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March 2018

MCM is FREE in dealers, clubs and biker cafés



ON IT! Rossi’s SHOCK

“Three races to see if I stay or go!”

■ This bike comes from TVS and BMW. ■ When it arrives here it’ll carry a BMW badge. ■ This is the future of little sportsters. ■ FIRST RIDE on a S310 RR in all but name.


This BRILLIANT Shoei NEOTEC II helmet worth


SECRET Adventure

F850GS prototype caught in action

Policing chief: punish speeders 1mph over limit!

CRASH tested Hit a deer and walked away

Britain’s roads policing chief Anthony Bangham has called for a virtually zero-tolerance approach to speeding with an end to the 10 per cent ‘buffer’ over set limits on British roads. The roads policing chief said speeding awareness courses were being used too widely instead of penalty points and fines, adding that drivers caught speeding should “not come whinging to us about it.” More on page 4



CAUGHT! BMW’s F850GS Adventure prototype in action

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The new-for-2017 model gets serious with off-roading additions and more metal. Main image: bmhimages Other images: BIKEIT! Here is the first few images of the 2018 BMW F850GS Adventure snapped by our spy photographers as the bike undergoes final, rigorous testing with the BMW test team abroad. From the front of the finished Adventure as we have it here, you can see the extra shoulder-style fairing wings and taller screen to keep the worst of the weather and wind off the rider. The bike on test also has the Adventure’s fog lights fitted as standard, plus huge engine protection bars on the side of the engine and cool holes for cooling in the side of the bike’s fairing sited just in front of the rider’s knee. We can’t see the exhaust in full from our pictures but the downpipes from the engine are blued, suggesting that the test bike has a higher-level competition-type exhaust fitted that’s different to the stock F850GS unit. Although there is no top-box fitted to the BMW prototype, the bike pictured does get Touratechstyle metal panniers and a large extended panel off the bottom of the raised-away-from-the-wheel front mudguard. With the extra weight of the panniers on the bike, and the need to still be able to carry a pillion, it’s entirely likely that the Adventure’s

subframe has been strengthened to take the extra luggage load. Underneath, the stock GS looks to have been properly beefed up with a meaty sump guard sitting on strengthened frame rails. The bike is powered by BMW’s water-cooled four-stroke parallel twin, DOHC, eight-valve, 853cc engine that kicks out 95bhp @ 8250rpm and makes 83Nm of torque @ 6000rpm. The stock F850GS (pictured) tips the scales at 229kg wet so it’s a safe bet to assume that the Adventure, with all the extras slabbed onto the bike, is going to weigh a fair bit more. Our first look picture of the finished bike was taken in Greece where it’s legal to ride off-road virtually throughout the country. As the bike pictured is fully dressed for some serious off-roading our man with the camera says that the test-team made a specific trip to Greece especially for endurance testing. The route that the five prototype bikes were riding did confirm that the bikes were undergoing prolonged endurance testing, indicating that the motorcycle will soon be released to go on sale alongside the German firm’s 2018 F750GS (£7950) and F850GS (F850GS). Expect the 2018 F850GS Adventure to appear sometime this year and be a permanent part of the German company's 2019 model line-up.

Crash biker caught by own camera footage A speeding motorcyclist who was caught out by footage on his own helmet camera has been sentenced. Nicholas Pannell, 30, crashed into a hedge as he raced fellow biker Joshua Illingworth, 29, at speeds up to 118mph last July. A recording of the pursuit was found on Pannell’s camera when Devon Police were called to the scene. Prosecutor Nigel Hall told Plymouth Crown Court that the video showed the pair: “Effectively racing through lanes of Devon and South Hams,” for 15 miles. Pannell was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, disqualified from driving for 12 months, ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid service and pay a victim surcharge of £140.

Above and below: The new F850GS Adventure has been beefed up and specced-up in a serious way from the standard F850GS (right).

Sarolea swaps TT for Le Mans 24 Hours Electric motorcycle brand Sarolea has announced plans to compete in the Le Mans 24 hours races in 2019. The Belgian brand said that it was changing focus and will complete the Le Mans 24 Hour races – it also revealed that it could be competing during the whole of the 2019/2020 endurance championship season.

