BMW F 900 R and F 900 XR comparison test


The evolutions of the 850 with the look of the 1000XR sport trail and the R1250R roadster

Inline twin, 895 cm3, 105 hp, 92 Nm, Euro5, 211 and 219 kg

BMW F900R and F900XR! What developments at BMW since the first decade of the millennium! Think, the propeller brand released both a hypersport, with the S1000RR and an F series with parallel twin machines inaugurated with the 800 S and ST (2006) which will generate many variations. Two years later, the family joined two trails with the F 700 and F 800 GS. A naked roadster follows in 2009, using the angular asymmetrical lights of the K series. 5 years later, it is clearly Japanese, adopting a more standardized look. Then in 2013, we find a redesigned road model of the ST, now named F 800 GT.

In 2017, a brand new original Loncin engine equips the F850 GS and Adventure and we were therefore expecting an upgrade on the roadster side. These are finally two new machines arriving in 2020 with the F 900 R and F900 XR: an edgy roadster and a sporty trail based on the sulphurous S1000XR. Both of the F’s don’t seem to be there to play extras, both in style and in dynamic abilities. All are Euro5 approved and 95 hp (70 kW) versions for A2 licenses and therefore bridle-able to 35 kW are also available.

BMW F 900 R and F 900 XR ComparisonBMW F 900 R and F 900 XR Comparison

It was around Almeria (Spain) on a route of contrasting terrain and under the sun that we discovered the new BMW F 900 R and F900 XR. Comparative test of the roadster vs the sport trail…


BMW has significantly streamlined the aesthetics of its machines. If the GS 850 mimicked the off-road icon of the brand, the novelties do the same with their respective predecessors. The F 900 R is therefore strongly inspired by the lines of the R 1250 R, especially on the front at the headlight level, scoops and even at the angular 13-liter tank. This choice reinforces the volumes of the roadster and boosts its perceived sportiness. The one-piece saddle offers ample rider seating and plenty of room for the passenger. The latter also has profiled grab handles.

BMW F 900 R reviewBMW F 900 R review

On the XR side, the connection is obvious with the S1000XR. Double tapered optics, long plunging scoops and atrophied duckbill sign the style of the sportswoman on four-cylinder stilts. The little GS therefore plays sports in high heels. Under a bubble adjustable on two levels via a simple lever, its shoulders dress a 15.5-liter tank. We note a full LED lighting, which can receive an adaptive front light beam, unfortunately optional, like a lot of other equipment…. This element comes on automatically as soon as the motorcycle exceeds 7 degrees of tilt on the R, 10 ° on the XR. Specific LED elements located in the main spotlight move the target lighting area inside the bends.

BMW F 900 XR reviewBMW F 900 XR review

Apart from their dressing, the sisters share a common base for a large part of their components. Thus their saddle rests on a rear loop in tubular steel trellis bolted to the main structure, with a frame borrowed from the F850GS, with double steel beam, stamped and welded, integrating the engine as a supporting element..

The BMW F 900 RThe BMW F 900 R

It too is an evolution of the blocks designed by BMW and manufactured by Loncin equipping the GS. Cubing at 853 cm3 on the trails, it increases to 895 cm3 (86×77 mm) by increasing the bore (+2 mm). Its double overhead camshafts attack four valves per cylinder, the pistons are forged and the crank pins are set at 270 °. Suddenly, the boiler now delivers 105 hp at 8,500 rpm and 92 Nm 6,500 rpm. Clearly dynamic values ​​associated with a reduced weight: 211 kg for the R, 219 for the XR…. Especially since 95% of the engine power is available between 4,500 to 8,500 revolutions. Finally, two balance shafts limit vibrations.

The new twin-cylinder of the F 900 R and XRThe new twin-cylinder of the F 900 R and XR

We regret a perfectible finish of the engine and frame aesthetics and significant use of plastic, especially on the tank.


With its ride-by-wire throttle, the F’s come standard with two Rain and Road engine modes and switchable ASC stability control. As usual with BMW, the electronics link the engine modes to the safety systems (Abs, anti-skidding, etc.) by modulating their interventions according to the chosen profile..

The two Bavarians have an anti-slip clutch, for even more dynamic efficiency. For advanced modes, DTC dynamic traction control, engine brake control (MSR) or ABS control on a curve, it will be necessary to go through one of the four option packs…. Likewise, an optional Quickshifter will optimize the evolutions.

The clutch of the BMW F 900 XRThe clutch of the BMW F 900 XR

The breath of the twin flows into a short silencer is stylish. Its double rectangular outlets are in perfect analogy with those of other models. Beside it, a double aluminum oscillating arm transmits its movements to the mono-shock absorber. Adjustable in preload and rebound, its travel is 142 mm on the roadster and 172 for the traveler. Both machines can add Dynamic ESA electronic management of this element via the options. The front axle rests on an inverted fork of 43 mm sliding on 135 mm on the R and 170 mm on the XR. No adjustment or ESA on the tubes. On the other hand, a steering damper takes care of the front.

