Less is More: The Magic of the BMW R nineT
In 2013 BMW Motorrad was celebrating its 90th anniversary. To commemorate this incredible achievement they introduced a motorcycle called the R nineT. The R came from their legendary “R” series motorbikes and nineT was to mark the occasion. When I saw the first pictures of this motorcycle, I was blown away. BMW had taken the air and oil cooled 1200cc boxer engine from the previous generation GS/GSA and built a roadster from it. The bike was sculpted out of aluminum and was simply a piece of art. BMW wanted to make a style statement with this machine and they absolutely hit it out of the park. But that’s not all. The bike was intended to be a custom builder’s fantasy. It was a blank canvas onto which many a masterpieces could be built. The bike achieved cult status within its first year. It was sold out in most parts of the world. The internet was flooded with beautiful renditions of the bike from all over the world. Bespoke accessory manufacturers like Roland Sands Designs (RSD) and Rizoma created a dedicated line of accessories just for this bike. Thus started the legend of the R nineT.
I had been lusting after her ever since then. I had a chance to see her up close many a times while visiting motorcycle shops across the world and every time I saw her, I liked her ever more. I anxiously waited to have the opportunity to ride this gorgeous piece of art.
4 years later, the day has finally arrived. Thanks to the aegis of Lutyens Motorrad New Delhi, I was able to get my hands on a bike that has been #1 on my bucket list for almost 4 years.
It’s 4 in the morning. My alarm wakes me up. It’s early November and winter is just about settling in. NCR is encompassed in a cloud of (sm/f)og and everyone is cribbing about the atrocious state of air quality – rightly so. But on this morning, I am least bothered by all of that. For I’m going to be heading out on the R nineT and no amount of air pollution is stopping me.
I get ready and gear up. There she is waiting for me :). It’s almost like I’m going on my first date (with my now lovely wife). The excitement levels are through the roof. I still can’t get over how gorgeous she looks. How that massive boxer engine stands out. How black and silver create the perfect contrast. How those upswept Akrapovic cans create a menacing stance. How that incredible saddle tapers off in the end into a minimalist all LED brake light. I can go on and on. So let me stop here. All I’ll say is this is one of the most beautiful stock motorcycles out there today.
I push the starter switch and she barks to life with the all too familiar hum of that boxer twin. I wait for her to warm up a bit and then give a few gentle twists of the wrist and there is that glorious roar of the boxer twin amplified through bespoke Akrapovic pipes that come as part of the stock bike. There is also the very familiar left to right gyration movement of the boxer that anyone who has ridden a BMW boxer twin will be most familiar with. I engage first gear with an assuring click and off I go. It’s going to be a great ride today!
Daylight has still not broken. There is surprisingly little traffic on the road. There is this strange mixture of fog and smog so I am taking it easy. Within a few kms, the bike feels so so familiar. The engine is powerful in a “Thor’s hammer” way as it delivers well over a 100 NM of torque at the slightest twist of your wrist. The handling is absolutely sublime – I cannot believe that BMW can make such an incredible handling roadster from what is essentially a GS. Hats off to their engineers. The steering is very neutral. The transitions from side to side are seamless and she goes through traffic like a hot knife through butter. The sound is absolutely mesmerizing. It is a thunderous roar that gets louder as the revs climb. The best way I can describe it is the sound of one of those propeller fighter planes that one sees in war movies of the 50s and 60s. It’s absolutely mind blowing. The suspension is blissful for city riding as well has highway cruising, soaking in all the bumps with ease. There is a steering damper to ensure high speed stability. The brakes are proper Brembo and do a phenomenal job. The gear box is super smooth (again a very big surprise as this is an older generation unit).
I’ve now ridden the bike for about 500 km and am absolutely blown away by her. This bike is not about horsepower or speed. It’s not about ride by wire throttle, rider modes and traction control. It’s not about quick shifters and throttle blippers. It’s not about 6 axis IMUs and cornering ABS. It’s not about LCD and TFT dashes. It’s none of that.
This bike is about character that gives you an unmatched emotional high. It’s a back to basics machine that is about the pure unadulterated fun of motorcycling. It’s about going anywhere at anytime. It’s about looking at something that you will never ever tire of and others will never ever stop ogling at. It’s about hearing a racy and edgy symphony that none of the modern machines can create. It’s about building something that can truly be unique and a reflection of your own identity. It’s about feeling the wind in your face. It’s about feeling the adrenaline rush of a carving a nice twisty road. It’s an emotional experience that has very few parallels. And all this in a highly reliable package that you can use every single day of your life.
By building a bike like this, BMW Motorrad proves that even now when you focus on one but a very important aspect of motorcycling, in this case emotion, you can create more with less and for that I sincerely applaud them.
All I will say in the end is that this is not a bike for everyone. This is a bike that needs to be earned. It’s something that only someone who has spent many years riding different types and brands of motorcycles will truly appreciate and ultimately admire. I now understand why I had to wait 4 long years to get a chance to meet her. And boy was the wait worth it!
