Heels & Horsepower Magazine

First ride: BMW S1000XR, F900XR & F900R

Bongiwe Didiza recently attended the media handover of the latest motorcycles from BMW Motorrad and spent the day playing with all three new bikes.

I won’t mention my excitement and the feelings of anticipation leading up to this day, because that will be a year long page of reading!

bongiwe didiza – biking in heels

Arriving at Gemelli Restaurant in Bryanston, for registration and Covid-19 screening I was well received with friendly smiles, exotic elbow greetings, a steaming hot cup of tea and nice breakfast. I took time to marvel at the beauties on display, the S 1000 XR, F 900 XR and F 900 R that BMW was about to handover to the media.

Being the the only rose amongst 5 young-at-heart-gentlemen bikers I felt a hint of intimidation.

bongiwe didiza – biking in heels

I could hardly contain myself, even as the presentation was well underway. Thoughts of experiencing first-hand, the various features being mentioned were making me fidget and I wondered if it was obvious to others in the room. This being my first-ever motorcycle event I felt like all bikers do when itching to get into the saddle of a new iron horse – energized.

Being the the only rose amongst 5 young-at-heart-gentlemen bikers I felt a hint of intimidation. Although my riding experience more than qualified me to be in their midst, the age-old debate about which gender is the better biker gnawed at my brain. I didn’t entertain it. I knew I was spending a day with friendly colleagues experiencing the thrill of the ride.

I figured the F 900 R might be an interesting pick for daily commuting.

bongiwe didiza – biking in heels

Daydreaming about the S 1000 XR, I marveled at how it combined the different strengths of various BMW motorcycles. by producing the S 1000 XR, BMW have effectively carved out a new and niche biking category as the S 1000 XR combines the performance capabilities of a BMW S1000RR with touring bike abilities.

I brought myself back into the moment of the presentation. My resolve didn’t last long though and I smiled slowly as I the imaged myself riding the F 900 XR adventure sport bike. It’s upright GS seating style would make me feel as though I was on my F 800 GS and that in itself, would be reassuring.

All the gentlemen were already suited up, however, a lady being a lady, I still had to get into my riding gear.

bongiwe didiza – biking in heels

Letting my mind drift to the dynamic F 900 R, I figured the F 900 R might be an interesting pick for daily commuting. Most commuter bikes are generally powered by engine capacities smaller than 900cc. I couldn’t wait to discover how a bike of this engine size would fare in a commuter-type environment.

The presentation at an end, it was time for us to formally meet the motorbikes in the metal. All the gentlemen were already suited up, however, a lady being a lady, I still had to get into my riding gear.

The bike’s responsiveness is refreshing, ithi “phuma uze kudlala”.

bongiwe didiza – biking in heels

I started off with the dynamic power of the S 1000 XR. I fumbled, before I remembered BMW has a keyless start, then laughed at myself. Off we went on my ice grey horse down Bryanston, through Krugersdorp and all the way to Magalies for our first comfort break.

That was a long enough ride for me to fiddle with the 6’5inch TFT screen and explore the different riding modes – Dynamic Pro, Dynamic, Road. I didn’t tamper with the Rain mode though, knowing it would test better on a rainy day. In Dynamic mode, I felt the S 1000 XR punch forward. Although expected, it felt exhilarating. The bike’s responsiveness is refreshing, ithi “phuma uze kudlala” directly translated that means – “come out and play”. Corny I know. 

The F900R, could be just perfect as it does not restrict you because of your height

bongiwe didiza – biking in heels

The break over, it was time to hop on to the F 900 R – the Hockenheim silver/racing red commuter bike with its sizable engine. Although offering a comfortable seating position, my tall frame dwarfed it considerably and it felt too snug for me. I recalled conversations with ladies who only ride superbikes because of the tallness of the other bike models and realized that I could now confidently talk about the F 900 R as it’s height would suite most not-so-tall people. For those who may want to try something different, the F 900 R could be just perfect as it does not restrict you because of height; and while most may not want to admit it, height is not a female problem so a few guys might want to try out the F 900 R too!

The F 900 R lived up to my earlier day dreams when I had envisioned that it could easily be one of the best commuter bikes. As I rode it, it proved to be light and swift and given the capacity of its engine I can confidently say that the F 900 R would give you the freedom to quickly get out of sticky commuting situations with ease during an urban ride. Soon I was living my best life, playing on the curves along the road leading to our lunch destination, at the Cradle Moon Lodge, Muldersdrift. 

Over lunch my colleagues and I shared our individual experiences thus far and discussed various features of each of the motorcycles. Oh, the joys of being in the company of those who share the same interests as yourself.

A short distance from our starting point, we had a motorcycle-journalists gone wild moment.

bongiwe didiza – biking in heels

Then came the big surprise reveal, in the form of the BMW R18 cruiser prototype. Seemingly, everyone else already suspected it lay in wait under the cover of the platform it perched on. I was the only one taken completely by surprise. 

With our tummies refueled, it was time for me to saddle up on the F 900 XR. Presented in the perfect colour for me – galvanic gold metallic – I settled onto the bike I affectionatly regarded as the S 1000 XR’s little sister. The F 900 XR has loads of personality and ease of comfort for everyday riding. Riding the F 900 XR you’d be forgiven if you ‘mistakenly’ found yourself venturing on a mini adventure without a destination in mind – just to keep riding it. 

