BMW F900R (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Roadster version of excellent F900XR
  • Good, but not as versatile
  • Decent price, badge and options

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £280
Power: 104 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.1 in / 815 mm)
Weight: Medium (465 lbs / 211 kg)

Prices

New £9,090
Used £5,900 - £9,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The BMW F900R naked roadster was launched alongside the half-faired F900XR adventure sports version in 2020 and, although good, in many ways the naked bike is the slightly poorer relation – although that’s no criticism of the R, it’s just a reflection of how brilliant the XR is.

The XR was the intended outcome when BMW converted their F850GS parallel twin into a pure road bike – the point of the project was to build a little brother for the S1000XR and by so doing create a bike that could steal customers from Yamaha’s hugely successful Tracer 9 (formerly 900, which is massively popular in Europe).

As a result, the XR feels like a wonderfully well-developed and together bike – it’s not just the old F850GS adventure bike dressed up to rival Yamaha’s hugely popular Tracer 900, nor is it trying to be a mini-S1000XR. Instead, by using a big-bored F850 engine and the same frame, the XR is a fabulously composed and usable road bike.

BMW then reshaped its new adventure-sports XR into the ‘dynamic roadster’ F900R, which, three years since its launch, now has its own race series.

What's the BMW F900R like, then?

Both bikes share exactly the same platform, which is based around an enlarged version of the proven F800/F850 parallel twin engine. The naked F900R, however, has slightly shorter-travel suspension, a more aggressive riding position, no fairing  and more front-biased weight distribution. The roadster R is still as sure-footed and stable as the XR adventure sports, but with more weight on the front end its steering feels heavy and its chassis is less nimble.

Despite the growth in capacity and power, the enlarged parallel twin engine doesn’t always feel desperately fast, nor has the three-cylinder thrum of the Yamaha – but the BMW makes up for it with flexibility, efficiency and just enough character. Its handling is light and agile, it’s well-built with proven reliability and it also has balanced ergonomics and decent ride quality.

Clearly, if you’re after a twin cylinder naked bike with a BMW badge, the F900R self-selects and you won’t be disappointed. But it’s worth remembering that the XR adventure sport version is far better – not just because its fairing means greater all-round ability, but because it’s dynamically far superior.

Being so new means used examples are rare and there’s been no modifications to date. That said, reliability should be good, quality is second to none and the options list enviable. Find one still under warranty as a BMW ‘Approved Used’ in the spec you want (ESA is recommended) and you won’t be disappointed.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The F900R’s sister bike, BMW’s brilliant F900XR adventure sport, shines so brightly that it was always likely that the less mainstream, more niche and likely less popular R roadster would struggle to compete – and that’s certainly the case when it comes to ride quality and handling.

Although the R’s by no means bad, where the XR feels like a wonderfully well-developed and together bike, the R, which was created when BMW then reshaped the XR into a ‘dynamic roadster’, certainly feels like the lesser bike. The transformation hasn’t worked as effectively as BMW probably would have liked, despite changes to the R’s geometry, suspension and riding position.

The R’s steering is weighty compared to the XR, its handling is far less agile, despite giving the impression, visually, that it should be the other way round and, in short, the R feels like a best effort from the leftovers.

Cornering on the 2020 BMW F900R

Also like the XR, the R’s slightly shorter forks are unadjustable, while the similarly lesser travel rear shock apes the XR with adjustable rebound damping and a useful remote preload adjuster. It’s not glitzy kit, but the shortage of adjusters and gold bits doesn’t mean it’s ‘budget’, either – the action is good and the mix of control and comfort is without criticism.

While although larger BMW’s, including the hugely popular R1250GS, have recently drawn criticism for relinquishing Brembo brakes for lesser known items by Hayes, that’s not the case with the two 900s.

They both have big twin discs with matching, four-pot Brembo radial calipers and, although not the Italian company’s top spec stuff, as you might expect to see gracing WSB grids and more, there’s nothing about them worthy of criticism. Cornering ABS, meanwhile is an option that comes with the SE model while another option is ESA.

Comfort-wise, and perhaps inevitably, the naked R can’t quite match the plush, easy mile-eating ability of its XR sister, either – although for a roadster it’s certainly not bad. Being unfaired means you have to put up with wind blast, naturally, but the slightly revised balance also puts more weight than you might be comfortable with on  your bum. Expect 45minutes to an hour in the saddle before you’ll need a break.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

As with its sister bike, the F900XR adventure sports, the F900R roadster’s engine is a big-bore job on the old parallel twin from the F850GS, now displacing 895cc and making 68 pounds-feet of grunt and peak power of 105bhp.

