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Old 10-11-2008, 02:27 PM   #1
JNRobert OP
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My F800GS Test Ride - YMMV



For about a year I owned an F800S which I thoroughly enjoyed except for the fact it didn't fit me well. It was a bike that after 30 minutes my back, shoulders and arse were unhappy with. But, I liked the engine, its frugality, and the usual BMW ammenities such as heated grips and a really great computer. For what I used it for - a sixty mile a day commute - I had no complaints. Its wasn't a Ducati 1098 but it was plenty fun.

I've owned several GS's and a KTM 990 Adventure (and ridden several 950's) and like them. So, it was a dead cert that I was going to go back to a big trail bike stylee for my daily ride. I was also certain the 800GS was going to be it and when my brother traded in his 1200GS Adventure for one after raving about his test ride, it seemed like a done deal in my mind.

However. . . . test rides can have unexpected results. The test did get cut short (more on that in a minute) but I managed about an hour on everything from potholed two lane, Freeway and a little dirt and gravel off-road.

First off the motor is good. Not a hot rod like the KTM but a punchy mid-range and lots of passing performance. I loved the riding position (I could have done with the pegs positioned further back but a minor quibble). The seat was great for the first thirty minutes but not so good after that. But then, none of them are. I did have the optional taller seat and with a 34" in seam, I could flat foot the bike and still be comfortable in my knees while riding.

The brakes are soft taking a fair amount of lever effort. They work fine and are much like the KTM's in that the initial bite is geared to off-road. I also had a problem with the position of the back brake pedal. Perhaps it can be adjusted but it just felt awkward and required me to move my ankle in a way that felt unnatural.

The suspension is okay. High speed compression is a little harsh and its not as refined as the boxer GS but everyone ends up replacing the shock anyway and no-doubt there will be lots of fork mods happening as people get to know the bike. I'll admit to being disappointed they don't offer any fork adjustments - I think this is almost unacceptable on a bike these days.

Overall handling is good and its lots of fun in the twisties. Perhaps a tad of inertia in that big front wheel and its a bit vague when you're really pushing it but its a big trail bike for crying out loud. I would say its weight advantage and general liveliness gives it the nod over the boxer but its not quite as engaging as the KTM.

It also runs a lot cooler than my 990 (no radiator, engine and exhaust heat to the same degree). Overall a kindler, gentler bike in comparison.

My really big complaint of the F8 is the wind management which is bloody useless. 80-100 mph on the Freeway is a torrid affair and I took a pounding as the wind flow from the screen hit me full face. It was very noisy and side buffeting is bad too. The KTM is worse imo but not by much. Perhaps the optional taller screen helps - I hope so.

Its performance on the slab otherwise was good and you could pass anything with authority. Its viby in the upper rev range and long days are going to give you numb hands. Its no 1200 Adventure in the comfort stakes that's for sure.

Overall I liked it but wasn't knocked out. The price is good (comparatively) and the heated grips and the computer are first class. I could see myself owning one but I'm not sure I would feel passionate about it: it would fill a set of requirements. Nothing wrong with that and there's all sorts of reasons to own a bike.

I did have to cut short my ride because of this:



Yes, the brake caliper bolts backed out and made a dash for freedom somewhere on the freeway. I was heading down the off-ramp at about ninety and discovered I had no brakes. Suffice to say I was pumping like Arnie browsing the Toxic Britney thread before I got some brakes back on the remaining caliper. No harm, no foul, but not something I'd like to repeat.

JNRobert screwed with this post 10-11-2008 at 02:33 PM
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Old 10-11-2008, 02:49 PM   #2
Steve516
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The dealer ought to give you the GS for damn near getting you killed.

Just kidding, but this could probably be a helluva liability suit if somebody wanted to make it into one...
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Old 10-11-2008, 02:55 PM   #3
JNRobert OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve516
The dealer ought to give you the GS for damn near getting you killed.

This could probably be a helluva liability suit if you wanted to make it into one...
Like I said, no harm no foul and these things happen. I have no intention of suing anyone and they were probably more upset about it than I was.
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:33 PM   #4
Wildman
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You should have tried a yellow and black one. Much, much better!
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:43 PM   #5
Redbull Addict
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that sounded like a very fair and unbiased review. Thank you!

I had a GS and sold it in order to get a 990 but if the 800GS was around I would have considered it also. My impressions are similar to yours. I just can't get excited about the styling and the lack of any adjustability to the front fork is ridiculous for a bike in this price point.
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:03 PM   #6
the darth peach
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Where did you get to ride this? SF?
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:11 PM   #7
Conner
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Hi Mo

All due praise to your riding skill and bladder control. How in the world did that caliper NOT get tangled up in the wheel?




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Old 10-11-2008, 07:46 PM   #8
fallzboater
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalMo
...these things happen.
I don't buy that. What do they charge for prep?

I wasn't real impressed by the motor on the F800S, but it's probably better suited to this type of bike. I think that they really should be priced OTD less than a 990 Adventure, though.
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:07 PM   #9
Jeffy
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Nice Review Mo.

