Skip to main content

The BMW R Nine T is one of the most exciting motorcycles to come in a long time, at least for certain kinds of riders. The line of vintage-inspired motorcycles perfectly blended the practicality of modernity with the undeniable beauty of vintage custom BMW bikes. From the Scramblers to Paris-Dakar Rally bikes, the BMW R Nine T line was something for everyone. Although the BMW Urban G/S looked the part of an 80’s style Dakar bike, it wasn’t really an off-roader until now. 

2021 BMW R Nine T Urban G/S in red, white, and blue with gold wheels.
2021 BMW Urban G/S | BMW

The BMW R Nine T Urban G/S and Scrambler are finally getting some off-road chops

2021 BMW R Nine T Scrambler in green and brown with gold wheels
2021 BMW R Nine T Scrambler | BMW

MCN recently published some spy photos of BMW testing some new classy off-road bikes. The photos show a next-gen R Nine T scrambler and Urban G/S with what looks like a much more serious off-road package. 

Both the Scrambler and the Urban G/S have captured riders’ hearts with their unique retro looks. Despite the Scrambler’s name, it seems pretty clear that this was never really meant for desert sledding or anything else super scrambler-y. While the same is probably true for the BMW Urban G/S, it is a much more tempting bike to take off-road. Hell, it has the option to get knobby tires from the factory. 

Is the BMW Urban G/S good off-road?

2016 BMW Urban G/S driving off-road
2016 BMW R Nine T Urban G/S | BMW

Unfortunately, most riders say that although Urban GS its got “G/S” in the name and knobby tires, the “urban” part can’t be overlooked. These bikes certainly look the part, but they are really made for the street and maybe the occasional dirt road. However, these new changes might shift that spilt a bit more toward the “G/S” part. 

The first thing one might notice about these newly-improved BMWs is that the front wheel has been replaced with a more off-road friendly 21-inch spoked wheel, replacing the current 19-inch wheel. 

Although both bikes are being tested together in the spy photos with new off-road features, the BMW Urban G/S seems to be getting most of the new gear. One of the biggest off-road hindrances for the Urban G/S models of the past is the low exhaust and headers. The G/S pictured here has had its header pipes and oil cooler gathered higher and tucked for enhanced clearance and protection from stirred-up rocks and dirt. 

The BMW R Nine T Urban G/S, adding function to its form

2016 BMW Urban G/S driving off-road
2016 BMW R Nine T Urban G/S | BMW

The updated 2021 BMW R Nine T Urban G/S already got some more off-road-centric updates like handguards and a higher set scrambler-style split muffler. 

According to ADV Pulse, there are several additional adventure-ready bits for these dressed-down testers, such as more rugged levers and footpegs, including what appear to be removable passenger footpeg sets. Both seats appear to be new, too, with the G/S’s bench-style saddle looking ready to be strapped down with all manner of gear. 

The Scrambler and Urban G/S have added tech

The 2021 refresh for both bikes saw the addition of standard ABS, a revised rear shock, and optional riding modes for different terrain. Also, the front shocks for both bikes seem to have been revised to be a little taller, allowing for further travel and ground clearance. 

As the Adventure bike segment continues to grow, the R Nine T G/S is positioned to be a strong contender for light adventure riders. If these updates really help the G/S perform better off-road, it will be a clear choice for those who mostly need a road bike but want the ability to hop on a trail every now and then without having to ride a full ADV bike every day. Here’s to hoping. 


BMW Shows Off the 2021 R nineT Urban G/S In All Its Updated Glory