It feels free-revving and crisp under hard acceleration in first and second gear, though the sparkle fades in higher ratios; however, the new engine makes up for this with roll-on flexibility and accessible thrust of normal riding.

The deep rumble from the new 270˚ crank also makes the 900 the best-sounding parallel twin BMW have built so far. Throttle response in Rain mode is super-smooth; there’s a tiny off-on step in Road mode, but you get used to it within a few miles. Get the Riding Modes Pro option and the extra Dynamic mode gives more direct response but brings a snatchy action, too.

BMW F900R engine

But overall, although effective, flexible and versatile, the F900R’s twin also somehow lacks the dynamism you expect in this roadster format. Its 105bhp conspicuously doesn’t match the thrilling 113bhp triple of Yamaha’s MT-09, nor does its exhaust note.

While the German bike’s gearchange is noticeably stickier and clunkier, too. Don’t rule it out, however. The F900R may not be conspicuously exciting, aurally thrilling or brim-full of character, but it is genuinely effective, versatile, reasonably fuel efficient and, for most people, most of the time, more than quick enough.

For relative novices, that more genteel output will be welcome and less intimidating. Its more progressive delivery is just as, if not more useful, more of the time, such as when simply carving through city congestion. It's also worth mentioning here that BMW also makes, as with the F900XR, an A2 licence-compliant version which ‘only’ produces 94bhp which qualifies it to be legally restricted to 46.9bhp for A2 licence holders.

BMW F900R exhaust

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The donor F850 parallel twin engine (and the F800 before that) as enlarged and used in the F900R is proven and dependable, even though it’s been increased in capacity and its firing order changed, so we wouldn’t expect any reliability issues with the new 900, in either R or XR guise. Its specific power (bhp-per-cc) is modest and it’s not a highly-strung unit, all of which bode well for reliability

Chassis parts are good quality, too, such as the Brembo brakes, the F900R’s switchgear and slick colour TFT dash are the same as used across BMW’s range, and the general level of finish is like you’d get on a specced-up R1250GS costing almost twice as much.

Left bar of BMW F900R

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

BMWs are normally expected to premium, prestige bikes with the lofty price tags and running costs to go with it – but that’s not so with the Bavarian brand’s F900R and F900XR, at least, not in bog standard trim anyway, so what’s going on?

List price for the base model at launch was dead in-line with rivals such as Yamaha’s popular MT-09, and the F900R, even in bog basic trim, matches, if not beats it, on equipment levels, too. That said, it is worth pointing out here that few buyers will buy the bog standard version of the BM, simply because many of its options are so tempting…

Optional extras are tempting on the BMW F900R

Day-to-day running costs on the F900R are better than you might expect, too, thanks to a combination of good mpgs and a less aggressive, performance-driven persona (plus relatively light weight) that means we’d expect the F900R to be better than most rivals on fuel, tyres, brake pads and all the other usual consumables.

Insurance isn’t bad, either, and BMW residual values are traditionally strong as well, so the German bike won’t depreciate as much as a Yamaha MT-09 when you come to change your bike.

Which brings us to rivals. The best-selling Yamaha MT-09 is the closest, but a three-cylinder and both more performance-orientated and slightly more basic. Triumph’s Street Triple 765 is worth a mention, but is also a triple and pricier and then there’s KTM's looney tunes 890 Duke, which is also a twin, but smaller, madder and less versatile. You pays your money…

Equipment

Although the R is keenly priced for a BMW (list and PCP are nigh-on identical to a Yamaha MT-09) this isn’t a budget offering.

Quality and finish are as good as any BMW, and you get the colour dash used on the 1250s with phone connectivity and switchgear control, riding modes, traction control, a great two-height screen, LED lights and many ex-works seat height choices.

However, as with pretty much any BMW, it’s when you start to look beyond the standard fitting and fitments and explore what’s possible via the Bavarian marque’s ever-impressive extra cost options list, that things get really interesting.

BMW F900R riding on road

Among those options (available either in factory-fitted form or over the counter from  your local dealer, depending on the type of item) and grouped for convenience into a variety of ‘packs’, are things like extra modes including a Dynamic mode which is recommended, BMW’s brilliant, semi-active electronically-adjustable suspension, called Dynamic ESA, quickshifter, dynamic traction control and cornering ABS, which, for the performance minded, is pretty impressive.

On top of that there’s the usual BMW heated grips, luggage, cruise control and suchlike options. And on top of THAT are luxury modern goodies such as keyless ride.

