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Old 08-24-2008, 01:19 PM   #1
RTW Motorcycling OP
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Bmw F800gs Q&A

On the last leg of an around the world ride, I was fortunate enough to ride the F800GS from the tip of South America (Tierra del Fuego) to the tip of North America (Prudoe Bay). Quite a few people have asked questions about the bike and with the aim of contributing something back to the biking communities that have provided so much information and help over the last year, here are a few bike pics and general comments. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask away and I'd be happy to provide feedback on the bike from my perspective.


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Old 08-24-2008, 01:45 PM   #2
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Thank you for opening this up to questions. Like many other riders, I am extremely interested in this bike. A few questions:
  1. Are the tubed tires a pain to deal with? Do they cause any problems at high speed?
  2. How does the bike handle in sand and loose gravel?
  3. What modifications or add-ons do you recommend for this kind of journey?
  4. Not sure if you can speak to this but how does it compare to the big GS and the V-Strom?
  5. What do you like best about the bike?
  6. What do you hate the most about the bike?
Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.
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Old 08-24-2008, 10:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by texagator
Thank you for opening this up to questions. Like many other riders, I am extremely interested in this bike. A few questions:
  1. Are the tubed tires a pain to deal with? Do they cause any problems at high speed?
  2. How does the bike handle in sand and loose gravel?
  3. What modifications or add-ons do you recommend for this kind of journey?
  4. Not sure if you can speak to this but how does it compare to the big GS and the V-Strom?
  5. What do you like best about the bike?
  6. What do you hate the most about the bike?
Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.
In no particular order to the questions:)

1. Tubed tires are not really an issue. Granted it is easier to fix a flat on a tubeless tire, but on a trip of any duration, the occurence is rare and the time you stop to fix a flat is insignificant in the scheme of things. Most flats on the trip in one day was 8, yes eight, but luckily that was in Mongolia, we were on KLR 650s at that point and they all happened to my riding partner:)(bad Chinese tubes with faulty valve stems). They were all fixed using spoons stolen from the hotel in Vladivostok as tire levers as that was one small item that was left behind.

2. Sand and loose gravel. It handles as well as can be expected from a fairly heavy bike (197kg shipping weight with all fluids except gas). I was carrying a big load for a long ride so it wasn't light but in sand it handled well enough with the tire pressure reduced. In gravel and loose grave, I found it was dangerous, with knobbies (TKC80 rear, MT21 front) it felt so positive that I would find myself riding much to fast and inevitably I would come around a corner and see some soft deep gravel and realize that I should really try to keep my speed down. Honestly though, this is one area where the bike excels, it's ability to transition between various road surfaces without dramatic differences in performance.

3. Necessary mods - long list, and I'll get to more later but in brief:
1. Crash bars - a must as you have a big blob of plastic around the rad that is the first to hit the sand if you crash. Plus the rad is only suspended by a plastic tab on the bottom so a fairly light dump will break that and your rad will be hanging from the hoses until you get back to fix it.
2. Skid plate - a must for the oil cooler and the oil filter
3. Hand guards - it is a dual sport after all
4. Windscreen - the stocker is quite low, gives clean air but for any duration you will be catching a lot of wind.

4. Comparison to the 1200GS and the Vstrom
It's a long story, but I put about 35,000 km on a Strom through Europe and Africa and about the same mileage on the 800. I'll write more later, but IMO, the 800GS is the perfect dual sport bike, IF you will actually be riding on highway, off highway, AND offroad. If you are mainly a "touring" rider rather than an "adventure" rider". then the Strom or the 1200 is a better choice for your style of riding.

5. Likes - Many, such as versatility, performance

6. Dislikes - Not many, you catch a fair bit of wind, even after farting around with the screen set up.


Brief comments but I'll add more later.:)



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Old 08-24-2008, 11:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTW Motorcycling
In no particular order to the questions:)

3. Necessary mods - long list, and I'll get to more later but in brief:
1. Crash bars - a must as you have a big blob of plastic around the rad that is the first to hit the sand if you crash. Plus the rad is only suspended by a plastic tab on the bottom so a fairly light dump will break that and your rad will be hanging from the hoses until you get back to fix it.
What are your crash bars of choice? There is no small amount of debate on this particular point! Thanks again for sharing your real-world experiences.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:18 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by klarue
What are your crash bars of choice? There is no small amount of debate on this particular point! Thanks again for sharing your real-world experiences.


