BMW Makes Bike to Appeal to Young Riders
BMW motorcycles have long been considered chariots for gray-haired commuters and intrepid adventure riders. Yes, the company makes the occasional insane superbike and even built a cruiser for awhile, but the quintessential Beemer (the cars are “Bimmers”) is a globe-trotting workhorse like the R 1200 GS. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But we’re still thrilled that BMW has unleashed the R nineT, the most seductive motorcycle to come out of Bavaria in years, maybe ever. Many props to BMW’s motorcycle design boss Ola Stenegard, a tatted-up Swedish chopper enthusiast. His team has built a brawny, naked bike with retro touches in a bid to attract the younger buyers BMW desperately needs to keep its business growing.
The R nineT nicely balances BMW’s longstanding hallmarks (boxer twin, Paralever shaft drive) with thoroughly modern styling and attitude. The company is planting a flag in territory firmly held by the likes of the Ducati Monster, Triumph Bonneville and the Moto Guzzi V7. And like those bikes, the R nineT looks stunning out of the box. But its beauty lies in the customization potential. The rear pillion is removable of course, and you can adjust the position of the exhaust to suit your tastes. And the rear subframe is held in place with just eight bolts, making it a snap to radically change the bike’s lines from a compact cafe racer to a highway cruiser.
Granted, its $14,900 price tag makes the R nineT a hard sell to young riders with shallow pockets looking for a retro ride, but the bike has garnered a lot of attention from the cruiser and custom scenes, expanding the brand’s base.
For those unconvinced of the R nineT’s ability to appeal to a young, aesthetically minded market, BMW handed four R nineTs to four different bike builders in Japan: Kaichiroh Kurosu of Cherry’s Company, Go Takamine of Brat Style, Shiroh Nakajima of 46 Works, and Hideya Togashi of HIDE Motorcycle. Each builder had six months to make something unique.
Why Japan? “That we were gonna reach out to Japan was always clear,” Stenegard says. “The Japanese scene was always an inspiration to us and the nineT. The guys over there somehow does not seem to buy anything, they just make it themselves. And the level of craftmanship is astonishing!” After drafting up a dream list of Japanese custom builders, BMW sent out the offer to their favorite bike guys. Beyond Stenegard’s expectations, all of them accepted.
Stenegard’s reaction to finally seeing what they had done to his creation: “Overwhelmed. Beyond overwhelmed! I could only drop to my knees in awe!”
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