Long-Term BMW RnineT Scrambler: No More Knobbies

Street tires totally transform the RnineT's handling.

BMW RnineT Scrambler
BMW RnineT ScramblerJulia LaPalme
BMW RnineT Scrambler
Wrist: Ari Henning
MSRP: (2017) $13,000
Miles: 1,247
MPG: 36
Mods: Non-knobby tires
Update: 2

Life with the RnineT is pretty good. The snort emitted from those Akrapovic high pipes makes me smile every time I start the bike, and it feels good to get a thumbs-up from motorists at stoplights. I'm definitely not the only person who thinks the Scrambler's classic lines look killer.

I’m also not the only person who dislikes the Scrambler’s knobby Metzeler Karoo 3 tires. Everyone on staff who’s ridden my long-termer has complained about the same falling-over turn-in behavior, squirmy edge grip, and vibey, loud ride. The Karoos may work well in the dirt—and I intend to put them to the test with an off-road adventure once I get the time—but for now my riding is restricted to the street, where the Karoo’s poor grip and odd handling just won’t do.

Seeing as the knobbies and "cross spoke" wheels are an option (the tire swap is free from the factory, while the wheels carry a $500 premium), I figured I should try the base equipment. In this case, that's the same five-spoke cast hoops and Metzeler Tourance Next enduro-style tires that come on the new RnineT Urban G/S.

With the wheels swapped, the Scrambler feels like a different machine. The street rubber makes steering lighter and linear, the ride is smoother, and there’s so much more grip that it feels like the brakes and engine got upgraded. The Karoos were clearly inhibiting what is otherwise a fun and fairly sporty bike. With the Tourance rubber, I enjoy riding the RnineT a lot more.

I still like the look of the wire wheels though, so I think the hot ticket is to put the smooth Metzelers on the spoked hoops. Once I put the Karoos through their paces off road, maybe I'll get a set of Continental TKC 80s. I've ridden thousands of miles on those on a variety of adventure bikes, and they work well on road and off. Frustratingly, the new Urban G/S, which is essentially just a restyled Scrambler, can be had with TKC 80s from the factory, but the Continentals aren't an option for the Scrambler. Your dealer will surely install a set for you, but you'll be on the hook for the price of the tires and the labor to mount them.