Introducing our long-term BMW F900R | GRR Garage

24th November 2020
Laura Thomson

It’s a popular term here in the UK, but one that elicits mirth from bikers worldwide. To describe a motorcycle as naked is unique to English, with our European neighbours preferring the term ‘roadster’ or ‘streetfighter’. But – and no double-entendre intended here – naked is what we like best. Historically and with the exception of BMW’s GS, un-fared machines have topped the UK sales charts, with Honda’s CB range an enduring favourite, and Yamaha’s MT family creeping up the list since the first model launched in 2014. And last year BMW brought a new bike to the party, replacing the tired F800R with the peppy new F900R.

Earlier this summer, we were lucky enough to get our sticky little mitts on it for an extended road test. With my own bike off the road, and my other vehicles in various states of (dis)repair, it has become my go-to vehicle for journeys large and small. And will continue to be so as winter encroaches.


Powered by an 895cc parallel-twin, which acts as a stressed member in the steel bridge frame, the F900R isn’t a patch on the likes of the S1000RR in terms of performance, but offers an affordable and A2-compliant entry into BMW’s big capacity naked range, costing from £8,660. It’s aimed squarely at Yamaha’s MT-09, and with BMW’s luxury connotations, makes a fine competitor to the prolific crossplane.

Debuting alongside the XR variant, the F900R is available in two guises, starting with the A2-compliant base model, which 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 SE 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.


I’m not going to lie: on first impressions, I found it awkward-looking. But after a few weeks together I’ve caught myself glancing back admirably after parking up, appreciating the sharp angles and aggressive stance.

There’s no fanfare about this bike, nor anything surplus to its simple requirements. It exists to put the fun back into inner-city riding, and it does that plus more. It will even sit happily at motorway speeds for a couple of hours, although the lack of wind protection means that I am less happy to do so.

In the first couple of hundred miles, the F900R has served as a go-between, allowing me to make the most of the limited excursions this summer has offered. Had it been this time last year, I would already have several hundred commuting miles under my belt, and with it the learned foibles of the machine. But as such, we’re still very much in the honeymoon period, with only a few minor irks playing on edge of my mind.

It’s wonderfully nimble, the short chassis and upright seating position allowing you to throw it around tight city streets and filter through traffic with ease. The steering is light and fluid, with a wide arc and tight turning circle.

The various riding modes adjust throttle response accordingly, but one sensation I couldn’t shake was a dead space on torque down low, which felt almost like a fuel supply issue, with nothing for a while followed by a snatchy initial power.


However, this fades into obscurity as you push through the rev range, with the delivery getting smoother as it progresses to the 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 the MT-09. The throttle is certainly happiest open. It’s worth noting that on the base model, both are lower, with 88Nm (65lb ft) arriving at 6,750 rpm and 96.3PS (71kW) at 8,000rpm (so it can be restricted to sub-47bhp for A2 riders).

A late summer’s launch in Westbury gave me the perfect occasion to stretch the little 900’s longer-distance legs. The three-hour round trip easily became four as I cut across Salisbury Plain, enjoying the dynamic ride on the long, curving roads. The upside-down telescopic fork provided a firm connection with the road, while the Dynamic ESA can be fettled to suit your weight, luggage requirements and riding style. It automatically adjusts and felt a little hard on occasion, a sensation compounded by the firm seat. The brakes too are adequate, although there seems to be an awful lot of travel in the rear lever.

So far, so good – at least as a summertime scoot about. As we go into winter and the temperature drops, the 900 will remain naked as ever, while I layer up to account for the lack of wind protection. Stay tuned to find out how I fare on the faring-less F900R.


BMW F900R Specifications

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
Top speed 134mph
Fuel economy 67.2mpg
CO2 emissions 99g/km
Price £8,660
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