Dragging a BMW around the countryside

A call in the week from @Towner92, occasionally of this parish, and a complete failure to arrange a test ride for myself meant I spent a pleasant few hours trekking around Yorkshire with my Sprint GT on Saturday while he tried on a BMW F 900 XR for size.

Mr T, as absolutely no one calls him, had organised a test ride from Vertu (formerly Allan Jeffries) Motorrad in Shipley. Unlike most of our planned days out, this time we were blessed with dry weather and acceptable temperatures. Could this be the start of Spring?! Probably not.

Had I been a bit quicker off the mark I’d quite like to have tried a S1000R (I’ve ridden the S1000RR - it’s brilliant) or even a GS, just to see if I could work out why they’re so popular. By Friday, when I called, it was too late. Not that I was particularly bothered because it meant I could take the Sprint for only its second run since I got it home. Winter and work have been cruel mistresses.

A fairly cool start to the day was pacified courtesy of a thermal and a couple of thin layers beneath the Alpinestars textiles plus my favourite summer gloves. Heated grips only became necessary on the way home.

Yorkshire is, as many here know, a beautiful part of the world for the riding of motorcycles. Bradford however is not. The city’s name derives from a combination of ‘ford’, meaning a watery hazard, and ‘Brad’, which is a pit.
We’d set off a bit later than planned (my fault) so there was no time to find a more pleasant, circuitous route to Shipley. At least motorcycles are exempt from the clean air zone tax.

It was my first visit to this particular BMW emporium. It’s a large place, bigger than the one in Rotherham, and packed with a wide variety of desirable motorcycles, And some GS’s.

I mooched about while Paul sorted out the paperwork. “No, sir. That’s the horn. This is the button to summon your valet.”

Over at the trade-in section there was a rather fine looking Street Triple in silver. It was so shiny it took me a minute to realise how old it must be with the round headlights. A quick peek around the back revealed a 2010 plate. My own 2008 edition suddenly seemed rather tatty.

With everything signed, inspected, and the crash course in BMW’s controls complete, we struck out towards Keighley and onward to the Route 59 biker cafe. First time there for me this year; first time ever for my co-rider. Predictably, the reasonable weather had brought a decent crowd in search of tea and bacon rolls.

As a side note, I was using Apple Maps as the satnav and it has the wrong location for the cafe. It’s a few miles further down the A59 and not up a side road.

Sipping coffee from mugs (mugs - that’s how you know it’s a biker’s cafe) and mulling over the merits of the Bee-Em, it soon became clear that it was no Tiger 900 or Multistrada, both of which he’s already tried. Hardly surprising - the XR is not really competing with those stallions. But is a damn sight cheaper. This is how prolonged motorcycle coversations begin…

…but I won’t bore you with it. Assuming you’ve made it even this far. Suffice to say, the German is a decent bike; easy to like but not necessarily one you would love.

Not one but two Sprints rocked up separately in front of us at Route 59. One was an ST version, the other the blue twin of my own. I prefer the red. Neither rider arrived with any friends. I hope this is not an omen.

With a deadline of one-of-the-clock to have the XR back we took off over Ilkley for the return leg… One of these days I’ll stop with my camera and try to do justice to the scenery up there.

So, was the test ride a success for BMW? Almost. The jury is still out.


Next time you’re up that way it’s worth dropping in to see Craig Atkinson at AKA Automotive. Great guy and always some amazing bikes in his showroom


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Nicely written, made me smile :slightly_smiling_face:. That Street Triple looks like it’s in great condition.

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Was it a 2024 Tiger that he tried previously?

Should he be on our map?

No, it was last year.

If budget permits a 2020 onwards (commonly known as gen.2) version of the XR is quite different, very few common parts. Might be worth a look…

Or wait till Triumph pull their finger out and release a 1200 Tiger Sport. :+1:

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He should definitely try a 2024 to see if the updates have made a worthwhile difference.

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My XR is in bits at the moment, half way through installing a dash cam. Next week may be I’ll do a quick review of the gen2 XR from the view point of a complete 1050 triple fan.
Also review the dashcam install, but a ride review doesn’t look like coming any time soon, field run-off is horrendous at the moment.


T’was a great ride as usual.
Definitely excited to get a new bike now, moving up into the middle weight class :muscle:


I would try one on for size but fear it may be out of my budget

The red on in the picture which I’m after is 2021

Having been born there I can agree that as a biking destination, Bradford is best avoided.

Nice to see that Route 59 Cafe is open again as it seemed to have been closed for some time.

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So what was the verdict on the F900?

Sorry to disappoint but that is definitely a first generation XR. It may look similar to the untrained eye but as said, there’s virtually nothing interchangeable between gen1 and gen2 models.
Easy identifiers are headlights (can’t see in the photo), stock exhaust can, belly pan, seat, etc.
But panniers are the easiest spot, the gen 2 mounting system is much neater, when off the gen 2 doesn’t leave behind any ugly “scaffold” tubing, and actual panniers are quite different in shape.
If that red one is on a 21 plate and you discussed with salesman then very dodgy that he didn’t enlighten you, that is actually a 2019 manufacture at latest. So price should be that of a 2019 gen1 imo.
For reference my 2020 gen2 …

And the F900 twin you test rode would be a world away from the S1000XR with 2 extra cylinders and 50% more power (and a fair bit heavier).

A mate of mine just did 2600 miles on the BMW F 900 twin around New Zealand.
His impressions were that it was a lovely bike for touring, poor brakes , vague front end but excellent fuel consumption.
It was the ideal bike for him as it slowed him right down. ( He is an ex racer…)


I’ve been searching around to see whether the manufacture data can be determined from the registration number and what the differences are between generations.

I can’t can’t quite reconcile things. As far as I can tell, BMW didn’t start making the XR until November 2019. Of the 105 listed on Autotrader there isn’t a bike older than 2020. The reviews I found are only for 2020 and onwards as well.

One web site I checked put the particular XR @Towner92 looked at as being manufactured in May 2021. Is therre a way to tell these things from the VIN number?

:roll_eyes: :flushed:
My mistake. :laughing:
Only just had a proper look at “the red one” which is an F900, I’d jumped to the (wrong) conclusion it was an S1000 which the gen1 / gen2 thing applies to. So disregard my irrelevant ramblings.

:laughing: No wonder I couldn’t work it out. I think he’s reaching for his wallet…


Send him this before it’s toooo laaaaaaate

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