BMW’S mid­dleweight ad­ven­ture gets rad­i­cal re­vamp

Motorcycle News (UK) - - THIS WEEK IN MCN - By Jor­dan Gib­bons SE­NIOR RE­PORTER

BMW are about to un­leash a pow­er­ful new F850GS in a bid to blow the fast-sell­ing Afr­cia Twin and Mul­tistrada 950 into the weeds. With ad­ven­ture bike sales still strong, one of the key growth ar­eas is the sub-1000cc sec­tor. With more bikes in this com­pet­i­tive cat­e­gory ex­pected at the end of 2017 – such as a pro­duc­tion ver­sion of Yamaha’s Mt-07-based T7 con­cept – it’s lit­tle sur­prise that BMW ap­pear to have cre­ated an all-new and much sharper ver­sion of the F800GS.

The last big F-se­ries up­date was in 2013 and, although it had a few Euro4 tweaks in 2016, BMW are very aware that the com­pe­ti­tion is creep­ing away from them. And rather than merely evolv­ing the ex­ist­ing ma­chine, they ap­pear to have started with a clean sheet of paper, and cre­ated a quan­tum leap for­ward.

All-new 850cc motor

The new motor is likely to have ex­panded by 50cc to be­come an 850cc par­al­lel-twin. We’re also led to be­lieve that the new en­gine has a 270-de­gree fir­ing order, so it will sound like a throaty V-twin, rather than the Box­eresque 360-de­gree fir­ing pat­tern of the cur­rent F800. The new F850GS en­gine will pro­duce around 100bhp – a chunky 15bhp more than the cur­rent bike - which will bring it in line with the Tri­umph Tiger 800 (94bhp), Honda Africa Twin (93bhp), Ducati Mul­tistrada 950 (113hp) and up­com­ing KTM 790 Ad­ven­ture. The out­put shaft side has switched too, with the chain on the left now in­stead of the right, con­firm­ing that it has a com­pletely new en­gine rather than an up­dated 800. It’s not just the en­gine that’s new – very lit­tle of the old bike re­mains.

Frame change

One of the big­gest sin­gle changes is the new chas­sis, which ap­pears to use a cast aluminium frame in place of the steel trel­lis found on the cur­rent F800GS, and the R1200GS – and com­par­ing it to the F800GSA, it does ap­pear more com­pact. The fork is new too, although it ap­pears to of­fer a near-iden­ti­cal amount of travel.

The wheel­wheels s re­main as 21in front and 18in rear, but that’s the only sim­i­lar­ity – in ev­ery other way they are com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the cur­rent ones. New hubs carry new brake discs and the laced rims now mimic the ones found on the firm’s Boxer twins, mean­ing that they can now run tube­less tyres. Other fea­tures that bring the F850 into line with its big­ger broth­ers in­clude re­mov­able pil­lion pegs and the ad­di­tion of ex­tra elec­tronic op­tions such as Cruise Con­trol and the Multi-con­troller wheel on the left han­dle­bar switchgear.

There’s also a quick­shifter – it ap­pears to be BMW’S cur­rent Gearshift As­sist Pro – which al­lows clutch­less gear changes both up and down the gear­box. It’s an op­tional ex­tra on the R1200GS for £375 and we’d ex­pect it to be a sim­i­lar price on the new F850GS.

An­other big change is a new dash, which em­pha­sises the revs with a large ana­logue tacho, while there ap­pears to be a larger LCD to dis­play the speed and other im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion.

Hey good lookin’

There are some big changes in the looks depart­ment too. The front end on the F850GS has sharper and more ag­gres­sive lines, while the asym­met­ric head­light has more than a hint of a rally bike about it. The bike in the spy pho­to­graphs has a short screen, sim­i­lar to the R1200GS Ral­lye but we as­sume nu­mer­ous shapes and sizes will be avail­able. The test mule pic­tured have a much more pro­nounced step in the seat, too – but this could just be an op­tional, ex­tra-low seat. Although not present on the test mules pho­tographed, it’s fair to as­sume the 850GS will have the same range of bash­guards, lug­gage racks and other ad­ven­ture ac­ces­sories, as well as aluminium paniers as an op­tion to the plastic Vario lug­gage seen here.

BMW would not con­firm the bike’s ex­is­tence, but the fin­ished-look­ing state of the bike sug­gests we could see it un­veiled at the Milan show in Novem­ber, with the bike on sale in 2018.

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The old F800GS is ripe for a ma­jor makeover

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