BMW R nineT Scrambler Article: Brian Cheyne Photos: Johann van Tonder

BMW R nineT Scrambler Article: Brian Cheyne Photos: Johann van Tonder

The Americans probably have a society that chooses their terms based on the opposite of what the rest of the world calls it. The word Scrambler in South African terms means off-road machines with high mudguards and insane suspension travel. The Americans though, uses the term to describe  a motorcycle used in beach and mountain races. For that, they needed deep-treaded tyres and a raised exhaust. Using a normal road motorcycle, the modifications were made by hobby racers and the term Scrambler was born. When BMW wanted to revive the Scrambler name, the R nineT Roadster was adapted slightly to create the R nineT Scrambler.

The 1170cc boxer engine needs no introduction and it sits proudly in the minimalist nineT frame. The wheels are spoked, and the front wheel is now a 19 incher, adorned with Metzeler Karoo 3 boots. This is probably the most gnarly tyres they could have gone with. Up front sits telescopic forks, the right way up with rubber gaiters. The rear suspension is BMW’s Paralever sytem. Braking is taken care of by dual discs up front and a single disc at the back. Being a BMW, ABS is a given.

When presented with my Scrambler at the launch, I had to circle it a few times. The design is extremely minimalist, and almost every item is modifiable. At first I thought the exhaust was scratched, but on closer inspection, I saw the Akrapovic logo. I just had to start the Scrambler to hear the grumble from those two upswept pipes. I was not disappointed! As our convoy of Scramblers poured out of Donford Motorrad into Cape Town traffic, the sound was just glorious. We headed towards Chapmans Peak and by the time we got to the twisties those Karoos were nice and warm, and we could really attack the corners. To be honest, the Scrambler does not turn in as sharply as I would have liked, but that is the price you pay for the larger diameter front wheel.  The leather patina seat looks good, but to lower the seat height all the padding was taken out and you are left with just a leather clad plank. My poor backside was thankful for the frequent stops. You soon forget those minor inconveniences once you grab a handful of throttle. BMW riders will know what the torque is like, and the gearbox feeding the shaft was as smooth as you would expect. The back of the Scrambler looks almost unfinished, but that is because the whole rear sub frame can be swopped out for a different configuration. 

Our route did not include any gravel, so I could not judge its off-road capabilities. I suspect, off the grey stuff, you need to ride it like the American flat-trackers do. Let me say this: The R nineT Scrambler is a bike for the purist who likes to ride out on a lazy Sunday afternoon and just park his bike to admire it. It is a very attractive bike, I will not lie. The sales figures also suggest that BMW are effectively filling a gap in their line-up. To that end, two more versions of the nineT is coming, the Pure and the Racer. As the model range expands, so will the accessory list, so in there somewhere is a nineT just for you.

The launch model comes standard with an aluminium fuel tank, heated grips, LED turn signals, the spoked tyres with the Karoos on and ASC. This pushes the price to a stiff R193 900, but future models will not have these items as standard and will come in below the nineT price. This is a niche bike, but there are plenty of people waiting to get their hands on one, so head down to your local BMW dealer and have a look.

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