F800GS vs. KTM 990 Adventure

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by Pantah, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

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    Hello all. I searched but couldn't find any comparo's. Maybe somebody here can help.

    I have about 60k miles on my 2004 KTM 950 and want to replace it. I've had it since new and have ridden it all over the continent. I like it, but its pretty well worn and the 950's are pretty crude running compared to the new 990's.

    I know I would be happy with another KTM, because they are much more refined these days. I like the way they handle, I want a 21" front wheel, spokes and tubes, center stand, 200 mile range and the suspension is very nice for hitting washouts and such you find on forest service roads. It takes a lot to upset the bike.

    It appears to me the F800GS is pretty much the same motorcycle as the KTM Adventure. Maybe a little smaller and lighter, which for me would be a plus.

    My present KTM is well farkled, but I want to keep my new bike totally stock. I want it quiet and functional for long days cross country and visiting more remote areas in the west.

    Anybody here gone from a KTM to BMW800? How do they compare?

    Thanks
    #1
  2. ebrabaek

    ebrabaek Long timer

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    This or`d to be fun......:D..... Before buying the 8gs.... I was too considering the 990....... and while one can debate handling......capability's.....etc..... I will just share what was the deal beaker for me. On the ktm most of the mechanics is hidden by plastics, which has to be removed to gain access..... thus a simple oil change will take hours.....rather than the 30 minute it takes me on the 8gs....... Looks....which is a biased issue....never the less for me... I think it`s ugly...... 990 is costlier....... Then looking through the 990 forum....I saw other small issues...... But what I did not see....was the crap that has happened to the 8gs riders..... simply because the 8gs was so new....... The 8gs have had it`s share of issues as have the 990 with the fuel system...... If I had to do it all again.... I`d still end up with the 8GS...... but living through the recalls with the 8gs..... I`d say it does not have a lead in trouble free dispatch.......and you end up spending a few bucks on seat...and others.....so it is not much cheaper anymore....... All that said....
    The look of the 990 and the oil change will still tip it for me...... But that`s just me. Best think for you to do is pour yourself a lot of espresso....and look through both forums.....and make up your own mind....... because simply put...we are all different.... and while some prefers the Austrian.....others will lean towards the Gerrrrrrrrman.....
    May the force be with you.....:thumb:thumb

    Erling
    #2
  3. Endurodude

    Endurodude Been here awhile

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    I can only speak for the F800, but a recent trip around Europe gave me regularly between 220 and 240 miles per 16l tank. One day involved 9 hours of non-motorway travel (regular changes of speed) and I only filled up once! Epic all day travel. :clap I average 60mpg, and I don't ride that frugally!

    I, too, read about issues with the bike, and was a little wary. I'm 9200 miles in, and only a headlight bulb has been an issue, so mine seems OK (it's an 2010 '30-Years' model). I did replace the seat, though, as mentioned above - a must in my opinion.

    I think I'm correct in saying that the UK BMW off-raod skills school uses stock bikes.
    #3
  4. Ducksbane

    Ducksbane Quaaack!!!

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    If you want to keep the new bike totally stock Im not sure the F800GS is for you. Coming from the KTM you won't like the standard suspension much, you will at least need to respring both ends as they are too soft, and the forks still won't be that great. You might also need to do something with the seat. I think you will also want some protection ... better bashplate, engine bars, hanguards. Finally in the miniminilist world I would add a boosterplug or accelerator module or similar thing to smooth out the bottom end power a bit. On the bright side none of this has to cost a fortune or be very difficult.

    Further to the bright side the F800GS is lighter and thinner than the 990, has a better turning circle, uses a lot less fuel, is easier to work on and has far better fueling than the 990 I rode. It has less power, but if you can use all the power an 800GS has off road you truly are a legend. :D There is also a good ecosystem for the GS and you can get lots of information and almost any accessory or modification you can think of.

    The farkling does work ... I often get on my 800 after I haven't ridden it for a while and can't believe what a nice bike it is!

    There is also the Triumph 800XC. but that is generally accepted as being better than the BMW on road, but not as good off ... less ground clearance, more weight, less bottom end torque. If you believe the published maintenance schedules it is also harder to work on.