Spy Shots: New KTM 790 Adventure snapped Unveiled in prototype form at EICMA 2017, the KTM 760 Adventure is one of the most hotly anticipated adventure machines to emerge from the Italian expo (even if it was a prototype) – but we can now see what the final production version will look like (minus its graphics). At this early stage, KTM still hasn’t revealed the specs – but we do know it’s closely based on the new 790 Duke, and as a result, it should weigh in close to the

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Duke’s 189kg. Its closest competitors will be the newly updated Triumph Tiger 800 and BMW F850GS. But, the 790 Adventure looks set to blow its rivals out of the water in terms of its power-to-weight ratio. After all, the F850GS is 229kg wet, and the Tiger 800XCx comes in at 205kg dry. Despite the fully-faired, near finished prototype, don’t expect to see the 790 Adventure in a showroom near you before 2019.

Editor Tony Carter Editorial design Fran Lovely Publisher Dan Savage Picture desk Paul Fincham, Jonathan Schofield and Angie Sisestean Production editor Dan Sharp Divisional advertising team leader Zoe Thurling 01507 529412 Advertising Lee Buxton 01507 529453 Kate Hayes 01507 529411 Advertising deadline for April issue March 2, 2018 Distribution 01507 529529 Marketing manager Charlotte Park

Helmet maker Skully back in business

Commercial director Nigel Hole Customer services number 01507 529529 Telephone lines are open Monday-Friday 8.30am-7pm, Saturday 8.30am-12.30pm

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or email Motor Cycle Monthly is published monthly on the third Friday of the month by Mortons Media Group Ltd and printed by Mortons Print.

MCM recommends

Independently proven pick up: 67,717 copies

Ivan Contreras, CEO of GasGas, best known for their world-beating trials bikes, has swooped in and snapped up the remnants of Skully, rebranding the venture as Skully Technologies and launching an updated version of the Skully AR-1 helmet, now called the Skully Fenix AR. The helmet now works much more closely with your smartphone (via a dedicated app). The price will be just under £1400 for the standard version of the helmet with a carbon-fibre model in the works. Visit:


Britain’s roads policing chief: Punish speeders who go 1mph over limit! It’s a stark warning to all road users – don’t stray over the speed limit even by the smallest amount. If you do, then things could get much more dire. Britain’s roads policing chief Anthony Bangham has called for an end to the 10 per cent ‘buffer’ over the limit, and said speeding awareness courses were being used too widely instead of penalty points and fines. Bangham, the National Police Chiefs Council lead on road policing, added that drivers caught speeding should “not come whinging to us about it”. The West Mercia Chief Constable said in a speech at the Police Federation Roads Policing Conference: “Let’s change the message – we are proud to be law enforcers. I do not want the public to be surprised, I want them to be embarrassed when they get caught. “They need to understand the law is set at the limit for a reason. They should not come whinging to us about getting caught. If booked at 35 or 34 or 33 (in a 30mph zone) that cannot be unfair because they are breaking the law.” Current guidance suggests police forces should only issue penalties for drivers caught at 10 per cent plus 2mph over the limit – 35mph in a 30mph zone, for example. Tory MP Sir Greg Knight warned against an: “Overly aggressive policy against drivers,” saying: “It will make

Get your hands on the NEW Classic Racer magazine – OUT NOW!

criminals of motorists who are basically good road users trying to obey the speed limit, while keeping an eye on the road.” A total of 1710 people were killed on the roads in the year up to June 2017, according to the latest statistics. Last year, figures found only about half of fixed speed cameras in the UK were actually switched on. Data released by 36 of the 45 police forces in the UK found that four have no fixed speed cameras at all and 13 have fewer than half actively catching speeding drivers.

The latest issue of the brilliant Classic Racer magazine has just hit the shops so make sure you get your hands on the issue before they’ve all sold out. This time, Classic Racer tells five-times Grand Prix 500 champion Mick Doohan’s story of how he developed the world’s most ferocious race bike and turned the NSR500 Honda from outright beats into multiple title-winning machine. There’s also terrific exclusive race images from the archive, the story of Hailwood’s BSA-3, Barry Sheene’s first 500cc GP win and loads more. Classic Racer is the BEST place to go for the all-time heroes of two-wheeled racetrack combat. Make sure you’ve got your copy.

Available in all good newsagents, Classic Racer keep the legends living on for £4.50 an issue. For more info (and a good deal on the price) visit:


Valentino Rossi SHOCK announcement

He’ll decide after the first three races in 2018 whether he stays or LEAVES MotoGP! It’s the news about Rossi that will have die-hard Valentino fans worried – but the nine-times world champion has confirmed that his plans for this year in MotoGP are NOT sorted. Speaking at the three-day test at Sepang this week, the Italian Yamaha rider let out the shocking statement which has been first reported by USA outlet Cycle World where Maria Guidotti reported Rossi saying that it will be at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on April 22 where he will decide whether to continue racing in MotoGP.

