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Unveiled: the new BMW R 12 nineT roadster

Jun 26, 2023Jun 26, 2023

With BMW Motorrad turning 100 this year, it's natural to expect a slew of limited edition centenary models. But here's one we honestly didn't see coming. Meet the new BMW R 12 nineT—an evolution of the much-loved R nineT, ten years after its debut.

Confusing nomenclature aside, there's a lot to love about this face-lifted nineT. For starters, BMW have managed to keep the R 12 nineT air- and oil-cooled, despite ever-tightening emissions regulations. Secondly, keen eyes will notice that the R 12 nineT cuts a very different line than the outgoing model.

BMW hasn't said much about the R 12 nineT's boxer motor, other than that it features a redesigned air box and exhaust, and still has a capacity of around 1,200 cc (hence the ’12’). Visual giveaways include a lack of the prominent air intake that sits alongside the existing nineT's fuel tank, redesigned valve covers, and a number of smaller engine trim pieces.

The R 12 nineT still runs with upside-down forks up front, BMW's proprietary ‘Paralever’ single-sided swingarm at the rear, and 17" spoked wheels at both ends. Twin radially mounted four-piston monobloc Brembo calipers sit up front, hooked up to steel braided brake lines.

But the biggest changes are visual. The ‘old’ R nineT is still an attractive bike, but it's a lot more angular than most retro-styled bikes. For the R 12 nineT, BMW's designers have straightened out the boxer's silhouette with fresh bodywork.

"The purist design language is dominated by the clear tank/seat/rear line, in the style of the traditional /5 or the legendary R90S of the 70s," says BMW Motorrad's Head of Design, Edgar Heinrich. "At first glance, the tank itself is a classic BMW boxer tank, with a typical bend in the lower edge and classic knee contact."

The R 12 nineT's new fuel tank is reminiscent of the memorable BMW R100R Classic, and the new side covers feel a lot more vintage than the subframe braces on the outgoing model. The seat and tail unit are new too, as is the plastic trim that hides the subframe (a detail we could probably live without). And the new exhaust cans look damn good for OEM parts.

BMW say that the goal here was a "classic, purist design." And while the R 12 nineT is undeniably a modern motorcycle, it sure is tidier than the R nineT. Other details include a redesigned front fender mount, an LED headlight and tweaks to the twin dials.

Ease of customization is still high on the list for the R 12 nineT. To our eye, the chassis looks like it's been redesigned too—but the subframe is still a bolt-on unit, making it easier to tweak. The LED taillight is also part of the seat unit rather than the license plate mount, making ‘tail tidy’ conversions less of a hassle, and since we’re not seeing any passenger peg mounts, we’ll assume that those are removable.

BMW will no doubt have a slew of accessories available for the R 12 nineT too. Until then, they’re keeping mum on what it will cost, its power and weight numbers, and whether we’ll be seeing Scrambler and Urban G/S versions of it too.

Until then, who's the first custom shop that you’d like to see customize the new BMW R 12 nineT?

Images supplied by BMW Motorrad