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You are out on the road on your motorcycle, in your zone and someone overtakes you aggressively… and you’re okay with it. Someone turns without signalling and you narrowly avoid an accident… and you just deal with it. You are just riding to ride, not riding to reach. That’s you taking it easy. BMW F900R is the right motorcycle to take it easy on. But there’s a lot more going on than just that so let’s dive in.
Text: Karan Singh Bansatta
Photos: Sundeep Gajjar/MotoGrapher
I started with taking it easy because of a lot of reasons. The persistent horsepower battle, the reliance on spec-sheets, the general mindset of newer riders, and for the most part BMW Motorrad’s own history. Even their design language spoke volumes about their ethos. An example could be the goofy-looking F800R which we got to see most often on one wheel with Chris Pfeiffer onboard. It was a very busy motorcycle which kept the rider busy as well.
The BMW F900R changes all that. With the state-of-the-art electronics (for a mid range motorcycle), the F900R is still a busy motorcycle but it does not keep the rider too busy. Busy and engaged are different things in motorcycling, mind you. Out of the roadster class of Beemers, the F900R looks like a bulked up (quite a bit) G 310 R.
The F900 R is like that perpetually shirtless model muscles here, muscles there and all out there for a good show. The high and muscular tank (which is plastic welded, a world’s first), the busy front fascia, and minimalistic tail paint a picture of a well proportioned motorcycle. It is not over-the-top like a few out there but it holds its own.
The problem is that it is a BMW. It is not something special, or quirky or distinct. It is a good looking motorcycle, no doubt about that but it is because of the badge and what it calls for, that it falls a little short. Despite that, if viewed simply as a motorcycle and not a BMW, the F900R is a very handsome and muscular streetfighter.
There are quite a few talking points when it comes to the BMW F900R but the engine is not on the top of that list. But it is rather important when motorcycles are being discussed so… An 895cc, water-cooled inline-twin powers the F900R and is rated for 105 bhp of power and 92 Nm of torque. There’s a version with around 93 bhp as well which can be further limited to 46.9 bhp for A2 license holders. In India, we scoff at such rules. Got cash? This 200 hp motorcycle is yours.
Anyway, as the numbers say, the motorcycle is no rocket ship with warp drive, but it can be satisfactorily fast. ‘Can be’ because in lower revs, it does not even feel like it has a 100 horses under the hood. But with the throttle open wide, it suddenly goes from ‘meh’ to ‘whoa… this is fun’. This is both, a good thing and a ‘not-so-good’ thing because the throttle feels jerky. But then, BMW intentionally made it that way to make it less intimidating for newer riders. Fair enough.
All in all, there is usable power all across the rev range and the motorcycle is capable of keeping the enthusiasts entertained as well. What’s even more entertaining is the exhaust note. The reason for that is the 270/450-degree firing order which helps the inline-twin mimic V-twin. A nice bark on startup, mild rumble at idle and spirited-snarling with blips. So full marks for the exhaust note.
Now, the riding modes, well, rain is a bit disappointing really. The throttle feels almost bland in this one. Road is decent but the real fun lies in the Dynamic and Dynamic Pro mode. Throttle is much more crisp and that jerkiness is more or less gone. You may want to appreciate the rain mode in, well, rains but the choppy response makes it more a liability than help.
The gearbox is a tad clunky in the lower revs but it supports spirited riding thoroughly with crisp gear changes when you are really wringing it. So overall, the BMW F900R is a motorcycle that wants to be ridden hard to be enjoyed but for the most part, it remains in the zone where it doesn’t take life too seriously.
Handling is the department where the F900R surprised me the most. With the 211 kg of weight (wet) and the 1,518 mm of wheelbase, we were assured of the highway surefootedness, but the F900R can handle corners too. A big shout out to BMW for being able to incorporate sharp handling with the kind of geometry the motorcycle sports.
The chassis and suspension work in tandem to make the motorcycle feel steady through a corner and the Bridgestone Battlax S21 tyres offer more than adequate grip. They feel almost overkill for the F900R but we’re not complaining. The turn-in and the quick direction changes is where this Beemer requires some effort. Not too much though.
The brakes are from Brembo and therefore, really good. Steel braided brake lines are a novelty at this price point. But it is the consistency of BMW that is to be commended here. Even the brakes aren’t immediately sharp which may catch someone off-guard. The bite comes a hair later than usual and even then, it is gradual. ABS is almost completely unobtrusive except for the worst of panic braking situations… which kinda happened. Even then, it just pulsated gently without spooking me too much.
The suspension setup is well balanced for bad roads and good handling but it is tad biased towards the latter. The Dynamic ESA (electronic suspension adjustment) works well for the most part but it is not a big fan of less than ideal roads. Add to that a rather stiff saddle and things can get difficult but as always, you can work on your own padding to alleviate this issue.
The overall setup of the motorcycle with the kind of performance and handling on offer, make for a very strong case of a capable tourer. The 220 kg of payload capacity is an added bonus because there is no such thing as too much luggage. The 13-litre fuel tank may be a limiting factor though because the warning light will come on after around 170 kms on a full tank.
Touring (or almost any discipline of motorcycling) is incomplete without talking about the ergonomics. We had ridden the F800R before and it was a tad too relaxed for a roadster. The F900R remedies that with a slightly forward handlebar and slightly higher foot pegs that make for a fairly aggressive stance that is worthy of a roadster. That said, it is not too uncomfortable for long distances and also has loads of room even for taller riders. Seat height is no trouble either with options for both higher and lower seat options available from the factory.
The biggest talking point of the BMW F900R are the add-ons. BMW’s have always been famous for that. The list is rather… comprehensive. Adaptive cornering headlights, Cruise control, Cornering ABS, Quickshifter, Semi-active rear suspension, dynamic modes, and so on. The best part though is the 6.5” colour TFT screen which with the familiar Jog Dial, helps one control all the aspects of the motorcycle.
Despite all the stellar add-ons to a really good motorcycle, it is the BMW Motorrad Connected app that takes the cake. In our opinion, it is the best app that is available today. It is intuitive, criminally detailed, and a whole lot of fun too. Fun because there is nothing like competing for the max lean angle achieved or maybe max braking gs experienced. And these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the app and the features it has.
In conclusion, I think I have proved my point that the BMW F900R is a very busy motorcycle but it does not keep the rider too busy. It is a motorcycle that takes it easy and in turn, makes it easier for beginners to learn to explore the 100 horses that the motorcycle has on offer. And veterans can also have quite a bit of fun if they really ride it hard. Despite the minor shortcomings, the BMW F900R is a surprisingly ‘do anything’ motorcycle. City rides, long rides, just rides, and even the occasional not-so-serious trackdays… it can do it all.
So for the asking price, you get a lot of motorcycle in the F900R and that too, with the illustrious BMW badge.