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First Ride — 2020 BMW F 900 R

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I took advantage of Demo Day at the local BMW dealer and hopped on a 2020 F 900 R last week. I thought some of you might be interested in what I found.  Note that I am comparing it to my 2016 FJ 09, which I love,. Tracer 900 GT owners might have a different response to the F 900 than I. 

Engine and Trans

The 900 twin is a very nice power plant.  It revs freely to redline around 8,500 RPM and produces a flat torque curve from around 3,500 RPM to redline.  It’s got plenty of power (for me) and that power is accessible anytime on demand.

It seemed less snatchy than my (un-flashed) FJ and slightly less thrilling than the CP3 motor’s response to wide open throttle.  But, the intake roar is wonderful to hear and is a lot louder than the exhaust note.  There are three ride modes: Road, Rain and Dynamic.  I used Road and Dynamic and am not sure what the difference was/is.  Both produced big acceleration and good power.

The six-speed trans seemed quite refined and easy to up-and down-shift.  No false Neutrals and a positive feel. Clutch-less upshifts were easy and engine braking on downshifts was about the same as my FJ.

But, overall drive train noise was significantly less than the FJ.  In fact, when I rode home from the demo my FJ sounded like a bucket of bolts in comparison!  The  demo bike was low mileage, granted, but it had been ridden hard. The Batlax OEM tires had NO chicken strips and were worn right to the edge of the usage surface. It also showed evidence of as low-side on the expansive muffler.  All right, let’s flog that demo!

Handling and Braking

Our squired ride did not allow much hooliganism, sad to say. Saturday traffic and a sedate ride leader kept us well with speed limits.  But I was able to rubber-band a bit and got some good lean angles going once the group got ahead and out of sight around shaper curves.  The little F 900 was stable and predictable in corners and turned in quickly.  It did require more counter steer force than the FJ but that might be due to the narrow bars. 

The F 900 sports a pair of Brembo mono block calipers up from and they work.  They produce a ton of braking force and a nicely predictable feel when paired with the BMW master cylinder.  But, rubber brake lines seem out of place in a brake system of this caliber.  The rear brake worked OK too. :)

The F 900 has been criticized for its non-adjustable front forks. I’m not sure how you set sag for your weigh, but you will not be doing any doing twiddling up front.  On my ride I did notice fork dive under heavy braking,  What to do???   The rear shock provides preset and damping via external cartridge.


The F 900 R I rode did not even have a fly screen.  (The XR model i believe does provide one.)  It also did not have a center stand (WTF BMW?) which makes chain adjustment a PIA. The plastic was minimal and would provide no protection from any nasty weather.  It also had the “low” seat option which had my knees near my elbows with my feet on its high pegs.  VERY uncomfortable for this six footer.  Oddly, the reach to ground was not much different than my FJ.  So I’m not sure what the lower seat buys you.  The seat padding was  minimal compared to my Comfort Seat and after 30 minutes mybutt hurt.


The F 900 will make a great platform for a mid-weight touring bike to compete with the Tracer GT.  But it ain’t there yet.  It needs more protective plastic, hard bags, better ergos, better seat and a price reduction to compete with the Tracer GT.  Now, if I could get that BMW sales guy to STOP EMAILING ME!


Bare Naked but Not Ready to Tour


Colors are Cool

Edited by nhchris
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1968 Triumph Bonneville 650
1971 Norton Commando Roadster
2002 Harley 1200 Sportster
2003 Honda ST 1300
2016 FJ 09
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Nice review.  I had a BMW F800GT which was a good bike with a dull dull dull engine.  The replacement is the F900XR which is based on the F900R.  Supposed to be a bit of an adventure bike - like the Tracer GT and both are IMO adventure styled.  I looked at the F900XR but did not ride one, would if I had the opportunity.  After my experience with the F800GT it will be a long time before I'm ready to seriously consider a BMW.   The BMW seems to be a more polished bike than the Tracer GT but it doesn't have the CP3.  Bought my 2020 Tracer GT for $11,495 and a BMW F900XR with cruse, sidecases and a center stand are several thousand more.  BMW comes with a 3 year warranty but they can be difficult to deal with.

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