Rossi said: “Let’s see how the winter test and especially the first three races of Qatar, Argentina, and Texas go. If I am competitive, I will continue.” Rossi turned 39 on February 16 and says that it’s nothing to do with age but motivation, he added: “The age is not a problem. Motivation is the key. I need to understand if I still want to wake up every day and train as hard as I did in the past years – this winter included.” After the first day of testing, during which he posted the sixth-quickest lap time, Rossi said: “I don’t remember

such a positive test session in 2017. I’m really optimistic. I’m happy that we have the 2016 base.” On day two Rossi improved to second overall, just 0.035 of a second behind teammate Maverick Viñales. “Lap times come easy,” he admitted: “This is what makes me really happy. I can do the lines I like, turn when I want, and when I push, lap times go down.” Day three saw Rossi end up eighth fastest overall – a full 0.619s behind Jorge Lorenzo who topped the time sheets on the final day.

Harley-Davidson to launch electric motorcycle within 18 months Harley-Davidson has announced that it is just 18 months away from releasing its first production electric motorcycle. The company revealed its first electric motorcycle back in 2014,

with its popular LiveWire concept – which pumped out 74bhp and 56lb-ft of torque, offered a zero-to-60 time of around four seconds, and a range of 50 miles. Since then, the electric market has blown up – and

Fancy some FEARLESS Irish road racing? Then get these dates in the diary and get over to the Emerald Isle in 2018. We can promise you that once you’ve seen the Irish lads racing up close, you’ll be hooked forever. ■ April 27-28 Cookstown 100, Co. Tyrone ■ May 4-5 Tandragee 100, Co. Armagh ■ June 23-24 Kells Road Races, Co. Meath ■ June 29-30 Enniskillen Road Races, Co. Fermanagh ■ July 7-8 Walderstown, Race of the South, `Co. Westmeath ■ July 14-15 Faugheen 50, Co. Waterford ■ July 27-28 Armoy, Race of Legends, Co. Antrim ■ Sept 8-9 East Coast Road Races, Killilane, Co. Dublin

as a consequence technology has progressed too – with range ever increasing, and charging time slowly decreasing. In short, it’s competitive out there, with brands like Energica and Zero cementing themselves in the electric motorcycle marketplace – so H-D really needs to step it up for its new electric project. Matt Levatich, Harley-Davidson’s president and CEO told the

Milwaukee Business Journal: “The EV motorcycle market is in its infancy today, but we believe premium Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles will help drive excitement and participation in the sport globally. As we expand our EV capabilities and commitment, we get even more excited about the role electric motorcycles will play in growing our business.”

Cavendish powering up? In an interview with Esquire Middle East, British cycling legend and Manxman Mark Cavendish said that he’d love to race bikes (with engines, not pedals). He said: “I prefer motorbikes more, I would like to race them instead.” Cavendish told the magazine that he owns a couple of bikes – with engines – and when asked if he’ll make the move to motorcycles, he said: “In all seriousness, I think so.”

Costliest bike ever Auction house Bonhams has sold the most expensive motorcycle of all time – a rare original condition, Britishmade, Australian speed recordsetting, 1951 Vincent Black Lightning motorcycle. The bike was sold at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas for £658,019.99 ($929,000), making it the most valuable motorcycle ever sold at auction. Built by special order and imported new into Australia by Tony McAlpine, the Vincent Black Lightning – number 7305 – is one of just around 30 Black Lightning models ever built by the Stevenage, England factory.





