMW Motorrad configurator page for all the details: www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk

Engine: 8v flat-twin, DOHC, air/liquid cooled, 1,170cc
Bore x stroke: 101x73mm
Compression ratio: 12:1
Max power (claimed): 110bhp@7,750rpm
Max Torque (claimed): 85.5ft lb@6,000rpm
Transmission: six speed, final shaft drive
Frame: steel tube trellis
Front suspension: 43mm forks
Rear suspension: Paralever monoshock
Brakes: Dual 320mm discs, Brembo four-piston calipers (front), 265mm disc, twin-piston caliper (rear), ABS
Wheels/tyres: Cast aluminium or tubeless spoked rims, 120/70 17 front, 180/55 17 rear
Rake/trail: 26.4°/105mm
Wheelbase: 1,493mm
Kerb weight (claimed, full fuel tank): 219kg
Fuel capacity: 17 litres

Styling and riding position aside, it's virtually identical to the Racer
Styling and riding position aside, it's virtually identical to the Racer Picture: James Wright/Double Red
Single silencer sounds brilliant
Single silencer sounds brilliant Picture: James Wright/Double Red
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