    If you get a 990 you will at least need some protection for it and to relocate the sidestand. Throttle tamers and what ever else you use to even out the throttle response might be necessary as well.

    As they always say test ride them all and see which one appeals to you the most. If I had to pick one of them now I would probably get another 800GS, knowing I wouldn't keep it stock. I might consider the KTM, but only if they have really improved the fueling over the one I rode ... after a brief love affair I couldn't wait to give it back! :eek1
    #4
  5. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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    #5
  6. Ronin ADV

    Ronin ADV Gear addict

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    I think Ducksbane summed it up pretty well. I also thought long about the 990 and I still consider changing from my F800 from time to time. If indeed you intend to just keep it stock, you are in for an off road let down with the F800. Unless you ride very mellow stuff the stock F800 needs some upgrades to be really dirt worthy. I would say wheels, suspension, protection, and booster plug (or similar). Also maybe a change in the stock gearing. That said, with these changes, the F800 is indeed quite nice. Weight is still an issue for me any time I get into harder stuff and I wish the bike was another 50-100 lbs lighter. This alone has scared me away from the 990 as I certainly dont want more weight. But I do think the 990 has a better stock suspension so it may indeed feel better if not lighter in the dirt. The maintenence thing also scared me off the 990, although the F800 is not exactly perfect there either. I haven't seriously considered the Tiger as its lower and heavier appears to be less dirt worthy than the F800.
    The 990 and the F800 are both cool bikes.

    IMO : dirt capability (stock) 990 > F800
    road capabilty : probably a toss up
    maintenence (ease of and reliability) F800 > 990
    looks : F800 > 990
    :lol3



    The above are of coarse just my totally biased and unscientific impressions so take them for what they are worth. I am sure I would be very happy with a 990, but I have spent enough time and money on my F800 now getting it dialed in the way I like it I am going to stick with it for now.
    #6
  7. tofire409

    tofire409 Geared up and ready.

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    Great input all :freaky

    I was having the same debate awhile ago... I'm going to join the F800GS ranks.
    The local dealers for the KTM NEVER have anything to test ride unless I buy it first :huh The BMW dealer has always given me a 1.5+ hr test ride (mid week).

    That alone carries more weight than comparing the two on paper.
    #7
  8. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    I owned an '04 KTM 950 before going to the F800GS. So, I can tell you exactly how they compare in minute detail. But, let's keep it simple with just the highlights.

    If you want to keep it bone stock and plan to do some hardcore offroad riding, then no butts about it.....the KTM is your choice. Its heavy, doesn't turn well, and quite bothersome to work on (removing all the plastic, tanks, etc....to do anything), but its got a good suspension stock, and easy to convert the front end to a high fender. The KTM motor was more exponential in the powerband.....harder to tame and control in the loose stuff.

    The F800GS is smoother, more linear motor, better fuel mileage, heavy but more nimble with great turning ability, whisper quiet, and a real dream to work on (easy peasy maintenance). But, the stock suspension SUCKS² You'll have to drop some serious coin to fix it properly. But after you do.....ooo-la-la....she's pretty sweet.

    I didn't get along well with my KTM offroad and in the garage. It wasn't the most reliable bike I've owned. I'm loving my F800 in comparison....AFTER bringing it up to my personal specs. Seems like I've bought this bike twice, by now. Probably have. But I'm very pleased with the result. Do wish it had a bit more ground clearance.

    Sound like you got along well with your KTM, so......

    HF :thumbup
    #8
  9. tmex

    tmex Long timer

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    I've ridden both a lot (back to back to back) and I own an F800GS which I bought before the comparisons - never really considered a 990 because I just don't like the looks.

    The 990 has quite a bit more power than the F8, and the suspension is certainly stiffer (probably better once you get it dialed in).

    990's are bimodal. On some the fuel injection is in the "workable" category and on others it is a nightmare - jerky transition from idle to midrange, stalling, dying as you stop,... The bad ones seem to resist all attempts to fix either at home or at the dealer. I know of two people who have converted from FI to carbs at considerable time and expense.

