What is it?
BMW calls its F 800 GS the “sportiest member of the GS family” − and it certainly is. It’s a middleweight adventure/dual-purpose bike, but with enough power to hang with the big boys like the 1200 GS. It’s probably BMW’s best dual-purpose bike as it is great off road and also splendid to ride on tar.
Engine and drive
The 800 GS was launched in 2008 and from then to this day the same 798cc parallel-twin engine has been used. Over this time the engine has proved to be very reliable and versatile. It puts out 63kW and 83Nm. That might not sound like heaps of power, but with the revs climbing over 4000r/min the bike feels quite fast. The maximum speed is around 215km/h and is basically the same as the 1200 GS. It is chain driven.
Style, instruments and equipment
The 800 GS has somewhat of an aggressive look with its two rectangular headlights, short mudguard in front and naked frame. None of this has been changed on the recently updated 800 GS. The side fairings, however, have changed a bit to complement the aggressive look even more.
The instrumentation has also been upgraded. The most significant change is that the front brake fluid reservoir is now fixed to the part of the lever. This means there’s no longer a dancing reservoir fixed with little rubbers to a little extension on the handlebar. The indicators are now operated with only one button on the left of the handlebar.
The new model now comes with ABS (as on all BMW bikes from now on) as a standard feature. Electronic suspension, ESA, and traction control, ASC, are new features to the bike, but are optional extras. However, BMW Motorrad SA has given notice to dealerships that no base model (without ESA, ASC and heated grips) will be available in the country.
The 798cc engine loves performing. There’s enough torque low down to keep you going through the rough stuff at a slow pace. The bike pulls well from down under, but it’s from 4000r/min where the fun begins. The mid-range and top of the 800’s power curve are thrilling. With a top speed of about 215km/h it can run with the big dogs.
The six-speed gearbox shifts with ease and the clutch is light when operated with two fingers.
Fuel consumption is great for a big bike such as this: 5.2 l/100km at 120km/h.
Ride and Handling
The one problem the 800 GS had from the start was its poor suspension when used off road; especially at the front. That’s why you had the choice of fitting your 800 with BMW’s suspension kit as an after-market accessory. The kit works very well and makes the 43mm upside-down forks much stiffer and more progressive. The new model has WP forks fitted. Why BMW waited so long I don’t know, but this makes a major difference to the bike’s handling off road. You can actually ride the new 800 like a big enduro bike without fearing that the front will bottom out the whole time. However, the forks are still not adjustable.
The new ESA and ASC on the 800 GS did not get me excited at all. I changed through the three ESA settings; Comfort, Normal and Sport (it only change the rear suspension’s setup) and couldn’t really feel the differences between the setups. The ASC stops any wheel spin the back wheel might get. There is only one setting. This could help in rainy conditions on tar. But on gravel it ends all the fun.
The bike doesn’t have a great standing position when you take it from the showroom. Tilting the handlebar over to the front helps a lot − and if you raise it just a little, 15mm, it will be perfect.
Otherwise this is a splendid bike. You can have loads of fun with it off road, in the field and on tar.
Like: There is lots to be liked, but the very economical fuel consumption, great power and versatility are the 800 GS’ best features.
Dislike: The poor suspension was usually the pain in the neck, but that is now much better. It would be great if BMW made the suspension set-up adjustable.
Verdict and Rating
I’m a harsh critic on adventure bikes (and no Beamer fan), but the F 800 GS is such an enjoyable and capable bike that I actually bought one for myself. 9/10
Triumph Tiger 800, KTM 990 Adventure
Specifications for BMW F 800 GS
- Engine Water-cooled, four-stroke, parallel-twin 798cc engine
- Gearbox Constant mesh six-speed
- Power 63kW@7500r/min
- Torque 83Nm@5750r/min
- Weight 214kg with oil and fully fuelled
- Seat Height 880mm (other heights available with different seat options)
- Fuel Capacity 16 litres
- Fuel consumption 3.8 l/100km at 100km/h and 5.2 l/100km at 120km/h
- Tank range 307km at 120km/h average
- Warranty and Servicing Two-year warranty, unlimited kilometres. 10 000km intervals
- Price R109 400 for the base model and R119 550 with heated grips, ESA and ASC included. Note: only the dynamic package (extras included) is available in South Africa according to BMW Motorrad SA.
- Ridden by Bikeroutes October 2012
- Review by Willem van der Berg
More info from http://www.bmw-motorrad.co.za/
A big thanks to Sovereign BMW Motorrad in Bloemfontein for letting us rip some routes on the new F 800 GS at the BMW Eco Challenge in Clocolan and for another Saturday there after – Sovereign BMW Motorrad