Of course, none of these are exactly cheap, if you tick too many boxes you’ll quickly transform your keenly-priced R into a lesson in overpriced excess and it’s dubious that you’ll get your money back when you come to sell. But as a used bike option, find an example with exactly the spec you want and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Cornering quickly on the BMW F900R naked roadster

Specs

Engine size 895cc
Engine type 8v, DOHC parallel twin
Frame type Steel bridge-type
Fuel capacity 15.5 litres
Seat height 815mm
Bike weight 211kg
Front suspension 43mm USD forks no adjustment
Rear suspension Monoshock, adj. preload and rebound damping (optional ESA)
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with four-piston radial calipers, ABS
Rear brake 265mm single disc with single-piston caliper, ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 50 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £280
New price £9,090
Used price £5,900 - £9,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 104 bhp
Max torque 68 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 170 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2006: updated F series introduced using a new Rotax-built 798cc parallel twin and solid-handling twin-spar chassis. There’s the half-faired F800S sportsbike and more upright F800ST sports-tourer
  • 2008: F650GS and F800GS adventure bikes launched with a new trellis frame. Both use the same 798cc engine despite the names – the 650 version has a lower state of tune and more basic, commuter-focused chassis.
  • 2009: F800R roadster (basically a stripped-back F900S) joins the range.
  • 2011: F800S discontinued.
  • 2013: heavily revised F800GT replaces the F800ST; F800GS also updated, and the F650GS becomes the F700GS.
  • 2018: more capacity, new bridge-style frame and complete chassis refresh turns the F800GS into the F850GS. New 270˚ firing interval gives the parallel twin the sound and feel of a V-twin. F800GT discontinued.

Other versions

There’s a half-faired, taller, adventure sport version called the F900R. It’s the same platform, but with longer-travel suspension, less aggressive riding position and less front-biased weight distribution. It’s still as sure-footed and stable, but with less weight on the front the steering feels lighter and the chassis more nimble.

Owners' reviews for the BMW F900R (2020 - on)

8 owners have reviewed their BMW F900R (2020 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW F900R (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Engine: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £280
5 out of 5 Don't bother with the Japanese stuff these are quality and genuinely built better .
11 March 2024 by Cetdac

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £300

So well built... My last Honda rotted...BMWs don't ...much better build quality....

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Not too bad at all...

Engine 4 out of 5

Better than expected...

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Never a problem... Preferred this to the xr... Not sure the reviewer actually rode one...?

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Better than the Japanese in costs ..

Equipment 5 out of 5

Get so much more in this bike compared to the Japanese stuff. The new CF motors look good though but who knows long term...

Buying experience: Top notch... Japanese sellers could learn a lot about looking after their customers...

5 out of 5 F900r
19 June 2023 by EM1979

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £150

Worst feature is no doubt the quickshifter, best feature is pretty much all the rest.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Ride quality is great, the position is perfect not excessively sporty, brakes are second to none, depending what seat option you choose it can get hard for you behind after 1.5 hours riding.

Engine 5 out of 5

Its launches very fast, i get 3.5 sec 0-100km, the torque its amazing, it doesnt have a very high top end, it loses some energy over 170/180kmh and it tops at (around 230kmh) more then enough.

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Some corrosion started to show up after only 2.5 years.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Servicing its less then what you expect from a bike like this.

Equipment 5 out of 5

It has everything you need and more. Full extras bikes are top notch, i cant image myself without the Keyless ride, the ESA, the riders mode, or even the heated grips.

Buying experience: 10 outta 10

5 out of 5 Excellent bike
20 March 2023 by veganrider

Version: SE

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £260

Excellent value Quality bike

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Got electronic ESA suspension on the back which is amazing . The front is non adjustable but very good. Planted and turns in very well. A very flickable bike and one that inspires confidence with excellent mechanical grip . Brembo brakes up front awesome and one of the best stoppers Ive ridden

Engine 5 out of 5

Normal riding is very responsive . In Dynamic or Dynamic pro the character changes and the bike is very swift on open throttle. Its not a top end chaser but the torque is excellent. Overall I find this an enjoyable and entertaining engine which with an aftermarket exhaust sounds good

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Over 6K and hasn't missed a beat . All parts are quality and well put together.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Running costs are low and good MPG. only reason not 5 stars is BMW servicing costs but to be honest they are no higher than other makes nowadays. My other bike a Kawasaki is similar costs

Equipment 5 out of 5

Its got everything . The TFT is the best , ESA, Quick shifter, Cruise Control , SOS , TPMS. Adaptive headlights very good at night . Have added a MIVV delta race exhaust and bar risers .

