Bmw F800gs Q&A

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by RTW Motorcycling, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    On the last leg of an around the world ride, I was fortunate enough to ride the F800GS from the tip of South America (Tierra del Fuego) to the tip of North America (Prudoe Bay). Quite a few people have asked questions about the bike and with the aim of contributing something back to the biking communities that have provided so much information and help over the last year, here are a few bike pics and general comments. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask away and I'd be happy to provide feedback on the bike from my perspective.

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. John Joel Glanton

    John Joel Glanton Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    927
    Location:
    Texas (DFW)
    Thank you for opening this up to questions. Like many other riders, I am extremely interested in this bike. A few questions:
    1. Are the tubed tires a pain to deal with? Do they cause any problems at high speed?
    2. How does the bike handle in sand and loose gravel?
    3. What modifications or add-ons do you recommend for this kind of journey?
    4. Not sure if you can speak to this but how does it compare to the big GS and the V-Strom?
    5. What do you like best about the bike?
    6. What do you hate the most about the bike?
    Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.
    #2
  3. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    I used the bike for long distance/around the world touring so my comments on the bike as based on that perspective. Each rider has their own unique needs based on the intended use, ultimate destination, terrain along the way, and their personal riding style. No one bike can possibly overlap all these needs, hence the long winded and grey nature of the "which bike" debate.


    [​IMG]
    #3
  4. RaY YreKa

    RaY YreKa Palanquins RTW

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    16,339
    Location:
    Carried Forth
    Well done on your trip, on a relatively untested bike. I am sure you will shortly be inundated with questions :deal

    I'm just going to pour a drink and sit back here..
    #4
  5. Mobiker

    Mobiker Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,569
    Location:
    Missouri
    I'd be interested in what kind of mileage you got. Thanks.
    Awsome trip BTW :thumb
    #5
  6. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks House Ape

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,204
    Location:
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Yeah, thanks for offering your time and insight, RTW. In addition to texagator's questions:

    1. What sort of real world gas tank range did you get?
    2. Did you run into any of the issues some early buyers have experienced; unexplained engine stall, loose steering head bearings, rapid chain wear?
    3. What broke first, and why?
    4. How'd those Pelican cases and brackets work out? Caribous?

    David :lurk
    #6
  7. FXRocket

    FXRocket Phoneticide Squad

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,315
    Location:
    Hoosier
    :lurk

    This is gona be cool.
    #7
  8. * SHAG *

    * SHAG * Unstable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2001
    Oddometer:
    4,679
    Location:
    Bradford, Pa
    Were you happy with the overall performance, handling?
    #8
  9. dcwn.45

    dcwn.45 Frozen Rider

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    759
    Location:
    Waconia,Mn
    I am also interested to know the miles per tank of fuel.
    How is the seat?
    Is it comfortable to stand, both for control off road, and for butt relief on the road?
    #9
  10. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    19,207
    Location:
    The Kingdom of Kent
    Excellent!

    :lurk
    #10
  11. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    In no particular order to the questions:)

    1. Tubed tires are not really an issue. Granted it is easier to fix a flat on a tubeless tire, but on a trip of any duration, the occurence is rare and the time you stop to fix a flat is insignificant in the scheme of things. Most flats on the trip in one day was 8, yes eight, but luckily that was in Mongolia, we were on KLR 650s at that point and they all happened to my riding partner:)(bad Chinese tubes with faulty valve stems). They were all fixed using spoons stolen from the hotel in Vladivostok as tire levers as that was one small item that was left behind.

    2. Sand and loose gravel. It handles as well as can be expected from a fairly heavy bike (197kg shipping weight with all fluids except gas). I was carrying a big load for a long ride so it wasn't light but in sand it handled well enough with the tire pressure reduced. In gravel and loose grave, I found it was dangerous, with knobbies (TKC80 rear, MT21 front) it felt so positive that I would find myself riding much to fast and inevitably I would come around a corner and see some soft deep gravel and realize that I should really try to keep my speed down. Honestly though, this is one area where the bike excels, it's ability to transition between various road surfaces without dramatic differences in performance.

    3. Necessary mods - long list, and I'll get to more later but in brief:
    1. Crash bars - a must as you have a big blob of plastic around the rad that is the first to hit the sand if you crash. Plus the rad is only suspended by a plastic tab on the bottom so a fairly light dump will break that and your rad will be hanging from the hoses until you get back to fix it.
    2. Skid plate - a must for the oil cooler and the oil filter
    3. Hand guards - it is a dual sport after all
    4. Windscreen - the stocker is quite low, gives clean air but for any duration you will be catching a lot of wind.