Hmm, I haven't been following too much overseas discussions so I'm unsure of what the crash bar debates are but I'll chime in with my point of view, feel free to ignore if it not aplicable for you.

In general, the aftermarket manufacturers make their products that meet the needs of the average rider as the market is the biggest at this point in the bell curve. Unfortunately, adventure riders fall outside this area and therefore a lot of the aftermarket stuff we can buy is close, but not tough enough for consistent abuse. In addition, a lot of the stuff is manufactured by European manufactureres which is great but it is orientated more to their riding conditions. In dual sport havens like North America, South Africa, Oz, etc. access to amazing tracks and trails and very rugged terrain leads to the demand for even more rugged parts.

Crash bars are essential for the plastics AND radiator AND engine as mentioned, so some of the stuff I have seen doesn't do much to protect the plastic or rad. Seems a bit strange to me, but oh well. It simply reflects that motorcycles for most are leisure vehicles and as such form (looks) are more important than function, Most won't be pushed to the limits to handle more than a simple tip over so it won't matter to them. To me, it is incomplete logic, as you will go through the time and effort to order the bars, install them, and in reality you get a protective device that doesn't protect you when you need it most. A rough anology is to buy a roll bar for you 4X4 that looks great and works ok if you bump into something but if you actually roll your truck it doesn't work.

On of the benefits of riding multiple days in sand and dirt and gravel is that you and the riders around you have a lot of tipovers, a few spills and if unlucky, an actual crash. In a remote location or distant country you can't afford to have your bike sustain significant damage, fixing it is very difficult and access to replacement parts is difficult or sometimes almost impossible.

Based on what I've seen, I wouldn't go for any of the lighter, minimalistic setups. The BMW engine bars, are engine protectors only. The additional bolt ons that come up over the plastic offer a bare minimum. I would go for the strongest, toughest setup that you can find, if you plan on riding the bike off highway, off road or pushing it’s limits. If not, an almost all highway bike can easily get away with the BMW like setup.

Sorry can’t provide more specific feedback on the other setups, but I’ll take a look and let you know what my impressions are. When I set up the bike, I didn’t look around as there was nothing available so we made our own crashbars. We were somewhat limited by the equipment we had access to but made a fairly minimalistic set up that didn’t look as stellar but was very effective. Now that I’m back, we are making a second generation set of crashbars that is more fitted and a bit better looking. People keep asking so we are making sets for a few friends along with skid plates and rear racks. If anyone else is interested in them, they could be available to all adv’ers, same price as for all friends, cost (once we figure out what cost isJ)


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Old 08-25-2008, 10:26 AM   #6
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RTW-
Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions.
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Old 08-25-2008, 12:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTW Motorcycling
People keep asking so we are making sets for a few friends along with skid plates and rear racks. If anyone else is interested in them, they could be available to all adv’ers, same price as for all friends.
Add me to the list of people asking, RTW. I haven't settled on which bars (or bash plate) I'm going to mount, so having the benefit of your battle-tested option is a very good thing. But try not to make them too fugly, OK?

Thanks again for your time and effort here. And if you ever get the chance to put up a trip report with pictures, please provide a link here.

David
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:04 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by RTW Motorcycling




Hi RTW,

Thanks for all the info about the bike and congratz on the trip! I have had my 800gs for about 4 weeks now and I am still searching around for crash bars an bash plates, although I have taken it offroad already anyway. I would be very interested on seeing close up of your crash bars too.

I am particularly interested in the last leg of your trip. This pic on the snow, isn't that Tierra del Fuego, just outside Ushuaia on Route 3? I think I can recognise the area, I was born in Ushuaia but I am now living in the UK. Doing Tierra Del Fuego - Alaska on the 800GS is one of my dreams!.
If you have more pictures or a website containing more details about the trip itself please let me know.