with MotoBall and Shoei

This month we’ve teamed up with Shoei to offer a brand-new Neotec II Helmet worth £549.99. To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, simply find the centre of the missing ball on the photograph left. New for 2018, Shoei has unveiled its updated Neotec II flip-front helmet to fill the shoes of its predecessor, the very successful Neotec I. Despite its name, the Neotec II is much more than a simple upgrade. Instead, it’s jam packed with innovative new technology – with various improvements in safety, ventilation, isolation, visor mechanism, visibility and comfort. More specifically, the new Neotec II is made from Shoei’s extremely strong AIM (Advanced Integrated Matrix) material, and features a shock absorption liner. The inner shell of Double Density EPS is engineered to absorb different impact scenarios, helping the Neotec II to offer unrivalled protection. Another major change is the new Neotec’s completely renewed acoustics. The Shoei ‘Noise Isolators’ which sit in the cheek pads of the helmet help to offer a big improvement, plus all air flow through the sun-visor mechanism

has been eliminated too – helping to offer a very quiet riding experience (according to Shoei). The air intakes have been redesigned too, with renewed air inlets on the chin, forehead and backside. The front ventilation on the Neotec II is operated by a glovefriendly panel on the inside, while the top is operated with a smart slider. Shoei’s new patented CNS-3 visor is another new addition to the Neotec. The clever system ensures that the UV-resistant anti-condense Pinlock visor – when closing – fully connects with visor mechanism and is completely air-tight. Plus, the helmet also features an integrated sun-visor that is easily operated with a slider on the left. If you want to check out a comprehensive video walking you through the innumerable features of the latest generation Neotec 2 – be sure to check out and, for more information on the new lid, visit:

Five crosses only This is a completely FREE-TO-ENTER competition and getting your entry into the upturned helmet from which the winner will be drawn couldn’t be easier. There’s only one rule with this, and here it is: YOU HAVE FIVE CROSSES THAT YOU CAN DRAW ON THE PICTURE. That’s it. No more. If


Here’s the address, details, closing date etc. MCM Motoball Competition MARCH, Mortons Media Group Ltd, PO Box 99, Horncastle, Lincs. LN9 6LZ The closing date for entries to be with us is March 20, 2018. Terms and conditions apply. For full terms and conditions, please see www.morebikes. The winner will be the first name drawn at random as described above. There are no cash alternatives available.

you put more than FIVE crosses on the picture then we’ll toss your entry into the bin. But nobody is saying that you can’t enter more than once. MCM is free and you can grab as many as you want so get a few copies of the paper and get multiple entry forms that way. Okay? Cool.

So, here’s how you take part 1: Study the old photo of the chaps playing football on motorcycles (Motoball, if you will...) 2: Using your skill and judgement – or just close your eyes and have a pretty loose stab at the paper with a pen, up to you – put your FIVE crosses on the image where you think the CENTRE of the football is on the original image. We’ve removed the football. It is on the original and we’ll show you the original in the following issue of MCM. 3: Cut out your entry and send the ORIGINAL to us at the address below. That’s the ORIGINAL cut out of these pages. If you send us a photocopy or anything other than the ORIGINAL then we’ll throw your entry into the bin, too. 4: Because you can enter this competition as many times as you like, make sure that each entry is on this ORIGINAL page of MCM. You can grab as many issues of the paper as you like, so fill your boots. 5: Sit back and wait for your sweet Battery Tender to arrive – providing you’re the winner picked at random from those entries judged to have been closest to the centre of the football on the original photo. Phew, got all that? Cool. So pop off and get a pen then get your brain into full-on Motoball mode. Good luck with the crosses!

Here’s where the ball was previously Because of the length of time we give you to get your entries in, we can only show the correct answer from THREE months ago...

Name: ........................................................................... Address: ....................................................................... ....................................................................................... Telephone: .................................................................... ❑ Tick this box if you do not wish to receive further information from MCM and Mortons Media Group. ❑ Tick this box if you do not wish to be contacted by selected third parties.

Here’s the image as we printed it…

And here’s the original.



What’s On: the essential dates 2018 FEBRUARY 23-25 20th Frozen Balls Up – Oddballs MCC. Sleap, Harmer Hill, Shropshire, West Midlands SY4 3HE. Email Tel 07779 866869. 25 Normous Newark Autojumble. The Showground, Drove Lane, Winthorpe, Newark, Notts NG24 2NY. Tel 01507 529529. 25 59 Club. Ace Cafe, Ace Corner, N Circular Rd, Stonebridge, London, NW10 7UD.


