I traverse the same busy freeways and surface street congestion as everyone else in Los Angeles on the way to and from work, but my commute is an adventure because I do it on two wheels. Lately, the 2022 BMW F 900 XR has been my rideshare buddy, and it’s a terrific sidekick for mixing it up with assertive commuters. The XR’s adventure styling and upright ergonomics are immensely suitable for high-energy commuting, and the torquey parallel twin has an agreeable and responsive personality that never gets in the way or distracts.For 2022, the BMW F 900 XR has two package upgrades—the Select Package and the Premium Package. The former gives you several electronic safety features such as engine braking control and traction control, plus Ride Modes Pro (two extra riding modes), cruise control, heated grips, saddle bag mounts, and GPS Prep.
If you pony up for the $2400 Premium Package, which was installed on our test bike, you get the Select features mentioned, plus additional top-drawer amenities such as a semi-active rear shock, upgraded ABS, keyless ride, a quickshifter, smart lights, tire pressure monitor, and a centerstand.As an ADV-styled sport-touring motorcycle, the F 900 XR is slightly on the tall side with a 32.5-inch seat height. I’m not flat-footed with my 30.5-inch inseam, but I can get enough of the balls of my feet on the ground to be perfectly comfortable on the XR. True ADV motorcycles are often taller, so the adventure-themed F 900 XR is not too much of a stretch for me—the 17-inch wheelset and less than seven inches of suspended wheel travel help keep the seat height down.I’m okay with giving up complete feet-on-the-ground comfort for the longer travel, as I like the vantage I get. The upright seating also contributes to being able to easily keep an eye on the constantly changing commuting traffic environment, plus I’m nicely visible to the vehicles around me. The seated-in riding position is comfortable, with the XR’s smooth leg-grip areas allowing me to securely hold the tank at high speeds.As well-suited to commuting as the 2022 BMW F 900 XR’s ergonomics are, the broad torque curve of the 895cc powerplant is even better. It has plenty of pull from the bottom, so if you routinely move to the front of the queue whenever you can, pulling away from the street traffic once the light turns green is matter of fact. The six-speed transmission shifts smoothly, and finding neutral at stops is no issue. The torque is nicely accessible all the way up to its 68 ft-lbs peak at 6750 rpm, which pretty much covers all of my commute.Mostly I’m dealing with traffic—either slow-moving and sluggish, or fast-flowing and aggressive. These are opportunities for the XR to show off how responsive and easily manageable the engine is. Power delivery is smooth no matter which riding mode you’re in, and since we were testing the fully upgraded F 900 XR (Premium Package), there were Dynamic and Dynamic Pro modes, plus the standard Street and Rain modes.I was happy to use the Rain mode when an unexpected drenching in Los Angeles left the roads damp and dirty. While you still get the full power of the engine, Rain mode slows the throttle response, while ABS and traction control electronics closely monitor conditions, providing peace of mind.When the road is dry, Dynamic mode is my ride mode of choice. This was born from an early experience testing the F 900 XR. During one especially crunchy freeway commute, I rolled off the throttle and switched to the Road mode—easy to do on the fly using the Mode button on the right switchgear. As a habitual lane splitter, my thinking was that the tight conditions would be better suited to Road mode, with its more intrusive safety features and softer response. In fact, the opposite was true.The XR’s power is so smoothly delivered that, even in this more aggressive mode, it is easy and intuitive to manage. In tight conditions, especially with the XR’s slightly wider bars, the opportunities to snake between moving lanes of traffic open and close quickly—you can’t hesitate.In Dynamic mode there is nothing snatchy about the throttle response, just an immediate and smooth acceleration. The relatively light clutch pull—even without an assist function—allows me to slip the clutch as often as necessary to finesse the openings.If I were out on a sport ride, I’d tap into Dynamic Pro mode. Dynamic Pro allows more precise power delivery, ABS, and traction control settings, as well as delaying their implementation. However, in traffic, those rider aids are welcome, so Dynamic it is.While my usual commute involves freeways and uninteresting boulevards, I had several appointments that took me from the San Fernando Valley side of Los Angeles over the Hollywood Hills to Beverly Hills and the Westside, and back.This gave me a taste of the XR through our canyon roads, as well as along the fast, sweeping Sepulveda Boulevard through the Sepulveda Pass. While its 482 pounds, with the four-gallon fuel tank topped off, takes a bit of body English to turn, it is willing, and you’ll be tasting the