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2009 BMW F800GS Review


by Marc Cantin ,

BMW is continuing its assault on every market segment with a bike that is beautifully behaved on-road, and very effective off-road given the proper tires. The F800GS is so seductive that you find yourself wondering if it isn't the ideal size for an urban bike as well as for virtually every type of touring, especially solo.

The fluid style of the F800GS makes it an attractive, compact package.

With the introduction of the R80GS in 1980, BMW invented the dual-purpose class for heavier bikes. The GS concept (Gelande Strasse, or Off-Road/On-Road) features longer travel suspension and a spring/shock combo that gobbles up bumps and ruts with the greatest of ease.

Playful engine
The vertical Twin in the F800GS delivers 85 ponies and produces readily available torque right off the 2,000 rpm mark. Smaller and lighter than the R-Series older brothers, it uses a balancing connecting rod on a third crankshaft pin to reduce the vibrations produced by the two pistons moving in unison. Combustion occurs at each revolution, producing a smooth, turbine-like effect.

Thanks to the six well chosen gear ratios, a light clutch and the absence of heavy masses high on the frame, the bike is significantly easier to ride and change direction than the heavier R1200GS.

The electronic injection and ignition systems seem flawless, unhesitatingly delivering immediate throttle response whatever the rpm.

Comfortable suspension
The term "dual-purpose" implies a longer travel compared to a street bike without reaching the level of exclusively off-road bikes (Motocross or Enduro). The F800GS clearly loves uneven roads, with which we are all too familiar with in our part of the world. You can hear the tires working hard to gobble up holes and bumps, while you sit undisturbed and the bike never seems to be jumping around unduly.

On the trail, the suspension keeps up the good work, even allowing the rider to slide the rear wheel when exiting corners. This manoeuvre takes practice, however, as you're juggling with over 230 kilos, more than a bike designed specifically for that use. Big thumpers are usually more violent when pushing hard, so the smoothness of the F800 engine actually hinders those big slides a little bit. But Hey, give me the smoothness any day!

On the trail, the suspension keeps up the good work, even allowing for big slides on corner exit.
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