    As others have pointed out, the 990 is harder to work on. In fact, when you pull the fairings the wire and other routing looks ad hoc and chaotic. It is like the bike was never really finished by the factory. Even a simple oil change is a lot of work. The FI filters clog very easily, and cost $120 to replace. And on it goes.

    The F800 is not perfect to be sure, and has had it's share of issues, but at least there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. The 990 is just not ready for prime time IMO.
    #9
  10. marcoma

    marcoma Adventurer

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    When I went to the dealer to test a KTM 990, I got back and said it just felt too much of a dedicated offroad machine (albeit a heavy one!). He then offered me a test ride on a brand new F800GS. I bought the BMW on the spot.

    Theres not a day goes by where I don't regret buying the BMW ....BUT I imagine I'd be even more dissatisfied with the KTM.

    The Beemer is uncomfortable with the stock seat, has a ridiculously tall first gear so hard core offroading is out of the question in stock form which is fine because the suspension is shite for that anyways, the motor rattles more than my dead grannys teeth and it's stupidly overpriced IMHO. No, where the Beemer pics up points is it's ability in town over the KTM and it's astounding fuel mileage.

    I have 7 bikes - I dislike the Beemer because it cost the most and delivered the least. I'm sure there's people here who swear by 'em but honestly there's no comparison to what you get with a Japanese machine - in quality, performance and value for money.

    When I bought it, I made my bed and now I'll lie on it....... c'est la vie! :deal
    #10
  11. CaliKarl

    CaliKarl Been here awhile

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    Sell it! High residuals mean you'll get most of your money back. Then you can buy two KLRs, or three!
    #11
  12. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Walk this on over to the orange crush section and listen.
    I will share a few thoughts. I will address a few of the comments and your question. First off- find a dealer that will let you ride a 990. I rode a f800 and 990 multiple times , back to back at the same dealer (grand junction -Harley,BMW,KTM).
    If I had not rode the 990 I too would have made the mistake (my opinion for myself) of buying the f8.
    someone who clearly never changed the oil on a 990 said hours for an oil change ? Only 1 hour and that is the first one-then once a year, yes the book says pull the screens every oil change but most people do not-they never have anything in them, for a couple bucks you put a valve and line on your oil tank and thus your oil changes for the most part are nearly as fast (within minutes) as a F8. I own a 650 twin so dont tell me im wrong. Other wise once a year or during the valve adjustment having to pull one side tank is a little more work but 1X a year your bike deserves a good once over. Looks- well if you are buying a bike on looks, then maybe a 61 pan head is the way to go ? Some like to F8 - some like a 990. I personally like both, like the 990 more but, if I bought on looks I would never have gotten into BMWs many years and hundreds of thousands of miles ago. RIDE them both.
    As far as what you need to do to make it off road ready, KTM side stand - I say yes $100 up grade that needs to be done.
    F8 needs protection added too. Apples to apples in the want department.
    Fact: KTM - rally platform bike. Off road it will walk on the F8. Suspension,power, so on & so on. On road still a great bike.
    BMW F8- dual sport bike, a great bike on the road-milage,soft suspension,gearing-so on. Off road a very capable machine with a great warrantee (if you can get BMW NA to stand behind it-thats another story of a R1200GS)
    These bikes are in the same category but not really designed on the same platform. Both great bikes.
    Id say you cant go wrong with either- but I almost did and am very glad I chose the 990. I urge you to ask this on the orange crush side of the world-and do a search first over there-its come up alot. And there are many GS (F8-R1200) guys there.
    Clearly you owe it to yourself to ride both- think about where you ride or want to ride. And choose what you feel suites you the best-then you made the right decision no matter what I or any one else says.
    #12
  13. tmex

    tmex Long timer

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    You can't post anything in the orange crush forum without getting into a flaming argument. I have four (more than most in OC) KTM's so I am not averse to the brand. But good grief, there is absolutely no objectivity when it comes to 990 talk. That leads me to believe that no one with a 990 wants to consider that they threw $10K+ in the toilet.
    #13
  14. deguoren

    deguoren 该出手时就出手

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    I asked myself the same question and the KTM lost on paper.
    I have to admit I never rode it.