The reverse fork of the BMW F 900 XRThe reverse fork of the BMW F 900 XR

The geometry is changing significantly. The offset of the fork tubes is less and therefore increases the trail. The column angle opens sharply 29.5 ° (forward 26 °). The wheelbase barely budges compared to the older F800s, with 1,518 mm for the roadster, 1,521 mm for the traveler..

BMW F 900 XRBMW F 900 XR

Up front, four-piston radial Brembo calipers attack 320mm floating discs. The opposing single piston retarder bites a single disc with a diameter of 265mm. The new models come with ABS as well as the dynamic brake light as standard. This warns other vehicles behind that the motorcycle is slowing down. With the optional Pro pack, you will have access to the additional driving modes "Dynamic" and "Dynamic Pro". The electronics will then manage the dynamic traction control DTC and ABS Pro (DBC) even on the angle as well as the engine brake torque regulation (MSR). Quickshifter The Pro shift assistant and the electronically adjustable Dynamic ESA chassis. Also, we will have recourse to the options for adaptive cornering lighting, the contactless key…. etc.

The front brakes of the BMW F 900 R and XRThe front brakes of the BMW F 900 R and XR

17-inch 5 split-spoke aluminum rims fit Bridgestone S21R on the roadster, Michelin Road 5 GT on the XR, in 120/70 and 180/55.

No such hand…. or central stand on the XR…. a little stingy. In addition, the engine and frame finish is not elegant, showing a lot of bolts and other hoses. The cabling is well integrated. Housings, plates and other metallic elements feature flawless surfaces. But no charm either. On the XR, the side stand, identical to that of the R, is too short and makes the machine noticeably tilt. Interestingly, the ACTIVE Pack is offered when ordering a BMW F 900 R or XR until 02/29/2020 (i.e. € 650 for the R and € 575 for the XR). Details at the end of the test.

The central stand of the BMW F 900 XRThe central stand of the BMW F 900 XR

In the saddle

On the F 900 R, the standard seat height is 815 mm, on the F 900 XR 825 mm. And not adjustable, even if there are 6 saddle options afterwards (height, comfort, etc …). Suddenly, the 1.70 m pilot only puts his feet on the ground! A significant difference that can be found in the ergonomics of the machines. More sporty, the roadster admits footrests set 15 mm higher and 5 mm more at the rear and a handlebar 25 mm further forward than on the 800. Dedicated to more touring use, the XR benefits from a raised handlebar with more advanced footrests to keep the legs straight and a more natural position. The handlebars are located 30mm higher and 85mm further to the rear. Optional seats allow saddle heights to be chosen from 770 mm to 865 mm for the R, from 775 to 870 mm for the XR.

The saddle of the BMW F 900 RThe saddle of the BMW F 900 R

In front of you, we find the superb connected 6.5-inch TFT color screen fitted to more and more BMW models and allowing you to link your smartphone to the machine via Bluetooth. The 6.5-inch TFT screen displays all the useful information, or less, relating to the F 900 and offers additional functions such as GPS navigation, music playback and telephony…. The free BMW Motorrad Connected app also offers convenient arrow navigation directly via the TFT display. That is cool.

The instrumentation of the BMW F 900 RThe instrumentation of the BMW F 900 R

In the city

Starting the engine reveals a rather pleasant sound from the exhausts. If Euro5 stifles the voice of the twin a bit, the new F 900 are doing fine. The first maneuvers at very low speed make a nose gear feel a little frozen. The caster angle and the steering damper may be the cause. In usual evolutions, there are no more worries, the F900R and especially the XR with the wider handlebars move with agility in the traffic. The balance is very good and BMWs are natural in the city. Available, the twin supports fourth or even fifth gear in town above 2,000 revs.

In the city, XR and R are naturalIn the city, XR and R are natural

If the selection is a little dry, it locks precisely and the clutch is particularly flexible at the lever. Wide-field mirrors and correct turning radius finalize a pleasant urban behavior. Higher and more comfortable in the riding position, the XR gleans points between the walls. But the compact size of the roadster allows it greater ease in city corners…. The game continues towards the wider horizon of the Spanish countryside.

Motorway and expressways

The F launched themselves on the Iberian priced ribbon with tenacity, but without particular emotions. Their twin is not prolific in mechanical life and their efficient operation does not hide a certain lack of seduction. The legal is reached by passing the 4 and the mechanics show 5,000 laps on the last report. A speed where the engine shows correct recoveries.

