Can you believe that the R nineT has been around for 10 years already? Launched to celebrate the 90th anniversary of BMW’s first motorcycle, the R32 in 1923, few believed that it would be as popular as it has been, nor that the venerable air-cooled boxer twin would still be with us even after BMW has moved to liquid-cooling for the other models in the range that use it. Not only that, but no one foresaw the monstrous 1,800 cc version that would appear in the R 18 cruiser.
For the 100th anniversary, BMW has announced two new versions of both the R nineT and the R 18, the former called, confusingly, the R 12 nineT, and the latter in R 18 Roctane form.
The knowledgeable among you will realise that the ’12’ in the R 12 nineT’s name refers to the engine displacement – 1200 cc – even if it does scan awkwardly. In terms of form, little has changed: this is still recognisably a R nineT. Under the skin, there is a revised airbox and a new exhaust system is the main visual change but the overall concept of the R nineT remains: that of a blank canvas, with BMW offering, in their own words, “a wealth of conceptual options for almost unlimited customising personal individualization.”
Dr Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, said: “The R nineT and its customising concept established the new Heritage experience for BMW Motorrad’s 90th birthday and has become an indispensable cornerstone of our model range. The new R 12 nineT consistently continues the successful heritage story surrounding the legendary BMW boxer engines with an even more classic, reduced design language, even greater degrees of freedom when it comes to customising and, last but not least, new and innovative technology.”
The press release states that further information on the new model will appear in the second half of 2023, so don’t expect to see it in showrooms before then.
The R 18 Roctane is the fifth variant of the R 18 to appear, after the R 18, R 18 Classic, R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental. As with all those models, the R 18 Roctane’s differences from the base model are all styling-related. In essence, it is an R 18 B but without the batwing fairing, retaining the panniers. The style is very ‘American Cruiser’, with low ape-hanger bars and the finish of frame, engine and wheels (21” front wheel, 18” rear) is black, with the bodywork in either black, grey metallic or what BMW calls Manhattan metallic.
The engine remains the same: 1,802 cc, 91bhp and 150Nm (110 foot-pounds) of torque and visually dominating the overall appearance, never more so than when riding the bike: look down and the two cylinders sticking out at either side are simply enormous. But the weight is all worn down so low that, even if it takes a hefty heave to lift it off the side stand, the weight melts away when riding.
Of course, those very same cylinders prevent forward-mounted foot controls so you’re stuck with mid-mounted footpegs whether you like it or not. The Roctane comes with a stepped dual seat as standard.
As with the R 12 nineT, the list of BMW accessories and options for the R 18 Roctane is significant but it has to be said that the attention to detail as well as the overall fit and finish is of an extremely high standard, as you would expect from BMW.