Buying experience: Very good. Had to travel to get but it was a good deal

5 out of 5
17 March 2023 by FASTNNEFARIOUS

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £300

If you are looking for a good all rounder but are not a fan of tall rounders its a good choice. Don't expect mt09 or 890 duke like performance. But in typical BMW fashion it's stacked with great features and feels extra premium.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Never ridden the XR. I'm surprised to hear that the XR is the more nimble of the two. I have always felt the R was a bit sluggish to transition, but I assumed that is because it is much heavier than something like a mt09. Never bothered me because I was looking for a relatively light weight and relatively sporty sport tourer with an upright seating position. With a modest screen and a top case the R works perfect. Brakes are excellent. The engine has great midrange that's perfect for everyday riding. But reading this I wonder if the handling could be improved with a front preload adjustment. Maybe I will look into upgrading the fork internals in the future 🤔.

Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
3 out of 5 Avoid and stick to mainstream alternative
26 October 2022 by Fresian1

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £200

Originally would recommend, however, as now approaching 3 years old, and looking to change, most dealers dont want to take in BMWs due to the cost of providing a warranty to the next prospective owner and even the main BMW dealers either don't want to buy this model, or are offering stupid money ( well below the PCP final payment despite being around 1/3 of the agreed mileage). Will be handing it back to the finance company at end of term and shopping elsewhere in future

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 2 out of 5

depreciation appears to be horrendous on these. will stick to mainstream Japanes in future

Equipment 4 out of 5

Buying experience: initially very good, but original seller was not interested in taking it back in at end of PCP

5 out of 5 4K review
09 August 2022 by APM

Version: SE

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £400

Review at 4K miles ...excellent bike

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

brembos are excellent as is the handling. Not normally a dunlop fan but the handling is very good and allows peg down cornering

Engine 4 out of 5

ignore the reviews where they say no character . This engine is perfect . at normal throttle allows relaxed and swift progress, use the final 1/4 of the throttle opening and she is rapid . So allows relaxed riding ideal for commute but also rapid fun rising at weekends . Very torquey , on back roads leave in gear and ride the torque . Put aftermarket exhaust on and she sounds great

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

No issues and good. Only a minor which is I wish that decals were lacquered over but seems to be the norm now not to. Reliable and well built, despite being built to a cost its hard to find where they skimped

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

value is very good Running costs about right for a bike in this range

Equipment 5 out of 5

has all the bells and whistles . Suspension ESA is great and the TFT is the best out there. Also BMW provide wiring connectors which allow Sat Nav/Phones etc to be added easily unlike most manufacturers where you have to wire back to the battery

Buying experience: Very good

5 out of 5 Great middleweigght naked
03 May 2022 by APM

Version: SE

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £400

Good second bike with surprisingly good parallel twin and very flickable .

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Handles well and the electronic rear suspension is good . Front is unadjustable but again good . The bike despite its weight is very flickable in the twisties and progress can be very rapid as the handling inspires confidence . Brembo brakes excellent

Engine 5 out of 5

All other bikes are in line 4cyl so wanted something different as a roadster. The parallel twin is unlike others Ive ridden, its got great torque low down and can really progress . Top end is nothing special but for road riding its a very good engine

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Cant see where cost cutting was made as all components (brembo) top notch and finish good . Only criticism is the pegs are a bit naff. No issues with reliability

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

BMW servicing costs are a bit higher but you get a 3 year warranty so worth the extra .

Equipment 5 out of 5

Has everything you could want . Dash is excellent . Heated grips are hot and the bluetooth connectivity to the BMW App is top notch . Took a while to get used to keyless but now won over , super convenient . Obviously the more extras the higher the cost

Buying experience: Good and the afters ales has been good also

4 out of 5 Great All rounder
27 April 2022 by Fresian1

Version: R

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £240

Great handling and power delivery. Choice of ride modes limited to road or rain on the standard model, other modes available on the SE. Good fuel economy, ususally 60-65 mpg unless you really cane it. Solid build quality and finish. Only downside is that the satndard seat is like sitting on an ironing board after about an hour, but plenty aftermarket options available.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5

Not as refined as a 4 cylinder obviously, but has real grunt.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

now 2 years old and no signs of corrosion.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

Not so happy about the fixed 12 month service schedule, regardless of mileage. In my case, I bought an ex demo, which was serviced 6 months before I bought it. Ive only done 1100 miles in last year, and it was 2000 miles since its last service. Unfortunately, this means that for the past 6 months Ive had a service warning light on my dash, and a warning right across the screen every time I start it up. Compare this with my 22 year old BMW Z3 where the service indicator is based on time, mileage and driving style.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Plenty bells and whistles on the standard version, and even more on mine. basic roadster has lack of wind protection and so, I have added an ermax screen and this does make a difference.

Buying experience: Had issues with my local dealer when looking at this bike and other BMWs, however, I got great service from the Dealer in Glasgow, which is only an hour away

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