BMW is tapping into adventure/dual-sport motorcycle mojo from days gone by with the 2018 BMW r nineT Urban G/S. The fifth edition in the styling R nineT lineup, BMW is hoping to attract crowds young and old.With great torque, a nimble nature and aesthetic choices that make me think about opening that steel-trap wallet of mine, BMW’s R nineT line satisfies a wide variety of demographics. We have tested the Urban G/S and here are the essential facts that you need to know.
1. From concept to the showroom floor, the 2018 Urban G/S is quite the looker. It’s rare that manufacturers make good on the concept promise, but BMW Motorrad decided to throw us motorcycle enthusiasts a bone and follow through with the Concept Lac Rose that debuted a year ago at the Wheels and Waves event. With a round headlight complete with a small shroud, a long, flat seat, upright ergo, fork gaiters, and optional wire-spoke wheels (add $500), BMW Motorrad has certainly won me over. This exquisite blend of old and new hits on a look that doesn’t seem to ever go out of fashion.2. BMW purists don’t fret, the 2018 BMW R nineT Urban G/S’s motor remains true to its heritage. This is the same air-/oil-cooled boxer found across the entire R nineT lineup. Featuring a claimed 110 horsepower at 7750 rpm and 86 ft/lbs of torque at 6000 rpm, the twin is potent without getting over your head. It pulls from the nether regions of the powerband without a single hiccup.3. Throttle response is precise, while still making low-speed maneuvering like lane-splitting a breeze. You can run the boxer out as far as you’d like, but I felt most comfortable thrashing about in the solid mid-range torque. Make no mistake, it will pull to the redline steadily and hum a great tune while doing it. Comfortable both in the city or cruising at highway speeds and above, the powerplant is a quality piece of kit.4. The Urban G/S can handle light (read very light) off-road duty. The Urban G/S is dressed up for the dirt as part of its overall aesthetic, but BMW Motorrad knows that most owners will be keeping them on the pavement.5. Featuring the same suspension components found on the R nineT Scrambler, the Urban G/S deals with the rigors of the road with ease. Even when the road gets rough, the Urban G/S doesn’t transfer discomfort into the rider, as it deals with hard hits well. A traditional, non-adjustable 43mm fork with a hair under five inches of travel is used with a shock that controls 5.5 inches of rear wheel travel and has adjustments for spring-preload rebound damping. While the Urban G/S might not have the top-shelf suspension tech, it certainly holds its own out on the road.6. You’ll find the Urban G/S to be stable as can be. One of the standout aspects of riding the Urban G/S is its sure-footedness in the twisties. The relatively long 60-inch wheelbase adds a remarkable amount of stability to the ride, without making it laborious. In fact, it’s a highly intuitive machine; give a bit of input in any direction and the Urban G/S complies deftly.7. The Urban G/S has some stopping power in the brakes. With four-piston Brembo calipers clamping down on dual 320mm rotors, the Urban G/S comes to a stop quickly. Brake feel is confident and progressive, allowing for great modulation at the lever. The same can be said for the rear brake, which uses as single 265mm rotor.8. ABS is standard but traction control is an extra. All R nineT derivatives come with ABS as a standard feature. However, traction control will cost you extra. Though, you will want to disable the ABS and TC if you feel like gettin’ loose in the dirt.9. The Urban G/S uses a 19-inch front wheel and a 17-inch rear. Should you be bold enough to take the 487-pound Urban G/S into the great outdoors, you’ll find that the larger diameter front wheel will help a bit off-road, without sacrificing handling or stability at normal speeds. Stock, the Urban G/S uses street-focused cast-aluminum wheels.10. Optional off-road tires won’t cost you a dime at the dealer. If you want to go for the off-road look, feel free to go with the knobbies. If you plan on taking the Urban G/S down a road that actually requires knobby tires, you might want to consider the nineT Scrambler.11. Upright ergonomics and a spacious cockpit await. The Urban G/S’ wide handlebars, flat seat, and sensible peg placement raise the comfort level a good bit. When you need to get sporty, the sculpted tank allows for good anchoring.12. The Urban G/S seat isn’t adventure high. With a 32-inch inseam, I was still able to flat-foot while waiting at stops. Still, with a 33.5-inch seat height, the Urban G/S is especially great in traffic, making for a nice upright perch to call home.13. The thinly padded seat is a tad bit too firm for my tastes, but that fits in with the G/S theme. Wind deflection is adequate even when traveling at high speeds, highlighting the prospect of longer rides—if I were too do something about the cushioning. With a 4.5-gallon fuel tank and a claimed 44 mpg, range is just short of 200 miles, though that would be pushing it.14. A modular frame offers an solo/duo seating option. If you’re more of the solo rider, you can swap your two-up seat for a single seat with a rack and kick the rear-seat frame (passenger pegs) to the curb.15. Like most motorcycles, the 2018 BMW R nineT Urban G/S is built to a price point. The original top-spec R nineT runs $15,395, and the Urban G/S cuts $2400 off of that—only the $11,995 Pure is less expensive. Compared to the flagship R nineT, The Urban G/S uses a steel fuel tank, a single speedometer, a non-adjustable traditional fork, single 2-into-1 exhaust, one-piece seat, and a three-section frame to keep costs down.16. The R nineT lineup is arguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing series of bikes in BMW history, and the 2018 BMW R nineT Urban G/S is no exception. Without a doubt, the design team has narrowed in on the classic rally-bike look, delivering it to a whole new generation, without allowing a quest for beauty end in pain. The Urban G/S is quick on its feet, sporty and I can’t wait to get some more seat time with it.Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to the Ultimate Motorcycling podcast—Motos and Friends. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Motos and Friends is brought to you by the Yamaha YZF-R7—Yamaha’s awesome supersport machine that is as capable on the racetrack as it is on the street. …and it’s comfortable too! Check it out at at your local Yamaha dealer, or of course at YamahaMotorsports.com.
In this week’s first segment, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the BMW K 1600 GT. This is the sporty bagger version of BMW’s K series of machines, those are the models with the awesome 6-cylinder engine. The GT has been given a little makeover for 2023, and Nic gives us his take.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my all time heroes—three-time World Champion racer ‘fast’ Freddie Spencer. I’ll do my best not to come off as too much of a fanboy here, but frankly it’ll be tough!
In my humble opinion, Spencer is a contender for the GOAT—greatest of all time. Sure, his career was a little shorter than some, and his number of championships falls behind the likes of Lawson, Doohan, Rossi, and of course Marquez. But at the time, Freddie literally changed the way motorcycles were ridden. 30 years before Marc Marquez, Freddie was able to push the front wheel into a slide, corner after corner, lap after lap in order to get the bike turned faster than anyone else. Freddie took completely different lines and was able to get on the throttle so early he could out accelerate anyone off a corner.
In the modern era, of course Freddie is the chairman of the FIM MotoGP Stewards panel. This is the panel of referees for all three classes of Grand prix racing. I talked to Freddie about his task there, and although for contractual reasons with Dorna and the FIM he cannot talk about specific riders, teams, or events, nevertheless his explanation of the job makes for interesting listening. It’s a tough job, and frankly I wouldn’t want to do it!
Actually—Ultimate Motorcycling is giving away five copies of the book—signed by Freddie himself—to the first five listeners who contact us with the correct answer to the question: How many national AMA championships did Freddie win, and which years were they?
Please email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact the winners and send you a signed copy of Feel. Those five winners will be announced on a future episode. Unfortunately for legal reasons this offer is ONLY open to US residents.
So, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!