July 18, 2020 By Maynard Marcelo Photos by Randy Silva-Netto

BIKE REVIEW: 2020 BMW F900R SPORT

Last June 20, 2020, BMW Motorrad Philippines virtually launched the F900R sport naked motorcycle to the Philippine market. It effectively replaced the 11 year old F800R platform, a bike considered by many motorcycle enthusiasts as an overpriced but underperforming bike that also looks rather boring when compared to its newer Japanese and European counterparts. That’s why for model year 2020 BMW completely overhauled their middleweight sport naked offering and came out with the all-new F900R. 

The F900R comes in two variants; Standard and Style Sport. Both are powered by a new 895cc liquid-cooled inline-2 cylinder motor with a unique 270/450-degree firing order designed to mimic the torque rich and power characteristics of a V-twin motor but in a more lighter and compact package. Power is rated at 105 hp at 8500 rpm and 68 lb-ft of torque at 6500 rpm (Euro spec). Standard features on both variants are the large 6.5-inch color TFT instrument display with Bluetooth connectivity, keyless ride, LED headlight and taillights, LED turn indicators, Automatic Stability Control (ASC), ABS, and Ride Modes (Rain and Road). Unique to the Style Sport variant, however, are the Adaptive Headlights, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (Dynamic ESA), Gear Shift Assist Pro, Riding Modes Pro (Rain, Road, Dynamic, and Dynamic Pro), and Dynamic Engine Brake Control. 

A week after its Philippine debut, SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp., the exclusive distributor of BMW Motorrad in the Philippines, sent us a F900R Sport for review. After almost 4 months of forced Covid-19 quarantine, this couldn’t come at a better time. Like many quarantined motorcycle riders all over the world, I’m itching for a ride. But where to test it? With the lifting of the strict Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, motorcycles sans pillion were allowed to go out for essential travel. I guess testing one of the most anticipated motorcycles to come out of BMW counts as essential travel, doesn’t it? 

So with our photographer Randy in tow, we headed for our favorite proving grounds in Infanta, Quezon. But first I needed to gas up so I went to the nearest Petron station along our route. The F900R’s keyless feature allows you to open the fuel filler cap without inserting a physical key. Just turn off the motor and lift the cover, and you’re good to go. With ¼ still showing on the fuel gauge I prepared P500 for a full tank. But at just P260, or roughly 6 liters, the tank was already full. So in reality there are still 7 liters sloshing around inside the fuel tank when the low fuel warning lights up, which I think is a bit pessimistic considering the F900R has a 13 liters fuel capacity. During our test I was able to average 23 kilometers per liter of fuel, which isn’t bad for an 895cc bike and my heavy throttle hand riding style.       

With the easing of restrictions vehicular traffic was noticeably heavy along major thoroughfares compared to just a week ago. Thankfully the F900R manages engine heat efficiently so heat soak wasn’t a big problem during stop-and-go traffic. It was only during one of my supply runs around Makati when I felt heat reaching my ankles because I was wearing low-cut sneakers. So don’t wear low-cut sneakers or wear thick socks if you have to. The F900R’s wide handlebars provide plenty of leverage for filtering in traffic. Steering effort is light at low speeds even with a steering-damper so I believe the F900R will effectively function as a city commuter.

Turn in at speed is also quick with moderate counter-steering effort. I just wish it had a few millimeter more steering angle lock-to-lock for tighter U-turns. Seat height is also Filipino friendly at 815 mm, but a lower seat option can be ordered if you find it prohibitive. Likewise a higher comfort seat can be ordered if you’re not vertically challenged. But for my 5’7 frame the standard 815 mm is just about right and I can reach the ground quite comfortably with both feet. The foot pegs, however, are set a bit high relative to the seat and tall riders will have to get used to this riding position. The handlebars and levers can be adjusted to suit different rider preferences. The riding position is generally sporty with a slight forward bias as you reach for the handlebars that encourages fast riding.  

