The 1980s, a time of glorious fashion disasters, Maggie Thatcher and disco giving way to pop acts such as Wham! and Michael Jackson, it certainly was a decade to be remembered – although not always for good reasons. But while we were all rapping along with George Michael, over in Germany something very important was happening in a basement in Munich… You may not know this, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s BMW Motorrad was almost as dead as disco. The firm’s car side was (glam) rocking, but the two-wheeled division was in a terrible state and was in very real danger of being shut down. However help was at hand and in what was basically a last ditch attempt to save the firm, the management turned to an oddball off-road boxer prototype that some of its R&D team had been playing around with. That prototype was unveiled to the world in 1980 as the BMW R80 G/S (which stood for Gelände/Straße, or on-road/off-road in German) and did rather well for itself. In fact, it basically saved the company from going under and has continued to be the firm’s best selling model ever since. Why is this significant? Somewhat unsurprisingly considering how every manufacturer is desperately searching thorough their model archives to dig out fashion-pleasing historic brands to rejuvenate, BMW has given the G/S brand a reboot for 2017 in the shape of the new R nineT Urban G/S. Although calling it new is a bit of a stretch of the imagination… Let’s not beat around the (Kate) bush, the Urban G/S is essentially just a re-styled R nineT Scrambler. It takes the Scrambler’s base and adds a white motorsport paint scheme (based on the 1984 G/S Dakar rep), dual mudguards, a small nose fairing, red bench seat and swaps the Scrambler’s dual stacked silencers for a single pipe. But while the changes are relatively small, visually they transform the muted Scrambler as the Urban G/S looks absolutely fantastic in the flesh. And pleasingly it costs the same £10,550 as the Scrambler, so you don’t pay through the nose for this altered look. However if you want one in the spec we tested, which is the X model with spoke wheels, heated grips, LED indicators and a chrome exhaust cover, you need to fork out £11,185. But is this a bike worth shelling out for? Some view the R nineT range as fashion bikes, but when you ride them you quickly realise that while they certainly play on the trend for air-cooled retros, they also ride fantastically well. And the Urban is no exception. Once you fire up that boxer twin and hear its surprisingly raucous exhaust note, which it has to be said is far fruitier than the Scrambler’s thanks to its single pipe, you just know you are in for an entertaining ride – which is exactly what the Urban G/S delivers. With a stack of thumping boxer torque and real attitude that is so often lacking in soft modern retros, the BMW is an absolute hoot to ride. It’s certainly not the most refined of bikes as the throttle action is quite aggressive and the boxer motor vibrates and twists due to its torque reaction, but if you hanker after a machine that feels thrilling, that’s exactly what you get. Yes, it has a few modern refinements such as the heated grips, ABS and (optional) traction control, but they don’t get in the way or detract from its raw feeling. That’s what I like so much about the whole R nineT range, they don’t feel diluted or sanitized at all, instead they arrive packing attitude both in their motors and handling. And yes, this is a bike that most certainly can be nailed through the bends, however a slight word of warning… The Urban can be bought with the option of the on-road orientated Metzeler Tourance tyres or the off-road Continental Twinduros. No one is going to take an Urban off-road, so the only reason to spec it with the Twinduros is to make it look butch, which they certainly do but if you tick this box just be aware that they aren’t as sticky as the road-orientated Tourance tyres. It’s your choice – go for grip or looks. Personally I’d take grip over style, but others will disagree and the Twinduros aren’t actually that bad on the road. And this tyre choice dilemma kind of sums up the Urban G/S… There is no denying the Urban G/S is a bike born from fashion, but there again so is the whole R nineT range, and Ducati’s Scrambler range, and Triumph’s Bonnies/Thruxtons, and Yamaha’s XSRs, and, well you get the idea. Some will hate the G/S’s retro look, others will love it, but that’s the effect fashion has on the buying public. For my money it is better looking than the Scrambler, but I know others will disagree. However what really matters is that having spent over £10,000 on a bike, the result isn’t a letdown and in this department there are no arguments. The Urban G/S rides wonderfully and packs more attitude than NWA, so if the 1980s look floats your boat, the Urban G/S certainly won’t leave you disappointed at your purchase. Unlike that pair of dayglow socks you once thought looked cool… Arrange test rides and keep up to date on BMW Motorrad Web | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube