They say that there is no such thing as a perfect bike. Only a perfect garage. Unfortunately, most of us have trouble justifying owning more than one motorcycle, so we compromise and get a dual-sport bike. In Europe, however, the compromise is normally a naked roadster. Something like the new BMW F 900 R. Something nimble for everyday commuting, but fun enough to carve up a canyon at the weekend.
BMW launched the F 900 range in South Africa earlier this year and the range comprises of just two models: the R and the XR. They share the same underpinnings, but the XR has a more upright riding position and offers some wind protection as well. The R, on the other hand, is much more sporty.
Unlike the previous F 800 R, the new F 900 does not share its engine with the GS derivative. The 900’s engine is 42 cc bigger than the unit in the 850 GS and produces just a shade over 100 hp. The new F 900 R is also much better looking than the bike it replaces. It is still a conservative design, but is a lot more pleasing on the eye.
The R has nice wide handlebars and the foot pegs are further back than on the XR. The seat is comfortable and has the F 900 logo embroidered onto it. In front of you is the now familiar BMW instrumentation and switchgear. One addition to the dash that I like is the Sport display. This changes the display to show you things like your lean angles and how much the traction control intervenes. Riding then becomes a game of improving on your previous best. A word of caution though – it can get rather addictive.
The exhaust note of the 900 R is a pleasure to behold. The exhaust has a nice growl to it and once the air-intakes start singing along, you just want to keep the throttle pinned. If you combine the sound track with the even torque spread, the F 900 really becomes fun to ride. Still, the BMW is a far more conservative bike than, say, the KTM 890 Duke or the screaming Kawasaki Z900. Naked bikes are supposed to be unhinged machines, but the F 900 is not that. Instead you get a solid BMW with all the modern conveniences to make your ride truly pleasurable.