F800GS or VFR800 and KLR650? Decisions...

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by xplorrwest, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. xplorrwest

    xplorrwest Adventurer

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    So I've been a KLR650 owner for over a year, my first adventure bike and it works sufficiently for everything I've used it for. Could use some more farkles, but that's where I'm split. I would like more power out of her, so I've thought about the 705 kit, need a corbin seat, panniers, crash bars...etc...

    So to get her where I'd be really happy I'm going to have to sink some $$ into it. Also for a lot of my road trips I end up wishing I had a sport tourer because I'd like something smoother, faster, and more comfy. I've had experience with VFR800's (interceptors) in the past, love the v4, very comfy ergos. It would be a great choice for me since I do a majority of road riding, and would mean I could get away with doing less mods to my KLR. On top of that I really don't do a LOT of adv riding, I'd like to, always make big plans but work bumps them and they get cancelled. So a sporty tourer like a vfr makes a lot of sense to me for quicker weekend getaways, then keep the KLR for when I do actually get to do an adventure ride.

    That's my logic so far, however I really have a thing for the F800GS's. And I've seen every review on them about how they're so much better off road, great! If I do go off road I'd be confident to know I've got an extremely capable machine. But how does it do on the road? From someone who owns one, how much of the sport tourer role does it fulfill for you?

    Another benefit to me owning the F800GS is that I can pass my KLR on to my dad who I've been bugging to do an adventure ride with me for a long time before he gets too old and retires to his goldwing. My concern is that the F800GS just wont be that do everything bike I'd hope it to be.

    I'm not asking anyone to make the decision for me, I'm just trying to make the best decision for myself, and doing some early research. I am planning on doing some test riding here in the near future as well, unfortunately though I wont have the ability to put a thousand miles on any of the bikes i'm testing to see how I feel about them in the long haul. So to those that have owned said bike, I'm just looking for some opinions, whether to hand down a klr and move to the GS, or get the VFR and have the best of both worlds in one garage.

    Thanks!
    -XPLORR
    #1
  2. reinerka

    reinerka Been here awhile

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    XPLORR,

    I completely understand where you're coming from and the reasoning you have for your problem as I went through that exercise not long ago.

    We have two KLR's that we ride from time to time. However not nearly enough for my liking and much of it is due to the fact that the KLR is a nice fun bike but not really the bike you want to ride extended mileage on the freeway to get to the fun spot. Sure there are fixes for it as you mentioned but all of them are "major surgery" for the KLR.

    We have an ST1300 (plus a GL1800) that we use for touring and it has prooven to be a good choice for that over the years.

    I've been thinking to get another bike for a while (so that my wife gets the ST1300 and I have something comparable) and selling the GL1800 for that.

    Then suddenly it hit me. Why not take a KLR and trade it for the F800GS. I arranged a test ride and all I can say is that the F800GS is what the KLR always wanted to be. Power - more than sufficient for the freeway. Handling - rock solid on the street even at neck breaking speeds. Vibration - it's a twin and not a single, so some vibration but not worrysome.

    I returned from the test ride and left the KLR at the dealer and heading home on the F800GS. It was the best bike choice in a long time (I was originally contemplating a C14). Now riding the bike the fuel mileage is impressive (just filled up at the 200 mile mark with the computer saying 55mpg average consumption - that is for a 50 mile one way freeway commute in CA).

    For me the choice I would do in your place is clear. Walk to the BMW dealership, test ride the F800GS. The VFR is nice but you have the best of both worlds a go (almost) anywhere bike that even has its place on the freeway.

    Now I need to figure out when and how I can put a SS1K in with the F800GS to proove (to me) that this bike can handle it nice and easy.

    Reiner
    #2
  3. xplorrwest

    xplorrwest Adventurer

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    Thank you Reiner! That is a very helpful response, and I agree next step is test ride the F800 then ride my dads vfr home to have a back to back comparison. I'm trying to stay away from the bmw dealership for a few more weeks though, I left my work to pursue a career as a cop and I'm still applying, so no new bikes til theres more $$ coming in :waysad

    So I take it the F800 cruises real nice then on long distance? How does it handle semi-truck wind buffeting compared to the KLR?
    #3
  4. reinerka

    reinerka Been here awhile

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    No problems at all with buffeting behind 18 wheelers or other large slow moving obstacles.

