[Much of this is cross posted from a post in the PB300 thread over in the Northeast forum]
This weekend I did the pine barrens 300 ride in Southern New Jersey on the F800GS.
I'll say that the bike performed very well and despite my best efforts I only managed to crash twice at speed.
I am by no means the most experienced off-road rider out there -- the smallest bikes I'd ridden off road before this were my F650GS's. I learned by leaps and bounds over the course of the weekend and up until I started getting tired Sunday afternoon was having no problem with the bike.
I was also part of a group that ran a more relaxed pace, which also meant we encountered the course after it was chewed up by the other riders. Thanks to Sno Dawg and the other guys I rode with for their support, tips, and GPS guidance!
Here are the highlights:
- I have it fitted with a 908rr in the front and due to the 17" wheel a TKC80 in the rear. Both were aired down to 20lb.
- The bike provides a great deal of feedback and it was easy to feel what the wheels were doing and counteract.
- Throttle response is instant, which made controlling power to the rear as easy as thinking -- both a blessing and a curse.
- Shifting is smooth and clean, along with the throttle response it is very easy to rev-match on a down shift and up shifts are positive with little effort or uncertainty.
- Gearing was just fine for me. Some say it's too tall, other too short, but for my purposes idle in first gear is at a good speed and I don't mind feathering the clutch below that.
- While it was heavy and certainly much more of an adventure bike than an enduro bike, it was fully capable of everything I threw at it (and likely much more).
- Ground clearance was never an issue and the suspension never complained a bit regardless of how fast I took the whoops. The 21" wheel was undoubtedly an asset (my F650GS has a 19").
- Apart from an overzealous oil pressure light (eventually went away, but scary while sitting in the middle of nowhere) I never once doubted that it was as capable as any other bike in its class or that it could get me out of anything I tried to get into.
- I crashed (separated from the bike) once each day. There is MINIMAL damage to the bike despite the fact that the second spill was a ~50mph plow into a deep sand pit that tossed me 10+ feet, knocked the breath out of me, and buried half the bike. There is a scratch or two on the matte black side plastic which I can likely repair and the bar mounts are tweaked about 5-10 degrees from straight. I haven't taken them apart yet to determine what exactly is bent, but from the deformation of the rubber washers I suspect it is the bolts that hold the mounts to the tree rather than more expensive parts. [Edit: Just took everything apart and put it back together -- there was NO damage. The bolts are completely encased in rubber bushings which go back to being circular when the pressure is let off. Smart move BMW!]
- I wish I'd let Sno Dawg or one of the other more experienced riders take it for a spin so I could get their impressions.
I spent most of my time trying to stay upright and keep up the pace so I didn't get too many pictures. What I do have are here (along with selected pics stolen with credit from other ride members):
Picture by Sno Dawg