The factory had started off with Boxer twins back in 1923, but times had changed and they'd since developed some fine single and four cylinder engines with which to tackle the 21st Century. Oh, how we laughed! BMW had made frequent earlier attempts to kill off the one thing that made their motorcycle products stand out from the rest - that big, torquey horizontal twin-engine that rocked the bike from side to side as the revs changed.
Since then the engine has grown to 1200cc, power has been upped to 93kW in some water-cooled models, and it still dominates BMW's product line with more than 50 per cent of all sales. The dual-purpose R1200 GS/Adventure was the single best selling model worldwide in 2015, but in fifth place with 9 545 sales was the classically styled R nineT tribute to what some consider to be BMW's first real sports bike, the 1974 R 90S.
I rode the R nineT at the 2015 Pirelli SA Bike of the Year evaluation and loved it because it did what it was meant to do, which was look good and be fun to ride, very well. BMW recently launched a very tasty version of R nineT, the Scrambler, in Europe, and by all accounts it's an appealing motorcycle.
I don't expect it to be as dirt capable as the GS and Adventure models, but the tweaked suspension, redesigned frame, larger 19-inch front wheel and upswept twin exhausts will take care of the obvious first issues you encounter when you take a street bike into the dirt.
The bike has conventional forks rather than the upside-down units of the R nineT, so we look forward to riding the two back to back and seeing which works best on road and off.
The 82kW/ 116Nm air-and-oil-cooled engine is a great motor paired to a great gearbox so there shouldn't be many complaints in that department. BMW hasn't stated a price for the R nineT in South Africa yet, but we note that in the UK it sells for about 12 percent less than the Roadster version.
A lot depends upon which specification models are imported, but pricing shouldn't be far from the R172 000 asked for the Roadster. There is, as usual with BMW, a long list of optional extras such as a rev-counter, Akrapovič exhaust system, different seats, crash bars, luggage, a sump guard and various other things that could soon double the price of the bike.