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.