Photos: Thulashi dharan J and Mohit Gena
Suzuki Intruder 150 Review: The Lightweight Cruiser!
Whacky! The first word which comes to mind when you lay eyes on the new Suzuki Intruder 150. Some bits are really nice, while other bobs are pretty tacky.
As I headed to Lavasa for the first ride of the Intruder 150, I couldn’t help but wonder at Suzuki’s choice of location for a cruiser motorcycle. Lavasa has been made famous by motorcyclists of Pune as the perfect ghat section, which isn’t the natural home for a cruiser. But as I rode the curves I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong, more on that later…
There are a few motorcycles in the world which bring together a common motorcyclists consensus about its aesthetics. The Suzuki Intruder 150 isn’t one of them. It is difficult to brand it gorgeous or downright ugly. The front will leave you delighted and the rear will leave you flabbergasted. I am not someone who generally cares about looks, because it is so subjective. But the Intruder leaves me perplexed. The bike looks muscular and intimidating from the front three quarters with the big headlight dome, 41mm chunky forks and the flowing plastic shrouds. It gives an impression of a motorcycle larger than its 150 mill. From the rear, it resembles a maxi-scooter to be really generous!
In detail the Intruder has quality plastics and components. At no point of time will you find anything looking cheap. The only thing which sticks out like a sore thumb are the RVMs; chrome where there is almost none on the rest of the motorcycle. Simple black ones would have sufficed.
Look beneath and the Intruder 150 is basically the same as the successful Gixxer 155. The same engine, chassis and suspension with all of it tweaked a bit for the cruiser layout. The Intruder uses a different gearing ratio, with the rear sprocket having an extra tooth. The Airbox is also different, a bigger intake and a different exhaust is employed on the Intruder. The chassis is essentially the same. A longer swing arm and a different rake angle increase the wheelbase and give the bike decidedly cruiser ergonomics. These along with the cosmetic changes add 8 kg over the Gixxer.
Whether you like how the motorcycle looks or not, you surely cannot ignore it. Wherever we rode the bike, people would stop to stare and click pictures. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the Intruder turned out to be one delicious package. If you can forget the appearance for a minute (and it is pretty darn hard to do that!) then you will truly appreciate the Intruder for what it is. Throw a leg over the saddle and settle in, because you are in for a proper joy ride.
Mill at work
The sweet motor from the Gixxer makes its appearance as you thumb the starter and the Intruder rumbles to life and settles into a steady rhythm. The same tractable motor does a fantastic job of getting you around the blocks, riding at 1st Gear slow traffic speeds or even providing sufficient grunt to keep you happy mid-corner. Of course even the 14 Nm struggles to accelerate up a slope with a pillion. But the fact that you expect it to do so, just shows how good this 154.9cc mill is.
The 5-speed gearbox is slick, with a heel-toe type shifter, which is easy to use with riding boots. Though I did manage to get my boot stuck between the footpeg and gear lever once. The clutch is light and will be comfortable to use for heavy traffic and I didn’t experience false neutrals at any point of time.
Braking and comfort
Brakes are as good as the Gixxer, progressive and with good feel and bite. You can get it stopped in a hurry. The safety net of ABS is always present in case you find yourself in a sticky situation, though it is a single channel unit. The tyres and wheels are the same as the Gixxer and therefore perform as per expectation.
The saddle is plush and broad and the pillion should be reasonably happy as well, while the footpeg-saddle-handlebar triangle was near perfect for my 5’11’’ frame. Though I reserve my comment till we take it for a substantially longer spin. The suspension is firm and tuned for better handling, though it did manage to absorb the bumps and potholes on the post-monsoon Lavasa roads.
What really makes you sit up and take notice is the handling. The bike handles almost as well as the Gixxer 155, which is a very big deal. It is light, nimble and can be thrown around with aplomb. It feels stable through the corners and does a decent job of changing direction. Slow speed U-turns are also disposed off with ease. Even the mild bit of off-pavement excursions we threw at it was swallowed wholeheartedly. That is when you realise why Suzuki held the first ride on the curves of Lavasa. This cruiser shines in the corners.
Lighting on the bike is taken care of by a 35W halogen with an LED pilot lamp and taillamp, though the trafficators miss out on the LED treatment.
The Intruder 150 is very much a Gixxer 155 in different clothing. A bike which will bring a smile on the face of the rider. Buy it if you like or are indifferent to the looks, don’t if you think it is a monstrosity! This is a big step-up from the limited competition in every respect. The price is Rs 98340/- Ex-Showroom Delhi, which is a cool 17k more than the Bajaj Avenger 150. Commuters and college kids will be happy to have more options in this niche segment. Which of the two will they buy? We are very keen to find out.
Photos: Mohit Gena