Bmw F800gs Q&A

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

  1. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    If you are looking at shipping your bike, the shipping configuration I used. This was almost the last time I had the yellow tank panels on the bike, I took them off and shipped them home. Gives it a mean black look for the bachelors out there:)


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    #41
  2. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Hey Blackie,

    Lol, might snow on us this month yet!

    The 650 is a great bike and a very compelling value, a lot of people should be seriously considering it, especially if they don't head off road much.

    The wingtip looks cool, I'd be interested to see how high the touring screen
    actually is as well. I always thought that a business should have a sample pack of a couple of options that they send out, let us try and we get to keep the one we like. Let me know how you like the screen.
    #42
  3. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Most common question I get is, what problems does it have?

    Teething problems in any new model are pretty common, but in today's day and age, there are a lot less than on the good old days and usually they are insignificant in the scheme of things. That doesn't mean that they don't get a lot of airtime on the internet forums though.

    One thing to be aware of is that there have been a few of the 800 motors (GS and other models) that leak oil out the valve cover gasket. In my case, it was the left hand side, barely noticeable at about 7,500 km, more noticeable at 20,000 and by 30,000 km it would leave a fair coating on the engine over time. I asked a few dealers, they all were aware of but didn't consider it a major issue. There were no new gaskets available, and are currently backordered here so they are clearly getting replaced. Not a major issue, you'll notice it if you have it and you can let you dealer know so that he can order the gasket and replace it at your 10,000 km (6,000 mile) service.
    #43
  4. Ridge

    Ridge Jitenshado

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    Excellent information so far RTW, thanks!:clap

    I did not see this addressed and I apologize if it is a repeat, but how did you feel the bike tracked on high sustained speed slab? Did it ever feel loose or like it was going to wash out the front? Cross winds and large vehicles move you around at all?

    I made the switch from the Wee to the '08 KLR and I found a world of difference in the low speed handling between the two. At low speed, the KLR is much more composed and easily positioned. The Wee never carried its weight well and slow maneuvering suffered, IMHO. My question is, how did the 800 handle in low speed turning, pause and throttle situations, etc? Mostly those you would find most common to encounters off-roading. I have come to the conclusion that the balance and weight distribution seems to have a huge effect in the real-world uses of an adventure rider. Many thanks for sharing your experience with us.
    #44
  5. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Hey Ridge,

    1. High speed slab - for most of the trip I was carrying a fair bit of luggage, sometimes a spare tire as well, so cross winds and trucks had a lot of weight to push around in addition to the bike weight of 197kg (sans fuel). In Patagonia, it wasn't slab but on the highway the winds are notorious for absolutely howling, gusts of 30, 50, and 70 km/h are not uncommon. It tracks well, feels very positive, but you will be more upright and higher with the 21" configuration than more street orientated bikes so will catch more wind. Not noticeable in most cases though, but you will notice that it would feel more at home and positive than your KLR on the freeway. A loose analogy is that KLR feels like a middleweight, the 800 like it's in between a middleweight and a heavyweight (welterweight?).

    2. Handling - your conclusions certainly make sense to me, at slow speeds the stroms do feel like they might topple. Your skills get good though, almost like a mountain biker balancing at a stop light, and then you try a bike with standard off road set up and the difference is quite significant. Flickable is a word that describes it alright, but in reality it is more than just that. However, it is a bit more bike to move around at slow speeds so the tradeoff of it feeling more at home on the highway than the KLR is that it feels a tad more cumbersome when doing the stop and start, slow speed conditions that you describe. Not significant though.

    Side note, the 800 in reality is not that much lighter than the 1200, I have heard a couple of people state that they actually prefer the bigger bike offroad but IMHO that is a function of what you are used and not reflective of what the vast majority of people would feel. In the vast majority of cases, lighter is better.

    And to quickly comment, I would certainly expect a very broad range of experiences to come from the many different riders that will be buying this bike. This is just my opinion and based on my experience. It is a bit unusual because you get to ride almost every single day when touring and therefore things that you notice, other's wouldn't under more standard riding conditions and vice versa, things that one person ignores are very noticeable to the once a week or once a month rider.

    Hope that helps:)
    #45
  6. Codewheeney

    Codewheeney Hoopy Frood

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    Wow, this is all awesome stuff, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I'd like to add one more: Can you compare the bike for steady speed highway work, say, compared to an R1200GS or R1150GS? I think I'd like to replace my 1150 with the 800, but I do do a fair amount of long distance travel at freeway speeds on pretty straight roads, and I'm a bit concerned with engine buzziness.

    Thanks,
    JC
    #46
  7. makinwaves

    makinwaves Long timer

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    Wow! There is more useful information within the first 50 posts of this thread than the thousands and thousands in the threadfest! RTW your patience in answering these questions coupled with your knowledge and insight is rewarding us all!!

