10,000 miles on a BMW F800GS

Big miles in a short time, James now knows his F800 in­side out

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week in MCN -

BMW F800GS £10,055 FUEL 16 litres @ 48.84mpg = 172 miles WEIGHT 214kg SEAT 880mm POWER 84bhp TORQUE 61ftlb

I’ve now hit the glo­ri­ous 10,000-mile mark on the GS and so far it’s been a great jour­ney. Here are some of the things that have stood out for me so far…

1 TOUR­ING IS A BREEZE ON IT

You might ex­pect me to say an ad­ven­ture bike is great for tour­ing, but the GS is very good at it. A trip to Scot­land in March high­lighted the need for lug­gage so I fit­ted BMW’S ex­pand­able pan­niers and I then sup­ple­ment these with a 40-litre Givi roll­bag for my tent and sleep­ing gear.

2 IT’S GEN­UINELY GOOD OFF-ROAD

Before this year, I’d never been off-road at all on a mo­tor­cy­cle. Fear gripped me when­ever I started feel­ing the bike mov­ing un­der­neath me and with a bike as ca­pa­ble as the GS, I couldn’t let this over­come me. With the help of the Ad­ven­ture Bike Acad­emy (www.ad­ven­tur­erally­bike. co.uk) and Si Pavey’s BMW off-road school (www.of­froad­skills.com) I’ve learnt to ride on the dirt, with the GS ac­com­pa­ny­ing me the whole way. It’s a gen­uinely great ma­chine to take off-road, with its 21in front wheel and some de­cent rub­ber, there isn’t much you need to shy away from.

3 CHOOSE YOUR TYRES CARE­FULLY

One of the big­gest lessons I’ve learnt is how im­por­tant tyre choice is on a bike like this. So far I’ve used the OE Pirelli Scor­pion Trails, Con­ti­nen­tal TKC70S and more re­cently Michelin Ana­kee IIIS. The dual-pur­pose na­ture of the TKCS was some­thing I strug­gled with on my near-weekly slog from Lin­colnshire to Devon on the mo­tor­way, where the tyres felt un­sta­ble at speed. I’d not thought too much about this before the tyres went on the bike and that was a mis­take. Choos­ing tyres ac­cord­ing to how you ride seems ob­vi­ous now, but at the time I was try­ing to find some­thing that would suit ev­ery­thing. I’m look­ing to cover de­cent road miles on the Ana­kee IIIS now. I’ve yet to use them in the wet but so far they’re show­ing great prom­ise for dry road miles.

4 THE TANK IS A LIT­TLE SMALL

It’s a mi­nor gripe of mine as I use the bike a lot and reg­u­larly cover a 500-mile round trip to Devon. I can usu­ally get 140 miles out of a tank before the re­serve light comes on but I’d pre­fer t he 26-litre tank that’s fit­ted to the F800GS Ad­ven­ture and cover more miles be­tween stops. 5 THE DY­NAMIC AND COM­FORT PACK­AGES ARE EX­PEN­SIVE BUT WORTH IT My bike is fit­ted with both the ad­di­tional Dy­namic (£680) and Com­fort (£525) pack­ages. The Dy­namic pack­age is worth con­sid­er­ing, adding electronic sus­pen­sion ad­just­ment with three dif­fer­ent set­tings, trac­tion con­trol and an en­duro mode that is mas­sively help­ful if you take the GS off-road as it means much less in­ter­fer­ence from the ABS and trac­tion con­trol with­out turn­ing ei­ther off. For both to be fit­ted though you’re look­ing at an ad­di­tional £ 1205, bring­ing the ini­tial pur­chase price to a meaty £ 10,055. The com­fort pack­age comes with heated grips, pan­nier fit­tings (but not the ac­tual pan­niers) and a cen­tre­stand.

6 DON’T BE AFRAID OF HEIGHTS

One thing that be­came very ap­par­ent to me from the be­gin­ning was its height. I’m 5ft 11in but liv­ing with the bike for the first cou­ple of weeks was in­tim­i­dat­ing after pre­vi­ously spend­ing my rid­ing life on sports tour­ers. With an 880mm seat height, it’s no shorty but I’m used to it now. How­ever for smaller rid­ers there is a shorter 820mm seat op­tion.

7 THE STOCK SCREEN IS NAFF

The first thing I changed on the bike was the tiny screen after I found the stock item to be prac­ti­cally use­less. I changed it for the larger tour­ing screen as soon as I could, which def­i­nitely helped to di­rect wind over my head rather than di­rectly at it. Prob­lem solved, how­ever it does make me ques­tion why it isn’t fit­ted as stan­dard be­cause at £287 it isn’t ex­actly a cheap fix.

8 IT’S COM­FORT­ABLE

The past four months have def­i­nitely high­lighted the bike’s strengths when it comes to com­fort. I’ve never had any prob­lems with the seat, but it is a lit­tle hard. When I’m cov­er­ing big mo­tor­way miles I set the sus­pen­sion to Com­fort mode and cruise on.

9 THE EN­GINE’S PRETTY GOOD BUT NOT A GAME-CHANGER

The en­gine’s ad­e­quate for ev­ery­thing I’ve used the GS for. But, hav­ing rid­den a R1200GS, it def­i­nitely lacks the spark that makes the 1200 such a bril­liant bike. I think the F800GS is great, but with no bud­get re­straints I know I would choose the 1200. It would only take slightly more punch to make this bike some­thing special rather than an af­ter­thought to its 1200 brother.

10 I’M HAPPY WITH IT SO FAR

Over­all, I’m ex­tremely sat­is­fied with the GS. It’s done ev­ery­thing I’ve needed and then some. Other than hav­ing a cou­ple of mi­nor gripes, which have mostly been re­solved, it’s prov­ing to be a great bike. It’s friendly and easy to get on with thanks to the mo­tor’s pre­dictable power de­liv­ery, it doesn’t in­tim­i­date and leaves me feel­ing I’m get­ting the most I can from the bike.

Great off-road, but TKC70S were un­sta­ble on road

james.archibald@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com JAMES ARCHIBALD Long-dis­tance com­muter with four years of rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. HEIGHT 5ft 11in WEIGHT 84kg

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