2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler First Ride Review
BMW Motorrad says it continues to distance itself from offering “the bike my father rides.” This statement perfectly lays the framework for its newest model in its Heritage lineup–the 2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler.
Based on the standard R nineT that was launched in 2013 in celebration of BMW’s 90th Anniversary, the minimalist-looking Scrambler caters to the younger crowd—especially the city dwellers where styling and creating a custom scene supersedes everything. Look cool, feel cool.
Here are 10 Fast Facts from our initial First Ride–a more in-depth review will follow.
- The 19-inch front wheel looks cool, steers slow, and costs less. Unlike the base R nineT’s 17-inch front wheel, the Scrambler arrives with a larger, 19-inch front wheel—purely for the aesthetics. The bigger wheel, and related longer 60-inch wheelbase (vs. 58.2 on the base R nineT), slows handling down, especially at slower speeds. The base Scrambler’s wheels are five-spoke cast-aluminum wheels over the base R nineT’s wire-spoked wheels, which helps pull the MSRP down to $13,000 from $15,095. Wire-spoked wheels—the same used on the R 1200 GS—are available as a $500 factory option.
- The air-/oil-cooled boxer is the same as base R nineT. The air/water-cooled 1170cc flat-twin engine is identical to the base R nineT’s, producing 110 horsepower at 7750 rpm and 86 ft/lbs of torque at 6000 rpm. This edition of the boxer is different from the 125-horsepower liquid-cooled version found on the ever-popular ADV-ready R 1200 GS or the touring R 1200 RT. The Scrambler’s engine is not as refined, but offers a bit of analog feeling and pulsating character of a revving boxer, letting you know something truly mechanical is down there.
- Horsepower numbers are the same, even with the high-mount exhaust that looks cool. What would a Scrambler be without a high-mount exhaust? BMW says the exhaust didn’t increase any horsepower numbers, and we didn’t feel a difference between its power and the R nineT’s. However, the Scrambler sound is definitely better—especially when the throttle was cracked wide open. Because the exhaust—Euro 4 compliant—is the only real change in engines between the Scrambler and R nineT, this may be the reason mpg went from 52 to 45.
- It may look off-road worthy, but the R nineT Scrambler is far from a dirt bike. To save cash, BMW went with a non-adjustable conventional fork—with gaiters, of course—rather than the upside down fork offered on the R nineT. The suspension does have slightly longer wheel travel than the R nineT, but it’s not off-road ready. This Scrambler is at okay for fire roads, especially with the optional-at-no-additional-cost Metzeler Karoo 3 tires (70 percent street/30 percent off-road), but its intended market will likely spend little to no time off road.
- The subframe and passenger plate are detachable for customization. For quick and easy customization, the Scrambler arrives with a detachable rear subframe and passenger plate, if a single seat is wanted. Also, to further simplify customization, the Scrambler’s wiring harness is split into vehicle functions and engine functions. While looking at the bike during a lunch stop, I figured I’d be able to full tear down the subframe and all associated parts within a half-hour.
- The Scrambler’s seat is higher and the bars taller. The Scrambler’s seat is higher at 32.3 inches (the R nineT’s is 30.9) and repositioned over the R nineT’s—very noticeable at stops, and this may cause some major issues for shorter customers. The bars are also taller, and this was immediately felt. The taller bar bend helped when standing up on some off-pavement sections during the test. Nice, but again, it is more of an aesthetic thing.
- A steel fuel tank is used for the Scrambler. To save some cash, gone is the base R nineT’s aluminum tank, and in its place is a steel one. Though heavier, the 4.5-gallon tank doesn’t add lbs. to the overall weight; at 485 lbs., the Scrambler is actually 4.5 lbs. lighter than the base R nineT. In regards to weight, the bikes feel the same, though, from low- to high-speeds.
- The dash is spare. Feeding off the minimalistic design, the R nineT Scrambler’s gauge cluster is simple—it features a speedometer, odometer, two tripometers, and engine temperature. I didn’t realize how much I like to look at rpms until they weren’t present, but this was another cost-saving measure.
- There are some essential options, even for a Hipster. BMW’s first-ever production Scrambler arrives standard with switchable ABS, but the essentials—heated grips and traction control—are available as factory options. My test bike had all three, and the heated grips were used for about 80 percent of the ride—something any rider can use when the temps drop below, say, 75 degrees. The traction control and one-channel ABS performed flawlessly, though I had them switched off for most of the day in favor of wheelies and going sideways in the dirt.
- There’s only one color option—Monolith Metallic Matte. That, combined with the brown seat with a classic stitch design, makes for one unique look. BMW says 79 percent of its customers choose a bike based on style/design, and this single color highlights the Scrambler’s unique design. The color will surely assist in pushing sales to that younger demographic BMW is after.
- Helmet: Klim Krios
- Jacket: BMW DownTown
- Gloves: Alpinestars Celer Glove
- Jeans: Spidi Furious Tex
- Boots: Stylmartin Continental
2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler First Ride – Photo Gallery