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Old 02-26-2014, 09:57 AM   #1
caedenspa OP
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Considering an F800GSA

I have never owned an adventure bike. Currently own a Harley, a Ducati, and a Victory. Last summer I rented an R1200GS while in Italy. I loved the bike, and my wife said it was the most comfortable pillion ride she'd had to date.

Fast forward 8 months, and I'm thinking of trading the Vic in on a BMW. I first thought about the R1200GS, but I'm wondering if the F800GSA would be a better choice?

What would I be giving up by going "down" to the 800 vs. the 1200? What would I be gaining?

BMW's website does a rather poor job of explaining what you really get with each bike, so I'm going to lean into you guys.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:59 AM   #2
sarathmenon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caedenspa View Post
I have never owned an adventure bike. Currently own a Harley, a Ducati, and a Victory. Last summer I rented an R1200GS while in Italy. I loved the bike, and my wife said it was the most comfortable pillion ride she'd had to date.

Fast forward 8 months, and I'm thinking of trading the Vic in on a BMW. I first thought about the R1200GS, but I'm wondering if the F800GSA would be a better choice?

What would I be giving up by going "down" to the 800 vs. the 1200? What would I be gaining?

BMW's website does a rather poor job of explaining what you really get with each bike, so I'm going to lean into you guys.
If it's tarmac rides, then the R1200GS is a no brainer. It's super comfortable and the street manners with sport touring tires are impeccable. The F800 is more offroad worthy, but you'll have to swap out the stock seat to make it bearable for touring. Plus it's taller, which might be a problem depending on your inseam.

Overall, both bikes are very capable on the highway. You'll have to flog the F800 a little more than the R1200, but it can easily haul two people and cargo. Test ride both.

And yeah, fill up that profile before Loutre spots this thread
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:30 AM   #3
Raconnol
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It's like the HD thing, you want to ride as many different models as possible and get real clear and honest on what your plans are for the bike.

For two up a great ADV bike is the KTM 1190. Ride one and see.

Often the best bike is where you get the best service and/or where the most dealers and parts can be found. Are your plans likely to take you into South America, or elsewhere, if so then look at the dealer network where you plan on taking the bike.

The v-storms get a great reviews for people who stay close to pavement. And I expect the Honda NC750XA would be a very reliable pavement and rough pavement bike if the smallish fuel tank is not an issue for your routes.

The little KLR-650 does rather amazing rides with a few upgrades to the suspension and seat.

The good news is that you have a ton of great bikes to choose from... the bad new is the same :)

Rick
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:06 PM   #4
BcDano
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Bit of a rehash but 800 if you are going to get dirty. For the occasional dusty road and two-up touring get the boxer. I have an 800 and it gets very dirty, bike is great. Occasionally I have my gal off her bike and we ride two-up on mine but I wouldn't want to do it for more than a few days. Then again we ran into this couple the other day in southern Argentina and they were managing just fine off-road.


to baja caracoles 20 by Worldwide Ride.ca, on Flickr
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Old 02-26-2014, 01:22 PM   #5
GPHusky250
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Ok, my two worthless cents on this topic....

I currently own a 2011 R1200RT and a 2014 F800GSA and have had many hours in the saddle riding R1200GS's and here's what I think....

Both bikes are equally capable on the street and somewhat equally capable in offroad situations....but neither is an "off road" bike, despite what BMW says. WHAT! (this guy must be full of it)

Let's define what "off road" is.

If I'm riding along on pavement and turn on to a well travelled hard packed dirt surface, hey, I'm "off road" and I'm tooling along fine. Easy peasy. If that hard packed dirt surface turns into decomposed granite, time to turn off the ABS and Traction Control and pay attention. The DG turns to sand, the front end starts to wonder a bit, let's dial in the steering stabilizer...there's, that's better, now I'm getting deeper into "off road" and I'm still making headway...great. (tire selection starts to come into play here) That sand now turns into a "sand wash" with 2-3 feet of deep sand and since I've successfully brought the 500lb bike, the 200lb rider, and the 50-70lbs of fuel up on top of the sand, I'm still offroading, but the bike now starts to exhibit some of it's limitations. Right after the wash there's a gnarly, narrow, single track, rock strewn uphill that has a bunch of off cambers and loads of technical riding, you're thinking maybe I shouldn't be riding here. That narrow trail is "off road" but really no place for any 500lb dirt bike, unless you are extremely experienced riding those situations with 500 pounds of steel underneath you or just don't give crap if you crash a few times and damage the bike. :)

I'm sure there are other "off road" situations not presented here, but what's important defining what "off road" means and how deep into the bush are you willing to take your big, fat hog of a bike. If you decide to go to that narrow, single track, rock and boulder strewn path, I'd opt for the F800GS/A over the R1200GS/A because the F8 has an upright twin and thus narrower than the horizontally opposed boxer engines. It also carries fuel lower than the R1200GS...the lower the weight the better. To me, the F800GS/A feels more "nimble" than the R1200GS/A. That's my opinion, others may think I'm full of it.

