Reasonable pricing, brimmed with rider assistance systems and a refined parallel-twin engine makes the F 900 R and F 900 XR serious competition in the middle-weight category
BMW Motorrad India has a portfolio of refined and technically proficient motorcycles across a range of segments. Every aspect from power delivery, suspension setup and electronics package has been outshining the competition. The smallest of the bunch G 310 R might not have been a sales success, but the riding performance and braking were excellent. Basically, the pricing on products and services of Motorrad products have been rendered bemusing as rival brands have managed this better. However, when I saw a glimmer of sales hope when I heard BMW India had just released the F 900 R and F 900 XR at Rs 9.9 lakh and Rs 10.5 lakh (ex-showroom) respectively. Both these motorcycles are decently priced and are packed with BMW riding tech to make life easier for roadster and adventure riders. I hope I’ll get to ride them once things start improving in terms of the coronavirus crisis. But we can surely take a closer look at what BMW Motorrad India is offering.
Roadster or Adventure Sports Tourer
The F 900 R caters to more urban riders interested in weekend, or even everyday commutes, where rider comfort and heat management is important. The 895cc parallel-twin engine develops 105 bhp of maximum power and 90Nm. The same engine used to power the earlier F 850 GS but has a 40cc advantage. Both the machines have Rain and Road modes to offer better throttle response to riders under varying surface conditions. The refined mid-range power delivery will favour both bikes, the R for an exhilarating riding experience, and XR will benefit on twisting mountain roads.
The F 900 XR does look like the better choice in my mind. What you choose entirely depends on personal preferences, but the XR is able to offer more bang for your buck with a broader set of skills. It has a 15.5-litre fuel tank which is bigger against the 13-litre tank in the roadster. The fuel tank is plastic welded and is very lightweight further enhancing weight distribution improving handling. Also, F 900 R has a shorter spring travel against the longer in F 900 XR. This highlights the sports-oriented tune of the R than the adventurous XR with more travel to play with. The seating on the R is sportier than the relaxed position of the XR designed for the comfort of travelling long distances.
Driver Assistance Systems
As everybody can expect, BMW Motorrad packs an expansive list of electronics to support the rider. In addition to riding modes, there is an ABS and Automatic Stability Control that may be switched off as demanded by the rider. The optional Riding Modes Pro packages with an even bigger portfolio including additional riding modes “Dynamic” and “Dynamic Pro”, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and banking capable ABS Pro, Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and the new engine drag torque control (MSR) system. LED headlights are standard fit, but the addition on the Adaptive Cornering Light component of the Headlight Pro optional system alleviates headlight illumination in darker riding scenarios which most riders have to face while touring. The instrument cluster is an excellent 6.5 inch TFT screen. And as massive praise to BMW Motorrad, the graphics on the entire range is simply the best in business. User-friendliness is a matter of how long have you taken the time to understand it. It is complex, but you get used to it soon enough.
Yes, BMW has positioned both the F 900 R and F 900 XR in a more fruitful price bracket, and I hope they reap a good harvest. But this pricing also puts them in the belly of the mid-range segment which is packed full of equally exciting competitors. The BMW brand name is a powerful incentive, especially when you know the products are stitched together beautifully. However, the rivals are not at all far off. A clear advantage could be extensive service and care packages from BMW Motorrad which I think are still on the higher end of the bargain due to a higher quality of products. I’m sure BMW India could work on slimming the bill for customers wherever possible. All in all, I think both these Bimmers are great products, cannot wait to ride them soon. The XR still be my pick!