    4. Comparison to the 1200GS and the Vstrom
    It's a long story, but I put about 35,000 km on a Strom through Europe and Africa and about the same mileage on the 800. I'll write more later, but IMO, the 800GS is the perfect dual sport bike, IF you will actually be riding on highway, off highway, AND offroad. If you are mainly a "touring" rider rather than an "adventure" rider". then the Strom or the 1200 is a better choice for your style of riding.

    5. Likes - Many, such as versatility, performance

    6. Dislikes - Not many, you catch a fair bit of wind, even after farting around with the screen set up.


    Brief comments but I'll add more later.:)


    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. klarue

    klarue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    235
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    What are your crash bars of choice? There is no small amount of debate on this particular point! Thanks again for sharing your real-world experiences.
    #12
  13. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    Mileage. Yikes, you know I actually was ok at this at one point as Canada used to use the imperial system when I was a kid (now metric) and there are a few holdovers here such as height (when you ask someone how tall they are they'll say six foot, not 182 cm) and ocassionally fuel mileage (car owners say their new car can get 50 MPG).

    But I started to get mixed up in Africa riding a bike that had a speedo set to miles and all the fuel you buy is in litres. So after a while you get good at determining your miles per litre. Then this bike has a metric speedo so through South and Central America it is mostly kms per litre and then in the US I had to figure out kms per gallon. Long winded story, but I'll give you some general distances and you'll have to convert:)

    Couple of things, the brochure says the tank is approx. 16 litres but if you run it until it sputters and then top it up, it will take very close to 17 litres. I did this enough times to be absolutely sure of that. No need to try this at home:)

    For a tank, I got between 300 and 350 kms depending on speed and therefore rpms. Litres per 100 km were between 5 and 6, which roughly translates to between 20 and 17 kms per litre. If you can stand going 90 km (55), the mileage is exceptional. If you are really cranking along the road trying to make the border crossing, the engine is working and the mileage really starts to suck.

    Having said that, in comparison to a 1200Gs, once you take tank size into account, you get pretty much the same distance, a little less for the 800. I rode with a navy guy in Alaska who was on a 1200 and we would fill up and compare.

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    1. Gas tank range, see previous post.
    2. Issues:

    a. Engine stall - none.

    b. Steering head bearings, yes, noticeable at 500-750 km, straigtforward to tighten. VERY common according to the dealer. I would suggest asking them to check at pre delivery inspection and ask them to tighten regardless at 1000 km service.

    c. Chain wear, not an issue. Caveat, I don't like replacing things before their time and because I knew that I couldn't get parts in South or North America, I was carrying a new set of sprockets and chain. Not knowing if I could additional parts later, I hung onto the spares as long as I could and I rode the bike until the chain needed to be changed, not when it might need to be chnaged. This was at 34,000 km. Not many will have the spares with them and will need to push their bikes this far, but from my perspective, there is nothing wrong with the stock chains at all. And to answer some typical questions, standard to lazy chain maintenance, run dry in the sand and fine gravel, very wide range of conditions.

    d. Broken - nothing except a small plastic V when you take off the front beak. Nice dealer in South America, I guess he just didn't know how to reinstall it as he hadn't seeen one yet.

    e. Cases - I've used Pelican' s on a couple of different bikes, couldn't say enough good things about them. when I bought the bike, there was almost no aftermarket parts available for the bike. The case system (caribou's) I took off the Strom and about 40% we made or changed specifically for this bike in Buenos Aires. I couldn't say enough good things about the Pelican cases, super hard and withstand a lot of abuse. Only downside is a little bit narrow and side loading instead of top. Roger at Caribou is a good supporter of the industry as well with his caribou setup.
    #14
  15. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    Very happy with overall performance. Many aspects to this that I'll add later, but within a very short while, you will feel like the bike fits you very well. It's versatility allows you to ride almost any terrain within reason. From the long gravel roads of Argentina, to the wicked twisties in Colombia, to having to hammer along the freeway of Mexico to make a self imposed deadline, it does it all. What I would add is that it was great on gravel, but I guess that I expected it by it's look and feel. What pleasantly surprised me most was the way it handled curves and winding roads. There are many great roads, but at some point you forget your on a big bike with a ton of gear and your cranking around corners almost like you would on a street bike. Don't get me wrong, you won't forget that you have a 21" front tire, but to be able to do it as well as it did is pretty impressive. On the topic of long freeways, yes it will do it, the bike will be fine, you might get a bit tired though:)
    #15
  16. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    Seat - a bit of a hornets nest, but I would strongly suggest that you try it, really try it before giving up and spending cash. It's very personal, but for me the seat was fine.