1 LE Velo Lancs & S Lakes. Blue Anchor, Bretherton. Tel 01772 782516. 4 Malvern Drive-In Classic Car & Bike Autojumble. Three Counties Showground, Wye Halls and outside, Malvern, Worcestershire WR13 6NW. Tel 01484 667776. 4 Sidecar-Trike-3Wheeler Day in aid of NABD. Ace Cafe, Ace Corner, N Circular Rd, Stonebridge, London NW10 7UD. 10 Kempton Park Motorcycle Autojumble. Kempton Park, Staines Road East, Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex TW16 5AQ. Tel 01507 529529. 10 LE Velo Lancs & S Lakes. Annual Lunch, Ferrari’s, Langridge. Tel 01772 782516 to book. 11 Kenley Autojumble. The Portcullis Club, Kenley Airfield, Victor Beamish Avenue, Caterham, Surrey CR3 5FX. Tel 07772 169524 or 07971 823314. KenleyAutojumble 11 British and Classic Bike Day. Ace Cafe, Ace Corner, N Circular Rd, Stonebridge, London NW10 7UD. 17 Scorton Auto & Bike Jumble. Scorton, North Yorkshire Events Centre DL10 6EJ. Tel Bert 07909 904705. 17-18 The UK Spring Motorhome & Caravan Show. The Showground, Drove Lane, Winthorpe, Newark, Notts NG24 2NY. www. Tel 01507 529529. 18 Straightliners. Santa Pod Raceway, Airfield Road, Podington, Wellingborough, Northants NN29 7XA. www.straightlinersonline. Tel 01484 718164. 18 Wistanstow Vintage and Classic Motorcycle Show and Autojumble. Tel 07792 983020. Email 18 VMCC (Essex section). Cobwebs Run from Tesco, Maldon. Tel Dave Iszard 01621 892206. 18 Sunbeam MCC. 79th Pioneer Run, Epsom-Brighton. Contact Ian McGill 01293 771446. Email 18 Overland + Adventure Bike Day. Ace Cafe, Ace Corner, N Circular Rd, Stonebridge, London NW10 7UD. 18 Huddersfield Autojumble. Old Market Building, Brook Street, Huddersfield HD1 1RG. Tel Jeff 07795 505388. Email. (date provisional) 18 Wirral Egg Run ‘Tribute Rideout’. The Dips, New Brighton, Wirral, Merseyside CH45 to end in


Claremount Farm CH63 4JB. Search ‘Wirral Egg Run 2018’ on Facebook. tony2tellys@blueyonder. Tel 07984 622423. 18 MotoGP – Round 1. Grand Prix of Qatar. 22 LE Velo Lancs & S Lakes. Springwood picnic site, near Whalley. Tel 01772 782516. 23-25 World Superbikes – Round 2. Thai Round. 24-25 Manchester Bike Show. EventCity, Phoenix Way, off Barton Dock Road, Manchester M41 7TB. Tel 01484 482005. 25 Classic Motorcycle Show. Cafeplus, Baldock. Tel 07963 609143. 25 Scooter Sunday and Raleigh Chopper Meet. Ace Cafe, Ace Corner, N Circular Rd, Stonebridge, London NW10 7UD. 25 National Hill Climb at Hartland Quay. Hartland Quay, Devon. 25 South of England Classic Show & Bikejumble. South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex RH17 6TL. 28 VMCC (Essex section). Wrinkly Run from Tesco, Maldon. Tel Grace & Clyde 01621 855899. 30-01 Festival of Power. Santa Pod Raceway, Airfield Road, Podington, Wellingborough, Northants NN29 7XA. Tel 01234 782828. 31 South Midlands Autojumble. Rosson-Wye Livestock Centre, Oveross, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR9 5QQ. Tel 01989 750731. 31 LE Velo Northampton gathering. Plume of Feathers, Weedon Bec NN7 4QR. Tel 01604 499858.

31-02 British Superbikes – Round 1. Donington Park GP.


1 LE Velo Lancs & S Lakes. Slaidburn, meet main car park. Tel 01772 782516. 1 Scooter Show. White Lion, Baldock. Tel 07963 609143. 1 Bike Day. Ace Corner, N Circular Rd, Stonebridge, London NW10 7UD. london. 1 Reading MAG Easter Bike Show. Reading Abbey Rugby Club, Peppard Road, Emmer Green, Reading, Berkshire RG4 8XB. Email 2 Ashford Classic Motorcycle Show & Bikejumble. Ashford Market, Orbital Park, Ashford, Kent TN24 0HB. 7 Adventure Bike Ride In. Sammy Miller Museum. 7 Isle of Wight Vintage and Classic Bike Show. The Winter Gardens, Pier Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight PO38 1SZ. Tel 01983 752861. 7-8 Cardiff Motorcycle Show. Llanishen High School, Heol Hir, Llanishen, Cardiff CF14 5YL. Tel 01443 435125. 7-8 KICKBACK. Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LG. Email Tel 07758 068072. 8 Normous Newark Autojumble. The Showground, Drove Lane, Winthorpe, Newark, Notts NG24 2NY. Tel 01507 529529. 8 Kenley Autojumble. The Portcullis

