This morning I took the 800 out to a nearby area frequented by dirt bikes and ATVs. I'd been back there a number of times on the F650GS (single) and was eager to see how the 800 handled things.
It rained a LOT yesterday and things were pretty soupy. When I got there I stopped on the sand and aired down the tires a bit, but not too much (just enough to notice on the road) as I didn't have a way to re-inflate for the short trip home.
I went on some runs through the trails -- it's an area that alternates between sand, rock, and grass/mud. Here are some pictures from a prior (dryer) trip on the six-fiddy:
Today, however, everything that looks tan above was either brown mud or under 3-10 inches of standing water. Even on the battlewings the F800GS handled it like a champ.
I've seen some people have echoed my observation that this bike is so well balanced that you almost don't need to put your feet down at traffic lights. That characteristic carries through to water crossings or any low traction situation -- even with minimal traction (say, crossing through a 10 foot wide and 1 foot deep mud puddle -- ask me how I know) I was more concerned about the rear wheel bogging down in the mud than I was of either wheel washing out.
The bike did great, but I decided to come back when it was dryer to do the faster trails, and after I have a decent bash plate to do the rockier trails (gosh that exhaust looks exposed!). Here's a picture stopped along one of the more open trails (I'm too busy riding in the tighter stuff to take pictures).
Once back on the sand (between the trails and the road) I rode through a series of minor whoops (about 20, spaced roughly 8 feet peak-to-peak and 1.5 feet peak-to-trough). The bike was doing great, I was probably doing about 30 mph, I could feel the suspension really working with me, and then I saw it. The trough of the next whoop didn't exist -- there was some sort of erosion-based HOLE about a foot and a half wide. Stopping was out of the question, as was turning. I had no choice but to get the suspension extended as much as possible and whack the throttle.
The 21" front wheel had no problem, but then the rear wheel hit the hole -- which was wider than it was.
I thought my teeth were going to fall out (I have the rear preload a few clicks short of full firm) but the bike stayed up, the rear scrabbled its way up and out of the hole, and everything kept going just fine.
Once I got back to the house I took some pictures of the bike before hosing it down. For what it's worth, I didn't get even a speck of mud thrown up on my back by the wheel.
There's a lot more to ride out there, but I now have real confidence in the bike. Now I just need to get some TKC-80s on the thing and hit the pine barrens...