2017 BMW R nineT Pure

Editor Score: 84.5%
Engine 18.0/20
Suspension/Handling 12.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Instruments/Controls3.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.25/10
Appearance/Quality 9.25/10
Desirability 8.5/10
Value 8.0/10
Overall Score84.5/100

Pure, as in unadulterated, undiluted, genuine, real. Pure, as in elemental, untainted, and distilled down to its most basic form. With the Pure version of the R nineT, BMW has stripped the platform of everything its designers deemed interfered with the integrity of the ride. If the Pure were made with a less care, it might have ended up feeling stripped down, incomplete. Instead, the Pure is surprisingly successful and may be my favorite R nineT variant yet.

2017 BMW R NineT Racer Review – First Ride

2018 BMW R NineT Urban G/S Review – First Ride

So, what makes the R nineT Pure pure? Well, it’s essentially an engine connected to two wheels and sporting a gas tank, seat, and handlebar – plus little else. The look is iconic motorcycle. All real nods to modernity, like the fuel injection and ABS are largely hidden from view.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure beauty

We’ll start with the 1170cc, air-cooled Boxer Twin, a platform so old and refined as to be if not the ur-engine, then at least a stout branch near the trunk on the engine tree. Tuned for torque and given an understressed task, the Boxer feels like it’ll run from here to eternity. Happily. Blip the throttle at a stop, and the bike comes alive as the torque effect tilts it to the right. Snick the short-throw shifter into gear and let the torque carry you into motion. The Pure feels happiest when trolling around around at moderate speeds, say along a beachside road on the way to a coffee house. Don’t let that laid-backness fool you. Give the throttle a twist, and the bike powers forward with a lunge ahead at every shift in the lower gears. Soon, you’ll find yourself charging into a series of corners, the bit in your teeth.

The Boxer owes some of its alacrity to the shortness and closeness of its gearing. Running through the cogs brings a pleasant bruuup from the 2-into–1 exhaust, and vibration doesn’t rear its head until…well, we won’t ever know. There isn’t a tachometer on the Pure. Let’s just say that the short gearing that makes the Pure so fun to twist the throttle on also makes the engine feel busy at freeway speeds. Vibration that isn’t terribly noticeable on a canyon road becomes apparent on the straight and flat of the superslab.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure engine

Pure joy: The 1200 Boxer put out 76.1 lb-ft of torque and 101.5 hp on the MotoGP Werks dyno when tested in the original R nineT, and we expect about the same numbers from the mechanically unchanged version in the Pure.

Retro Roadster Comparo + Video

The R nineT Pure’s riding position is standard fare, meaning the rider is upright with pegs directly below the seat. The handlebar is wide, giving plenty of leverage for working your way through a series of corners. In fact, the riding position and the handlebar work together to make the Pure an easier backroads companion than the more sportingly named R nineT Racer. The Pure just loves being pitched into a corner. Where the Racer feels more sluggish at low speeds, the Pure feels nimble, making it an ideal urban mount.

The workmanlike brakes only add to the bike’s fun factor by offering excellent bite and feel. The suspension, which in the rear could feel a bit harsh on around town bumps, works quite well. The non-adjustable 43mm fork is a tad soft, but it mates nicely with the preload- and rebound-adjustable shock. It’s not until a corner gets bumpy that the suspension begins to feel overtaxed when sporting around on the Pure. The rear harshness does reappear over freeway expansion joints, though (a symptom at least partly due to a shaft-drive layout with a shortish wheelbase –Ed.).

2017 BMW R nineT Pure front end

Elemental: Everything you need (except a tachometer) and nothing more.

This brings us to the Pure’s comfort features. In the base model, there aren’t any! The thin seat which is so visually pleasing is a bit hard for longer rides (and it only highlights the rear suspension’s harshness in certain conditions). Wind protection is, as you might expect, nonexistent. Since BMW is loath to give us base-model test bikes, our Pure was outfitted with heated grips, a $250 option that is sure to please Mr. Burns. (We also received the $2,496 spoked wheels, which look pretty but don’t speak of minimalist motorcycling – unless your definition of minimalism requires tubed tires.)

2017 BMW R nineT Pure brake

The calipers may not be radially mounted, but they are Brembos and work as you’d expect them to. Wire-spoke wheels are a pricey $2,496 option.

Overall, the BMW R nineT Pure serves as a reminder of just how segmented motorcycling has become by giving us a platform for elemental motorcycling that delivers a huge fun factor. No, it won’t carve laps in record time or take you and your luggage through the open desert or leap tall buildings in a single bound – those are the provinces of more specialized, less pure motorcycles.

