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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

BMW F800GS Review

I'm in my Marc Coma, Kurt Caselli (RIP) mode , standing on the pegs and hauling ass (100kph which is too fast for this old man) down a backwoods dirt road. The sweeping left hander is coming up way faster than it should, and soon the back brake is locked up as the ditch becomes eerily too close for comfort. Somehow I mange to keep the bike upright and out of the ditch. I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the Bimmer's handling characteristics than my skill. The vision of yours truly as the Dakar stage winner, quickly fades to a vision of me upside down in the ditch with a severely broken BMW that isn't mine.

If you remember from my last post, I recently had the opportunity to spend all day aboard BMW's F800GS at the Fundy Adventure Rally. It was actually the perfect testing ground for an adventure motorcycle. Basically in the 11hrs of riding I encountered almost every piece of terrain that an adventure rider would ever encounter. Fast dirt logging roads, loose gravel, ATV paths, steep rocky trails and mud holes. There was even some sandy sections along the way. I also was able to ride it on paved backroads and highway.

Let me also state, that I am far from being a motojournalist, or expert rider, as shown above, and have not ridden a whole lot of bikes, other than my own. I have spent some time on a BMW G650 X-Country and a 1200GS. 

Chris Duff from BMW went over all the controls with me before relinquishing the keys. He specifically showed me how to use the ASC (traction control) and ABS, or should I say how to turn it off for use in the dirt. Pretty straight forward, however this can only be done when the bike is stationary. Any time the bike is shut off, ie, turned off with the key switch, it has be selected off again. Both the ABS and ASC default to on. The suspension can be adjusted on the fly, enduro, road and sport. I left it in enduro for the whole day. So no, I have no idea how well the traction control or the ABS work. I know from the G650, that the ABS works quite well. I doubt it's much different than the 800.

I swung my leg over the bike for the first time, and noticed how small it felt compared to my big Vstrom. The lack of fairing and small windshield, gave it almost dirt bike feel. It did feel quite natural to me, pegs and bars in the right place, not awkward like sitting on a cruiser. The one thing I did notice right away was the handgrips, they felt very narrow, not a fan. Controls were straight forward, turn signals, high beam, hazards, ASC/ABS and Mode controller on the left, heated grip controller, suspension mode controller and the start/stop switch on the right.

Speedo and tach are nicely presented and easy to read, love a dial and not digital. I'm old school I guess. The info display screen to the right of the cluster shows gear selector, fuel quantity, trip, odo, temp and mode selections. plus some other things I didn't play with or really need to know. The fuel gauge only shows the last 1/2. So the display doesn't move until below 1/2 a tank.

If you are used to riding a true dirt bike, this is gonna feel like a tank when you get on it, however for me, it was perfect for the riding we were about to do.

I'll say this, for a bike I had never ridden before I felt comfortable on it right away, I did one small blast up a paved road before heading out on the adventure rally. The mini GS has a wonderful exhaust  note, something similar to it's big brother.

Since I was videoing the rally, I took off mid pack in hopes of having to not play catch up all day. I noticed right away the 800 had a lot of low and mid-range power, accelerating through the gears was delightful, with a light clutch pull and easy shifting, which is not normally a BMW trait.

Equipped with knobbie tires the bike inspired confidence at speed, and soon I was passing slower riders without too much effort. The back brake I did find a little sensitive and at times locked up the rear unintentionally. The suspension was set at endure, so it was soft, but still handled the bumps and rough terrain nicely, never once did I feel the back end bounce around, or bottom out.

I fuelled up once in the 500km I rode, BMW says you can expect about 350-400km on a tank. That's respectable.

Low speed handling is easy, the Bimmer is well balanced, I could creep along quite slow in first gear feathering the clutch. I followed a 1200GS through a mud hole and at times had to come to an almost complete stop. I could remained balance on the bike without putting a foot down.

You do notice the weight on steep rocky downhills, and you soon realize your riding an adventure bike and not a lightweight enduro. Momentum can be an enemy too.

Would I buy one.......not to replace my Vstrom. It's just too damn comfortable. I found the GS seat painful after a long day, and for me at 6'1", I'd really need bar risers. But that's not why, because you can change those things quite easily. No, I didn't like it on the highway. 100kph plus was uncomfortable for me, which is weird because I didn't mind doing a 100kph on the gravel standing up. I just couldn't see myself doing a long highway trip comfortably on it. It seemed to struggle to accelerate above 110kph. Maybe it was my big torso wind blocking frame that did it.

Although if I were to have one bike and one bike only, it would be in my top five, that's for sure. I took it places I would never think of taking the Strom. I think the Strom could do it, but not at the same speed or confidence level, or without sustaining damage.

Ideally I want my Vstrom and another 250 dual sport for the rough stuff. Which I can have for less than the price of new 800GS.

Here are the specs courtesy of the BMW Motorad Canada website

BMW F800GS Adventure
BMW F800GS Adventure
TypeWater-cooled 4-stroke in-line two-cylinder engine, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Bore x stroke82 mm x 75.6 mm
Capacity798 cc
Rated output63 kW (85 hp) at 7,500 rpm 
possible reduction: 35 kW (48 hp) at 7,000 rpm
Max. torque83 Nm at 5,750 rpm 
possible reduction: 63 Nm at 4,000 rpm
Compression ratio12.0 : 1
Mixture control / engine managementElectronic intake pipe injection, digital engine management (BMS-K+)
Emission controlClosed-loop 3-way catalytic converter / emission standard EU-3
Performance / fuel consumption
Maximum speed193 km/h
Fuel consumption per 100 km at constant 90 km/h4.3 l
Fuel consumption per 100 km at constant 120 km/h5.7 l
Fuel typeUnleaded super, minimum octane rating 95 (RON); optional extra 91 (RON) available
Electrical system
Alternatorthree-phase alternator 400 W (rated power)
Battery12 V / 14 Ah, maintenance-free
Power transmission
ClutchMultiple-disc clutch in oil bath, mechanically operated
GearboxConstant mesh 6-speed gearbox integrated into crankcase
DriveEndless O-ring chain with shock damping in rear wheel hub
Chassis / brakes
FrameTubular steel space frame, load-bearing engine
Front wheel location / suspensionUpside-down telescopic fork, Ø 43 mm
Rear wheel location / suspensionCast aluminium dual swing arm, WAD strut (travel related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable, rebound damping adjustable
Suspension travel front / rear230 mm / 215 mm
Wheelbase1,578 mm
Castor117 mm
Steering head angle64°
WheelsWire spoke wheels
Rim, front2.15 x 21"
Rim, rear4.25 x 17"
Tyres, front90/90 - 21 54V
Tyres, rear150/70 - 17 69V
Brake, frontDual disc, floating brake discs, diameter 300 mm, double-piston floating calipers, ABS
Brake, rearSingle disc, diameter 265 mm, single-piston floating caliper, ABS
Dimensions / weights
Length2.305 mm
Width (incl. mirrors)925 mm
Height (excl. mirrors)1.450 mm
Seat height, unladen weight890 mm (860 mm low seat)
Inner leg curve, unladen weight1.960 mm (1.920 mm low seat)
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fuelled 1)229 kg
Dry weight
Permitted total weight454 kg
Payload (with standard equipment)225 kg
Usable tank volume24l
Reserveca. 4,0 l
  • Technical data relate to the unladen weight (DIN)
  • 1) According to Directive 93/93/EEC with all fluids, fuelled to at least 90% of usable fuel tank

1 comment:

  1. Love the look of this bike... but the weight and seat height scare me away (short with 30in inseam)
    Great "real world" review Terry.