The twin reaches 130 km / h at 5,000 revolutions on the last gearThe twin reaches 130 km / h at 5,000 revs on the last gear

It vibrates in mirrors, but not elsewhere, proving the design quality of the twin. The more typical position of the roadster in this 900 version helps to cope with air pressure, even at speeds approaching 200 km / h. The deflector ahead of the large TFT screen offers even a slim shelter…. We are more at ease on the "adventurer", sparing more its pilot. But without being overzealous. The cover allows air to pass over the boots, legs and end of the shoulders. If the screen is a model of simplicity to adjust, its high position generates more turbulence on the top of the helmet than in the low setting…. that we will not therefore leave. Our model with low-quality handguards provides additional comfort, coupled with the optional heated grips. Very pleasant comfort in the morning, shared by our test roadster. Likewise, cruise control will be a very useful accessory to choose from if you are driving far on toll lanes. For the others, we will leave the bitumen shareholders there to drive more simply and dynamically.

Obviously, the XR provides more comfort on fast trackObviously, the XR provides more comfort on fast track

Note also that the instrumentation is perfectly readable in all circumstances. The selection of modes and assistance is also done very naturally.


The twin of the BMW F 900 R and XR really expresses itself after 6,000 revs, close to its peak torque. Its low inertia gives it very rapid revs, frequently hitting the breaker, only 2,000 revs higher. Fortunately, the shifter indicator shifts to the next gear before the engine is cut off. This restricted useful range strikes a perfectible mechanical approval. High in the towers, the twin is garish and unpleasant. In fact, it struggles to seduce in its general operation. In the absence of efficiency, very good, it lacks life, a sparkling roughness, a little fat. Yet the 92 Nm of torque and 105 horsepower should manifest itself differently. The machines are dynamic, of course, but with little exuberance.

If the engine is efficient, it lacks a bit of lifeIf the engine is efficient, it lacks a bit of life

Fortunately, the cycle part of German novelties is flawless. Intuitive and easy, roadster and XR demonstrate good precision and excellent trajectory control. Particularly responsive to the pressure on the footrests, the Germans allow all course corrections. Agile, the XR is made even easier with its wide handlebars. The large lever arm allows you to enter curves with speed, the machine moving from one angle to another with ease. Although offering more travel, the traveler does not show any particular inertia. Its tires with a fairly round profile also contribute to this homogeneous and predictive behavior..

The XR is even easier to take with its wide handlebarsThe XR is even easier to take with its wide handlebars.

We are more on the attack on the F 900 R. Its shorter handlebars, can be a bit too much elsewhere, but a more assertive position on the front allows more direct control of the direction. Its sporty tire fit also helps its agility despite too much pressure from the front tire..

Conversely, the R requires more involvement of the pilotConversely, the R requires more involvement of the pilot

As standard, the reduced electronics are sufficient. Some will already find it to be of little use. But a Pro Pack gives much more dynamic security for the most sensitive to the subject. Controlling brake, anti-slip and rear suspension, the chips continue their work when the motorcycles are on the corner. A real plus and particularly well managed, in full transparency. Another modern comfort, the quickshifter up and down gear brings its share of sportiness and efficiency both in everyday life and in arsouille. Less easy to downshift, especially at medium speed, it is logically more evident in sporty driving.

Electronic assistance intervenes in complete transparencyElectronic assistance intervenes in complete transparency

Very good point for the fork of the F 900. Already remarkable on the 800 R, the front element perfectly absorbs the defects of the bitumen and informs the pilot usefully. Likewise, it remarkably regulates the sinking of the tubes at the start of the stroke when the brakes are applied. The attack of the front calipers on the discs is very frank, but the elements retain a very good control of the braking. The decelerations are easily modulated and the ABS is as efficient as it is discreet when it is started. The rear shock is a bit drier, even with the ESA. For more consistency, I also increased the preload on the XR.


Healthy on all occasions, the F 900 R and XR testify to excellent rigidity and control of changes. Suspensions and geometry come together to compose machines, precise and efficient. The new position proposed on the roadster gives a better feeling and control of the front axle. The XR benefits from the most pleasant ergonomics in the long run as well as in everyday life..

The rear shock absorber of the BMW F 900 RThe rear shock absorber of the BMW F 900 R


Brembo calipers love to bite. But, under the control of an efficient ABS. Powerful but flexible, the decelerations very correctly curb excess optimism. Enough to drive hard, correcting the trajectories with the efficient rear clamp. However, its race is a bit long on the XR.

The Brembo brake calipers of the BMW F 900 R and F 900 XRThe Brembo brake calipers of the BMW F 900 R and F 900 XR

Comfort / Duo

The driver benefits from a pleasant space on the F 900 R even if his legs are more flexed. The XR does better on this point but unfortunately limits the decline by its more pronounced backrest…. A little painful for the older one. The passenger area seems a little hard but the accompanying person benefits from ergonomic handles.