What your do get from BMW for your $11,995 is a motorcycle, pure and simple, and one that will handle all of your everyday motorcycling needs – plus those that arise on the weekends. My time aboard the Pure made me think back to all the fun that I have had on a simple and capable motorcycle… and can be had again.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure
+ Highs

  • All you need, and nothing more
  • Eager engine
  • Surprisingly good for sport riding
– Sighs

  • No tachometer, really?
  • Pretty seat lacks some comfort
  • Available in any color you want, as long as it’s Catalano Grey

2017 BMW R nineT Pure action

2017 BMW R nineT Pure Specifications
MSRP $11,995 ($14,742 as tested)
Engine Type 1170cc air-cooled opposed-Twin
Bore and Stroke 101mm x 73mm
Compression Ratio 12.0:1
Valve Train DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Fuel System EFI
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Shaft
Front Suspension 43 mm telescopic fork, 4.9 inches of travel
Rear Suspension Monoshock, spring preload, rebound adjustability, 4.7 inches of travel
Front Brake Dual, four-piston calipers, 320mm discs, ABS
Rear Brake Single caliper, 265mm disc, ABS
Front Tire 120/70 ZR 17
Rear Tire 180/55 ZR 17
Rake/Trail 26.4 deg/4.1 in
Wheelbase 58.8 in.
Seat Height 31.7 in.
Curb Weight 483 lbs (claimed), fully fuelled
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gal.
Colors Catalano Grey

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  • Gabriel Owens

    That repeatedly popping up facebook banner ad is about to piss me off to the point that I never return to this website again.

    • hipsabad

      download adblocker

    • Using Chrome with an adblocker would fix that, but I don’t want you to do that and deprive this site (which depends on advertising, not reader subscriptions for revenue) of FB’s bountiful ad budget.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      What facebook banner ad?

  • JMDGT

    It only takes one feature, especially if it isn’t one that is easily changed out to make me not like a bike that I might really like. I love this platform. If I could order one with the componetry I want in the color I want with the features I want I would be very tempted to buy one.

    • BDan75

      Agree. BMW builds Minis, after all….maybe they should try out the whole owner customization thing on this series.

      Even though I know it wouldn’t be the smart choice, I just can’t get over that Racer…

  • Born to Ride

    CB1100EX looks miles better than this bike for the same price. It doesn’t feature the pure, stripped down, unadulterated, SV650 suspension that this bike has either. Its only 3 grand more for the real deal, do yourself a favor and don’t be a cheap bastard.

    • Old MOron

      Not so fast there, Sparky. First we have to have the MOronic shootout. Then we make the declarations.

      • Born to Ride

        Ha, fair enough. But I am willing to take a stab at summing it up.

        R9T “Pure” is lighter, sportier, has more engine by a long shot, and more “Character”, but harsh and cobbled together at this price point.

        The Honda is smoother, more effortless, much better fit n finish, but softer, heavier, and soulless.

        My point about not being a cheap bastard and buying the flagship R9T or a ThruxR still stands though. If you are paying an astronomical 12 grand for a retro roadster with bargain basement components, why not pay 15 grand for a for the real deal and save yourself the wasted time and effort of upgrading it? I have seen these bikes in the flesh and with the exception of the Cafe racer, the downspec versions are absolutely not worth their sticker. All the premium feel and aura that the original R9T used to justify its 15k price tag is absent. You should see the cast wheels they put on these things, my SV650 wheels were less porous and better machined.

        Maybe I am spoiled by Marchescinis and Ohlins on my bikes these days, but for 12 grand I expect better, If Honda can do it so can BMW.

        • Old MOron

          LOL I tend to be a cheap bastard. But I don’t make a move without MOronic counsel. In any case, I don’t think I would ever get an R9T. I disliked their ad campaign so much that it put me off the bike forever.

          • frod

            But you have tried one, haven’t you? You haven’t?! Well… You know what to do! And don’t go giving the marketers any bread to feed from. A parasite industry, I tell you.

            Incidentally, and to weigh in some more on the Facebook banner issue… Can I pay for a subscription please?

      • Mahatma

        We all know what those declarations will end in don’t we;)

  • Gruf Rude

    With the ready availability of spoked, tubeless rims/wheels, why are manufacturers still equipping modern bikes with spoked wheels that require tubes?

  • BDan75

    No interest in traditional spoked wheels; not sure why BMW seems to be equipping them all like that (other than, ya know, profit).

