Ridden: BSB support series BMW F900R Cup racer tested at Anglesey

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One-make championships run alongside the British Superbike circus have always played a pivotal part in providing entertaining racing as well as offering a stepping stone for progression (or a retirement party for those more experienced).

For 2023, there’s a very different looking class arriving, as the BMW F900R Cup rolls into town to replace the long-running Ducati TriOptions series. As well as upright bars and a complete lack of race fairings, the class appears to be financially, vastly more appealing.

Riders will be able to purchase a race-ready bike from any BMW Motorrad dealer for just £11,000, which is at least half the price of a fully-kitted Ducati Panigale V2. The less complex BMWs should crash better, too.

As well as the usual ACU must-have mods (lever guards and shark fins, etc) and race bodywork, the main highlights include K-tech fork internals and shock, plus a full Arrow exhaust system. Once the mapping has been finalised, ECUs will be locked to prevent tampering and flashing, and the Dynamic Traction Control will be removed due to its intrusiveness.

BMW gave us a chance to ride a test mule at Anglesey; a bike that development rider, Steve Plater, has racked up over 2000 miles onboard.

The initial assault on the senses is dominated by the exhaust note, thanks to the 270-degree crank and the Arrow’s rowdy cacophony. It’s probably the most entertainingly noisy race bike I’ve ever ridden, so the thought of 40 of these echoing though the Mountain section of Cadwell Park is an enticing prospect!

Given the fact that a stock F900R doesn’t exactly ooze thrills compared to more fun rivals like KTM’s 890 Duke and the Yamaha MT-09, I wasn’t expecting such an enthralling ride. With around 100bhp, there’s enough power
to satisfy any racer, yet it’s playful enough to ensure close competition.

Some pilots who haven’t ridden road bikes may struggle with the F900R’s direct throttle and lack of play, which is a byproduct of its ride-by-wire. Needless to say though, the K-tech suspension transforms it into an apex-hungry racer.

Some Ducati Cup riders, who sampled the bike during a test session as Cadwell BSB, said it was heavy. Sure, with a long wheelbase, it’s a little more sluggish than a V2, but it handles superbly with a front-end that needs scant guidance.

There’s certainly a sturdy sensation which just adds to the abundance of mechanical grip, and it rarely threw a wheel out of line at Anglesey, despite plenty of encouragement throughout the day. It’s extremely stable.

There are over 200 names already registered, so MSVR and BMW might have a headache during the selection process, although there is already talk of running two grids as details are ironed out. However this unfolds, make sure you find time to watch. The racing will be phenomenal, as will the soundtrack.

Naked ambition: BMW launch new F900R British Superbike support series, with competitive bikes costing an affordable £11,000

First published on 28 July 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Anyone who’s raced a motorcycle will know it can be hideously expensive. The consumables, the tyres, the fuel, the crash damage, and even the travel – it all racks up and can make it incredibly difficult for emerging talents breaking through the sport.

BMW UK are looking to tackle that though, revealing a new F900R British Superbike support series that will see race-ready bikes available for £11,000.  

The BMW F900R Cup will take over from the long-time contested Ducati TriOptions Cup series from 2023 and will see up to 40 riders with a Clubman ACU licence and above compete on identical track-prepared naked machines.

BMW F900R race bikes on track

But what exactly goes into the finished build? Available to buy race-ready from your local BMW dealership, the competition machines build on the firm’s road-biased 104bhp naked bike, which is powered by an F850GS-derived 895cc parallel-twin.

All the racing machines will then be treated to a standardised track package, including K-Tech fork internals, a K-Tech rear shock, a cone-shaped Arrow exhaust, rear sets, a quickshifter and racing bodywork.  

On top of this, the standard Bridgestone S21 tyres have been ditched for racier Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC and Diablo Rain tyres – meaning everyone’s on a level playing field at every track.

BMW F900R race bike exhaust

“We wanted to offer up-and-coming riders the opportunity to race at a national level with greater exposure, in a one-make series where rider talent rather than budget dictates how competitive you are,” BMW UK’s Head of Marketing and PR Scott Grimsdall said.

“The F900R provides a perfect platform of power and agility for riders looking to make their mark on a bigger stage, and the new series can become a stepping-stone to Superstock or Superbike racing.”

Those who get involved with the series will have the option of purchasing a bike and having the race kit fitted by their preferred BMW dealership, approved partner Fortis Racing or their own support team.

BMW F900R race bike rear shock

Fortis Racing will also be present at each round, offering on-site race support and spares for all riders, should you run into any problems.

BSB Series Director Stuart Higgs added: “A much repeated question is when can we offer an un-faired ‘naked’ bike class on our racing platform? History reminds us of simple, accessible race classes that provide great competition and action. Combined with the prestige of the BMW brand, the F900R Cup deserves to be a success.”

BMW F900R racer in detail

BMW F900R race bike on track right side

Step away from the engine Although running a more open exhaust system, the parallel twin engine internals have been left as standard. This keeps costs down and should help with reliability.

Ready-made package BMW will sell you the race ready F900R for £11,000. Although still a decent whack of change, it’s a damn sight cheaper than many other racing classes.

Naked attraction The F900R Cup will be the first naked bike class to run alongside the British Superbike championship since the Harley-Davidson XR1200 Cup, which joined the national series back in 2009.

Gentle proportions The F900R was not built with motorcycle racing in mind and as such is a roomy, gently set naked roadster. As standard, there’s a seat height of 825mm.

Race on Sunday, sell on Monday The F900R road bike is available in a 47bhp, A2-licence-friendly version. With up to 40 bikes competing at each BSB round over two races each weekend, we could see a spike in sales amongst race-loving youngsters.

Alastair Fagan

By Alastair Fagan