max torque.This is where you’ll also dive into Dynamic Pro, allowing for an even more aggressive ride for weekday canyon carving fun. I can report that the 2022 BMW F 900 XR is a total blast of fun, turning a mundane commuting chore into a (short) day off.I sometimes get a break in the evening—the ramp meter is off, so the quickshifter gets a workout. As is often the case, the quickshifter works better when aggressive on the throttle or downshifting hard. At slower speeds and lower rpm, I used the clutch in both directions.For the fast sprints on the freeway, the XR’s two-position windscreen is a freeway commuter’s friend. The rider is well-protected from the brunt of the windblast, and the high position does not intrude on the view of the road. It’s effortless to adjust the height on the fly.However, the 2022 BMW F 900 XR’s mirrors are buzzy above 4000 rpm, which means freeway speeds. Especially in commuting conditions, I want a sharp view of what’s behind me. Around town, I got the crispest view when I shifted up early, keeping the rpm below 3500 rpm.Brakes are the other end of the confidence package, and the XR’s twin 320mm front discs and radially mounted Brembo calipers don’t disappoint. Perfectly tuned, initial engagement is gentle, and there’s plenty of power with a firm grip applied. The rear 265mm disc provides supplemental stopping power and low-speed finesse, though it’s not hard to trip the wire in ABS Pro.The long-travel, soft suspension does a good job of soaking up the abused local roads, so around-town riding is comfortable. The 43mm fork is non-adjustable but gets its job done. The XR dives noticeably if you’re hard on the brakes, but it’s predictable and not an issue. The semi-active shock—an odd sight on a motorcycle with a non-adjustable fork—has excellent manners on LA’s unpredictably bumpy freeways and roads.As I have been commuting during chilly mornings and evenings, I’ve been making liberal use of the three-level heated grips. Handguards are standard on the F 900 XR and contribute to cutting the windblast.BMW’s top-of-class TFT display is beautiful, crisp, and easily readable in all light conditions, serving as the gateway to a plethora of information and customizable items. The home screen gives you important basics—speed, gear indicator, temp, time, rpm—in a large easy-to-read font, with specific ride info along a small-but-legible customizable strip that you can scroll through at the top of the screen. Use the spinning multi-controller and menu toggle switch on the left switchgear to access six additional screens, each with sub-menus. From turn-by-turn navigation to telephone and media access, monitoring your lean angle, traction and braking stats, and checking your specific XR settings, it’s all easily, and mostly intuitively, accessed via the rider’s left hand.With the 2022 BMW F 900 XR as my comrade in arms, my morning commute is an enjoyable, adrenalin-raising exercise. After traversing four freeways and the adjacent surface streets, I slip past the parking garage gate at work with a smile on my face—no caffeine necessary. At the end of the day, I get to enjoy the sound of the engine reverberating off the parking garage walls when I punch the start button. My heart rate has been on low idle for hours while sitting at my desk, but it jumps upon hearing the XR’s growl as if my own throttle has been twisted.Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE
Our first segment introduces you to the new Arch 1s. This latest, slightly more sporting American V-twin, adds to the original KRGT1 coming from the boutique manufacturer based in Hawthorne, Southern California. Senior Editor Nic de Sena rode through Malibu with Gard Hollinger, who co-founded Arch Motorcycle with his friend, Keanu Reeves. The 1s is a unique ride for sure, and Nic explains what makes the bike really stand out.
For the entertaining story behind Arch Motorcycle from Gard Hollinger himself, you must listen to his podcast episode on Motos & Friends HERE
The guest segment of Motos and Friends is brought to you by the faster and most technologically advanced, 2023 Suzuki Hayabusa—visit your local dealer or suzukicycles.com to learn more.
In our second segment, Associate Editor Teejay Adams chats with multiple Emmy award-winning writer, Producer, Director, and actor, Thom Beers. the former Chairman & CEO of Fremantle Media North America, responsible for American Idol and America’s Got Talent.
Thom’s fertile imagination led to most of the really big reality TV shows such as ‘Deadliest Catch’ (now in its 17th season!), and many others. Of course for us in the motorcycle world, you’ll be interested to hear the genesis and story of how he started the first real fabrication reality show ‘Monster Garage’, that showcased Jesse James, and then how that led to ‘Biker Build Off’ and the ‘Zombie Choppers’ movie.
You’d imagine that most of Thom’s time is spent sitting behind a desk and on his phone. Not so. His intense stories of capturing much of the content for these shows make for some hair-raising listening.