The iconic BMW boxer engine has been around a little longer than some folks realize: a hundred years, to be exact. It powered the very first BMW motorcycle, which broke cover in 1923.
That was the shaft-driven R 32, designed by Max Friz. It featured the familiar opposed cylinder engine layout, although the internals bear little resemblance to the modern-day powerplant.
A 100th anniversary always calls for a celebration, so BMW Motorrad has created a pair of ‘100 Years’ special editions for its Heritage range: the R nineT Roadster and the R 18 Cruiser. And very appropriately, both models are limited to 1,923 units each.
We’re especially smitten with the charming BMW R nineT 100 Year shown here, which harks back to the monochrome aesthetic of classic BMW oldtimers.
We’ve been fans of the R nineT since its launch in 2014. It’s one of those bikes that are well ‘sorted,’ it’s attracted a huge fan base, and it’s also remarkably easy to customize—as the dozens of modified example on these pages testify.
Not surprisingly, it’s been a worldwide hit for riders who enjoy classic roadster style but don’t want to sacrifice modern technology.
On the BMW R nineT 100 Years version, the air/oil-cooled boxer engine remains untouched. That’s fine by us, because its 109 hp output is more than adequate for most riders.
But the rest of the bike has been finessed in style, using classy and durable chrome finishes, plus a smattering of hard parts from the Option 719 range.
The new tank design is the most obvious styling upgrade, with a stunning ‘Classic Chrome’ finish. Chrome is known for its durability and mirror-like shine—as anyone who has owned a BMW R 75/5 will appreciate.
But for the R nineT 100 Years, BMW Motorrad has taken it up a level by reviving the ‘paint on chrome’ effect. Using the latest Chromium III technology, it involves extremely complex preparation, with layers of copper, nickel and chromium applied before several layers of paint and a final clear coat.
‘Classic Chrome’ is also found on the cowl behind the seat and if you peer closer, you’ll also spot subtle white pin-striping on the tank, front fender and seat cowl—another BMW Motorrad signature that has endured for decades.
On the rest of this R nineT, deep Avus Black paint keeps the vibe dark and restrained, with the fork tubes and air intake also blacked out. The black anodized rims are Option 719 Classics, and there’s a ‘Shadow’ milled parts package that includes the cylinder head and engine housing covers.
BMW has also added several more tasty upgrades from the ‘Shadow II’ range, such as adjustable hand levers and upgraded footrests, plus expansion tank covers and bar-end mirrors. The headlight is a cutting-edge adaptive turning unit, and riders will be even more comfortable than usual thanks to heated grips, cruise control and extra riding modes.
Protection can be added via an anti-theft alarm system, and it’s all topped off with a classy ‘100 Years’ badge on top of the tank.
Unlike most limited-edition machines, the BMW R nineT 100 Years is a model of understated elegance and classy aesthetics. And the short production run will ensure exclusivity and increase collectability.
If you’re based in the US, you can put this slice of BMW history in your garage for $19,995—which is just $5,500 more than the base model R nineT. A very fair price to pay for a modern-day icon.
Proudly sponsored by BMW Motorrad USA | Images by The Simple Machine