For those in the SF area, there is a place that will rent you a F800GS. I was told they received it last week and it's been broken in.
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Old 10-12-2008, 06:12 AM   #10
gybeman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fallzboater
I don't buy that. What do they charge for prep?

I wasn't real impressed by the motor on the F800S, but it's probably better suited to this type of bike. I think that they really should be priced OTD less than a 990 Adventure, though.
Me neither. I've never, ever seen that happen. They are usually overtorqued from the factory and/or some type of loctite on them.
I do like the design of the bike and the sound of the motor, especially on the Akra piped one I saw Chris Pfeiffer stunting on, but I've read about some odd sounding issues, and is this a Rotax or Kymco built motor? A fair # of teething issues for a bike that was delayed so long and had lots of other 800 variations before it.
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:43 AM   #11
Bruce.B
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And again...

I experienced something similar but with more drama. I had 2.5 hrs riding on my same-day-new-from-the-dealer F800GS when, as I was completing a slow left turn, the front wheel locked and I went down... maybe 10-15 mph.

My first indication of a problem was while in the left turn lane and I had no front brakes. I did have the rear brake, so I tried to finish the turn to pull over to the side of the road out of traffic. When I touched the rear brake again, the unattached caliper swung forward like a pendulum and jammed between the spokes and the right strut. What followed happened in milliseconds: the wheel locked, the axle snapped and the right strut jammed into the disc. I high-sided and saved the side cases from damage with my foot. No, not intentionally.



(The side cases are missing because I had to leave the bike in the dealers driveway after it was towed.)

A couple good samaritans helped me get the bike up and one found the caliper which had no remnants of the missing bolts, no torn threads... just a snapped brake line. This makes me believe that the bolts left the bike before any of this happened (vs. a bolt snapping).

I've found someone in the UK (UKGSer.com forum) that had a similar but not identical experience. In his case the caliper vibrated badly, so he found the problem without coming off his bike.

The dealer is doing everything I could ask for to get the bike back on the road. Couldn't be happier with their response which included the offer of any bike in the house to ride till mine is street-ready again. They've filed a PUMA and hopefully some light will come of that. The biggest issue is that, being a new bike, there aren't many spares in the US yet. Nearly everything was backordered. They now tell me that they should have the mass of the parts by 20 October.

Bruce
Santa Fe, NM

ps- this was the best scenario I could have hoped for. About 4 minutes before I was on the freeway doing 75-80 mph. I really don't like to think what that could have lead to!

Bruce.B screwed with this post 10-12-2008 at 04:09 PM
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Old 10-12-2008, 04:21 PM   #12
cisco
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yikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce.B
I experienced something similar but with more drama. I had 2.5 hrs riding on my same-day-new-from-the-dealer F800GS when, as I was completing a slow left turn, the front wheel locked and I went down... maybe 10-15 mph.

My first indication of a problem was while in the left turn lane and I had no front brakes. I did have the rear brake, so I tried to finish the turn to pull over to the side of the road out of traffic. When I touched the rear brake again, the unattached caliper swung forward like a pendulum and jammed between the spokes and the right strut. What followed happened in milliseconds: the wheel locked, the axle snapped and the right strut jammed into the disc. I high-sided and saved the side cases from damage with my foot. No, not intentionally.



(The side cases are missing because I had to leave the bike in the dealers driveway after it was towed.)

A couple good samaritans helped me get the bike up and one found the caliper which had no remnants of the missing bolts, no torn threads... just a snapped brake line. This makes me believe that the bolts left the bike before any of this happened (vs. a bolt snapping).

I've found someone in the UK (UKGSer.com forum) that had a similar but not identical experience. In his case the caliper vibrated badly, so he found the problem without coming off his bike.

The dealer is doing everything I could ask for to get the bike back on the road. Couldn't be happier with their response which included the offer of any bike in the house to ride till mine is street-ready again. They've filed a PUMA and hopefully some light will come of that. The biggest issue is that, being a new bike, there aren't many spares in the US yet. Nearly everything was backordered. They now tell me that they should have the mass of the parts by 20 October.

Bruce
Santa Fe, NM

ps- this was the best scenario I could have hoped for. About 4 minutes before I was on the freeway doing 75-80 mph. I really don't like to think what that could have lead to!
I can't believe the axle SNAPPED! VERY BAD. The axle nut falling off, Ok(this happened to me on the rear on a new wr400f) but the axle snapping?
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Old 10-12-2008, 04:22 PM   #13
Crilly
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The Dealer should be very helpful. When they receive the bike the front wheel is not attached. The dealer has to install the front wheel. The setup guys need to check torques. Number one idiot uncrates the bike.
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:24 PM   #14
Django Loco
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Just curious,
Which GS did you ride. There are two, as I'm sure most are aware of.
The rest of the world call it the F650GS ... but it's an 800 as well but a less expensive, de-tuned version.

Does the "650" have a 19" front wheel? F800 a 21"?

Good, honest write up Mo. So I take it you're not buying one?

Cheers!
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:56 PM   #15
DolphinJohn
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Jeezus H. I'm goin ta check my caliper bolts right now!!!
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