    When I first sat on it, my immediate thought was I would need an Airhawk. I tried if for a few hours and it got better. I used it few more days and totally forgot about it. Longest day was about 19 hours, many 12 hour days. It does get a bit hard after quite a few hours, but nothing that can't be solved with some shifting around.

    Quick comment, if you sit in it and you feel like your future generations are getting the squeeze, you are sitting wrong and your ass will get sore quickly. It is dished, so it has the tendency to slide you into the pocket and splay your legs. Resist the urge, slide back, and squeeze the tank with you knees. Your weight will be distributed along your legs somewhat as well and give your butt a better chance of staying awake.

    Caveat-after a while your butt does get conditioned. It may be that the seat in it's configuration may be too hard for people that hop on it once every Sunday or two. But all in all, the seat is surprisingly ok given the narrow profile that they had to work with.


    Standing - very good as narrow seat and you are actually quite far forward once on the pegs, the cockpit (distance from handlebars to seat) is quite small (which you'll be reminded of when you try to put a tank bag on the faux tank). It'll feel like a standard enduro set up, but I also did have a set of 1" risers on the handle bars (should be added to the mods list). That made the set up work well for me (6'0"). Stock footpegs with removeable rubbers are fine. A bit more vibration without the rubbers, i can see some dirt dogs putting on footpegs that are fatter.
    #16
  17. conrado

    conrado Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Oddometer:
    269
    Location:
    Berlin (Germany)
    How big are you ? Did the bike fit you well ? Did you feel cramped ?

    One of the thinks that I love on the GSA is how nicely it fits people with long limbs ...
    #17
  18. onarock

    onarock Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    In the ocean
    1) How did you find the engine torque under 5000 rpm ? (Some say it is weak in the lower RPMs)
    2) Did you ride the KTM 9x0 twin, can you compare it in terms of performance ?
    #18
  19. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    B.C.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

    <o:p></o:p>
    Hmm, I haven't been following too much overseas discussions so I'm unsure of what the crash bar debates are but I'll chime in with my point of view, feel free to ignore if it not aplicable for you.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    In general, the aftermarket manufacturers make their products that meet the needs of the average rider as the market is the biggest at this point in the bell curve. Unfortunately, adventure riders fall outside this area and therefore a lot of the aftermarket stuff we can buy is close, but not tough enough for consistent abuse. In addition, a lot of the stuff is manufactured by <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on">European manufactureres</st1:place> which is great but it is orientated more to their riding conditions. In dual sport havens like North America, <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">South Africa</st1:country-region></st1:place>, Oz, etc. access to amazing tracks and trails and very rugged terrain leads to the demand for even more rugged parts.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Crash bars are essential for the plastics AND radiator AND engine as mentioned, so some of the stuff I have seen doesn't do much to protect the plastic or rad. Seems a bit strange to me, but oh well. It simply reflects that motorcycles for most are leisure vehicles and as such form (looks) are more important than function, Most won't be pushed to the limits to handle more than a simple tip over so it won't matter to them. To me, it is incomplete logic, as you will go through the time and effort to order the bars, install them, and in reality you get a protective device that doesn't protect you when you need it most. A rough anology is to buy a roll bar for you 4X4 that looks great and works ok if you bump into something but if you actually roll your truck it doesn't work.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    On of the benefits of riding multiple days in sand and dirt and gravel is that you and the riders around you have a lot of tipovers, a few spills and if unlucky, an actual crash. In a remote location or distant country you can't afford to have your bike sustain significant damage, fixing it is very difficult and access to replacement parts is difficult or sometimes almost impossible.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Based on what I've seen, I wouldn't go for any of the lighter, minimalistic setups. The BMW engine bars, are engine protectors only. The additional bolt ons that come up over the plastic offer a bare minimum. I would go for the strongest, toughest setup that you can find, if you plan on riding the bike off highway, off road or pushing it&#8217;s limits. If not, an almost all highway bike can easily get away with the BMW like setup.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Sorry can&#8217;t provide more specific feedback on the other setups, but I&#8217;ll take a look and let you know what my impressions are. When I set up the bike, I didn&#8217;t look around as there was nothing available so we made our own crashbars. We were somewhat limited by the equipment we had access to but made a fairly minimalistic set up that didn&#8217;t look as stellar but was very effective. Now that I&#8217;m back, we are making a second generation set of crashbars that is more fitted and a bit better looking. People keep asking so we are making sets for a few friends along with skid plates and rear racks. If anyone else is interested in them, they could be available to all adv&#8217;ers, same price as for all friends, cost (once we figure out what cost isJ)<o:p></o:p>


    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. DADODIRT

    DADODIRT Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,147
    Location:
    Durango,CO(not quite Purgatory)
    RTW-
    Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions.
    This is what we've been waiting for. Real Rider-Real Ride.
    #20