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Road Test: The 2020 BMW F 900 R and XR Both Prove to Be Heavy-Hitting Middleweights

On test-rides, we found the 99 hp models to be highly manageable and versatile while performance focused.

The 2020 BMW F 900 R and F900 XR. Photo: Courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

BMW Motorrad continues to expand its model lineup with voraciousness, presenting to customers a range of motorcycles to better suit their wants and needs. The result has been an uptick in new riders gravitating toward the German brand.

BMW is known for inventing categories, and the new F 900s are no different. The F 900 R fulfills the middleweight roadster segment, while the slightly more aggressive XR is aimed at the middleweight adventure sport market. The major difference between the two bikes is that the XR sports a fairing, which flows aesthetically into the bodywork, and incorporates an adjustable windscreen.

Riding the 2020 BMW F 900 R.

The 2020 BMW F 900 R.  Photo: Courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

BMW‘s  F machines are a true “ground-up” design, the new engine sharing only one internal element with its predecessor. Both the R and XR are surprisingly responsive, with the 895 cc parallel-twin providing a radically different level of performance and personality than the 850 cc version before it. Forged pistons replace cast units, and reveal themselves with dynamic overall response combined with a lusciously throaty exhaust note. With 99 hp at 8,500 rpm, the bike also has strong low-end torque that makes the F 900 equally adept in traffic and commuting as it is on runs through the hills.

Ride modes (applicable on the fly) include Rain and Road as standard, with optional Pro Modes adding Dynamic and Dynamic Pro. The change in the throttle response is dramatic over the customizable range of settings, especially when combined with the two-mode suspension settings (Road and Dynamic), and is especially pronounced with the optional Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment). These mechanical elements are becoming the new norm in motorcycle engineering, allowing riders to tailor their bikes to personal preferences.

riding the 2020 BMW F 900 XR.

Heading for the hills on the 2020 BMW F 900 XR.  Photo: Courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

The suspension in its factory-delivered settings is compliant, providing a comfortable ride, albeit with an occasional bottoming of the shock when ridden hard. The fork and rear suspension are otherwise impressive, providing stability while smoothly soaking up the imperfections of the road.

The all-new aluminum bridge frame provides rigidity. This contributes to the solid handling, courtesy of a balanced 50/50 weight distribution. This critical weight bias delivers a planted feel on the front tire with excellent feel and feedback from rider inputs. Seat height is a manageable 32.1 inches for the R and 32.5 inches for the XR. The ergonomics (seating position in relation to handlebar reach and footpeg placement) provide a comfortable arrangement, allowing for long periods in the saddle without any undue stresses or discomfort.

The 895 cc parallel-twin engine that powers the 2020 BMW F 900 R and F 900 XR motorcycles.

The 895 cc parallel-twin makes 99 hp at 8,500 rpm.  Photo: Courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

The excellent handling is augmented by excellent brakes. With ABS standard, the F 900’s weight (465 pounds for the R, and 483 pounds for the XR) is easily managed by dual, 12.6-inch front rotors, which are grabbed by 4-piston calipers. The rear brake, which the motorcycle responds to favorably in terms of settling the bike on corner entry, is handled by a single 10.4-inch disc mated to a single-piston caliper. The 17-inch die-cast aluminum wheels round out the rolling stock.

The 2020 BMW F 900 XR.

The BMW F 900 XR is aimed at the middleweight adventure sport segment.  Photo: Courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

Both of the F 900s are imbued with a highly readable 6.5-inch TFT color dashboard and have full LED lights as standard. BMW has seemed to corner the market on flashy names for their motorcycle liveries. The R is available in Blackstorm Metallic, San Marino Blue Metallic, or Hockenheim Silver Metallic/Racing Red. The XR is available in Light White, Galvanic Gold Metallic, and Racing Red.

The 6.5-inch TFT color dashboard on the 2020 BMW F 900 R and XR motorcycles.

The 6.5-inch TFT color dashboard.  Photo: Courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

The model variants combine design, functionality and versatility to provide impressive performance for the experienced rider while being easily manageable for beginners. The 2020 F 900 R and F 900 XR are priced at $8,995 and $11,695, respectively.

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