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Tuesday 5 December 2023


BMW R12 and R12 nineT revealed By Ben Purvis

BMW previewed the replacement for the R nineT retro roadster - the new R12 nineT - earlier this year and has now officially revealed the bike in full, alongside a cruiser derivative simply called R12.

The R12 nineT is a straightforward replacement for the decade old R nineT, with an evolved version of that bike's retro styling intended to evoke the R90 of the 1970s, with a new tubular steel frame that's simpler and lighter than the R nineT's three-part chassis. 

It carries over the existing 1,170 cc air and oil-cooled boxer twin, with 80 kW (107 hp) at 7,000 rpm and 115 Nm (85 lb-ft) at 6,500 rpm. Minor tweaks include a new airbox and exhaust system.


While updating the styling of an intentionally retro bike is always hard, BMW has taken the route of simplifying the design, eliminating some of the R nineT's more exotic elements - the side-mounted air intake, for instance, and the bold, billet aluminium seat bracket - in favour of a more classically proportioned look. 

The suspension includes fully adjustable 45 mm forks and an adjustable slanted rear shock, in place of the vertical version used on the old R nineT.

'New heritage models include first 1,200 cc cruiser since the R1200C'

BMW's new R12 cruiser uses the same main mechanical components but takes on a different stance and style thanks to lower suspension - with 90 mm travel front and rear instead of 120 mm of the R12 nineT - and a combination of 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels instead of 17-inch rims at each end. The cruiser's tyres are narrower, too, a 100/90-19 front and 150/80-16 rear compared to 120/70-17 and 180/55-17 on the R12 nineT.

Engine-wise, the 1,170 cc twin is retuned for the R12 cruiser, dropping 10 kW to 70 kW (94 hp) and 5 Nm to 110 Nm (81 lb-ft), each figure arriving 500 rpm lower in the rev range than the R12 nineT's higher numbers. Notably, that reduced power means the R12 is legally allowed to be further restricted to 35 kW/47 hp for A2 licence holders.

R12 nineT

The R12 also gets a steel, teardrop-shaped 14-litre fuel tank instead of the R12 nineT's 16-litre aluminium version, plus a longer front fender and a bobber-style rear mudguard. Taller, pulled back bars, and footpegs that are lower and further forward, give the R12 a genuine cruiser style, although as with the larger R18, the boxer engine format means there's no scope for forward control highway pegs.

The added bodywork and steel tank pushes the R12 cruiser's weight up from the 220 kg of the R12 nineT to 227 kg, but that's still competitive against rivals like Harley-Davidson's Nightster.

Both the R12 and R12 nineT get electronics including cornering ABS and traction control, plus multiple riding modes. The R12 nineT has three self-explanatory modes - Rain, Road and Dynamic - while the R12 cruiser mirrors the R18 in having just two modes with more ambiguous 'Rock' and 'Roll' names. 'Rock' is the more dynamic setting, while 'Roll' is for relaxed cruising.

Both bikes are hitting the market along with a wide range of options including windscreens and wire wheels, plus BMW's '719' option packs, including a variety of billet parts and special paintwork.