    My only option was to buy a used bike and I got a 08 GS for around the same kind of money as a 06 KTM 990.
    Maintenance intervals and costs are less for the GS, and as I ride more then 12k per year that makes a difference.
    Plus the GS uses very little fuel, even riding it hard (aside from Motorway). And it does 200 km/h with luggage with ease and without being tiring. The KTM on the other hand as a reputation for weaving above 160 km/h.

    Wouldn't matter for most, but I have some long high speed commutes to do some times.
    #14
  15. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

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    Thanks for your thoughtful responses. Once again, I am quite familiar with what a KTM twin delivers since I have had one for almost 7 years.

    I rode a KTM 990 SM-T for a hundred miles, and I found it highly refined compared to mine. The motor was silk smooth and didn't notice any fueling issues. I am hoping the Adventure has a similarly tuned motor.

    Oil changes aren't hard and the plastics come off quickly. My 950 has never left me stranded, so I consider it reasonably reliable.

    I like the BMW, though, because it has the right wheelset for me and its a little smaller. Also, it's different. If the suspension is softer than my KTM, it may be too soft, but I will be using the bike for travelling, not single track. I have a Yam 250 for more technical riding.

    I'll try and get a couple test rides lined up. Thanks again.

    PS: I know what the OC folks will post, because I participate there from time to time. I came here because you ride 800's and I want your first hand opinion.
    #15
  16. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

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    The closest I got to a KTM ride was to throw a leg over and hoist it up. It felt heavy and after looking at the HP and torque numbers, I decided for an old man on his first big ADV type bike, I should probably pass.

    Some of my first impressions of the BMW were similar to yours and I was unhappy enough to bitch about here.

    My first trip to Saline/Death valley on the stock bike, put the fear of Dog in me, a 65mph tankslapper will do that. Suspension that jarred my teeth, abrupt throttle that garnered me a bent rim. First was too abrupt and 2nd would not pull the grades.

    I have about $1,700 in suspension fixes, Accelerator module, G2 tube, exhaust and a shock brace for peace of mind. It is a completely different bike.

    It is still cheaper than a KTM. The engine in mine makes no odd noises. With added torque and ability to modulate the throttle, coupled with decent suspension, has made me forget the tall first gear.

    Stock to stock there is no comparison, if you are talking about suspension and power.

    A few mods and it is tough enough for me.
    #16
  17. RadoR6

    RadoR6 Adventurer

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    I had the same problem as you back in March 2010. It took me a few months to do my "homework" and finally decide to put the deposit down on a GS 800. Yes, KTM was the better bike but not £3000 better (which was the price difference between the two), KTM has the better suspension but the GS was easily improved by fitting Hyperpro progressive springs. Furthermore, the GS is much easier to mantain with longer service intervals. Also, the fuel consumption was another thing that spoke for the GS. Now, after almost 1 1/2 years, two trips to the continent and with 11000 miles on the clock, I can't say one single word against the GS8.The only problems I had were a leaking rocker gasket and water pump which were replaced quickly and efficiently (both cases within three days from reporting) by my local dealer.
    #17
  18. marcoma

    marcoma Adventurer

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    1) OK - best farkle - hands down must-have mod for me was a GPR steering damper. OMG - completely different bike after that. It was a total pig before and I imagine your tank slapper story is not uncommon.

    2) Answer to the KTM v BMW muse..... do like I did and buy an orange BMW :oscar


    Check out the pig with a steering damper in action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEJix3foLuQ
    #18
  19. loph917

    loph917 Beard Bros Racing

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    hey mate, yer on the wrong side of the road!!

























    :hide
    #19
  20. marcoma

    marcoma Adventurer

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    I know, right? :1drink

    You can laugh but after spending the last 11 years in the US, I have had a couple of awkward moments in Oz where I attempted to go down the wrong side of a dual carriageway :huh I still find it funny (until I get hit by a semi).......
    #20