    I swapped the regular windshield against the tall touring one and much to my surprise fuel mileage didn't change either.

    I usually try to get the benefit of running behind those nice large SUV's as wind barriers and they don't cause a problem apart from increasing gas mileage by about 5mpg :D

    Reiner
    #4
  5. xplorrwest

    xplorrwest Adventurer

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    nice i was getting blown around so bad for like 200 miles on i90 the other day on my klr I was just praying for something more planted
    #5
  6. Ducksbane

    Ducksbane Quaaack!!!

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    I replaced my R1100GS with an 800, and standard I have to say that if it was a long distance I would have preferred the 1100.

    I have since replaced the windscreen with a Calsci, which I modified a bit and have added the wind deflectors on the radiator sides. Much better ... warmer, quieter, more comfortable. I seem to have gotten used to the seat, so now I would probably be happier taking the 800. It's got more zap, power, narrower, and better fuel economy.

    I have to say that until I replaced the screen I used to notice buffeting from trucks and buses, but with the Calsci, its no problem at all now.
    #6
  7. xplorrwest

    xplorrwest Adventurer

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    Cool, I figured I'd have to upgrade the screen. How do you like it's acceleration and handling on the road? Ever leave you wishing you had a sportier bike?
    #7
  8. Bike4Fun

    Bike4Fun Smooth IS Fast

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    Love it. I still have the stock battle wings on it and have no problem scrapping the pegs. Of course that would be different if I had a more aggressive tire. For me its got plenty of acceleration. Any more and I would be dead or having to sell it because of tickets. Traveling on the highway at 70 and need to pass, you will be at 90 before you know it.

    I plan on buying a tire changing machine so I can throw on some knobbies if I'm going over a mountain pass and then easily change back. Or put some more road oriented tires on it so I can go run the twisties. For me it meets both worlds well. It doesn't compare to a full on street sport bike but that is not why I bought it. Its not a gnarly as a KTM off road but will certainly take you every where you want to be and sometimes places you are in over your head.

    Is this a bike to put 600 miles of pure tarmac on in a day, probably not. You want to put 300 to 400 of mixed surfaces, you'll love every minute of it! :clap
    #8
  9. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks House Ape

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    Well, you probably wouldn't want to do 600 miles/day on a VFR800 either. :D

    But having done several rides of 600+ miles on my F800GS already (on the stock seat, BTW), I can tell you that you probably won't find a better motorcycle for covering a lot of miles to get to the dirt, and then play all day there than the F800GS.

    David
    #9
  10. tmex

    tmex Long timer

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    None of your choices would really be on my list for road duty. On the slab I want at least 1000cc (current bikes 12GS, Duc 998, YZF1000). My 800 feels like a toy on the slab compared to these bikes. Can you hit the slab on an 800? Sure, but it is connect the dirt activity IMO. It just does not make the horsepower needed to be interesting. At 85 HP it is sorely lacking unless keeping up with Harley's is your mission statement. The KTM 990 Adventure is actually a much better slab machine than the F8.

    The KLR is a dog by any measure. My GF's G650GS eats KLR's for breakfast (which is not saying much). At 35 or so HP the KLR just does not get it done compared to the 50 or so HP the 650GS puts out. My neighbor is a Honda/Kawasaki dealer and he can't understand why Kawi can't raise the bar on the KLR. Cost is the only explanation.

    The F800 is a great little adventure bike, and if used in that domain it will reward you with lots of grins, but the slab is not a strong point. I had a blast in Death Valley with my F8, but would not particularly enjoy riding it from San Jose to Death Valley.

    My advice is to keep the KLR - it is what it is, and supplement it with a bigger displacement bike such as a 12GS which is suitable for covering serious road miles, and can be taken to a surprising number of off road venues.
    #10
  11. xplorrwest

    xplorrwest Adventurer

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    Hey thanks for the input! I really would love a 12GS, if I could afford it! The cheapest one I've seen was a 07 I think with 65000 road miles for 8500, I've been considering it because I wouldn't mind doing a rebuild when the time came, that'd probably be the last bike I buy. But a 800GS is what's in my price range. I can pick up a 2 year old VFR800 for 8500 abouts also, which is why I've been considering one of them, I'll invest in a corbin seat and slap some sheep skin on that bike and be just fine with distances, but that still leaves me with the adventure gap :cry

    So I think a good point to make for myself is that a 12GS is indeed THE bike for me. Just 5 years down the road from now.