A short distance from our starting point, we had a motorcycle-journalists gone wild moment. I let the ‘boys’ go wild on their powered-up toys, while I followed with my own hearty “cry-laugh” moment.  The time to return the bikes had come and the ‘rowdiness’ was our way of signing off the end of an incredible experience.

Going home later on, I felt all sorts of sweet happiness. my first-ever handover experience had been amazing. the BMW Motorrad team and my media fellows had just a fantastic bunch of people and besides, its always a good day when one rides a well engineered motorbike.

I hopped into bed to remininse about the day and simultaneously made a mental, (albeit sleepy) note to book all three bikes for longer test rides as soon as possible. As my head hit the pillow I visualized myself astride the new BMW R18 cruiser set to arrive in SA in October. It gave me a glimmer of hope that even through the global coronavirus pandemic there was something to look forward to but until then I was just happy to have had a phenomenal day.


New on the Tarmac: Meet the BMW F 900 R & F 900 XR

BMW South Africa has recently launched the dynamic new Roadster F 900 R and the F 900 XR in the Adventure Sport segment.  In so doing, BMW Motorrad is further expanding its product range for the popular mid-range.

Both models offer sporty riding pleasure, straightforward handling and a unique range of equipment options, packaged to offer attractive value for money. Based on a powerful shared backbone, the two models differ significantly in terms of character and positioning.

The new F 900 R – the Dynamic Roadster for purist riding pleasure

Suitable for everyday riding, the new BMW F900 R is a dynamic roadster fashioned for self-confident, sporty and active bikers.   Aimed at experienced riders and newcomers alike, the new F 900 R’s aggressive design, sound, engine output and torque conveys an irresistible sense of freedom.

The new F 900 XR – a genuine “XR” for the mid-range

The F 900 XR boasts sporty riding dynamics combined with upright, GS-like ergonomics, outstanding long-distance and passenger suitability and a design that conveys a powerful sense of character.

The new F 900 XR also benefits from the technology transfer from the upper class: Adaptive Cornering Light and Keyless Ride are unique features in the mid-range.

In addition to sporty riders, the XR is also aimed at newcomers thanks to its low minimum seat height and attractive entry price.

Pic Courtesy of BMW SA

Technology benchmark in the segment

The two new models – the F 900 R and F 900 XR  – currently set the technological benchmark in the mid-range segment with their high-quality standard equipment (Connectivity, LED all round as standard) and their wide range of optional extras – in some cases unique in this class (including Adaptive Cornering Light, Keyless Ride, Dynamic ESA, Riding Modes Pro, Shift Assistant Pro, ABS Pro, engine drag torque control (MSR), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), and RDC.

Adaptive Cornering Light as a component of Headlight Pro, is unique in the mid-range and comes as an optional extra ex works


2-cylinder in-line engine along with new engine drag torque control

In the new F 900 R and F 900 XR, enhanced riding dynamics are ensured by the further development of the 2-cylinder in-line engine first introduced in 2018 in the F 850 GS.  While offering a particularly emotional sound, the engine produces 77 kW of power and 92 Nm of torque.

In addition to the standard anti-hopping clutch, the new F 900 R and F 900 XR can be fitted with engine drag torque control (MSR) for the first time. MSR prevents the rear wheel from slipping as a result of abrupt throttling or downshifting, thereby ensuring even greater safety.

Pic Courtesy of BMW SA

Two standard riding modes

The new F 900 R and F 900 XR already offer the “Rain” and “Road” riding modes as standard. The standard trim also includes ABS and ASC Automatic Stability Control, which  can be disengaged.

With “Riding Modes Pro” as an ex works option, the sporty characteristics of the new F 900 R and F 900 XR can be experienced even more intensively. The additional riding modes “Dynamic” and “Dynamic Pro”, Dynamic Traction Control DTC and banking capable ABS Pro are available, along with Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and the new engine drag torque control (MSR).

Even greater safety is offered by the Adaptive Cornering Light as a component of Headlight Pro, which is unique in the mid-range and comes as an optional extra ex works. Here, the rider benefits from improved illumination of the road when cornering for even safer riding at night. All lighting units in the new F models are based on LED technology as standard.


Readable colour 6.5-inch TFT screen with BMW Motorrad Connectivity 

The BMW Motorrad developers attached great importance to optimum readability for the instrument cluster – even in difficult lighting conditions. In addition, information diversity, display quality and user-friendliness are unmatched. The graphics on the screen are visually adapted to the sporty on-road world. Additional Core screens are available in conjunction with the optional Pro riding modes. The standard BMW Motorrad Connectivity is a unique feature in the mid-range, offering the ability to conveniently talk on the phone, listen to music or navigate while riding.

Cleverly designed ergonomic triangles for dynamic riding pleasure 

As a dynamic roadster, the F 900 R offers a particularly sporty, active seating position.

Meanwhile the F 900 XR offers an impressively active yet relaxed riding position for touring and travelling. The front fairing –  including an adjustable windshield – combines a sporty look with sound rider protection.

Various low and high seats along with the optional lowering feature also allow individual adjustment to various body heights.

Three powerful colour and style variants for an unmistakable sense of character

Three dynamic colour and style variants for the new F 900 R and F 900 XR ensure unmistakable characteristics.

The new F 900 R is available in Blackstorm metallic, San Marino Blue metallic and Style Sport in Hockenheim Silver metallic/Racing Red.

In addition to Light White, the new F 900 XR offers the two Style variants Style Exclusive in Galvanic Gold metallic and Sport in Racing Red.


F 900 R        From   R164 700-00

F 900 XR     From    R169 100-00