August 15, 2019 By Maynard Marcelo

The Same, But Different: BMW R nineT Urban GS Review

Of the five BMW Motorrad Heritage models (R nineT Classic, R nineT Scrambler, R nineT Pure, R nineT Racer, and R nineT Urban GS), it’s the R nineT Urban GS I find the most attractive. I dunno, maybe because it’s styling is reminiscent of the 1980 BMW R80GS, highly regarded as the bike that started the adventure bike segment. Beautiful it may be, the R nineT Urban GS is no different from the other R nineT derivatives mechanically. While they mostly differ in aesthetics, underneath their minimalist bodywork they share the same 1170cc air/oil-cooled flat twin engine, steel fuel tank, rear paralever swingarm, and the same 43mm conventional fork. Keen observers would probably notice that among the four heritage models, the Urban GS shared many similarities with the R nineT Scrambler. And they are right. If you compare both bikes side by side, you will notice that the R nineT Urban GS only differs to the Scrambler with the headlight cowl, higher placed front fender, single muffler, and R80GS inspired paint scheme.

You gotta hand it to BMW for successfully creating four different flavored bikes using the same platform as the R nineT Classic, each catering to a different type of rider with their own unique characteristics. The R nineT Pure, for example, will appeal to those who love a simple and pure roadster. The R nineT Scrambler on the other hand would appeal to hipsters who prefer the rugged image it projects. The R nineT Racer are obviously for those who love the styling of Cafe Racers. And the R nineT Urban GS are for those who likes to pay homage to the original R80GS. But as its name imply, the R nineT Urban GS is more road, than off road. It may look like it’s ready for big adventure, but the truth is I won’t dare venture out to technical trails and river crossings on it. While it could easily manage fire trails and gravel roads, its adventure bike aspiration evaporates the moment its low ground clearance hit big rocks. Like its other Heritage siblings, the Urban GS is really a roadster dressed in fancy adventure clothing. You see, there’s a reason why BMW named it the Urban GS. Because it’s in urban settings where all R nineT really shines.

The boxer twin dish out loads of low and mid-range torque ideal for cruising city streets. While the Urban GS could achieve a (claimed) top speed of 200 km/h on the highway, its wide handlebars and lack of wind protection would make it a painful proposition, mini headlight cowling notwithstanding. But if you stay within the legal speed limit, say a little over 100 km/h, the Urban GS could also function as a capable long-distance tourer. Its 17 liters fuel tank promises at least 320 kilometers range at 19 kilometers per liter of fuel consumption. You just have to get used to the low frequency vibration and droning noise coming from the Metzeler Karoo 3 semi-knobby tires. Handling is light and predictable, with plenty of leverage from the wide handlebars. Steering is a noticeably slower compared to the R nineT Pure and R nineT Racer because of the Urban GS bigger 19-inch front wheels. But it felt very stable when leaned over corners. Suspension damping is a bit taut over rough pavement but it does pay off when the road gets twisty. ABS, as with the other R nineT bikes, is the only electronic rider aid you will get, and it works very well and confidence inspiring under a variety of dire riding conditions.

At PhP1,120,000, the R nineT Urban GS is certainly not cheap. In fact, you could save PhP35,000 if you opt for the R nineT Scrambler, and a whopping PhP180,000 if you buy the R nineT Pure. But then again, none of them pay homage to the venerable R80GS, and for me, it’s a throwback worth spending more for. The Urban GS may be made from the same platform as the other R nineT, but it’s different in spirit.

Engine: Flat Twin Cylinder, dohc, 4 valve per cylinder, 4 stroke, air/oil-cooled

Displacement: 1170 cc

Max Power: 110 bhp @ 7750 rpm

Max Torque: 85.55 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm

Transmission: 6 speed

Seat Height: 850 mm

Tire, front: 120/70-19

Tire, rear: 170/60-17

Brakes, front/rear:  Twin Disc/Disc ABS

Fuel Capacity:  17 liters

Curb Weight:  221 kg

Price: PhP 1,120,000

+: Superb build quality, smooth and torquey motor, neutral handling, ABS

-: Low ground clearance for real off-roading

C! Rating: 9/10

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