Thanks again for sharing.

Ernesto
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTW Motorcycling
I put about 35,000 km on a Strom through Europe and Africa and about the same mileage on the 800. I'll write more later, but IMO, the 800GS is the perfect dual sport bike, ...
My question for you is, now that you have 35,000kms on it, what is your next bike going to be?
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Old 08-24-2008, 01:47 PM   #10
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I used the bike for long distance/around the world touring so my comments on the bike as based on that perspective. Each rider has their own unique needs based on the intended use, ultimate destination, terrain along the way, and their personal riding style. No one bike can possibly overlap all these needs, hence the long winded and grey nature of the "which bike" debate.


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Old 08-24-2008, 02:38 PM   #11
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Well done on your trip, on a relatively untested bike. I am sure you will shortly be inundated with questions

I'm just going to pour a drink and sit back here..
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Old 08-24-2008, 03:27 PM   #12
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I'd be interested in what kind of mileage you got. Thanks.
Awsome trip BTW
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Old 08-24-2008, 11:11 PM   #13
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I'd be interested in what kind of mileage you got. Thanks.
Awsome trip BTW
Mileage. Yikes, you know I actually was ok at this at one point as Canada used to use the imperial system when I was a kid (now metric) and there are a few holdovers here such as height (when you ask someone how tall they are they'll say six foot, not 182 cm) and ocassionally fuel mileage (car owners say their new car can get 50 MPG).

But I started to get mixed up in Africa riding a bike that had a speedo set to miles and all the fuel you buy is in litres. So after a while you get good at determining your miles per litre. Then this bike has a metric speedo so through South and Central America it is mostly kms per litre and then in the US I had to figure out kms per gallon. Long winded story, but I'll give you some general distances and you'll have to convert:)

Couple of things, the brochure says the tank is approx. 16 litres but if you run it until it sputters and then top it up, it will take very close to 17 litres. I did this enough times to be absolutely sure of that. No need to try this at home:)

For a tank, I got between 300 and 350 kms depending on speed and therefore rpms. Litres per 100 km were between 5 and 6, which roughly translates to between 20 and 17 kms per litre. If you can stand going 90 km (55), the mileage is exceptional. If you are really cranking along the road trying to make the border crossing, the engine is working and the mileage really starts to suck.

Having said that, in comparison to a 1200Gs, once you take tank size into account, you get pretty much the same distance, a little less for the 800. I rode with a navy guy in Alaska who was on a 1200 and we would fill up and compare.


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Old 08-26-2008, 05:18 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by RTW Motorcycling
Mileage. Yikes, you know I actually was ok at this at one point as Canada used to use the imperial system when I was a kid (now metric) and there are a few holdovers here such as height (when you ask someone how tall they are they'll say six foot, not 182 cm) and ocassionally fuel mileage (car owners say their new car can get 50 MPG).

But I started to get mixed up in Africa riding a bike that had a speedo set to miles and all the fuel you buy is in litres. So after a while you get good at determining your miles per litre. Then this bike has a metric speedo so through South and Central America it is mostly kms per litre and then in the US I had to figure out kms per gallon. Long winded story, but I'll give you some general distances and you'll have to convert:)
No probs mate. I can do math sittin' at home with my handy calculator. Bet it did get a bit hinky doing the conversions on the road.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:42 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by RTW Motorcycling
Mileage. Yikes...

between 20 and 17 kms per litre.
40 to 47 mpg, not too bad at all!!
(I heart google, it does conversions for you, just type in "20 km/L in mpg" )

RTW - thanks for all the fantastic info and impressions! I sold my 12GSadv before moving to Oz, and when I go home to the US in a few months, I'm strongly considering the 800 for the generally shorter, smaller road/off-road riding I enjoy most.

I do have one question: did the 800 ever feel "light in the front"? On my 12GSadv, when it was fully loaded, complete with the Mrs on the pillion, the bike would feel like the front wheel was barely touching the ground. The 21" on the 800 makes me think of that.

Random thought: what would an F800GS with a 19" front be like?
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