On a recent ride with about 20 assorted F8s and R1200GS/A ( and varying degrees of experience ) I saw a lot of R1200GS/A go down in low and medium speed get-offs (which can happen to anyone on any bike) but the R1200GS/A took an exorbitant amount of battle damage...crushed exhaust, peeled back BMW head protectors, dinged cylinders and so on. Can't comment on the f800s..I didn't see any of them go down....but they do.

BMW sells these big bikes with the notion that they are like an M1 Abrahams Tank that can go just about everywhere and guys with little experience, (or a fundamental lack of skills they will never be able to attain) believe the hype, buy them up, take them offroad and spend part of the day looking up to the sky from the ground, dusting themselves off and lifting the bike off its side. It's really not their fault, (they believed the hype)....the bikes are challenging to ride for everyone...a challenge that is beyond the skills of some riders. Some opt for riding schools where they train on flat ground with a few small hills thrown in and some sand, patted on the back, given a certificate and turned loose with some added hype. :) Don't get me wrong, the more training the better but these guys are still inexperienced on 500lb bikes. They get better at it over time, or get tired of repairing the damage and just ride them on the pavement.

What I think these bikes are really good for is loading them up with gear, and heading down...lets say through Mexico, Central America, Peru, Chile and ending up in Tierre Del Fuego, riding on well travelled pavement, cobblestone, dirt roads...maybe some muddy roads, rocky roads, sandy roads...the operative words here are well traveled and roads. These bikes can take the abuse of these conditions for years and years and years...that's where they shine. They are tough, rugged and for the most part pretty well made (although some here would disagree).

What they aren't are true offroad bikes. If they were, all the Baja racers would be on them...but they aren't. They're on KTMs, CRF Hondas and other real offroad bikes that weigh less than half of what a BMW does.

Kinda got off topic a bit.

My opinion now...which doesn't mean jack...if you're going to keep your BMW on the pavement, get a R1200GS/A watercooled bike. More power than the F800, a little taller gearing and more creature comforts.

If you have dreams of taking your R1200GS/A a little ways into the "bush" with a passenger, get the R1200GS/A. Again, more power and probably more comfortable for the passenger.

If you decide you want to get away from it all in the back country without a passenger, the F800GS/A will work well for you, even fully loaded, provided you have the requisite skills to meet the challenges that lie in front of you. You can single track it...but you had better be both skilled and not worried to much about it being scratched up. It won't do 130mph like the R1200GS/A...but you'll probably never need to go more than 50-60mph while offroad. If you want, ring the F800s neck, I've had mine up to 85+ (didn't look down after that, too busy paying attention to what was coming at me).

Hey, I love my F800GS/A. 2500 miles since I bought it, almost all of it offroad in all the situations described above. My saving grace is that I've been riding and racing bikes since 1969 and it's not that I'm better than anyone (racing wise I can win intermediate races and midpack on expert races) but I've just been doing it for a long time and by default you just learn stuff. Do I crash....yep...and it's taking longer to heal up...have I crashed on the F800...no, not yet, but it did fall over in a parking lot and last weekend while on a hard packed dirt surface I need to perform a low speed "trials" like turn near a fence and had forgotten to dial out the resistance on my steering stabilizer, couldn't make the turn, had to stop before hitting the fence, couldn't hold it up and laid it over after stopping. Thank goodness for "crash bars"...now if H&B just made something to prevent damaged egos. :)

Just said all this to illustrate that these bikes are big, heavy pigs and demand your attention and respect. They require skills every time you throw your leg over them, no matter what the situation. Even more so when you're 5'7", a short inseam and short legs.

Even with all their limitations (real world stuff you won't see in brochures) they are still the best "compromise" of a bike that you're likely to ever ride. There are some that try to copy the BMWs....Triumph is doing this, KTM put's out good machines that are more dirt oriented and extremely capable without the creature comforts of a BMW and a few other manufacturers that don't come close to a BWM, nor does their price. :)

Why didn't I go for the R120GS/A...well I don't duplicate calibers ( different manufactures of guns based on the 9mm round for example ) and I don't buy bikes with the same engine, so the F800GSA was the next great thing. I'm very happy I purchased it...it's a very capable machine off road, very nimble, narrow and inspires confidence (which is not always a good thing) and I'm comfortable recommending them to anyone.

