Evaluating the F850GS’S electronic extras
I’VE BEEN LIVING with this fully loaded F850GS Sport for almost 3000 miles, so it’s about time I took a closer look at its buttons and bolt-ons. And there’s a lot.
Almost all new BMWS are bought with some sort of accessory or upgrade ‘pack’. They can be expensive but the trade-off is they add to the bike’s future value and often only increase a monthly PCP payment by a few quid. Beyond the extras listed here, our bike has many other available upgrades — a two-way quickshifter, centrestand, tyre pressure monitors, flashy paint and so on (and on). Some come bundled as part of one of BMW’S many upgrade packages, but here’s how our every-box-ticked F850GS looks from the seat, with what each option would cost individually.
1 Cruise control £400
Not so useful in the UK because of congestion but brilliant on longer trips and particularly good on the Continent. It lets your arm and hand relax, delivering a much more relaxed ride. Not top of my personal list but a really lovely feature. Worth it? Only if your riding involves frequent motorway trips.
2 GPS preparation £200
Superb. It’s really handy to slot a BMW Navigator VI (£699) straight in and control options with the thumbwheel on the left-hand grip. I use it all the time. Worth it? An absolute must.
3 Dynamic ESA £440
Brilliant semi-active suspension, with a range of adjustment and a plush ride. That said, it only controls the shock — the forks have no adjustment at all — and for regular road riding, I only ever use the Dynamic mode, as Road is way too soft and it rebounds like a pogo stick. I do change it when I add a pillion and luggage, which raises and stiffens the whole rear end, or going off-road. Worth it? Yes. But consider your needs.
4 Keyless Ride £280
When I first got this bike, I thought the keyless ride feature was just a silly gimmick but it’s incredible how quickly you get used to not having to fumble about for a key. I just leave it in my jacket pocket and forget about it. It works really well and the bike just starts, stops and locks on the push of a button. Also operates the fuel-filler cap but you have to remember to turn the main ignition off, otherwise it won’t engage. Riding bikes with a key now feels like going back in time! I love this — brilliantly convenient.
Worth it? Yes.
5 Intelligent Emergency Call £295
Have I used the SOS button? No. Would I use it if I was stranded in the middle of nowhere, possibly injured, and ask a nice man from BMW to come and rescue me? Of course I would. It’s peace of mind. Worth it? Personally I wouldn’t bother.
6 Heated grips £250
BMW makes the best. Three heat levels from a mild tingle to the full toasted crumpet, these let me ride in summer gloves even when it’s freezing. I reach for the button the minute there’s a slight hint of a chill in the air. Worth it? Definitely.
7 Riding Mode Pro £375
Expands the standard Rain/road riding modes to Dynamic/enduro/enduro Pro, and smartens up the traction control and ABS. In truth, 95% of the time I ride in Dynamic mode. I could soften the power in the rain and off-road but I’m happy to do that with my right wrist. Worth it? Yes, to get Dynamic mode.