At its heart the Scrambler is very much an old-school BMW. The air-cooled boxer engine is the same unit as found in the Roadster, just tweaked slightly to meet Euro4 regulations. Impressively, BMW has kept the same 110hp and 85lb ft of torque despite these modifications. That means it's now free to expand the nineT range, most likely with a half-faired cafe racer model or cruiser in 2017.
Attached to this engine the Scrambler has a new frame with more relaxed geometry than the Roadster and, not only keep its price down but also maintain the retro image, some slightly more basic components. Where the Roadster gets wire wheels and inverted forks, the Scrambler has conventional forks and cast wheels (spokes are a £340 optional extra). There's also the free option of ludicrously chunky Metzeler Karoo 3 off-road style tyres or, far more sensibly, the Metzeler Tourance road tyre. There are a few other compromises, such as conventional brakes rather than radial, higher bar risers and no rev counter (again, it's an optional extra), but the Scrambler is essentially a restyled Roadster with a £10,530 price tag, down from the cafe racer's £11,900.
I wasn't expecting a great deal from the Scrambler. Yes, it's a good looking bike, but the pictures of it with the idiotic off-road tyres being ridden by a plum in an open face lid left me cold. However just like the brilliant R nineT, which blew me away with its performance as well as its style, the Scrambler has considerable substance behind its looks.
For starters the Scrambler uses the same size tyres as the water-cooled GS, something that gives it remarkably good handling as long as you tick the Metzeler Tourance option. It may be a 19-inch front wheel, but the wide front tyre ensures that it feels planted on the road and you can seriously hustle the Scrambler through corners. The conventional forks are more than up for the job and who cares if the brakes aren't radial? They have ABS as standard and are again perfectly good.
Handling-wise the Scrambler feels like a GS that has been on a bit of a diet, and there is something remarkably pleasing about the lack of clutter on the Scrambler's dash area. While I missed a gear indicator slightly, the fact I wasn't continually checking which mode or suspension setting the bike was in was a refreshing release.
However the real star of the Scrambler show, and the R nineT platform as a whole, remains that boxer motor. If you like a bit of spirit in your engine then the air-cooled boxer is for you. As well as sounding tremendous (I can't wait to hear an Akrapovic system on the Scrambler), the engine is stacked full of character. While the initial throttle response is nice and smooth, once under power the boxer thumps with brute force, twists alongside the torque reaction within and vibrates with spirit but not annoyance. It's a cracking engine and one that manages to feel fun without irritating due to its simplicity. I even liked the clunky gearbox. Again, there is an optional extra of BMW's basic traction control system, which is handy in the damp, but if you want to shun the electronics that's really not an issue at all. Enjoy a bit of air-cooled charm!
Like the Roadster, I was inclined to write the Scrambler off as a fashion accessory before riding it. This was a mistake. While it is certainly designed to appeal to those buying on style rather than performance, the Scrambler is actually quite a practical machine. The riding position is nice and upright, the peg position relaxed and the seat acceptable for medium length rides (there are comfier seat options too). I'd happily ride the Scrambler on a day-to-day basis and, while it's nowhere near the same kind of mile-muncher as a GS, its stripped back design makes it lighter and easier to control at low speed. In the flesh I actually love its look as well. The price may appear high, but unlike its competition this is quite a grown up Scrambler; Ducati's option, for example, is more targeted at newer riders. Also, unlike so many BMW models, you can happily buy the most basic Scrambler and not feel the need to dip into the BMW official upgrades. That said, personally I'd get heated grips and probably the traction control fitted alongside wire wheels, as I think the cast items are a bit 'modern.'
Sadly, I do need to finish on a few downsides of the Scrambler. Not its ride, but the availability. The Scrambler won't arrive in the UK until near the end of September, almost a full year after it was unveiled and near to winter, which is really annoying. That said, like the nineT, initial sales suggest you may need to move rather rapidly to secure a bike this year. If that is true, the delay in it arriving may be a blessing though - dealers should be thoroughly stocked by the time spring and summer 2017 consignments arrive!
BMW R NINET SCRAMBLER
Engine: 1,170cc boxer twin, air-cooled, 8v
Power (hp): 110@7,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 85@6,000rpm
Top speed: 120mph (est)
Weight: 220kg (wet)
MPG: 52 (claimed)
Price: £10,530 (Scrambler X with wire wheels, heated grips and accessories £11,090)