And rapid the F900R truly is. Not blazing fast as its S1000R sibling, but fast enough to make life with the F900R interesting, especially in urban settings where you can lord it over lower displacement bikes. The newly developed 895cc liquid-cooled inline-2 cylinder motor with its unique 270/450-degree firing order certainly makes it feel and sound like a V-twin. Power delivery is progressive and commensurate to your throttle inputs, but it feels especially lively on the upper parts of the rev range. The widespread of torque and well spaced gear ratios means you don’t find yourself frantically hunting for the correct gear at certain speeds. Clutchless shifting up or down through the gears is also made fun with the Gear Shift Assist Pro quick-shifter. 

If you ask me, the extras you get on the F900R Sport are worth the 120K difference from the Standard F900R. What sets the Sport from the Standard are the adaptive headlights, electronic suspension (Dynamic ESA), quick-shifter, and Riding Modes Pro. The adaptive headlights illuminate the side of the road you’re turning into. Dynamic ESA allows you to electronically adjust the rear spring preload using the rocker switch on the left hand switchgear (Using C-Spanners are so yesteryear). It also automatically adjusts the amount of damping depending on your chosen ride mode. Dynamic ESA only controls the rear suspension, though. The front upside-down forks are non-adjustable but they provide the ideal balance of comfort and control over a variety of road surfaces. In fact, it has one of the best rebound damping characteristics among the middleweights I’ve used recently.  

The Riding Modes Pro of the F900R Sport gets you Rain and Sport plus Dynamic, and Dynamic Pro. On the Standard F900R you only get Rain and Sport. Riding Modes Pro also gives you a Sport screen function that changes the display of the TFT screen to show your steepest lean angle, DTC intervention indicator, and brake pressure indicator. Downloading the BMW App will also allow you to track your rides in real time, showing your cornering speed, lean angle, and even where you applied the brakes. Only the F900R Sport has ABS pro, or cornering ABS, as part of the Riding Modes Pro package, but both bikes use the same basic Brembo brake rotors and calipers. Initial bite is soft but reassuring as you apply more pressure on the front brake lever. Also exclusive to the F900R Sport is the Engine Brake Control that prevents the rear tire from sliding when spontaneously activating the gas or clutch. Standard fitment tires are Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S21R that provides confidence inspiring grip on dry and wet roads.  

BMW Motorrad obviously designed the new F900R for riders stepping up from a smaller displacement bike, or those who are returning to riding motorcycles after a long hiatus. Its light handling characteristics and friendly power delivery will certainly suit new riders with nervous hands. Experienced riders on the other hand will be delighted with the F900R’s perky motor and high level of standard equipment and electronics package for the price. Regardless if you get the standard F900R or F900R Sport, you’ll get a handsomely styled bike with a high level standard equipment and superb build quality that should provide years of riding enjoyment and ownership. The F900R are completely built units from BMW’s factory in Berlin, Germany. The Standard variant comes in Black Storm Metallic and San Marino Blue Metallic colorways and priced at PhP 655,000 while the Style Sport variant only comes in Hockenheim Silver Metallic and Racing Red combination and priced at PhP 775,000. All F900R are covered by a 5 years/500,000 kilometers warranty (whichever comes first). It’s now available at all six BMW Motorrad dealers, nationwide. 

F900R Sport Specifications:

Engine: liquid-cooled, fuel injected, inline-2 cylinders, dohc, 8 valves, 4 stroke

Displacement: 895cc

Max Power: 105 hp @ 8500 rpm

Max Torque: 68 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed

Seat Height: 815 mm

Fuel Capacity: 13 Liters

Tire, Front: 120/70-ZR17

Tire, Rear: 180/55-ZR17

Brakes, Front/ Rear: 2 Disc/Disc ABS

Curb Weight: 211 kg.

Price: PhP 655,000 (Standard), PhP 775,000 (Style Sport) 

C! Magazine rating: 9 / 10

+: Perky yet fuel efficient inline-2 motor, light handling, electronics package, and competitive pricing 

-: Not much

       

 

 

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