2017 BMW R NineT Scrambler
2017 BMW R NineT Scrambler – eye-catching, a blast to ride
A beautiful bike with pure riding character
By Jason Baedke
The 2017 R NineT Scrambler presents a gorgeous color scheme, commonly associated with luck and prosperity, which is felt when riding this beauty; this bike has real character. From the first moment that I mounted the 2017 BMW R NineT Scrambler, I instantly thought, “this is awkward.” But on this ride, I came to find that the apparent oddities shine through as character and being full-of-life. This is one cool bike.
2017 BMW R NineT Scrambler (base price): $13,495
2017 BMW R NineT Scrambler (as tested): $16,455
EPA Fuel Economy Estimate: 45 mpg
Bike Highs: Exhaust sound, comfortable seat, eye-catching attention-grabber styling, smooth torque curve, heated grips, ABS, traction control, surprisingly grippy off-road tires, easy to push around (low center of gravity), comfortable and absorptive suspension.
Bike Lows: loud tire noise, unpleasant chopper-like handling, lack of aerodynamics, odd ABS feel.
Bike Rivals: Ducati Scrambler (Urban Enduro), Moto Guzzi V7 II Stornello, Triumph Scrambler, Honda CB1100, Indian Scout, Moto Guzzi Griso.
Our suggested upgrades: Storage bags, BMW Navigator, street tires, LED headlamps.
The BMW R NineT Scrambler instantly announces its quarks when ridden, especially when compared to motorcycles out of the scrambler category. There is a lot of vibration at idle from the engine and even more at speed from the off-road tires. This leads to the mirrors being almost unusable, not to mention their placement is just right to get in the way for hand-signaling. The extended front end rake combined with the relaxed ergonomics of the handlebars and sitting position result in rather unresponsive handling.
The engine is neither inadequate nor particularly impressive, and yet, despite my immediate criticisms, more properly deemed simply just quirks, the R NineT Scrambler is a blast to ride.
The loud road noise and somewhat scary turn-in feeling acquired from the off-road tires even becomes more than acceptable, realizing every time I would look back at the Scrambler I would find myself in awe of her beauty – the meaty tires are the perfect complement to the styling which is based on a Roland Sands design.
I would not expect the off-road tires supplied from Metzeler to last more than 2-3,000 miles, particularly the rear, but with the short lifespan comes a surprisingly good amount of traction on pavement. Even in the rain, the off-road tires held their own as long as I stayed away from any paint on the road, which is the be expected. What is the other major benefit to the off-road tires other than beautiful styling? They can go off-road! Find a gravel, all-access road, hold down the ABS button to turn the traction control off, and enjoy power sliding and flinging dirt.
The braking system on the Scrambler is another story: Brembo brakes. The front braking is confidence inspiring, meanwhile the rear feels almost nonexistent (likely intentionally set this way to ease aggressive rear-brakers’ minds to not losing the rear end). The ABS, on the other hand, is likely one of the only complaints I have for the NineT Scrambler. The front braking ABS did not jab back at my right fingers, like most ABS systems, but elicited more of a mushy feeling in which I could hardly tell if the brakes were completely gone, working at all, or what was really happening.
Needless to say, this resulted frequently in longer-than-expected braking instances, though I will admit I am fan of testing the limits. This lack of feedback would very likely be lessened or even eliminated if there were street tires in place of the off-road tires as tested, but where is the fun and styling in that?
The 2017 BMW R NineT Scrambler fed me a joy to simply ride, feel the open air, without any need for adrenaline, but to simply relax, enjoy the ride, and take in the scenery – something I have not felt since my beginning motorcycle years on a 1975 Honda TL125.
After my comfort grew with the motorcycle, I found comfort in knowing the air-cooled Boxer engine would supply enough “oomph” at any speed, even on the freeway, to get out of the way of hazardous drivers and obstacles. With my comfort, I also found the motorcycle to be somewhat, at least enough, nimble to weave through and split tight lanes in traffic.
Even the “old-school” suspension fits the rest of this motorcycle; it is not too soft, yet it is not too hard and actually absorbs bumps and cracks in the road better than I would have expected. It was not until I was reaching higher freeway speeds that I noticed the somewhat primitive suspension shaking its head at me.
After a few hundred miles and several days, I started to have fun with the BMW Scrambler, a LOT of fun. From the singing tires, to the perfectly moderate exhaust pops on decel, this bike is simply fun to ride. Sure, there isn’t the stuck-to-the-ground-no-matter-the-lean-angle feeling and can actually feel rather unstable upon the first ride, but once my body and mind understood the intention of the NineT Scrambler, I fell in love with the unique, unadulterated style of ride and design.
The BMW R NineT combines this feeling with a casually cool look which, in spite of all the details, is unmistakably a member of the BMW family. Further criteria such as ride feel, design and sound lay the foundation for an independent, authentic lifestyle.
It is powered by an air/oil-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke flat twin engine. At 1170-cc’s, it makes 110-bhp, 88 lbs-ft torque, with a published top-speed of 125-mph.
For more information, see your local BMW motorcycle dealer, or visit BMWMotorcycles.com