One of the chief complaints about the F 800 R is that it never quite felt like its claimed 90hp because of the torquey parallel twin that became buzzy at higher revs, and thus encouraged a short-shifting riding style.
The F 900 R is a huge evolution, with the new parallel twin also seen on the F 850 GS, but with a bump to 893cc in capacity and 10hp more. This engine is far more rev-happy, and sounds it too thanks to an uneven firing order, which gives it a more V-twin-like grumble.
Thanks to keyless, the fob stays in your pocket and no messing around with gloves and pockets, you hit the ignition switch and then the starter. It’s not loud, but it is more characterful than we’ve come to expect from an understated BMW roadster.
Hopping onto the saddle reveals a relatively comfortable rider triangle, but more sporty than before, with a slight forward lean thanks to the flat handlebars. At low speeds, the bike is pure BMW: Light clutch and throttle feel married with sensible ergonomics, so no lurching your way out of the parking lot.
In its base riding mode ‘Road’ the bike feels smoothly setup, such that Rain might only be needed if you’re riding in very tricky conditions (cold and wet, for instance which hardly happens here), but the F 900 R immediately excels as an urban bike.
This is the Tintin bit: Ride like you’re going to work, and the F 900 R delivers. Sporty, but not overly jarring suspension, the up-down quickshifter almost entirely negates clutchwork above 10km/h. Nothing roasts your nether regions, it’s slim and nimble to slip between gaps easily, and like most parallel twins it’s relatively frugal if you ride it gently. Expect fuel consumption in the mid-3.0L/100km range.