2017 BMW R nineT Urban GS First Look From EICMA

BMW reveals a G/S look alike at EICMA, based on the R nineT.

2017 BMW Urban GS unveiled in Italy
BMW’s new R nineT Urban GS, ready to take on any city with retro style and a Scrambler soul.Photo: BMW

Are you sensing a retro theme these days? Yup, and buckle up because it's likely to keep coming. Next up from BMW is this Urban GS that the Bavarians debuted at EICMA this year, and if it looks like an R nineT Scrambler with a fancy '80s paint scheme then you've got a keen eye. That's not to be cynical though, because holy crap is this a great-looking motorcycle. And mechanically you could do a lot worse than BMW's R nineT platform—the 1,170cc air-/oil-cooled flat twin from the previous-generation of Beemers is stout and satisfying. The platform has surged in popularity in the nineT chassis and doesn't appear ready to slow down.

2017 BMW Urban GS and RnineT
The Urban GS (right) from BMW, posed with its grandfather, the already retro R nineT (left). Note the different fork, front-wheel size, and exhaust.Photo: BMW

This Urban GS appears to use the now-familiar Scrambler platform, with a right-side-up fork (complete with gaiters) and 19-inch front wheel raking out the front end of the standard nineT roadster. The same tubeless-spoke rims carry Continental TKC80 Twinduro tires instead of the optional Metzeler Karoo 3 rubber on the Scrambler. The Urban GS also has a slightly lower, single exhaust that mounts more simply to the passenger footpeg bracket. An obvious bikini headlight shroud and tall, fork-mounted fender hearken back to the original R80 G/S from the early 1980s. I grew up bombing down dirt roads in New Engladn on an old GS with a Dakar tank, and this new Urban GS hits me right in the heart.


From a usability standpoint, the Urban GS should operate much like the Scrambler. That is to say noticeably heavier steering than the surprisingly agile nineT roadster, but easy to ride and a very neutral riding posture. Brakes will also be a downgrade from the flagship roadster, as will the 4.9-inches of travel in the fork. I also expect the same steel tank from the Scrambler, that holds 4.5 gallons of fuel. However, where the Scrambler will go through life being just plain ol’ handsome, this Urban GS will straight-up turn heads. The nod to Paris-Dakar racers of yesteryear combined with the burly and trendy scrambled look is unquestionably tasteful, especially in a bike that has always been meant to celebrate BMW’s history. I haven’t even ridden it yet and I want it already.

2017 BMW Urban GS
It’s safe to expect that the Urban GS will not be a truly rugged adventure machine. But, cruise down a dirt road through the woods? That, it should do with style and ease.Photo: BMW