Which should you choose: BMW F 900 GS v BMW R 1300 GS?

Since the early ’90s, the full-sized BMW GS has had a smaller and often overshadowed sibling.

Originally released as the F 650 (with the wonderfully naff name Funduro), it was the first single-cylinder, chain-driven bike BMW had made in decades, and it became its best-selling model in Europe soon after its release.

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So, while its bigger brother might receive more attention, the F series of GS motorcycle’s has been a key bike for BMW for three decades.

And as the big boxer-engined GS evolved, so too did the F series. Now, for 2024, BMW has released the new F 800 GS and the F 900 GS alongside the flagship the R 1300 GS.

We were at the international press launch of the BMW F 900 GS earlier this year, and we were seriously impressed.

In fact, we think it rivals the big 1300 in a number of key areas, which begs the question: which should you choose?

You can read the full indepth review of the 2024 F 900 GS in the latest issue of Adventure Bike Rider, available here.

In the meantime, here our some of our key takeaways from the bike’s launch.

Off-road ability

The 1300 GS isn’t lacking when it comes to off-road riding, not by a long shot. But if you’re planning on spending a lot of time off-road, there are a few reasons you might want to choose the 900 instead.

Firstly, the weight. The base 1300 GS clocks in at 237kg wet, almost 20kg heavier than the 900 which weighs in at 219kg.

If you’re throwing the bike around all day, you’ll be feeling those extra kegs when you wake up the next morning.

Aside from that, it’s also set-up exceptionally well for riding off-road, particularly in its Enduro Pro trim.

The Showa forks and Sachs rear shock provide 230mm/215mm of travel respectively, more than the 1300’s 190mm/200mm, and the narrower profile of the bike makes it all the more agile.

It’s amazingly stable and easy to handle, and we loved being able to switch rider modes, traction control, and rear-wheel ABS intervention on the fly.

If you want to discover the F 900 GS’s ability for yourself, you can take one for a test ride at the ABR Festival 2024 on 28 to 30 June. But don’t hang around because 99% of tickets are already sold out. Get yours today by clicking HERE.

Power and road manners

Obviously, the 895cc parallel-twin found in the F 900 GS can’t compete with the 1,300cc boxer in its bigger brother.

However, when you look at the specs, you’ll see that the 900 produces 105bhp at 8,500rpm and 93Nm of torque at 6,750rpm. That’s more than you need off-road, and more than enough to have plenty of fun on the tarmac.

In fact, it produces the same amount of power as the R 1200 GS did when it was updated in 2007, and we never complained about that bike being too slow.

On the road, this translates to thrilling performance. Testing it in Spain for the latest issue of Adventure Bike Rider, we wrote that “the F 900 GS will scorch through bends like a thing possessed.”

And considering it’s a rather tall bike, the on-road handling and poise is excellent.

Touring and comfort

The big R series GS built a large part of its reputation on its superb level of comfort, especially for touring.

With excellent weather protection, modern technological creature comforts, and plenty of room for rider, passenger, and luggage, the R 1300 GS is still setting benchmarks in touring performance.

The 900, however, is not far behind. The riding position is excellent for clicking through motorway miles, there’s plenty of power for high-speed overtakes two-up, and the 6.5-inch TFT can provide all the information you need, including turn-by-turn navigation via a phone app.

However, unfortunately cruise control is an option, not standard, and the lack of adjustable screen and a smaller 14.5L fuel tank work against the 900 in this regard. Mind you, there is the F 900 GS Adventure…

If you’re looking for a GS solely for a two-week tour with your partner in Europe each year, the 1300 is still the way to go.

Should you buy a BMW F 900 GS?

There’s one more thing we haven’t touched on: the price.

Although the base 1300 starts at £16,470, with a few options selected from BMW’s catalogue (such as electronic suspension, heated seat, and a colour that’s not white), you’re looking at something much closer to £20,000.

The 900, however, starts at £11,995, and even with the Enduro Pro package (which includes the beefier suspension) and a high windshield for touring, you’re looking at £13,800.

Still plenty of money, but certainly more affordable than the 1300.

So, you can have a motorcycle that’s extremely capable off-road, a hoot to ride on tarmac, with good touring performance as well, for almost three grand less than the starting price of the R 1300 GS.

And it’s still got BMW’s level of quality, and even the GS badge?

Should you choose it over the R 1300 GS?

Find out if it’s the GS for you in the latest issue of Adventure Bike Rider, out now.

Elsewhere inside, you’ll find the full review of the new F 900 GS, along with reviews of other rivals such as the 2024 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports, Yamaha Ténéré 700 Extreme, Moto Guzzi Stelvio, and more.

Get yours today for only £6.99 with free UK postage by clicking here.