2017 BMW R nineT Pure Review | Back to Basics

Part of the five-motorcycle BMW R nineT Heritage lineup, the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure is the least expensive of the group, though hardly a budget motorcycle. Per its name, the Pure is best thought of as the no-frills R nineT that has no styling agenda—the Pure is simply about motorcycle riding.

1. Visually, the closest relative of the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure is the flagship standard R nineT. The main differences between the two motorcycles are that the Pure has traditional forks (vs. inverted on the standard), a single muffler (vs. two exhausts), cast aluminum wheels (vs. wire-spoke), a steel fuel tank (vs. aluminum), no tachometer, and an $11,995 price tag compared to $15,395 for the standard. Save the price, these differences are generally common throughout the “specialty” R nineT models, compared to the flagship standard.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure top speed2. If you’re simply into riding, the R nineT Pure is a bargain in BMW’s Heritage range. Given its focus as an urban bike that will happily venture into the canyons, the Pure gets the job done as well as any of the R nineT versions. This is a bike for a motorcyclist who is more concerned about the ride than the image. It’s also a good choice for someone who wants to do some customization, as it leaves more room in the budget.

3. The motor is a classic, and it still puts out useful power. While 110 horses doesn’t sound particularly exciting, the 86 ft/lbs of torque are real. In the city, it means the ability to strongly pull away from traffic as needed, even on the freeway. Take it out to the sticks, and you have a motor that grunts out of corners with noticeable authority. However, this is the old air-cooled mill—not the wasserboxer. If you’re looking for high-end twin-cylinder performance, the BMW R 1200 R is a better upright sport choice, though at a higher price ($14,345).

4. Although a big twin, high gearing keeps it smooth. You don’t have to put many revs into the boxer to accomplish your goals, and vibration isn’t an issue. First gear can seem a bit lumpy at low speeds, but there’s nothing you can do to change that. When you’re in a parking lot or urban traffic jam, your left hand will get a workout. At speed, you’ll appreciate the tall gearing.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure seat height5. The 2017 BMW R nineT Pure is a relative lightweight for an open-class roadster. Hitting the scales at a claimed 483 pounds with about four gallons of high-test in the 4.5-gallon tank, it’s under that magic 500-pound mark. Add in the fact that the boxer powerplant keeps the weight low, and it’s an easily managed motorcycle.

6. The Pure’s ergonomics are focused a bit toward sport. The bend of the handlebars is low and flat, which is definitely sporty. While they may seem on the wide side, it’s a fairly long (nearly 59-inch wheelbase) and rakish (26.4 degrees), so that does give you a bit of help when turning the R nineT Pure.

7. As a sport bike, the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure is deliberate. Nothing on the bike is intended for fast reactions. The motor builds power in a predictable manner, and the handling is fully intuitive. Fast riding is certainly enjoyable, though plan your lines in advance. The Pure is less receptive to mid-corner corrections than smaller bikes, though it rewards contemplative confidence. The term “gentleman’s sport bike” may be a cliché, but it’s hard to argue that the R nineT does not fit that description—the motorcycle is well mannered and not prone to unpredictability.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure Test8. The Metzeler Roadtec Z8 Interact tires do a great job. The multi-compound all-weather tires have a great feel in a variety of conditions. Of course, if you know your routes and avoid moisture, you can upgrade to sportier rubber to enhance the backroad experience.

9. We didn’t miss the flagship’s inverted fork at all. The Pure’s suspension suited a wide swath of riders, ranging from the heavier and faster to the lighter and more careful. The fork offers no adjustment options, though you’d have to be far from the norm to complain much. The shock has spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustments, though that is mostly to satisfy passengers. The standard settings at both ends are spot on for virtually everyone.

10. Braking, like the rest of the Pure, is completely intuitive. Pull the brake lever a bit and the four-piston fixed calipers grasp lightly. Add some more grip and the braking gets stronger in a linear fashion. The rear brake works well, also. ABS is there to bail you out in low-traction conditions—you will rarely need it on a clean, dry road.

2017 BMW R nineT Pure torque11. As a commuter, the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure is a daily pleasure. Associate Editor Kelly Callan did most of the commuting time on the Pure, and she was smitten. Even with her light weight (115 pounds before gearing up), the suspension was compliant enough for her on the rugged freeways she traverses daily. The power is more than enough to get her out of trouble (and in trouble if an officer is nearby at the wrong time). About her only complaint was the late engagement of the clutch, and she eventually adjusted for that. The wider bars make lane splitting a bit dicey, but the Pure’s steady maneuverability makes up for that.

12. The Pure gets it right as an all-around motorcycle. There is very little you can’t do on the Pure, ranging from mixing it up with the sport guys in the twisties, to stylin’ your way down the boulevard with your cruiser-mounted compatriots. Motorcycles such as the 2017 BMW R nineT Pure are a return to the roots of motorcycling, getting the job done with the features you want and a winningly agreeable personality.

Location and action photography by Don Williams 

Studio photography by Arnold Debus

Riding Style

  • Helmet: HJC RPHA 11 Pro Darter
  • Jacket: Spidi Warrior Wind Pro
  • Gloves: Spidi Carbo 1
  • Jeans: Spidi J-Max Denim
  • Boots: XPD XP3-S

For specs and a photo gallery, click to page 2 below.