First ride: 2020 BMW F900 R

Meet the Yamaha MT-09’s nemesis
by Aris Ilagan | Jun 29, 2020
PHOTO: BMW Motorrad

The middleweight class is probably the most fiercely contested segment in the motorcycle market. Recognized as multifaceted bikes that can perform different tasks, these two-wheelers need to have a well-rounded personality to become a hit.

To creat the perfect middleweight, manufacturers must come up with the perfect blend of styling, road handling, ride comfort, safety features, and, most especially, a reasonable price. For the past six years, the Yamaha MT-09 has been a class favorite because it carries all those traits.

But now, the 2020 BMW F900 R has entered the arena to try and dethrone the MT-09. Ambitious? Well, we tested the F900 R Style Sport variant through the mountains of Spain just before the world paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s see how it stacks up.

Styling

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Painted in striking Hockenheim Silver Metallic/Racing Red, the F900 R Style Sport’s muscular front section creates the impression that it’s a focused street machine that’s truly worthy of its badge. Its flowing lines from the front to the rear end create a bold presence. You can see the build quality in the tiniest of radiator claddings and the slim rear section—no protruding hoses or wires here. The design team did a splendid job of putting every detail under the microscope to make sure the bike comes out a stunner.

The saddle

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The F900 R’s ergonomics speaks volumes about the brand’s consistency in putting a premium on comfort. The wide, plush seat provides ample space for the passenger without limiting your movements, and it comes in an assortment of thickness and height options. The bike’s plastic welded fuel tank is back to its classic position in between the seat and the steering head, giving you full control of the bike. 

Engine performance

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The F900 R’s new 895cc parallel-twin engine generates 105hp and 92Nm. While the engine layout is similar to that of the F850 GS, the R’s power delivery is smoother and more manageable, yet very responsive.

At the first crack of the throttle, the engine comes to life in a friendly, charming manner. Engine vibration is kept low with the help of new counterbalancers. If you dare pop a wheelie, the midrange power comes on strong for this very purpose. With good clutch work and sudden throttle input, the F900 R easily points its nose up to the sky.

In free-flowing Spanish traffic, I hardly felt any engine heat, although the wind temperature of around 10 degrees should be considered here.

Ride and handling

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The F900 R turns into a road beast as I force down on the throttle. Its steel bridge-type frame proves to be unflappable, even while you’re quickly flicking through twisties. You assume a slightly forward riding position thanks to the tight, compact cockpit and the relatively high-mounted foot pegs. This is good for carving up mountain roads, but not ideal for crawling speeds and city traffic.

Equipped with a nonadjustable 43mm fork and a single rear shock that’s adjustable for rebound damping and remote spring load, the F900 R remains incredibly stable amid crazy headwinds that confronted our group on our way back to the hotel. Another functional feature of the Style Sport is the semi-active electronic suspension that allows you to adjust the rebound stage damping and the spring rate via a button on the handlebars.

Of note is the 211kg curb weight, which makes it 18kg heavier than the MT-09. But by configuring its balance, I was able to push the F900R into a tight parking space without much effort. Still, the extra weight makes the F900 R more planted on the road.

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Extra features

The marshals from BMW Motorrad ensured that we experienced the F900 R to the fullest with the actual testing of electronic systems exclusive to the Style Sport: Headlight Pro with adaptive curve light (lean-sensitive), ABS Pro (cornering sensitive), three riding modes (Rain, Road, and Dynamic Pro; only the first two are available on the Standard variant), traction control, Gear Shift Assistant Pro, and engine drag control.

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Both Style Sport and Standard variants come with a keyless system that remotely controls the steering lock, the fuel filler flap, and the alarm system. And here’s my favorite: The 6.5-inch TFT screen that can be linked via Bluetooth to a smartphone or a helmet with the BMW Motorrad Connectivity system so you can listen to music or navigational cues. With the Riding Modes Pro feature on the Style Sport, the multifunction display also records the bike’s leaning position, acceleration, braking, lap timer, and so on.

The verdict

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We’ve covered everything about F900 R except for its price: The Style Sport goes for P775,000, while the Standard sells for P655,000.

With such an awesome design package, impressive road performance combined with unequaled technological features, and a competitive price range, there’s no doubt the 2020 BMW F900 R is ready to rumble in the sport naked class. Is there another challenger?

SPECS: 2020 BMW F900 R

Price: P655,000 (Standard); P775,000 (Style Sport)
Engine: 895cc DOHC parallel-twin
Power: 105hp @ 8,500rpm
Torque: 92Nm @ 6,500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual (with Gear Shift Assistant Pro for Style Sport)
Score: 19/20

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PHOTO: BMW Motorrad
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