    I’ve been tempted to try one, but at the same time not sure there’s much point, since I’ve owned the same engine/trans in an R1200GS and can’t imagine the riding experience being that much different (maybe someone can speak to that?). On the GS, always felt that 6th should have been taller to address the buzziness issue.

    Anyway, if I did buy one, tank/fender would soon find their way to a body shop to be repainted in black w/ white pinstripe.

  • Bob

    “Catalano Grey”? About 75 years ago, it was called Feldgrau (field grey).

    • Martin Buck

      In time for the 1940 Tour de France.

      • Bob

        You’re good.

  • B.Hoop

    This is one of the few BMWs I have really been interested in, mainly due to the simplicity. I think the conventional fork looks better than the USD on the more expensive model. I wish the subframe was more substantial to allow the use of hard luggage.

    • hipsabad

      yes, the simplicity of paying for 3 years of BMW supervised maintenance

    • Born to Ride

      I have no problem with going for that classic look, but for what they are asking, those fork tubes should have quality cartridge internals and the shock should be a nice Adjustable unit. No tach? Cmon…

  • Starmag

    This bike isn’t so pretty it can get away with any color. It’s greyer than grey. Can’t get more bland than that. Ze Germans seem to have a real thing for black, white and grey.

  • SRMark

    I like it. I just with they would have painted it. Primer shouldn’t be a color.

  • Lawrence Gale

    Great bike for the money but that seat will not allow it to be ridden 2up. The R1200R is way too expensive just to get a bigger seat.

  • Tom Byrne

    I call the color “Wehrmacht Gray.” Seriously, this is an awesome machine, but it needs a tach.

    • BDan75

      I agree, a tach would be nice. I mean, c’mon BMW: 12 grand ain’t cheap, esp. given that the whole powertrain was just lifted from the gazillion-sold previous generation GS. And even if you don’t care about revs, dual clocks just look better.

      Anyway, I guess the bright side is that, at least in my experience with this engine, there’s never any real doubt as to when you’re approaching redline.

      • Tom Byrne

        It is not just about the red line. It is also about cruising RPMs. Sometimes, the RPM that feels the best is not the best RPM for fuel mileage and engine longevity.

        • Jim Walsh

          What is this “engine longevity” thing you spec of? Surely you destroy your motorcycle in a glorious interface with scenery, animals, or other vehicles like a real motorcyclists before that becomes an issue?

          • Tom Byrne

            Nope. I put tens of thousands of miles on motorcycles.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Would take away from “pure, elemental, minimalist”.

      • Tom Byrne

        A tach would? A tach is not a luxury, in my opinion.

  • Alaskan18724

    I probably will not buy a de-contented R9T. I might buy an R9T. I would be a lot more likely to buy an R9T if BMW deigned to provide it in Daytona Orange. With an appropriate handlebar-mounted bikini fairing. Better yet, build an R90S. Perfect.

    • Starmag

      I think they are missing the boat on a R90S remake also. It seems obvious. Triumph, Harley, and Ducati seem to be doing quite well with remakes. Stubborn pride?

  • toomanycrayons

    I don’t see the point in the RnineT except for having something to give a crummy name to. Did they run out of coffee in the Naming Session?

    This was/is the best 1200 Boxer, and…it came in YELLOW, w/tach, Ohlins/ABS and heated grips:

    http://www.motorcyclenews.com/bike-reviews/bmw/r1200s/2006/

  • Tanner

    I tried the R9T and the R9T scrambler back to back with the water-cooled R1200R and the R1200GS. The R9T engine is coarse and unrefined, and the bikes feel slow compared to even the new GS. If you don’t care about the style-factor, get the R1200R – it is not that much more $ and miles better in every way

  • cp55

    The “cross-spoke wheels” (the only OEM option I can find reference to for the Pure or Scrambler) are a $500 option, not $2,495.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I’m going off the price list I was given by BMW for this bike.

      • cp55

        Interesting. Seems like they have an error there—the cost for the option was also listed on my Pure’s sticker as $500, and that’s what I paid. (Actually, maybe it’s a $500 option when you’re buying them on the bike, and the cost if you buy them separately is $2,450. That would make sense.)

        • Evans Brasfield

          Cool! I hope you like the bike as much as I do! (or more!)

          • cp55

            I do really like it! Totally agree with your impressions, and great
            review—it’s super planted yet also very nimble and fun. Wish it had a tach. (And I—being a small woman—love the narrow seat, but I can definitely see how it would be uncomfortable for many/most riders after a while!)