Next year I'm going to add a Street Legal KTM EXC500 to the stable to get up those single tracks a little easier. Too bad they don't come with heated grips, traction control, ABS and so on...if they did, they'd weigh 500lbs and I'd be better off with a F800GSA. :)

Cheers!
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Old 02-26-2014, 01:26 PM   #6
chris73
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My reasoning behind the f800 was that I wanted to ride off-road. I wanted the lightest, highest payload, most power compromise. F800 won the test. If I was just doing fire roads, I would opt for the 1200. Way better road bike, way more power and the benefit of the automotive style drive train. R1200gs will put on the same miles as a car. The f800 is basically a hodgepodge of farmed out parts put together by BMW. Two totally different bikes. If you want off-road, the f800 wins. IMO
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:54 AM   #7
FredRydr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caedenspa View Post
Last summer I rented an R1200GS while in Italy. I loved the bike, and my wife said it was the most comfortable pillion ride she'd had to date.
She pretty much summed it up for you. Don't get distracted by the F800GS.

Fred
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:22 AM   #8
freud
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Lol



I just posted a question considering a new windshield and after reading this I realized I belong on an R not on an F bike. The quiestion about the windshield remains, but i guess i'll buy the shield for a different bike hehe.

Everyone seems to agree that I do on the F what the R is is for and viceversa.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:27 AM   #9
Bigred09
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Ill make it quick. I also looked into it. Between the 800 and 1200. If I end up going in it I'd stick with the 1200GSA. If seeking better aim for the KTM1190R. More power, better off road handling,better fuel mpg. Check it out!
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:21 PM   #10
firebolter
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Considering an F800GSA

Dude, this is like oil threads, personal opinions. 800 is a great all around bike. 1200 is a good bike, bigger, heavier and about 5g's more. If you are gonna take the wifey, the 1200 is Better choice. I went 800 for the motor and less girth of the 12. And to the poster who said KTM500 exc? I have a dot legal 525 and it is a great bike, but I find myself riding the Berg plated 300 2T WAY more..........don't be fooled by DOT legal, still a big dirt bike and doesn't do road miles really well. I work twice as hard on the 525 and way more maint than the Berg.

Go test drive a 800 and then a 1200 hundred with the wife. If she is a factor in your decision and real back country bush rides are not, go the way she feels best. If you want best of all worlds, 800 wins IMO. 800 is more buzzy as 75mph plus over the 1200. Both are good bikes. Decision suck no? ;)
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:31 PM   #11
FredRydr
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It's double posted to the boxer forum, anyway.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=957690

Fred
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Old 02-28-2014, 01:19 PM   #12
GPHusky250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firebolter View Post
Dude, this is like oil threads, personal opinions.

And to the poster who said KTM500 exc? I have a dot legal 525 and it is a great bike, but I find myself riding the Berg plated 300 2T WAY more..........don't be fooled by DOT legal, still a big dirt bike and doesn't do road miles really well. I work twice as hard on the 525 and way more maint than the Berg.
I do agree, it's all personal opinion, but this this is an opinion oriented thread, every opinion is a good opinion I guess; no opinion should be marginalized or discounted. :)

As for the KTM500....I've ridden them both off road and on road in Baja and I prefer the 500 over the 350. There's about a 4 pound difference between the two, but they put out different power and I like the grunt of the 500. Just my opinion. For pure riding pleasure, I love riding my 1977 Husqvarna CR250MX or CR390MX. Close to 200lbs and more than capable in any situation in Baja...only problem are the small gas tanks and the fact that they run premix. No multi-day adventure riding with those, but fun around the campsite.

As for being big...both the F800 and the KTM are big bikes, and the seat height on the KTM is 3 inches taller but in the end my boots touch the ground in about the same place, mainly because the F800 seat is wider and your legs have to go out and then down, while the KTM seat is very narrow and you pretty much stand straight up and down.

I mentioned earlier that both the F800GSA and the R1200GS are big, fat hogs offroad, but they do have a place as long as you keep mindful that they work best on "roads".

However, just recently a friend was taking his big r1200GS on an ride here in California meant mostly for KTMs, Honda and those types of bikes....not a BMW...but he'll muscle his way through. So it is possible to do extremely technical riding with the big bike, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Again, for "single rider" adventuring, the F800GSA is hard to beat, cheaper and at the end of the day you'll have the same grin on your face as you would with the R1200GSA.
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Old 02-28-2014, 02:01 PM   #13
GH41
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"Go test drive a 800 and then a 1200 hundred with the wife"

May as well skip the 800 if the wife is on the back. She won't last 20 minutes on the back seat!! Two up or slab buy the big GS... Back roads, more dirt and no wife buy the 800. GH
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Old 02-28-2014, 04:41 PM   #14
Pstmstr
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800 or 1200

I've got a 14 F800 GSA and a 12 R1200RT. I like the GSA but if I were buying again, I'd probably get the GS 1200, if only for no chain and cruise control. In fact, for my riding, I probably should have just stuck with the RT. Who wants to buy a like new 800 GSA with 2500 miles on it?
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