Club, Kenley Airfield, Victor Beamish Avenue, Caterham, Surrey CR3 5FX. Tel 07772 169524 or 07971 823314. KenleyAutojumble 8 Forfar Classic and Vintage Autojumble & Show. Strathmore Hall, Forfar Livestock Mart, John St, Forfar, Angus, Scotland DD8 3EZ. Tel 01241 852369. 8 BTSC Croydon Club Run. Blue Haze, The Feathers, Merstham, Surrey. Tel 01883 623049. 8 Malvern Festival of Transport. Three Counties Showground, Wye Halls, Avon Hall and outside, Malvern, Worcestershire WR13 6NW. Tel 01484 667776. 8 Salisbury MAG’s 17th Spring Surprise Motorcycle Show. Salisbury Market Square and Guild Hall Square, Wiltshire. Tel 07450 992298. 8 British + Classic Bike Day + BSA Special. Ace Cafe, Ace Corner, N Circular Rd, Stonebridge, London NW10 7UD. 8 MotoGP – Round 2: Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina. 12 LE Velo Lancs & S Lakes. Burnsall. Tel 01772 782516. 13-15 British Superbikes – Round 2: Brands Hatch Indy. 13-15 World Superbikes – Round 3: Aragon Round. 14-15 Prescott Bike Festival. Prescott Speed Hill Climb, Gotherington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 9RD. Email Tel 01452 260063.




BASIC/S The BMW R nineT Urban G/S brings back the looks of the original 80s adventurer, complete with modern performance and a cracking soundtrack.

WORDS: Mikko Nieminen PHOTOGRAPHY: Mark Manning

“The Urban G/S is a roadster for the sunny days, all about the fun of riding, not distance – and it does fun well!” The flood of heritage-inspired bikes over the last couple of years has been impossible to ignore whether you’re into the scene or not. And judging by the sales figures, they have attracted an enthusiastic following. From retro café racers to scramblers, the classic looks combined with modern performance, handling and reliability have been a winning formula for almost all of the large manufacturers. Most of these bikes are based on the 60s classics, such as the hugely successful Bonneville range from Triumph and the family of Scramblers from Ducati. However, BMW’s heritage line, the R nineT range, has a slightly more modern take on retro biking, with a 70s-inspired racer in addition to the base model, a scrambler and the stripped back ‘pure’ version.

With the latest bike in the series, the R nineT Urban G/S, BMW brings the retro scene to the 80s – the Urban G/S is a clear nod to the legendary BMW R 80 G/S, a bike that started the long and successful line of GS dualpurpose adventure bikes for BMW. There are two versions of the Urban G/S available in the UK, the base model (£10,550) and the X version (£11,185), which gains a chrome exhaust, spoked wheels, heated grips and LED indicators. All of these are available as accessories too, but if you want them all, it’s cheaper to buy the X model in the first place. Both versions only come in white.

Home advantage

It’s quite rare to have a launch test in the UK these days. Most manufacturers opt for the near-guaranteed sun and twisty roads

of southern Europe, but BMW UK took a chance on the weather and organised the first ride in Northampton. Not a bad shout as it turned out: the sun was shining, and just as I arrived at our starting point, the Aviator Hotel next to the Sywell Aerodrome, a Spitfire took off from the runway, its V12 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine tearing the sky apart. Not a bad start to a day! Our test bike was the X model, the one with all the trimmings, and seeing the bike in the flesh, first impressions were very positive. The large boxer engine adds instant character, while the tall seat (850mm), high bars and raised front mudguard, combined with a 19in front wheel, tall suspension (125mm travel at the front, 140mm at the back) and decent ground clearance make it look able and purposeful.

The Dakar styling, spoked wheels and adventure heritage point strongly to the GS family of go-anywhere bikes rather than the R nineT roadsters, but our bikes weren’t equipped with knobbly tyres, so we were bound to the Tarmac roads. I wondered how I would get on with the tall seat and my 31in legs, but as I sit on the bike the suspension sags enough for me to place both feet on the ground.

