BMW F 800 GS Adventure – Road Test

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What is it?

It’s the BMW F 800 GS in its adventure outfit. BMW Motorrad did the same when they turned the R 1200 GS into the R 1200 GS Adventure. The biggest difference between the F 800 GS Adventure and standard F 800 GS is the former’s bigger fuel capacity. Therefore the tank at the rear end of the bike which is fitted underneath the seat has to be much bigger. Besides a few other tweaks and extras it’s still an 800 GS, so it has the same engine and suspension as the standard bike.

Engine and drive

It’s exactly the same engine as used in the F 800 GS for the past five years: that trusty 798cc parallel twin. This engine puts out 63 kW and 83 Nm of power. It does feel a bit dull between zero and 3 000 r/min, but then again feels great with the revs climbing over the 3 500 mark. So it’s tricky to keep alive on technical terrain, but really flies with the throttle pinned.

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Style, instruments and equipment

The 800 Adventure looks like a pregnant 800 GS. The bigger fuel tank’s appearance (24 litres; 8 more than the 800 GS) at the back takes some getting used to. The tank makes the back substantially wider than the normal 800. To protect the wider tank, the Adventure comes with pannier racks as standard. The bigger fuel tank gives the Adventure a range of about 440 km. Much better than the 300 km range of the 800 GS.

There are protection bars around the engine too, as well as a bash plate and hand guards for extra protection. But the hand guards break like twigs when the bike falls over, so they’re useless, really.

The front section of the Adventure is wider than that of the 800 GS and it has a much higher windscreen. These features help to shield the wind from the rider. Wide enduro foot pegs, a comfort seat and two LED fog lights in front make the Adventure a more comfortable and versatile ride than the 800 GS. As with all new BMW motorcycles, ABS is fitted as standard.

You have the option to fit Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) on the Adventure. This gives you the luxury of setting the suspension damping at the rear, at the press of a button, choosing between Comfort, Normal And Sport. It only changes the damping at the rear and not the preload. So the differences between the settings are not significant. The WP forks can not be set in any way.

An optional Enduro Package is also available. With it comes Automatic Stability Control (ASC). The Enduro Package has an “Off Road” mode that can be selected by pushing a button. This optimises ABS and traction control for off-road use and allows some slip when braking or accelerating.

The Off Road mode only comes with the Enduro Package, but the ASC can be fitted on its own.

The ABS and ASC can be deactivated. The biggest pain with the electronic aids is that when the bike is switched off and on again, the ABS and ASC automatically engage.

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Performance

It feels much like the F 800 GS. The extra 15 kg does not dampen acceleration. Top end is down to 193 km/h and fuel consumption is a bit higher at 5.7 litres/100km. More torque in the lower rev range would have been really useful, BMW Motorrad.

Ride and handling

Although the Adventure is heavier than the 800 GS, you won’t feel it. It’s still the 800 GS as we know it. It handles well and feels nimble through technical sections.

It feels great on open gravel roads and just that little more planted than the F 800 GS.

The suspension remains unchanged and doesn’t feel as if it needed any tinkering. The bike runs smoothly on gravel, soaks up the rough stuff and only bottomed out once when landing after a nasty jump.

I tilted the handlebar over to the front and that made standing up on the bike much easier. (You’ll need hex/allen keys to loosen the bolts on the handlebars if you want to tilt it.)

The wide foot pegs are really welcome, as is the wind protection offered by the high windscreen. The comfort seat is a little higher than the standard seat on the F 800 GS and certainly lives up to its name.

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Likes/Dislikes

Like: The high windscreen, wide foot pegs and longer range with the bigger tank.

Dislike: The look of the bigger fuel tank and the limited torque under 3 000 r/min.

Verdict and rating

I like the standard F 800 GS more than the Adventure model, mainly because of its appearance. But the Adventure does make sense. It has the fuel range for touring, yet it’s still light and nimble. It is the perfect bike for that overland tour to Namibia or into Africa. It is  easier to ride than that tank of a R 1200 GS Adventure too. 9/10

Also consider

There’s no direct competitor. The Triumph Tiger 800 XC belongs with the (standard) F 800 GS and the KTM 990 is only available as a pre-owned these days.

Specifications of the BMW F 800 GS Adventure (2013)

  • Engine  Water-cooled, four-stroke, parallel-twin 798 cc engine
  • Gearbox  Constant mesh six-speed. Chain drive.
  • Power  63 kW @ 7 500 r/min
  • Torque  83 Nm @ 5 750 r/min
  • Weight  229 kg with oil and fully fuelled
  • Seat height  890 mm and 860 mm
  • Fuel capacity  24 litres
  • Fuel consumption  4.3 l/100km at 100km/h and 5.7 l/100km at 120km/h
  • Tank range  420 km at 120 km/h average
  • Warranty and servicing  Two-year warranty, unlimited kilometres. 10 000km service intervals. Three years road-side assistance included.
  • Price  R 124 200 for the base model and R 139 500 with heated grips, ESA, Enduro Package and ASC included.
  • Review by  Willem van der Berg, July 2013
  • Pictures by  Willem van der Berg and Greg Beadle

More info from http://www.bmw-motorrad.co.za/

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