    Thanks, I look forward to reading on.

    Cheers!
    #47
  8. blackie

    blackie Still Hibernating

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    For sure once the screen is here will post some feedback then :D
    #48
  9. Mobiker

    Mobiker Long timer

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    No probs mate. I can do math sittin' at home with my handy calculator. Bet it did get a bit hinky doing the conversions on the road.

    Thanks for the info.
    #49
  10. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Hey JC,

    Interesting question. You know I would have to say that as a very broad generalization, if you ride almost all highway, then the bigger bikes are very well suited and can survive the odd off road adventure quite well. If you do want to explore and ride lots of gravel and off road, then the sacrifice in the on highway performance is worth it. How much of a sacrifice is it? Not that much, in fact if you came to the bike from a medium weight single such as a KLR 650 then you would think it is a great improvement. If you are used to your 1150 then you would likely notice a drop off.

    Having said that, I might be biased, but I don't find the bike too buzzy at all. You do notice a bit of vibration, more than a bigger twin, but it is not dramatic nor does it lead to the various side effects of say a thumping single would (KLR650, etc.) such as numbness in the hands etc. You simply have a vague awareness of it.

    If someone said they were going to ride to Alaska and they were debating the 800 vs. the 1200, I would likely recommend the 1200. If you are going to ride 5,000 miles and only 500 are gravel, the part where the 800 has demonstrated advantages is quite small and the mileage where is has demonstarted minor limitations is quite large. Now if you said that you are going to Alaska and you want to ride a lot of off highway and offroad, that would lean toward the 800.

    The main issue for me isn't buzziness, it's just that you will catch more wind and noise. If a person rides slab for short distances, this won't even be an issue but I like to ride long days so I noticed it. Having said that, there are ways to address the wind issue with screens, lips, etc.

    So to summarize, you mention a lot of straight roads and freeway speeds and didn't mention how much off road, I can't say, but you just might find the best bikefor you is the one you already own:) Of course it is quite fun to try a new bike though and does re-energize the fun one gets from biking. Soft reason I know, but there is some truth to getting a new bike, or even a different old bike. even thinking about it is a fun hobby, as we can see from the billions of posts on the bike in general:)

    Hpoe that helps.
    #50
  11. berkly

    berkly Adventurer

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    Thanks for that idea. I just took my panels off and definately like the matte black better. I just happen to be a bachelor
    #51
  12. * SHAG *

    * SHAG * Unstable

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    Thanks for all the great information, RTW :bow
    #52
  13. DoctorIt

    DoctorIt vrooom!

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    40 to 47 mpg, not too bad at all!!
    (I heart google, it does conversions for you, just type in "20 km/L in mpg" :D)

    RTW - thanks for all the fantastic info and impressions! I sold my 12GSadv before moving to Oz, and when I go home to the US in a few months, I'm strongly considering the 800 for the generally shorter, smaller road/off-road riding I enjoy most.

    I do have one question: did the 800 ever feel "light in the front"? On my 12GSadv, when it was fully loaded, complete with the Mrs on the pillion, the bike would feel like the front wheel was barely touching the ground. The 21" on the 800 makes me think of that.

    Random thought: what would an F800GS with a 19" front be like? :ear
    #53
  14. Codewheeney

    Codewheeney Hoopy Frood

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    Thanks a million, this helps alot. I actually ride a good deal off road, as well as on road. Being out here in the American west, thought, it's often the case that you have to go far to get to the riding you want to do, so a 400 mile Friday evening ride to get to the mountains to ride Saturday and Sunday is pretty typical. I love the big GS on-road, and it does well off-road, but something more capable and lighter holds a great appeal.

    Thanks again, and safe journeys!
    JC
    #54
  15. Indochine

    Indochine 'Bikes are OK, but . . .

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    Berkly and RTW, do you guys have pix of the 800GS without the panels? Please post. I am very curious indeed how that would look. (Edit: I see a partial view in post 13.)

    And RTW, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some very involved questions. You obviously have a very balanced view of motorcycling, never mind the performance of the BMW lineup. :clap
    #55
  16. TR5ESU

    TR5ESU Been here awhile

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    Hi RTW, thanks again for answering all the questions, many of the questions I had have been asked by others already. I have thousands of questions regarding the trip but I don't want to post "off topic"!.
    Reading that someone has done such a trip on the F800GS makes the dream a much more feasible one! And it takes away any doubts I had about whether I had bought the right bike or not.

    Thanks for the pic (did get to see any "guanacos" around there? They normally stay close to the route around that area). I have traveled (with my family) from the bottom of Argentina to the top every year since I was born for about 19 years, sometimes in winter too as you did, so I know the "Ruta 3" quite well. I enjoy it so much that the last time I went back home I took 2 out of the 3 weeks I had to travel north by car.