The saddle of the BMW F 900 XRThe saddle of the BMW F 900 XR

On the other hand, the passenger is smeared at the rear in the event of rain. As for the pilot, in case of rain and if he is alone, even the helmet is caught in mud. !


Approximately 5 liters per 100 recorded in test condition yet very dynamic and under 5 liters in normal use. The BMW twin is particularly economical and should fall well below these values ​​in softer daily use..

Average consumption is around 5 l / 100 kmAverage consumption is around 5 l / 100 km

The video test of the BMW F900R and F900XR


The machines are very healthy and efficient in terms of dynamics, but they are very attractive in terms of mechanical seduction. Their twin struggles to communicate the vigor one would expect from a 900 cc twin as it exists in the competition. The F 900 R and XR seduce more by their behavior and comfort on a daily basis as well as by their price, accessible for BMW. The BMW choice is consistent and makes it possible to offer a mid-size offer accessible to the youngest licensed in terms of engine but also in terms of pricing compared to the superior models S1000XR and R1250R. If you want watts and motor character, the larger displacements will meet this criterion, making it possible to differentiate between 900 and 1000 which despite close displacements have nothing to do with.

Switching to a pack option seems relevant and boosts these qualities of welcome and security. The launch offer of the Active Packs offered is very interesting, especially on the XR.

Priced "only" 8.870 € for the roadster (low evolution compared to the F800R) and 10.995 € for the XR, BMW also offers an offer at 99 euros (R) and 119 euros (XR) per month without contribution, further facilitating the access to the machine. Afterwards, the BMWs face, in view of their general performances, many formidable machines in the segment, including 750 cm3.

The BMW F 900 XR and F 900 RThe BMW F 900 XR and F 900 R

Yamaha can thus line up three machines facing the XR with the Tracer 900 or even the 700 at 10,499 and 8,399 €. The latter is less powerful but nearly 30 kilos lighter, certainly with a lower level of equipment. As for the Japanese road, it is more characteristically on the engine side compared to the BMW traveler. The MT-09 roadster will do the same. There remains the Kawasaki Z900 at € 9,499, more expensive, but more efficient in dynamics, just like the KTM 790 at € 9,899. We can also turn to the Ducati Multistrada 950 which offers more character for 14,950 euros, or the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner at 12,999 € but which lags behind its weight and its electronic performance..

In these hyper competitive niches, the F900 will be more for bikers wanting an efficient, homogeneous and long-term technological machine with the BMW logo. After nothing beats a personal test, to see if the twins suit you or not because the laws of seduction are empirical.

Highlights F 900 R

  • Rewarding aesthetics
  • Agility and efficiency of the chassis
  • Quality of suspensions
  • Efficient electronic assistance
  • Precise selection
  • Exhaust sound
  • Equipment quality
  • Overall dynamic efficiency
  • Pleasant instrumentation
  • Braking

Weak points F 900 R

  • Mechanical personality
  • Plastic tank
  • Passenger seat space a little hard
  • Engine finish

Highlights F 900 XR

  • Rewarding aesthetics
  • Agility and efficiency of the chassis
  • Quality of suspensions
  • Efficient electronic assistance
  • Precise selection
  • Exhaust sound
  • Equipment quality
  • Overall dynamic efficiency
  • Pleasant instrumentation
  • Braking

Weak points F 900 XR

  • Mechanical personality
  • Side stand too short
  • Bubble swirl in high position
  • Plastic tank
  • Passenger seat space a little hard
  • Engine finish

The technical sheet of the BMW F 900 R

The technical sheet of the BMW F 900 XR

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: winding roads with variable surfaces, wet
  • Weather: cool, sunny
  • Motorcycle mileage: twice 130 km
  • Encountered problem : –

Test equipment

  • Dexter Cronos Carbon Helmet
  • DXR Sparker Jacket
  • DXR Boost Kaptor Jeans
  • DXR Wildcards Gloves
  • Santa Cruz DXR Trainers

Availability / price

  • Colors F900R: Blackstorm metallic, San Marino Blau metallic, Hockenheim Silber metallic / Racingred uni
  • Colors F900XR: Lightwhite uni, Galvanic Gold metallic, Racingred uni
  • Availability: February 2020
  • Price F 900 R: 8,870 €
  • Price F 900 XR: 10.995 €

Option pack

  • the ACTIVE Pack is available when ordering a BMW F 900 R or XR until 02/29/2020
  • Pack Active F 900 R: 650,00 €
    Shifter Pro
    Pro riding modes
  • Pack Active F 900 XR: 575 €
    Pro riding modes
    Heated grips
    ABS Pro
    Aluminum luggage racks

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