The letter “R” is important when it comes to BMW motorcycles, going all the way back to their original model, the R32. The R nineT, was BMW’s way of carrying on the R name, while also acknowledging their 90-years of producing world-class motorcycles. And for this year, BMW adds something a little special to the R nineT lineup. 

BRIAN ROBINSON: “The R nineT was developed as sort of a blank canvas for buyers to customize as they saw fit, but never one to pass up on a trend, BMW wisely noted that Scrambler-style motorcycles  are having a bit of a resurgence, so they customized this one for you, it’s the R nineT Scrambler.”

So, what goes into making a scrambler? Well the high-mounted exhaust pipes, flat seat, and knobby tires are the easy indicators. But there are also taller handlebars and rubber gaiters on the fork to complete the look. 

It all works together with a classic aluminum and saddle-brown theme that is retro in flavor, but very modern in execution.  

It’s very mechanical looking; with a precise and functional appearance. And if you’ve watched any of my other reviews, you’ll know as far as I’m concerned, simpler is better. 

Thumb the starter, and it sure sounds like an old thumper when it fires up; but there’s no denying this is actually 1,170ccs worth of boxer twin outputting around 110-horsepower, with its air-cooled heads proudly protruding out of the frame as always.

That wealth of power trickles to the rear wheel through a 6-speed gearbox and single-sided Paralever swing-arm shaft drive.

As high-tech as things can get over at BMW, the R nineT Scrambler is refreshingly low-tech. There’s just a basic speedometer gauge with minimal information; and a single headlight out front with no fairing or wind protection. 

No electronic suspension here either, just good basic mechanical stuff; though there is standard ABS.

And of course this being BMW, you can add heated grips and GPS as well, if you must. 

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a form over function piece, as the ride is quite fun; but there’s an awkward feel to it that comes from the optional Metzler dual-sport tires, as well as a distinct Humming noise that makes it sound like you’re rollin’ on Super Swamper 35s. 

It’s very comfortable as well, not a bike that makes you want to put your knee down at every apex, rather just relax and enjoy the ride. 

A lengthened wheelbase and narrow forks necessitated some obvious fixes like a standard steering damper to help keep things stable at higher speeds. 

Suspension travel has increased, but we’re still talking less than 6-inches front and rear. So a dirt trail or fire road, sure. But I wouldn’t wander too far off into the rough stuff. 

Get this, the R nineT Scrambler is actually 2-grand lower in price than the stock R nineT Roadster that it’s based on, starting at $13,000. And if your experience is like mine, most people that chat you up at the gas station will be surprised this BMW stickers that low. 

And this 2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler is just the beginning really, as BMW has a whole lot more R nineT variants in the pipeline. Plus, you can always pick up the original Roadster and customize it yourself. Either way, you’ll get some retro-inspired back to basics motorcycle fun from a brand known more for looking forward than to the past for inspiration.