    I wonder whether you suffered/enjoyed Route 3 all the way through the desertic Eastern Patagonia or you took the more mountainous and picturesque Route 40. As I mentioned in other forum, seeing so many riders arrive to Ushuaia after thousands of miles on the bike was a great factor in deciding to buy a bike like the F800GS and I am sure you are helping a lot of people decide for it too!

    Ernesto
    #56
  17. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Hey Doc,

    Lol, it would probably work like gang busters - it's called the new 650 twin! Seriously though, I haven't ridden the 650 (same motor as 800 as you know) so can't say how much the reduction in wheel size changes the feel of the bike. They have certainly tweaked a few different things to make everything fit together well on that bike so not a direct comparison, but likely close enough to get a good indication. It would be interesting to see how the 800 would feel with a smaller front tire, it won't be long before someone converts one into their own personal supermotard so that will be a good indication.

    In regards to a light front end, I didn't find that it felt too light at anytime although I do know the feeling you refer to when are packing a lot and a pillion, there is so much weight on the rear of the bike that you begin to think you might be riding a chopper. Usually with really heavy loads I tried to make sure that the preload was cranked to near max. I turned up the preload on the 800 but didn't need to take it to near the max as I wasn't carrying a pillion for this leg of the trip. I would guess that for the odd time that you carry heavy loads and a pillion, it will be absolutely fine, but it wouldn't feel quite as solid as your GSA which is a big bike.

    Side note: they have a funky two pronged tool located under the seat to change the preload. I just used my hand, the adjuster rotates about 20 full turns, I usually ran anywhere between 10 and 15 turns depending on how much stuff I was carrying and the terrain.

    One suggestion that I would make in addition to making sure your preload and dampening are adjusted, is to try to shift as much weight forward as possible. I hadn't used them before, but I got some Aerostich tank panniers from a kind hearted adv'er and I am a converted man. They are great, you can put quite a bit of weight on the front, they fit quite a bit of stuff, they keep the wind and rain off your legs and knees, and if bad luck befalls you, they act a bit like bumpers on a sail boat and offer a bit of protection in tip overs.

    The challenge is what to fit in these things that uses the space, weighs enough that it makes it worth it, and yet you aren't worried about it getting pinched or damaged in a crash. I ended up putting my chain lube and things like that up there. I would recommend that people should take a look at them and see if they work for their personal tastes. I would think that tank panniers should become more popular for this bike in particular because with the small tank space between you and the handlebars, your tank bag will be quite small and even smaller if you are a rider who likes to stand. Once standing and handling, there really isn't much room for a tank bag at all.

    In your general description you mention shorter, smaller road/off-road riding as your main use and that's pretty much what I enjoy and all I can usually get away because of that four letter word called "work." For that purpose, I would say that this bike is well suited, and you'll find it lighter than your GSA for horsing around on mixed roads and if you see a trail wind up into the mountains wonder what's up there, you can crank the handle bars and ride off, without that niggling feeling that you are pushing your luck.


    Happy riding!
    #57
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  18. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Hey Ernesto,

    For a born adventurer and wanderer like yourself, it'll be easy to make it the whole way, you just don't stop riding! And being from Argentina gives you a sense of scale that a lot of people from smaller countries don't have. To you, driving a few thousand kms up to BA is natural and can be done in a few days, for some, it would seem like the journey of a lifetime.

    I did see a few guanacos, very cool looking creatures for us foreigners. I rode down ruta 3 for speed because I wanted to get down there before it got too late in season, but like most bikers really was looking forward to ruta 40. It was spectacular, and at that time of year, no tourists and almost no cars. You have to put up with the cold, but seeing Patagonia in slow season with almost no people on the road allows you to feel it better, but you know that much better than I. My only regret was that I didn't go twenty years ago before they started to pave the road. It's changing, which is good, but I sort of long for the old narrow roads that show much character of the land. I was riding quickly though, but I will definitely go back and explore more of the trails and tracks and roads, Argentina is a place that someone can go again and again...


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    #58
  19. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Sorry, most pictures are obscured by the big soft bag on the back, here's one without the bag.

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    #59
  20. RTW Motorcycling

    RTW Motorcycling Been here awhile

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    Incomplete picture, but here is a pic of the bike partially disassembled. I think it looks pretty fearsome when mostly black, again someone will make a custom black one no doubt. The side panels are an excellent design, the beak comes off, the air filter cover, and the side panels. Very easy access, although most people will never need to remove, you can easily access the air filter and batttery from the top of the faux tank.

    While I'm at it, here's a pic the rear rack that's on the bike and usually hidden by the soft bag. (I can't take any credit for that rack, it was designed by a person who probably best epitomizes what it means to have the biking spirit and shows it by going out of his way to help fellow bikers. Unbelievable guy.)

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    #60