The summer months may be behind us, but there’s still plenty of good riding weather to take advantage of. More than enough opportunity to take one of the new BMW motorcycles out for a spin along the winding roads north of Toronto to a charming little town called Creemore. For this trip we took out the 2020 F900XR.
Full disclosure: there was a brief moment when I wasn’t sure I’d even get this beautiful bike out of the BMW parking lot.
The BMW F900XR is a wonderful intersection of design and engineering. It appeals to riders who are looking for a marriage of comfort and handling of a mid-range sport/adventure. And at 32.5” (825mm) equipped seat height, it’s also the tallest bike I’ve ever swung a leg over.
Image by Jeremy Smith
Having explored shorter sport-standard models and smaller-engine off road bikes, one of the BMW motorcycles was next level up. I was eager to stretch myself (yes, that is a pun) and experience all the F900 has to offer. But first I had to get the kickstand up.
After mounting and transferring weight over the bike’s balance point, this was an impossible task for my wee 29” inseam.
BMW motorcycles: Fall-time ride along quaint village roads
Fortunately, wisdom prevailed (kick out the stand before mounting the bike, silly rabbit). But the end result was nevertheless a riot of hilarity. Every mount and dismount was an adventure in middle-aged split-leg acrobatics (I’m just going to let that image sit there…).
For a short rider on a tall bike, the learning curve spikes considerably in stop-and-go traffic. Constantly shifting my weight over to one side of the saddle or the other to gain enough length to support the bike at a stop is good exercise. I got used to the rhythm of it – but it’s never fun.
Image by Jeremy Smith
After a few days testing the bike out under inner-city conditions, my weekend ride day couldn’t come soon enough.
Sunday was the perfect mix of sun, clouds and a gentle breeze. I met my ride partner (equipped with a classic 1976 BMW R75/6) downtown. We set out for the winding open roads north of Toronto. Heading out onto 400 series highways, the virtues of one of the newer BMW motorcycles immediately become apparent.
BMW Motorcycles: Smooth ride
Opening up the throttle, the bike displays excellent acceleration, smooth gear shifting and a satisfying range of mid-high range torque. The F900XR’s adjustable windscreen easily adjusts to lift the wind resistance off my chest. With 170/172 mms of front/rear suspension spring travel, the bike handily soaks up any surface inconsistency.
At a displacement of 895 cc and 465 lbs (dry), the F900XR is no slouch in the mid-range weight department. Nevertheless, the F900XR is nimble, responsive and easy to push around. A fairly neutral riding position makes for comfortable all-day riding as you float effortlessly along like a leaf on the wind.
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Riding along the 410 was the perfect opportunity to test out the F900’s cruise control: a bike luxury if ever there was one. The system is intuitive and easy to use. A quick flick of the left thumb and I’m relaxing my throttle-hand while the bike sails along at my selected speed: a relief from the constant pressure in my right hand, wrist and forearm. I was able to more fully enjoy those long, clear stretches. However, disengaging the cruise control is somewhat abrupt and takes some acclimating.
An hour later we arrive at our first waypoint. A deliciously winding road just north of Orillia, Hockley Road is a popular stretch among local bike enthusiasts. It doesn’t matter what you ride. I’ve never might a biker who doesn’t actively seek out the thrill of winding along a good twisty. True to form, the F900XR’s high clearance and deft balance nimbly carve lines through Hockley’s gentle curves.
Dexterity on tight turns
Departing Hockley at Airport Road, we angle towards today’s rest stop, the unassuming town of Creemore, a quaint village 125kms north of Toronto. A ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ road sign is our only notice to make a left-hand turn onto the equally unassuming Nottawasaga Sideroad 6 & 7. But I’m richly rewarded by two gloriously tight turns heading into town.
Barely a blip on the map, Creemore is home to one of Ontario’s finest small-batch breweries, Creemore Springs Brewery Limited. Covid protocols mean that their fabulous brewery tour featuring free samples are not on offer, but curbside pick-up is smooth and friendly (four stars for their delightfully rich and smooth Hefeweizen summer wheat beer).
Bike’s GPS takes us on a guided trip
The region’s popularity among motorcyclists is clear, with bikes lining the street and riders of all ilk coming and going during our stay, including a family of four with parents sharing their two sizable touring bikes with a pair of enthusiastic young passengers.
Freedom on an open road
Riding back south on a guided trip courtesy of BMW’s offered GPS unit (which did its level best to find us a few curved roads along our fairly straight path back to the city) I was struck by the unexpected beauty of the region’s rolling hills, shaded valleys and big blue skies contrasted by golden corn fields.
BMW’s F900XR delivered a full day of adventures in comfort, style and a fine touch of luxury. In-town stop-and-go traffic is a chore for those of us who are vertically challenged, but that’s not where the F900XR truly shines. Get one of these BMW motorcycles on the open road and you’ll be grinning all day long. I returned the bike saddle sore and heart happy.
GALLERY IMAGES: BMW