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Old 08-27-2011, 04:31 PM   #190
Gangplank's Avatar
Joined: Jul 2003
Location: Las Vegas
Oddometer: 2,294
A good review of both by someone who rode both and made a decision.


Hello all,
I have been a lurker here for a while and have decided to jump in!
I currently own a BMW R1200RT and have wanted to get into adventure type riding for a while now. Since I live in Colorado, there is so much off pavement exploring one can do (as I do on my Mt. Bike) that I have really felt limited by my RT.
So today I took the plunge and put money down on a new F800GS.
I spent the last two days at various shops test riding bikes, so I thought my experience may be of interest to some, so here goes...
I have been researching GS bikes for a while now, and decided based on what I want to do, reviews and others input, that the F800GS was the right choice, but the Tiger 800 has also received great reviews. When I went to the dealer, the only F800GS they had was a demo and had been loaned out, so I was only able to try the Tiger. I must say that the Tiger blew me away! I didnt expect it to be so smooth, fast, and manueverable. At this point I hadnt ridden the F800, but I was now having significant thoughts that the Tiger may be THE bike. The dealer let me test a F650GS that was available, and I was pretty dissapointed in comparison. It felt like a "kiddie" bike, very low and cramped, far less power and had a wierd flat spot in the power band at low revs in second gear. I didnt get the opportunity to ride the F800 until the next day, so I could do a back-to-back comparison. The next day, when I rode the Tiger again, I did a more complete test, with some dirt lots, very slow manuevering excercises and high speed starts and stops. My second impression, while still impressed, found some weaknesses in the Tiger I hadnt noticed before. While the engine is very smooth and powerful, I found the low speed/RPM performance was not what I expected, and frankly kind of troubling. On this second test I tried very low speed first gear riding around tight objects. Well, twice the engine stalled and I nearly dropped the Bike! For an Adventure/off road bike I would expect a lot of low end grunt, with the ability to lug the bike at very low speeds as one would do in technical off road conditions. Additionally, the bike stalled on take-off a couple of times. I had to slip the clutch quite a bit and/or keep the revs up to take off with confidence. Additionally, I found it very hard to modulate power in the lower gears. In first or second gear I tried to roll power on as smoothly as possible but couldnt manage to do so without considerable jerkiness. In the dirt I feel it may cause the rear tire to spin very easily. However, up and running the engine is really beautiful, but I began to think that the engine is really more sutied for pavemant duty. My thoughts are that it is a perfect street engine, more like a crotch rocket: fast, smooth and high revving, gobs of power and acceleration.
In terms of handling, both bikes handle very well with the Tiger feeling larger and wider, and slightly less "flickable". The suspension feels stiffer on the Tiger. Since I'm a current BMW owner, I didnt like the controls on the Tiger, but that is personal preference.
The F800 motor, by comparison, had more "grunt", wasnt as smooth, was still very powerful and fast. The Tiger has a considerable "whine" to the engine that was abscent on the F800. I took the F800 through the same course, with first gear, slow manuevers. I could run the F800 to almost a standstill and never once did the engine sputter or stall. Clutch releases were very positive, with no hesitation or stalling. I never needed to rev the engine to get the bike started, as I felt I needed to do on the Tiger. The engine didnt seem to need to rev like the Tiger to develop its power, which to me is a better powerplant for off roading.
So on first impression, I was so impressed with the Tiger that I was seriously considering it. It it amazingly smooth and powerful, however, after more testing, i'm not sure the triple is the best solution for an adventure type (offroad) bike. So I am buying the F800, since it seems overall the best design for true on/off adventure riding purposes.
My $0.02
Ride more, bark less
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