We all love that feeling of riding smoothly along the road. We live for the thrill of the throttle. We desire to dominate that stomach lurching corner, riding off into the distance with utter ease. But the real question is, do we do so with our leather jacket, open face helmet and classic style? Or, do we sacrifice all that for top performance?
One is modest, old school and elegant, chosen because you yearn the beauty that she carries and what she signifies. The other, modern, sharp, crisp and demands your attention as her kinky persona directs your eyes towards her aggressive style. I talk of course of the BMW RnineT Scrambler vs the BMW R1200R LC. Having had the privilege of owning both these stunning bikes, I present to you my thoughts about style over performance and performance over style.
As I waken her one cold morning, ready for our commute to work, her raw and rough sound shatters the silence that surrounds us. Vibrations trespass every corner of my street, overpowering any bird who dares to compete, and we are off. There is no denying that this bike sounds brilliant! It marks its presence with such sophistication and gives goose bumps to anyone it passes. On the roads the sounds she produces makes me visible and I stand firmly in my place. However, once I hit the motorway, this basic bike fails to compete with the R1200R. With classic aerodynamics, 70mph already feels too much and exposure to the natural elements is hard to avoid with the non-existent weather protection. She feels lazy, almost struggling to take me to work- perhaps this is simply because she knows that we would both rather turn around and go on a country tour for the day. The exposing posture of this bike makes it hostile for the rider on the motorway, resulting in this bike not being the most pleasant to zoom down the M1 in mid-winter or any season for that matter. Being sat very much on the bike, rather than in it, makes this worse.
In cities and countryside, the story is similar. Despite being beautifully basic with a single distinct speedometer and no rev counter, we battle against each other as I guide her round bends and steer her towards the path we are taking. Her stubbornness to turn makes her more of an effort ride but remains able to flow through bends, making you feel at one with the open country roads.
In contrast, the R1200R with her fierce personality, is extremely easy to manoeuvre and handle. In the city and countryside, she is both agile and aggressive. She feels eager to go, eager to please and constantly responsive. Fast and furious she is sporty and assertive as she charges around bends and country roads, as well as flying in-between traffic with a feeling of ease. Speed is no challenge for this beast and the effortless ride makes her offensively comfortable. She also offers more support and protection with a wider and taller tank, small screen and being positioned within the bike. I am very much part of her as we ride together.
Although this bike hosts the latest technology, one cannot compare sounds between the two. This bike has substance, its engine is powerful, precise and smooth. It does not provide the same roaring tremor that the Scrambler does, nor does it hold the same presence in public. I may love her showy, flashy appearance, the way she flirts her way around traffic but there is no disputing that this is not to anyone’s liking. She carries and rules her own sense of style, but it certainly is not classic.
So, which is better? The Scrambler merges together an old school look, with good power in comparison to its competitors and amazing sound. Its lethargic steering makes you work around each bend with more precision and fully enjoy what an authentic bike is about. It may be old school, but with ABS and optional traction control, it has been built to keep you safe and continues to be a highly enjoyable ride, never failing to grab the attention of passers-by. You do not need to be a motorbike fanatic to see how much style it graciously holds. However, perhaps this bike should be kept for the shorter rides as motorways pose a challenge to the contentment of the bike. I guess you could conclude that with this bike, you can simply commute and ride with fun and style. Conversely, the R1200R is tremendous fun! It dominates the road, not necessarily with style, but with agility and power. It handles with comfort and provides instant satisfaction to the rider. It is far more responsive, protective and incorporates you fully into the ride with great gratification. It makes me feel unbeatable and is the ultimate commuter and weekend ride. Fundamentally, they both brilliant everyday bikes, but perhaps for £2000 more, I would prefer to rule the road!
The routes used to compare the bikes can be found here.