Setting off

Starting the engine results in a gentle left-rightleft series of punches from the boxer-twin, and adding revs makes the bike lean slightly to the right. It may be a modern bike but it’s not lost the engine characteristics of the classic configuration. Moving off, the Urban G/S is instantly easy to get on with, simply because


there’s not much to not get on with. No engine modes, traction control setting or fancy displays. The only additions to the usual horn, indicators, lights and start buttons are the trip selector and the ability to switch the ABS off. The dash is equally spartan, with just a single clock housing an analogue speedo and digital trips, odometer, engine temperature and clock. The lack of a tachometer takes a little while to get used to. A couple of times I hit the rev limiter as we are accelerating out of the corners in the Northamptonshire countryside, but riding more sensibly it’s not a problem. The 1170cc air/oil-cooled twocylinder boxer engine is well-


behaved, delivering a decent amount of nicely linear power. The power figures aren’t mind blowing, with peak power at 108.6bhp (81kW) @ 7750rpm, and torque figures of 85.6ft-lb (116Nm) @ 6000rpm, but that’s enough oomph for a fun, spirited ride on country roads – and more than enough for cities. Of course, with the lack of a rev counter you have to rely on your own judgement to find the sweet spot, but even with the revs low you still have usable power, unless you’re really taking the mickey and crawling in top gear. There’s no gear indicator, so you’re on your own to work out which gear you’re in, but that’s part of the retro spirit, right?

The original R 80 G/S The R 80 G/S was the first in a long line of GS bikes for BMW. It was powered by a 797.5cc boxer engine and featured a singlesided swingarm with a shaft drive. Designed to have real Enduro capability, and winning the Dakar rally in race trim several times, it was light, had long suspension travel, and a 21in front wheel.

BMW R nineT Urban G/S (Urban G/S X) Price: £10,550 (£11,185) Engine: 1170cc air/oil-cooled, 4-stroke 2-cylinder boxer, 4 valves per cylinder, DOHC Power: 108.6bhp (81kW) @ 7750rpm Torque: 85.6lb-ft (116Nm) @ 6000rpm Transmission: 6-speed, shaft final drive Fuel consumption: 44.4mpg Fuel tank: 17 litres Seat height: 850mm Wet weight: 221kg Suspension: (F) Telescopic 43mm forks, non-adjustable, 125mm travel. (R) Paralever swingarm with a central spring strut, preload and compression adjustable, 140mm travel Brakes: (F) 320mm twin discs, 4-piston fixed calipers. (R) 265mm single disc, 2-piston floating caliper Tyres: (F) 120/70 ZR 19. (R) 170/60 ZR 17 Contact:

Does it perform?

The gears are slick and slot into place with minimum effort. The only problem I had was that when you push the pedal down to go to first gear, there’s very little feeling as the gear is selected, and a few times I kept stomping on the pedal not sure if I was in gear – as it happens, I was, so it’s just a matter of trusting the sixspeed gearbox. Both the front brake and clutch levers are span-adjustable, which is a nice touch. You don’t always get that even in bikes whose price tag would suggest that top quality components are being used. The levers are also fairly light to operate and the brakes work well with four-piston fixed calipers gripping 320mm twin discs at the front and floating two-piston calipers biting into a single 265mm disc at the rear. The ABS is BMW’s own system, which works fine if you slam the brakes on with enough force to lock the wheel.



Despite the R 80 G/S looks, if you take away the big front wheel, high fender, headlight masking, new handlebars and tall suspension, not that much has changed from the other R nineT models.


The modular frame consists of three parts: a front and rear main frame with end piece and a passenger frame. This means the bike can be easily altered, for example by changing seat units.

At the rear, the BMW paralever swingarm with central spring strut takes care of suspension duties; preload and compression are adjustable. At the front, the telescopic 43mm forks are not adjustable.


The 1170cc air/oil-cooled two-cylinder boxer engine is loaded with true retro BMW character, but crucially it’s still sufficiently well-behaved to make riding the Urban G/S easy.


The engine note that’s delivered through the two-into-one exhaust system is captivating to say the least. That deep growly bark provides a truly fantastic soundtrack to a ride.


All the bikes in the R nineT range feature BMW’s universal shaft drive, which means lower maintenance and running costs. You don’t need to worry about lubing or replacing the chain.

Motorcycle Monthly March 2018  

Motorcycle Monthly March 2018 preview Read more at:

Motorcycle Monthly March 2018  

Motorcycle Monthly March 2018 preview Read more at: