BMW categorizes the 2022 F 900 XR as an Adventure model. For some, that classification stretches the definition of adventure. For others, it flies in the face of segment conventions. Wherever you fall on the matter, the XR rides the rising ADV tide thanks to that tag. It’s a bold move by the Bavarians, especially when the F 900 XR shares nearly no parts with its F 850 GS stablemate.
The GS trudges through the trail on a 21-inch front wheel; the XR carves corners on 17-inch hoops. One favors an 853cc twin mated to a tubular steel space frame. The other surrounds its 895cc mill with a bridge-type, steel-shell unit. The two hardly bear a family resemblance, with long legs constituting the only familial trait. From the tires to the tank, from tip to tail, both bikes couldn’t be any more different.
That’s because the XR’s closest relative, the F 900 R, falls under BMW’s Roadster family. That genre-bending heritage begs the question: is the F 900 XR a naked bike on stilts or a road-restricted ADV? Can a sleek tourer win over the rough and rugged crowd or does adventure start where the road ends? After covering over 1,500 miles in the XR’s saddle, I’ve finally landed on an answer.
Let Me Upgrade You
The 2022 F 900 XR bears an $11,695 MSRP. Compared to fellow ADV-adjacent tourers, that price point makes the XR a significant bargain. However, in typical BMW fashion, only additional accessories packages unlock performance basics like quickshifters or travel necessities such as cruise control. The firm’s Premium and Select packages instantly enhance the Beemer’s capabilities, but those pay walls also push the asking price to $14,990.
BMW’s Dynamic Electronic Suspension (ESA), Gearshift Assist Pro, ABS Pro, and Headlight Pro headline the Premium collection. A tire pressure monitor (TPM) system, keyless ride, and center stand also round out the offering. When owners fork over the $2,400 for the Premium pack, Munich tosses in the Select add-ons free of charge.
The gratis addition is no throw-away collection either. It doesn’t just heap on touring-friendly upgrades such as heated grips, GPS connectivity, and saddle bag mounts but also elevates the electronics with engine braking control, traction control, cruise control, and Ride Modes Pro. Especially in a category that ups the tech ante with each model year, the F 900 XR would swiftly approach irrelevance without the two accessory kits.
On my nearly 700-mile trip up the California coast, the assortment of travel-oriented aids paid immediate dividends. The TPM system alerted me to low tire inflation while the cruise control eased extended slogs on the highway. Heated grips made early morning departures a no-brainer and kept me in the saddle during abrupt temperature drops. Sadly, not all the upgrades delivered the same bang-for-buck value. The GPS connectivity, in particular, proved to be a reliably disappointing feature.
Gallery: 2022 BMW F 900 XR
More times than not, manufacturers develop their own GPS interface in lieu of Google or Apple Maps-based systems. BMW is one of those OEMs, and the brand’s Motorrad Connected app leaves much to be desired, particularly when it comes to flexibility. Once the user pairs a smartphone with the bike’s system, they have to abide by the Connected app’s route.
No, you can’t navigate the way using Google Maps, Waze, or Apple Maps. BMW’s enviable 6.5-inch TFT display only relays turn-by-turn directions when linked to the firm’s proprietary mapping platform. That wouldn’t be such a drawback if Connected matched its competitor’s dependability and ingenuity. Unfortunately, debilitating system updates frequently render the app frustratingly inconvenient.
During a five-day period, Connected required two different map updates. Both paused navigational capabilities and operations until I downloaded the necessary patches. That’s a minor hurdle when the user’s phone can access a Wi-Fi signal, but even with 5G connectivity, my iPhone couldn’t fully download the critical files.
Out of options and on the run, I circumvented the XR’s ecosystem completely and connected my device directly to my helmet communication unit. The union allowed me to enjoy the soothing sounds of Google’s guidance, unfiltered by BMW’s system. After encountering that Connected conundrum several more times, I gave up the ghost and defaulted to my dependable duo. The Connected app’s shortcomings certainly added a wrinkle to my travels, but one bad strudel doesn’t spoil the whole bunch, and performance upgrades compensated with kicks and giggles.
Cornering or Comfort?
Even with the Premium Package in tow, the F 900 XR retains its 43mm USD fork. Oddly, BMW’s Dynamic Electronic Suspension (ESA) only buoys the back end. The budget-conscious upgrade remains handy, however, with users adjusting the rear wheel’s suspension action at the touch of the dedicated ESA button. Two damping settings (Dynamic and Road) and three pre-load options (one-up, one-up w. luggage, and two-up w. luggage) shift the XR from plush to performance; from cornering to comfort.
In touring applications, the ESA can do no wrong. Cushy is the only word that comes to mind in Road mode. Dynamic mode sacrifices little luxury yet yields considerable handling benefits. At a reasonable pace, the XR waltzes through the esses with whimsy, but when you put some pep in its step, the setup turns a bit footloose.
The fork collapses quicker under hard braking. The rear squats even deeper at corner exit. The XR encounters both issues at lower speeds as well, but added velocity only compounds the effect. That teeter-totter-like ride is also a testament to the value of the dual four-piston Brembo calipers. Binding two dinner-plate-sized 320mm discs, initial bite is neither too sharp nor too soft. The progressive stopping power also brings the XR, and its 482-pound curb weight, to a hurried halt.
However, just like the dynamic suspension, the brakes suffer under pressure. Fade not only creeps in early but quickly diminishes stopping force and feel at the lever. The Brembos deliver more than enough braking performance in nearly all situations, but customers prioritizing corner-carving thrills should steer clear. Combining a non-adjustable front end with a dynamic rear suspension system is like pairing a Prada bag with Payless shoes. It may be faux pas but it isn’t a functional failure. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the same can be said of the F 900 XR’s engine.
Run of the Mill
I don’t typically leave powerplants for last, but BMW’s F twin prefers to fly under the radar. Pumping out 99 horses and 68 lb-ft of torque, the eight-valve, DOHC, 895cc parallel twin is far from a slouch. BMW puts the power in the user’s hands with Ride Modes Pro's four settings (Road, Rain, Dynamic, and Dynamic Pro) at their beck and call.
That flexibility looks invaluable on the spec sheet, but Road, Dynamic, and Dynamic Pro modes are nearly indistinguishable to the wrist. Each setting features a specially-tuned throttle response and progressive power profile. However, the mill’s linear powerband, tame bottom end, and practically absent top end plague all three modes. For that reason, I kept the XR in Dynamic Pro the vast majority of the time.
Without a power surge or torque kick to account for, the XR is just as happy to tip-toe through traffic or blast down a straight. On the other hand, as soon as the XR works its way up to peak torque at 6,750 rpm, the bars buzz and the pegs shudder. By peak horsepower at 8,500 rpm, vibrations enter the rider’s knees through the tank. Those tremulous touch points die down with a few upshifts, and luckily, the rev bar only reports 4,250 rpm when the XR cruises at 70mph in sixth.
Running the engine much higher than that reintroduced the powertrain’s vibes, though. I paid for that mistake with tingling fingertips after a three-hour run. However, riders can easily avoid those effects with a healthy dose of short-shifting and throttle control. No, BMW’s practical parallel-twin may not be as rowdy nor as refined as its 900cc rivals, but that's what makes the F 900 XR such a sensible option for commuters, tourers, and (dare I say) beginners.
The 2022 BMW F 900 XR is about as sexy as a Swiss Army knife. At the same time, it’s just as useful and versatile. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its warts, but the XR makes up for a lack of thrills with its accessible demeanor. The Dynamic ESA forfeits some cornering capability yet maximizes comfort. The 895cc parallel-twin offers ample passing power on the open road even if it doesn't knock your socks off.
Whether you see the Beemer as a sport-tourer masquerading as an ADV or a faired naked, the F 900 XR is ready for all road-dedicated adventures. Sure, it requires BMW’s Premium and Select packages to get to that point, but the $14,990 price tag remains competitive in the category. No, the F 900 XR may not tout the tools to tackle the trail, but it offers more than enough pep, tech, and comfort for endless adventures on the paved path.