    I think a good question I'd like to ask you is, how much better is your 8GS at twisties, acceleration and long distance cruising than a KLR? and then how much better is the 12GS after that?

    Thanks again!
    XPLORR
    #11
  12. tmex

    tmex Long timer

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    Friends who ride a KLR consistently have two comments after a spin on the F8:

    1> It is so smooth (which it is - the KLR is a paint shaker).

    2> Hey - that thing is fast (and it is very fast relative to the KLR).

    F8 is a great bike, but a 1000cc motorcycle is really a better choice for long distances on the pavement.
    #12
  13. xplorrwest

    xplorrwest Adventurer

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    ha ha thats exactly what I was hoping to hear. I think for now I'd be willing to live with an 8 for a few years til I can afford the 12gs. nice intermediary between the KLR. Not to say she hasn't been fun.
    #13
  14. Ducksbane

    Ducksbane Quaaack!!!

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    I find the 800 has enough power for me, but I've never owned a big road bike.

    In Australia you spend a lot of time worrying about cops and our ridiculous speed limits, so I am not really after something that will cruise at 200Km/hr plus. I certainly have no problems dealing with traffic.

    Most of the time the bike would like to go faster than I think is prudent on highways. This is only about a genuine 110 -120km/hr, but it seems to be quite happy at 140 - 150.
    #14
  15. Terrytori

    Terrytori Namaste

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    I just unloaded my KLR in favor of the GS 800.

    So far, a good swap. The KLR is a fine ride that would be made better with
    more power and upgraded suspension. Having run a KTM LC4, i think the
    KLR is remarkably smooth for a single but that is pretty much in the minds
    of the riders.

    In all likelihood, i will probably add more of a sporting tool to the garage.
    The G 800 is decently quick and reasonably nimble but there is much more
    to the sporting feel than both of those characteristics.

    If i were to consistently show a flagrant disregard for the speed limits
    on the hard black stuff, and i was in your situation, i would most likely
    keep the KLR and add the VFR to my garage.
    #15
  16. tmex

    tmex Long timer

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    You are right. The LC4 is much worse than the KLR650, but I still find the KLR vibration annoying and I am not particularly sensitive to vibration. I have a Husky TE510, for example, but I would not ride it 50 miles on the slab unless I had to.

    Also, the F8 will cruise acceptably well on pavement. I bought mine in San Diego and drove it up to San Jose, and enjoyed the trip quite a lot. However, I would have preferred a liter bike and would use a liter bike for trips over a 100 miles or so if I had the choice.
    #16
  17. reinerka

    reinerka Been here awhile

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    A friend of ours once said "the KLR is the only disposable motorcycle in the market" - I could not agree more to that statement. For the price of the bike it is hard to beat.

    Reiner
    #17
  18. reinerka

    reinerka Been here awhile

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    I wouldn't say that a bike needs at least 1000cc. I've done a trip from Denver, CO to San Jose, CA (2days) on the KLR and if it had a tad more power it would have been doing pretty well.

    85HP is about 5 less than the original R1100RT did (and I think the R1100GS had 80 or 85HP). It certainly is enough power for the slabs. The only problem is probably comfort (seat and wind protection) but that is an issue with almost any bike sold today and can be easily fixed.

    Reiner
    #18
  19. springfish

    springfish Been here awhile

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    "The KLR will do everything, just not anything well."

    I love my F800GS. I ride her everyday and always look forward it. My personal opinion is she's 50/50 (on-road to off-road). In fact, I think she's probably even a little more at home on the pavementÂ…of course depending on how you define "off-road".
    #19
  20. Bushwhacker

    Bushwhacker Dirt, Sweat & Gears

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    I find the F800GS has enough power for me and I have owned a big road bike.

    I rode a Valkyrie for three years and I traded a Tiger 1050 for the F800.

    The F800 does not have near the power of either one of these bikes but how much power do you need to cruise at 80. I have done that on a KLR (for 5000 miles on an Alaska and Canada trip).

    The one thing I have noticed is that in situations where I could just role on the throttle on the Tiger I have to downshift the F800, but that is just changing your driving habits and not a comment on whether the bike has sufficient power or not.
    #20