Skip to content

BMW’s X-File opened | Manufacture News | News

The bike we all want is a goer

For people who have seen BMW’s stunning Concept 9Cento on our pages last year, this is pure gold. We’ve got our hands on copies of BMW’s production designs for an upcoming F 850 XR based on the show bike first revealed as an exhibit at last year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy

Held on the shores of Lake Como, this is Europe’s annual celebration of design excellence. Its main focus is on cars, both old and new, but BMW has recently used this venue to upstage four wheels with its range of retro motorcycles.

After it showed off the futuristic Concept 9Cento last May BMW went very quiet about production plans but we’ve got copies of its patent filings in Brazil that show every detail of the 2020 machine. No concept goes into production exactly as its original creators wanted but the clever thing here is that the layers of practicality haven’t diluted the style too much.

Expect similar performance to the F850GS. The engine appears to be identical, so is likely to share the same 70kW output at 8250rpm from its 853cc capacity and oversquare 84mm x 77mm dimensions. Torque is also likely to remain at the GS’s 92Nm at 6250rpm. Given the number of components shared with the GS, the bike’s weight is also likely to be similar so don’t expect it to be a sub-200kg flyweight.

In terms of stance, the wide bars and relatively low pegs mean the riding position will be relaxed, more like an adventure bike or supermoto than a faired sports-tourer. BMW’s S 1000 XR has already proved to be a successful recipe, so expect the same for the F 850 XR.

So what’s it made up from?

To simplify production it appears that the engine and frame are taken wholesale from the F 850 GS, along with that bike’s swingarm and even its instruments. That means a pressed-steel main chassis section with a tubular subframe and aluminium plates at the swingarm pivot, providing mounting brackets for the footpegs. Those plates have been changed for the XR’s more rear-set pegs and to accommodate brackets for pillion pegs, extending back from the frame rather than hanging down from the subframe.

Surely it’s not a GS?

No way will this bike will handle like the GS. The adoption of 17-inch cast alloy wheels at both ends, along with new upside-down forks, should give it a much sportier feel. Radial-mounted front brakes add to the impression that this is a sports-oriented model with a layer of touring practicality.

So it’s still a 9Centro?

Yes and no. Compared to the original Concept 9Cento, the biggest change is at the seating area for practicality. But the front styling is instantly recognisable as the 9Cento, with twin headlights – symmetrical, thankfully – and just a hint of an adventure bike ‘beak’. Distinct, ‘floating’ side panels are another clear link to the 9Cento concept. Sure, the production bike is missing the 9Cento’s bellypan, but something similar is sure to appear in the options list. It also lacks the weird shark fin on the concept bike’s rear hugger but looks all the better for this omission.

BEN PURVIS & HAMISH COOPER