Ridden: BMW F900XR review

Mathieu Day-Gillett
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Does the BMW F900XR look like Bumblebee from Transformers? We think so.

Slotting into BMW’s lineup as a mid-capacity crossover, the F900XR brings plenty to the table in its somewhat unconventional package.

On the surface, it’s a more accessible option to the S1000XR, BMW’s premier sports tourer powered by the same inline-four as the S1000RR superbike with an over-$10,000 saving and much more approachable power delivery.

Rather than the screaming 123kW inline-four of the S1000XR, the F900XR and its naked sports sibling, the F900R, build upon BMW’s parallel-twin engine found in the mid-capacity GS range, with the 900s getting capacity boosted to 895cc thanks to a 2mm larger bore.

The result is power is raised 7kW over the GS to 77kW at 8750 rpm and 92Nm at 6500 rpm. Significantly less than the S-XR model, sure, but it's vastly more usable and arguably more enjoyable on our shonky roads.

Styling is reminiscent of the S1000XR, however, it wasn’t until my wife exclaimed that it looked like Bumblebee from the Transformers series that I finally clicked why the bike’s styling felt familiar. It’s also one of those things that once seen, just cannot be unseen.

In typical BMW fashion, the F900XR is packed to the gills with premium touches. From the crystal clear TFT dashboard to factory-equipped heated grips and cruise control, BMW is offering a solidly equipped bike for the $25,990 asking price.

With a 6-axis inertial management unit as part of the bike’s electronics package, not only does it make use of the latest in cornering ABS and traction control, but it also features electronically controlled damping on the rear shock and cornering LED headlights which will always be a welcome addition to any motorcycle in my books.

Our test bike was also fitted with the optional BMW proprietary GPS mount, which while a nice touch is actually largely unnecessary thanks to that brilliant TFT. With Bluetooth connectivity as standard, you can display navigation on the dash along with the ability to control phone functions.

As with BMW’s other interfaces, since they adopted TFT technology, the system is very easy to use with a simple and uncluttered display that lets you focus on the ride rather than overloading you with too much information. If you do want that extra info, there is a Sport display which shows you all the relevant info, including your maximum lean angle and how much you’re making the braking and traction control systems work.

Funnily enough, it was the F900XR’s most analogue solutions that I appreciated the most. Like all good bikes with touring aspirations, the 900XR features a multi-position windscreen, and the mechanism for switching between the low and high settings is a triumph in ease of use. Simply push the lever behind the screen in the desired direction and the screen easily moves up or down. No fiddly knobs or complete need to remove the screen here!

I will admit I felt the windscreen could be a touch larger, but this is a personal preference and largely depends on the size of the rider.

Initial impressions were of a rather solid, if unexciting ride with the bike set in its road mode setting. But after delving into the depths of the settings on offer through the dash, I was able to unlock Dynamic Plus mode which noticeably lets the 895cc twin out of its cage. It also allows you to tailor traction control and ABS settings to your liking, meaning if wheelies are your thing the F900XR will happily pop the front wheel up with the traction control intervention curtailed.

Firing through the gears using the supplied quick shifter quickly gets you up to expressway speeds, and the quickshifter itself is beautifully slick. Once you’re moving, you can essentially forget the clutch for shifting with the BMW quickshifter.

When it came to sporty riding the F900XR was a delight, but overall comfort was an area the F900XR disappointed due to the seat. While beautifully sculpted for sporty riding, cruising along the highway revealed a hard saddle that felt like I was, as the saying goes, “sitting on the bones of my arse”.

With BMW being the master of long-distance mile-munching comfort, the lack thereof on the F900XR was a real disappointment. Luckily, if you want to enhance that side of the F900XR’s build, BMW Motorrad has plenty of accessories to sway it that way should you desire.

BMW F 900 XR
PRICE: $25,990
ENGINE: 895cc DOHC parallel-twin
POWER: 77kW at 8750rpm/92Nm at 6500rpm
PROS: Excellent tech and great performance, attainable and approachable compared to the S1000XR
CONS: Falls short on comfort, looks like a Transformer

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