It’s been almost 10 years since BMW Motorrad released the R nineT. Technologically the Boxer-powered Roadster wasn’t anything groundbreaking. Its engine was a 1170cc version of the BMW’s oilhead flat-twin. It had pretty standard USD telescopic forks, a run-of-the-mill BMW paralever rear end and spoked 17-inch wheels. But despite this, the R nineT was an innovative machine in the motorcycle industry.
What made the BMW R nineT special was what it offered owners in the way of customisation. With a specially designed wiring harness, an easily removable bolt-on subframe and plug and play lighting accessories, BMW openly encouraged customisation of the R nineT. They of course offered a range of their own bolt-on conversion parts, but the real fun began when they teamed up with custom workshops to create some truly unique R nineT customs. As a result, the R nineT became an instant hit and has enjoyed strong sales for the last decade. But now 10 years on, BMW has decided it’s time for an update.
At BMW Motorrad’s recent 100-year anniversary the manufacturer unveiled the biggest update to the R nineT offering since its release.
“The R nineT and its customising concept established the new Heritage experience for BMW Motorrad’s 90th birthday and has become an indispensable cornerstone of our model range,” says Dr Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad. “The new R 12 nineT consistently continues the successful heritage story surrounding the legendary BMW boxer engines with an even more classic, reduced design language, even greater degrees of freedom when it comes to customizing and, last but not least, new and innovative technology.”
As Dr Schramm pointed out, this new model is much more than just a revised name and some fancy bolt-on upgrades. It is infact a significant overhaul of the nineT platform which should have fans of the original bike rather excited. So far the German manufacturer has only released limited details about the specifications of the new model, but here’s what we know so far…
BMW R 12 nineT styling
“The purist design language is dominated by the clear tank/seat/rear line, in the style of the traditional /5 or the legendary R 90 S of the 70s. At first glance, the tank itself is a classic BMW boxer tank, with a typical bend in the lower edge and classic knee contact. The new R 12 NineT also features side covers in the area of the frame triangle in the authentic Roadster look – another reminiscence of BMW motorcycles of the 1970s.” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad.
Although the R 12 nineT bares a strong resemblance to the outgoing model the styling changes are significant. With this new model, BMW has taken a more angular approach. As a result, the new bodywork feels more 80s to me than the classic smooth lines of the original nineT. The fuel tank bares a strong resemblance to the 1980s R100 GS, right down to the high placement of the BMW roundels. As for the tail, I think it’s a dead ringer for a K75 caboose.
The bike in these press shots is set up for solo riding with a wasps tail cowl and bum stop seat. There are no passenger pegs to speak of, but it’s likely this configuration uses aftermarket parts the brand is sure to offer customers. It’s more likely that the R 12 nineT will be sold with a two-up saddle and pillion equipment. The side covers Heinrich mentioned are a definite improvement over the previous model’s silver brackets and the front fender stays, although still unmistakably modern, have a more classic appearance.
One change I openly welcome is the removal of the ‘snorkel’ air intake on the righthand side of the current R nineT. This change leaves more of the Boxer twin in view, which is never a bad thing. Additionally, the paint finishes appear more black than grey on the R 12 nineT. BMW has clearly pulled back on the use of silver components which gives this new model a somewhat more aggressive appearance.
BMW R 12 nineT performance
The engine powering the R12 nineT will be the very latest iteration of the manufacturer’s 1200cc oilhead boxer. This is where the R 12 naming convention comes into play, and is something they are now applying to other models in their heritage lineup. BMW has reworked the exhaust for the R 12 adding in sharper bends and a crossover pipe which to me makes the headers look a bit like a set of crash bars. Under the belly of the bike is the usual ‘bread box’ catalytic converter and the system is capped off with a pair of sleek chrome reverse megaphone mufflers. As for power, torque and what kind of mileage the engine will offer it is all still under wraps. The current R nineT puts out 109hp and while it would be nice to see a figure closer to say the 136bhp of the R 1250 R, it’s more likely things will remain relatively the same.
In terms of handling the suspension setup appears again to be very similar to the existing model. We can, of course, expect to get the latest updated 2024 version of the forks and paralever. Whether there will be a Pure version of the R 12 with standard forks and a lower price tag is yet to be revealed. The Brembo brakes appear similar too and they’re hooked up using braided steel lines. One other change that BMW has hinted at is the chassis. As to how different the R 12 frame is to the previous model it’s yet to be revealed, but they’ve promised a full specification list in mid-2023.
As you’d expect BMW has also updated the standard equipment on the 2024 R 12 nineT. Starting with the lighting you can expect to get a full set of LED accessories including the headlight and tail light which is now built into the tail unit. The cockpit is dominated by the latest version of the model’s twin, classic-looking round analogue gauges. An LCD screen on the face of each dial relays information to the rider such as the speed, current gear, trip information, ride modes and more. Spoked 17-inch wheels will also come as standard.
Customising the new BMW R 12 nineT
“As is tradition, attractive customization options are offered as part of the original BMW Motorrad accessory range,” says Edgar Heinrich. So, similar to the current model, there are sure to be a plethora of Option 719 parts accompanying the release of this bike.
The relative ease with which the original R nineT could be customised was instrumental to its success. BMW Motorrad hasn’t overlooked this fact so the tradition continues with the R 12 nineT. Similar to the original model the R 12 has specially designed wiring harnesses which make tasks like changing the turn signals hassle-free. The rear subframe also remains a bolt-on item so it too can be swapped with aftermarket versions to completely restyle the rear end.
If BMW uses the same tactic they did back in 2014 with the release of this bike, we’re sure to be seeing some cool collaborations with custom workshops too. This is perhaps the most exciting aspect of this new model release for us. Hopefully, BMW will not disappoint.