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Old 10-11-2008, 03:27 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 03:33 PM
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:49 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, 03:55 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, 04:33 PM   #4
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You should have tried a yellow and black one. Much, much better!
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:43 PM   #5
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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, 05:03 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, 05:11 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, 06:46 PM   #8
Toadride
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Well, the obvious question is...Just where is this Toxic Britney thread?
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #9
JNRobert OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the darth peach
Where did you get to ride this? SF?
Not SF but I don't want to implicate the dealer.

JNRobert screwed with this post 10-11-2008 at 06:54 PM
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #10
JNRobert OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flamerider
All due praise to your riding skill and bladder control. How in the world did that caliper NOT get tangled up in the wheel?




Conner
I was more concerned about that than the lack of brakes.
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:51 PM   #11
JNRobert OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadride
Well, the obvious question is...Just where is this Toxic Britney thread?
Here
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Old 10-11-2008, 07:24 PM   #12
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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, 07:56 PM   #13
DolphinJohn
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Jeezus H. I'm goin ta check my caliper bolts right now!!!
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:19 PM   #14
levity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Django Loco
Which GS did you ride. There are two, as I'm sure most are aware of....Does the "650" have a 19" front wheel? F800 a 21"?
The photo shows a spoked 21" wheel with two discs as found on the 800GS.

The 650GS-twin has a cast 19" wheel with a single brake disc.


Oh, yeah.... I'm checking the torque on my caliper bolts tonight.
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:46 PM   #15
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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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