BMW Motorrad recently announced the impending launch of the R 12 nineT, a successor to the Euro5 R nineT. This new model will be unveiled during the centennial year of the brand’s inception.
The release echoes its predecessor launch which was during the celebration of the marque’s 90-year anniversary.
R 12 nineT: A Retro Revamped
As we mark BMW Motorrad’s centenary, the R12 nineT will enter the spotlight, embodying the brand’s journey over the last 100 years. This bike fuses the past, present and future, serving as a homage to BMW’s engineering and design legacy. And most importantly it offers a new machine for retro riders to consider.
Beamer has followed a similar design approach for the R 12 to that of the R nineT, defined as “purist”. It translates to a minimalist and classic aesthetic.
According to Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design BMW Motorrad, it harks back to the design language of the brand in the mid to late 20th century by utilising a “… clear tank/seat/rear line, in the style of the traditional /5 or the legendary R 90 S of the 70s”.
Despite these vintage cues, the R 12 nineT is set to deliver a modern riding experience, powered by the twin-boxer engine found in the original R nineT.
BMW R 12 nineT: What’s New, What’s Different?
So far not a great deal has been revealed about the new R 12 roadster as it hasn’t officially launched yet. We know that the air/oil-cooled 1170cc boxer twin-engine lifted from the R 1200 GS (2017/18) has been revamped. And so too has its exhaust and air intakes.
Fully adjustable inverted telescopic forks are still found at the front. And, stopping power still comes in the form of radially mounted 4-piston Brembo monobloc calipers with steel braided brake lines.
The frame has been revised too; it’s a one-piece tubular space frame with a bolted-on sub-frame. This is likely to have an impact on the ride of the new bike.
Visually the R 12 looks cleaner than its predecessor, particularly around the lower half of the bike — especially around the footpegs. By comparison, the original R nineT seems cluttered.
The cylinder heads have been revamped with a more traditional finish. Redesign and reconfiguration of the air intakes and new side panels (that hide the sub-frame) also contribute to a more minimalist profile.
Above the engine, the fuel tank is the most notable change. Its shape is more reminiscent of the BMW motorcycles of the 70s. The instrument cluster has also been given a makeover.
Other notable design tweaks include the revamped LED headlight, featuring a black-surround light guide to distribute light more evenly.
The front mudguard has also been reworked. A more utilitarian attachment connects it to the forks.
All this combined gives the bike a more compelling retro finish forgoing elements of the new-wave custom motif espoused by the outgoing model.
Continuing the R nineT Legacy
Launched on BMW’s 90th anniversary, the R NineT quickly became a favourite among enthusiasts for its blend of retro charm and contemporary technology.
With over 100,000 units sold worldwide, the R nineT inspired a succession of variants including café racers, scramblers and retro adventurers.
Plus, it offered riders easy options for personalisation.
The ability to customise continues to be a central focus for the R 12 NineT with BMW stating that it’s going to be easier than ever to customise. The new integrated LED rear light unit hints at that. It should be less tricky to achieve a bob job finish.
More obviously, there is a promise of a dedicated parts and accessory catalogue for the new bike.
R 12 nineT: What’s in a Name?
The R NineT was introduced to commemorate the 90-year milestone of BMW Motorrad. The ‘nineT’ portion of the model name phonetically mirrors ‘ninety,’ a clever nod to the 90th anniversary.
With that in mind, the naming of the R 12 NineT may initially seem confusing. Instead of adopting ‘100’ to mirror the centenary, BMW chose the number ’12.’
It might seem more intuitive to adopt a name like ‘R 100th’ or ‘R 12 100’ to signal the centenary. Yet, such naming could muddy the waters within BMW’s lineup. BMW’s motorcycle model names typically indicate engine capacities or model generations, not anniversaries. Thus, the ‘R 12’ seems to pay homage to past models and maintains the continuity of BMW’s naming tradition.
By retaining the ‘nineT’ label for its successor, BMW ensures the connection with a model line that has seen immense success and global adoration. It continues the R nineT’s legacy, keeping its spirit. Got that…?
R 12 NineT: A New Chapter in BMW Motorrad’s History
When BMW Motorrad launched the R NineT in 2013, the retro motorcycle segment was still in its infancy. Today, most major manufacturers have one or several established retro models in their ranks.
Back then, it set a new benchmark for retro roadsters, scramblers and café racers. Barring the discontinued Ducati SportClassic, the R nineT was the first to embody the idea that modern classics need not sacrifice performance for aesthetics.
It can be argued that without the R nineT, some of its contemporary rivals, the Thruxton R, Kawasaki Z900RS and Yamaha XSR900 may not have come into existence. At least, not in the timeframe they did.
What is the price of R 12 nineT?
The price of the R 12 nineT has not yet been announced. The old R nineT’s current starting price is £14,100 ($15,135 / €17,050) therefore it’s reasonable to expect somewhere north of these price points for the base model. And if BMW introduces a no-frills model, like the current R nineT Pure, then perhaps you can take a grand off those prices.
BMW’s Commitment to Retro
The R 12 NineT is expected to join its garage mate the R 18 in the second half of 2023 (November). Together they demonstrate BMW Motorrad’s commitment to its heritage line, promising a future where the ‘retro’ concept continues to evolve and intrigue. Expect a variety of configurations of this model to follow shortly after its release.
The R 12 will be more than just a motorcycle at launch. It’ll symbolise the journey of the retro segment, marking the birth of the second generation of retro motorcycles
As BMW Motorrad turns the page on its first century, the R 12 NineT may be ready to lead modern-classic bikes into a new chapter. But to discover that we’ll have to wait until the end of the year.