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BMW R nine T: The inner hipster


Artisanally crafted food and drink, electronic cigarettes, retro clothing, immaculately manicured facial hair and expensive items that are made to look cheap and modest.

These are some of the things that remind me of hipsters and to be honest, some of the things that I feel, in many ways, makes me somewhat of a hipster. But recently the affirmation of my transcendence into hipsterdom was when a BMW R nine T arrived at the office.

My inner need to be over trendy had me salivating over its retro exterior and promise of providing the image that I am part of the counter-culture, and may just rope you in to a discussion about progressive politics over cup of organic, flavoured green tea.

Substance and style

Aside from the fact that this model provides that cafe racer appeal I have been after since I was a teenager, there is actually some serious substance underneath that exquisite design. For example, when you’re leaning in to a corner, it is reassuring to know that the forks up front are lifted from the S1000RR, while the signature air-cooled 1170 cc boxer twin protrudes from either side.

I was actually very surprised at how well the bike handled corners and how stable it felt on the freeway. The braking performance is also impressive with twin Brembo discs up front and the obligatory ABS system for peace of mind.

Motor and sound

Now when it comes to a bike that will be used primarily for boulevard cruising and a bit of posing, the engine and sound it produces are important. While the motor on this bike may be lifted from the older GS 1200, it still impresses with a massive lump of torque low down and a decent pull to redline.

It produces 81 kW however it’s that torque figure of 119 Nm that makes the difference, making this 222 kg machine quite potent in terms of in-gear acceleration.

Then the noise, where Slovenian specialist exhaust manufacturer Akrapovi? has some input influence in the upswept silencers, meaning that this bike sounds decidedly meaty. For those who want an even beefier sound, there is another single-exit Akrapovi? system available for the bike as an aftermarket option.

Party piece

The R nine T has a few nifty design tricks that make it one of the most customisable motorcycles you can buy. The wiring harness, for example is designed separately meaning the engine and chassis each have a separate harness.

This is beneficial as the engine is not affected when aftermarket the electrical components are installed. The rear subframe, tail-and headlights are all held on with minimal bolts, making these items easy to remove. I have seen some incredibly well-modified R nine T’s and the beauty is that each one looked very different.

Value and other models

It is certainly not cheap at R176 990 plus the R5 500 for the aluminium fuel tank fitted to the test bike, but it certainly makes a statement. The one problem with the R nine T though is the other three models based on this original, the Scrambler, the Pure and the Racer which complete a four model range. I’d have no idea which one to choose, although the Racer looks sublime, I must say.


There have been many two and four-wheeled toys that I have been privileged to have piloted over the years and sometimes, just sometimes, I really don’t want one of these playthings to leave me. The R nine T was one such vehicle.

It just seemed to be exactly I’m after in a two-wheeled machine, from the exceptional build quality, attention to detail, the design which incorporates modern technology, up-to-date suspension and braking technology and of course a retro air-cooled heart. It is all things to all hipsters and if enjoying this modern throwback makes me a hipster well so be it, pass me the beard oil please.

Article written by Sean Nurse
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