It was back in 2017 that I first heaped praise upon BMW’s purist iteration of the R nine T. Back then, my review concluded with a rather blunt declaration that undoubtedly conveyed how smitten I truly was with the bike. “Would I purchase one for myself? Is it that good? Most certainly, without even an ounce of regret.” After all these years, my desire to add one to my personal collection of motorcycles never ceased.
A Long-Awaited Acquisition
Its enduring allure can be attributed, in part, to its distinctive design, high-quality construction, and legendary Boxer heart. Also, during the years that passed, BMW has updated the R nine T range, including the Pure, giving it an even more modern and dynamic appearance. Whether or not the R nine T Pure remains as lively and full of character as the bike I enjoyed so thoroughly back in ‘17 became the question. A question I was eager and excited to answer.
Very shortly after deciding to do so, sight unseen, I committed to a new 2022 R nine T Pure with the Option 719 Aluminum Matte package. This package includes a matte aluminum front fender, fly-screen, fuel tank, and a rear seat cowl. An option that was unfortunately no longer available on the Pure for model year 2023. Having secured the last new Pure with this optional equipment within a reasonable radius, the bike was quickly scheduled to be delivered to my home, and the anticipation of embarking on a new BMW Motorrad adventure began to build.
At the time, I already had a forty-three-year-old BMW R65 among the five motorcycles in my garage. The R65 has always been very reliable. My very first BMW motorcycle, however, was a K 1200 S. A bike with which I experienced numerous issues. Reliable isn’t an adjective I’d use to describe that motorcycle.
The BMW R nine T Pure: A Timeless Classic
In March of this year, my brand-new R nine T Pure was being delivered. Only a small number of days had passed, but it felt as if they had passed by at a snail’s pace. I was absolutely ecstatic, to say the least. After taking delivery of the bike, I headed inside to gear up for a day of riding.
I noticed within just a few miles that an alert was being displayed on the instrument cluster. The bike was indicating that I needed gasoline, though the tank was perceptibly full when lifting the bike off of its side stand. Already an issue. How very reminiscent? Thankfully, the dealer quickly retrieved the bike, sorted the problem, and had it back to me as quickly as possible.
The Good, the Bad, and the Suspension
The R nine T Pure is visually impressive, if a little imposing. Not merely for its striking retro-inspired design, but also because of the numerous minor details that convey quality and further enhance your intrigue. Additionally, every button and touchpoint through which you interact with the bike has a premium feel.
Throwing a leg over the Pure for the first time in many years, I was immediately struck by just how much more aggressive its overall setup felt than I recalled. I was leaning further forward than I expected to be. My knees were raised higher as well. This isn’t likely due to any change in the bike’s ergonomics, but rather relative to my bikes and bikes that I had been riding recently.
The Heart of the Beast: The Air-Cooled Boxer Engine
For many, the 1,170 cc air-cooled BMW Boxer at the heart of the R nine T Pure is its greatest attribute. Frankly, it’s not difficult to understand why. What is difficult, however, is riding this bike and then describing the experience without leaning into the hyperbole of 100 years of Teutonic innovation and passion that has gone into it. Rhetoric aside, the engine has remained very lively, in spite of increasing regulatory burdens. A quintessential Boxer trait, the engine configuration upon which BMW built its reputation. You feel the motor shimmy from side to side upon start-up, as well as when revving it.
Horsepower output is far from overwhelming, at 109 hp, especially for a nearly 1200 cc engine. Though, it never feels inadequate either. That’s not the point, though. The Boxer truly shines elsewhere. Torque. Gobs of torque. Regardless of what gear you’re in. Twisting back the throttle and feeling that sensation, being pushed forward with addictive intensity. Abruptly being shot out of the corners, you suddenly begin to understand that this bike even has a rather surprisingly sporty, nearly hooligan-like, element to its demeanor. Yet, the engine simultaneously feels smooth and refined. Happy to cruise casually along at low speeds, without fuss.
A Chassis That’s Up to the Task
The chassis is up to the task as well. The wheelbase and the bike’s substantial weight contribute to not only stability during high-speed cruising but also during spirited back road riding. A phenomenal combination of attributes, no? Absolutely.
One common complaint about the R nine T Pure is its suspension. It is admittedly poorer than I recalled at coping with more severe undulations in the road’s surface. On smooth roads, it’s quite competent. Overall, it’s nothing to celebrate, nor is it glaringly insufficient. It’s far from the worst suspension that I’ve ever experienced. It’s more than capable of mitigating the severity of North Eastern U.S. roads. The front end doesn’t wallow through turns. In fact, it’s surprisingly composed during more aggressive riding. Yet, it isn’t immune to being overwhelmed and can, at times, disrupt the motorcycle’s stability. I’d like to emphasize that one’s experience of a bike’s suspension can vary greatly based on your weight. Additionally, my current weight is very close to what it was back in 2017. Anecdotally, it seemed to me that those on the heavier side are more likely to find the suspension to be lackluster.
A Seat That Could Use Some Improvement
One glaring shortcoming of this motorcycle is its seat. After about an hour or so, it can begin to feel like you’re sitting upon a stack of wooden planks. At times, like when the road surface is poorer, you may even question if the bike has its own objective, to assault your reproductive system. Conversely, the R nine T Pure does have a rather un-intimidating seat height of just 31.7 inches, which the absence of thicker padding undoubtedly contributes to.
Overwhelmingly good, the bike has a lot of positives. One I particularly appreciate is the bike’s sound. Nowadays, everything sounds neutered stock. The R nine T always produced a surprisingly good sound, but this newer iteration sounds great. Its stock, single exhaust canister is supplied by Akrapovič and is branded as such. The valve in the exhaust, there to comply with noise regulations, makes an intriguing and stirring rumble.
Brakes That Can Handle the Power
A heavy bike with a surprisingly rebellious spirit needs some restraints. Brembo brakes, though not the most advanced setup, are more than capable of abruptly bringing the Pure to a complete stop or scrubbing off speed before turns. BMW’s safety systems ensure that you’re able to confidently make the most of their braking power. Most often, I like to use the engine to decelerate. The engine braking is on the stronger side, which is exactly what I prefer. Especially for a road bike, such as this.
The R nine T Pure is also pretty versatile, relatively. It offers excellent maneuverability in more congested environments. When the rear seat cowl is replaced with the rear seat itself, the Pure can accommodate a passenger.
A Decision I’m Still Happy About
Though, I’m told that the rear seat is a bit too firm and narrow. However, for the operator, having a passenger on the back of the bike is nearly imperceptible in the context of the bike’s handling.
All things considered, this many months later, am I still happy with my decision? Is the newest iteration as good as the original? Do I still stand by my recommendation, that you shouldn’t hesitate to acquire one? Yes, yes, and also yes! Do I have any regrets? Maybe just one. That I waited as long as I did to buy one myself.