Goodwood Test: 2021 BMW F900R Review

We put BMW's middle-weight roadster through its paces...
21st January 2021
Laura Thomson



Lockdown has fostered many new talents, while others fester. And while I learnt to write with my left hand and perform a rather solid headstand, I am ashamed to admit that my motorcycling kit has lain idle (or at least far more so than usual). That was until last summer, when BMW afforded us a F900R as a long termer, giving their press fleet stalwart one last hurrah before being it was shipped off to a forever home.

Debuting alongside the XR variant back in 2019, the F900R took over from the similarly named 800cc model. Featuring a 895cc parallel-twin, which acts as a stressed member in the steel bridge frame, it’s is available in two guises, the £8,665 A2-compliant base model and the £9,785 SE.

Coming from an adventure and sports bike background, my first impression of the F900R was of bemusement. There was no faring to deflect the wind, nor any practicality to its short, compact frame. You couldn’t set a new circuit PB nor ride to Africa aboard it – so really, what was the point?

The first ride was enough to dispel my partisanship, and I soon found myself yearning for another excursion. After so many years riding, I had become shamefully jaded and couldn’t remember the last time that I had left the house with no agenda other than a ride. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of a national lockdown, so aimless jaunts were off the cards. Essential journeys, however, were not…

We like

  • Invigorating ride
  • Agile
  • Well-equipped as standard

We don't like

  • Uncomfortable on long distances
  • Dead space on torque down low
  • Aggressive styling takes some getting used to



Naked motorcycles are an acquired taste, and none more so than the F900R. Angular, muscular and aggressive, it features many of the styling characteristics of BMW’s more powerful roadster, the S1000R, in a compact, less intimidating package. Seventeen-inch wheels sit at front and rear, giving that Supermoto stance, while the wheelbase measures 1,518mm (the whole package is 2,140mm) – short enough to be agile, but not so short to be unbalanced.

Performance and Handling


I’ll get the downsides out of the way quickly. While the 895cc parallel-twin is wonderfully smooth and amenable higher up the rev range, it suffers from a bizarre dead space on both power and torque down low, not dissimilar to a fuel supply issue, with nothing for a while followed by snatchy initial power. However, once you get past this – both physically and mentally – the throttle delivery is progressive to peak figures – torque of 92Nm (68.8lb ft) at 6,500rpm and power of 106.5PS (78kW) delivered at 8,500rpm – both weighing in more than 1,500rpm earlier in the rev range than its nearest competitor, the Yamaha MT-09. On the base model, the F900R makes 88Nm (65lb ft) at 6,750 rpm and 96.3PS (71kW) at 8,000rpm (so it can be restricted to sub-47bhp for A2 riders).

Suffice to say, it’s certainly happiest with the throttle wide open, and I was glad to oblige, riding through late summer, autumn and the freezing depths of winter, a grin planted on my face for all but the dullest of motorway miles. The throttle tangibly subdues as you switch from Dynamic to Road mode, the urgency replaced by a smooth, measured delivery. The power flat-spot was at its most obvious in rain mode, but it didn’t matter so much due to the nature of the ride. Road is the compromise between fun and fuel efficiency, returning in the region of 50mpg unless under the most spirited of riding. That’s not bad, given that BMW quote 56mpg, and on occasion I even dragged the 13-litre tank out to more than 160 miles.

The bike’s fluid steering and agility never ceased to impress, as I cut through the back streets and filtered between what little traffic was on offer. The upside-down telescopic fork provided a firm connection with the road, never once approaching the bottom of its 135mm travel, even under heavy braking. At the rear, the optional Dynamic ESA offers adjustable damping and preload via a switch on the left handlebar to suit your weight, luggage requirements and riding style. Even in the solo dynamic configuration, it felt a little firm, a sensation compounded by the solid seat. In terms of braking, the twin 320mm discs and four-pot radial callipers up front are brisk, while the single 265mm disc and single-piston unit at the rear feel almost token, especially when you take into account the slack travel in the lever.

Also among the extensive suite of electronic aids are a standard anti-hopping clutch, ABS Pro, Automatic Stability Control (both disengageable), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and the new engine drag torque control (MSR). These features are omnipresent, yet undetectable until the scenario calls for them. Shift assistant pro makes gear changes almost subconscious, while MSR is a reassuring safety net, preventing the rear wheel from slipping under abrupt acceleration or downshifts.



Astride the F900 is a wonderful place to be. It belies its standard seat height of 815mm via a narrow waist and clever cushioning (however that’s not to say the seat is comfortable – in fact, far from it). At 5ft 7in, I can comfortably get both feet on the floor, with the option to adjust it to as low as 770mm and up to 865mm through a combination of suspension adjustments and accessory seats.

Over its predecessor, the F800R, the F900 features revised ergonomics, for a more dynamic ride. The model has greater front wheel orientation, shifted forward handlebars, and further rearwards footpegs, which all contribute to its well-balanced, sporty stance. Some of the accessory seats even tilt the rider’s body forward to accentuate this.

The rider triangle is perfect for short, aggressive bursts, and even a slightly longer commute. Do not mistake this for a mile-muncher, however, for after about an hour of steady riding, I found my butt aching and my knees stiff. The lack of wind faring is an issue on long, speedy stints, with the wind rushing past my helmet and buffeting against my chest. But let’s be frank, this bike isn’t designed to cross-continents.

Technology and Features


The F900R A2 is entry-level only in name, with an extensive list of standard spec including disengageable Automatic Stability Control, two riding modes (Rain and Road), a connected TFT dash and an inbuilt tracker. The £9,785 SE, as tested, adds a series of ‘Pro’ features, including Gear Shift Assist Pro, Riding Modes Pro, Rain, Road & Dynamic (MSR, ABS Pro, DTC) and the adaptive ‘Headlight Pro’, plus BMW’s Dynamic ESA.

To describe a vehicle’s dash as ‘perfectly readable’ is an odd turn of phrase, but BMW has gone with it and, to be honest, I’m inclined to agree. There wasn’t a moment where I found myself squinting to see the 6.5-inch display, which automatically adjusted brightness and colour according to the light conditions. As standard, the bike features BMW Motorrad Connectivity, through which you can make phone calls phone, listen to music or navigate, however I’m not a fan of digital distractions while riding. And don’t even get me started on the manufacturer’s own navigation system

LEDs all-round provide good visibility, while daytime running lights and adaptive cornering lights are a nice but somewhat unnecessary touch.



After four months, three seasons and several hundred miles together, the F900R finally returned to the BMW Motorrad mothership. As we push through the depths of winter, I can’t say that I’m missing the freezing wind chill, but on those rare blue sky, sunny days I have found myself peering at the BMW-shaped space in the garage longingly.

Costing from £8,665, the F900R offers an affordable and A2-compliant entry into BMW’s big capacity Roadster range. It’s aimed squarely at Yamaha’s MT-09, and with the manufacturer’s extensive standard equipment, makes a brilliant alternative to the prolific crossplane.


Engine 895cc parallel-twin
Power 106.5PS (78kW) @ 8,500rpm
Torque 92Nm (68.8lb ft) @ 6,500rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive
Kerb weight 211kg
0-62mph n/a
Top speed 134mph
Fuel economy 67.2mpg
CO2 emissions 99g/km
Price From £8,665 (£9,785 as tested)