The past five years have seen an influx of new and returning motorcyclists, drawn in by new models that blend individual style and technology. A huge part of motorcycling has always been the authentic feeling of connection to something you love; whether that be a specific brand, the vibrations from a certain engine, or the feeling of each corner.
For many, the connection is purely emotional, tempted by the sound, looks, or lifestyle of two-wheels. To others, it’s a mechanical drive, the tranquility of working on the heart of a machine; tinkering and overly obsessing, making sure everything is correct and functions well.
Very few brands have stuck to creating motorcycles throughout their existence, without changing too much of a single idea in order to satisfy the pencil pushers and the coffers. For BMW, having an 80-year old engine that was shaft driven was gold; almost irreplaceable. BMW Motorrad Philippines has been constantly beefing up their lineup of “Heritage” motorcycles, all in the hopes of bringing in new riders, and satisfying purists out there.
What happens when you combine a classic engine with retro styling and add a bit of new tech? Let’s find out, as BMW was kind enough to lend me three of their heritage motorcycles, each with their own strengths, considerations, and quirks. But, trust me, any of these motorcycles would make a fine addition to any garage. The same engines with different design approaches, BMW’s Heritage line has something for everyone.
The Common Denominator
It’s been almost 99 years since the original boxer-twin, shaft driven layout was introduced in BMW’s R32. Air-cooled and full of torque, at present, the boxer engine of BMW has been developed into 1,170cc; a far cry from their 500cc starting point.
The parts may have changed over the years to increase longevity and performance, but one thing still remains the same — the engine and drivetrain that withstood the test of time, and BMW’s Heritage motorcycles all feature the same classic modernized motor. Each of BMW’s Heritage bikes churn out 110 hp and 116 Nm of torque, creating a wide and usable power band for all types of riding.
1. BMW R nineT
The R nineT roadster is a true universal motorcycle. Its looks are classic and just waiting to be customized in almost every aspect. A big plus is that the R nineT gets the inverted forks straight from the S1000R and S1000RR motorcycles, improving the handling characteristics and adjustability. ABS is standard, and optional traction control is available. The seating position is very neutral and comfortable, with the seat allowing many hours of riding time. A solid choice for those looking for a motorcycle with all-around performance and good looks.
Price: 1,200,000 PHP
• A blank canvas, waiting to be customized - a great looking bike
• Fantastic brakes and stock tires
• Best suspension of all the Heritage bikes
• Exhaust by Akrapovic adds great sound
• Great seat and comfortable ride
• The horizontal firing of the engine takes some getting used to, especially in corners
• Can feel heavy at low speed maneuvers
• I don’t have one in my garage
2. BMW R nineT Urban G/S
The Urban G/S stands out with its classic BMW colors and a red seat, all paying tribute to the original G/S design: the 19-inch front wheel, the telescopic fork with the familiar bellows, the headlamp mask with the windscreen, and the raised front-wheel cover define the front of the bike. Classic, no frills instrumentation, ABS as standard, and dual sport tires mean that the Urban G/S will feel at home on almost any road. Seating is upright and slightly taller than the regular R nineT, and ground clearance is improved. Eye-catching looks and versatility to go almost anywhere.
Price: 1,120,000 PHP
• Beautiful colors and seat, design is unmistakably BMW G/S
• Tires work great on and off the road
• Brakes are good
• Taller seating makes the bike feel lighter, a joy in traffic
• Seat is narrower and isn’t as plush
• 19-inch front wheel will feel heavy at times
• No tachometer or gear indicator (Nitpicking here. Who needs those anyway?)
3. BMW R nineT Racer
Ah the unmistakable fairing, low clip on handlebars, single seat, and aggressive riding position scream one thing: Cafe Racer. The Racer is fantastic looking, so much so that I’d gladly stare at one for hours. Taking its inspiration from ‘70s motorcycle racing, the R nineT Racer is a low slung, slim, and stylish option for those looking for a head turning bike. Handles extremely well and loves to be ridden hard. The seating is very aggressive and may prove too extreme for most. I’d get one as a second motorcycle, or as a coffee bike, being the envy of every other bike night participant.
Price: 1,100,000 PHP
• Best-looking BMW Heritage motorcycle, will turn heads anywhere
• Seating and clip ons mean a sportier feel, begging you to run up the tach
• Tires and brakes are great, ABS is also standard
• At home on any mountain pass or twisty road, a rewarding ride
• Very aggressive seating position will turn off some people
• Solo seat means that you can’t share the experience with others
• Front suspension can prove to be too firm (non-adjustable)
• I also don’t have this one in my garage