No trend in motorcycling is more forward thinking than traipsing through yesteryear. From Triumph’s Bonneville Bobber to Indian’s revitalized Scout, motorcycle manufacturers are marrying modern technology to yesteryear’s styling to encourage the millennial hipster onto two wheels.

No one has the formula down more pat than BMW. Since introducing the original RnineT as a one-off tribute to its 90th anniversary — yes, BMW has been manufacturing motorcycles longer than it’s been producing cars — the world has gone mad for the ever-expanding line of retro BMWs. First was the naked RnineT Scrambler and, most recently, the favorably received — despite being the singularly least comfortable motorcycle of the past 40 years — RnineT Racer, both inspiringly styled period pieces.

Same ol', same ol'

Now, it’s the Urban G/S commemorating the bike that started today’s adventure touring craze, BMW’s 1980 R80G/S. Like all the other RnineTs, the Urban G/S is a pure styling exercise with mechanicals all but identical to its stablemates. That means the 1,170 cc air-and-oil cooled Boxer twin with a claimed 110 horsepower, the same Paralever rear swingarm as the other RnineTs and the same 43 mm conventional fork as the Scrambler.

Indeed, the Urban G/S is almost identical to the Scrambler save for its wire-spoke wheels, low exhaust (the Scrambler features some distinctive high pipes) and the Urban’s aggressive Continental TKC 80 tires in place of the Scrambler’s Karoo 3s. Oh, and of course, the red seat and iconic gas tank/front beak combination.

A sheep in a wolf’s clothing

One thing’s for sure. While the adventure touring field has moved on from the original ’80 G/S with long travel suspension and incredible off-road ability, the new Urban G/S is very much a sheep dressed in wolf’s clothing; those knobby Continentals may be off-road worthy but the rest of the motorcycle sure isn’t. 60-inch wheelbases and 485 pounds do not for agile dirt bikes make.

That said, the Urban G/S makes an excellent commuter/backroad bandit. It handles with aplomb, the seat is only 33.5 inches off the ground and ABS, as with all RnineTs, is standard. But, like all the BMW’s retros, it’s the styling that steals the show.
 

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