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  #1  
Old 8 Apr 2011
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F800GS for adventure traveling?

Hi all,

In my previous post about traveling to the Stans and Siberia, (then possibly Australia and south east Asia) several of you talked about the F800GS. Although "sexy", I had not been completly convinced by the bike after trying it 2 years ago.
Now, I just come back from an enduro training at BMW Hechlingen enduro park (Germany) where I had a chance to ride for 2 days that bike and I have been quite impressed how easy i was to handle it on rough terrain and especially the feeling of ligthness and fantastic balance it has. What I did not like is the lack of low-end torque, the very long 1st gear, the throttle that is not so smooth... All in one, it forces to use a lot of clutch and to always have quite high revs... Have you experienced the same?

I also found lots of contradictory information about the reliability of the bike on the web, but very few reports of travelers riding it on RTW for overland trips. What is the the value of the bike for long-range dual sport travelling? Has it been seriously experienced now, after being for 3 years on the market? Have the youth problems been fixed? Besides the better power on highways, especially for a loaded bike, the better resale value, is there really an added-value compared to the F650 Dakar?
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Old 8 Apr 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickaha View Post
What I did not like is the lack of low-end torque, the very long 1st gear, the throttle that is not so smooth... All in one, it forces to use a lot of clutch and to always have quite high revs... Have you experienced the same?

What is the the value of the bike for long-range dual sport travelling? Has it been seriously experienced now, after being for 3 years on the market? Have the youth problems been fixed? Besides the better power on highways, especially for a loaded bike, the better resale value, is there really an added-value compared to the F650 Dakar?
Hey Kick,

It, like a lot of other bikes, is perfectly fine for long range dual sport travelling.

I rode one a couple of years back from Ushuaia to Alaska on the last leg of a RTW wander. The other legs I rode a KLR and a DL1000 (long story) so it was interesting to compare and contrast.

As a mid size, it fits in the middle of the bike spectrum so doesn't do any one thing really well but everything pretty well.

If you plan on doing a lot of off road, then you could look at a smaller bike, go with soft bags, etc. as off road, lighter is always better. If you think that you are not going to venture off the highway at all, then you could go bigger or more to an on road orientated dual sport like a Vstrom. If like most people you don't really know what you are going to ride exactly but want to be able to go on and off road with out too much worry, then it's a good fit as it provides great flexibility.

The consensus is that the more years a bike is on the road, the more miles there will be to point out any faults and hopefully allow them to be addressed. If that is a concern for you, then I would think that three years is typically more than enough. That's my perception anyways from my experience having worked for a company manufacturing parts for the transportation industry.

Anyways, it boils down to finding the bike that best matches you and your intended ride. From what you have mentioned about your trip, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that bike.

Happy planning and have a great trip.
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  #3  
Old 8 Apr 2011
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I never understood why BMW is proud of the fact that the bike has a close ratio gearbox. I could sort of understand that on the F800S or ST, but using the same ratios on the GS was just being lazy. Top gear on the higher-geared F650GS is just right, but at the expense of a ridiculously high first gear. The F800GS has a lower, but still not low enough first gear, but could do with a higher top gear. What a mess!

The 800cc twin F650GS is easier on the throttle and better state of tune (IMHO) than the F800GS. I never understood why BMW called the former the F650GS when it's an 800cc.

I hate the side stand and the centre stand. If the bike is heavily loaded it can revolve around the side stand and collapse on its side. Many of the early problems seem to be less common on later models--steering head bearing failure, chain failure, radiator top hose disconnect, rear wheel bearing failure. Still not impressed with the OEM chain, suggest you change before serious journey.

Despite all the problems the F650/800GS is up there with the XT660Z as a RTW candidate (I have one of each). Fuel economy is absolutely brilliant. Because of the underseat tank, the bike has a wide arse (100mm wider than the R1200GS), so keep to narrow panniers.

It's also good for higher-speed touring, I did 960 miles plus a cross-channel ferry crossing in 23 hours coming back from eastern Poland. Many owners would like to meet the designer of the seat and hit him over the head with it. I use an Airhawk inflatable cover to make it more bearable. The screen is not high enough for cold climates.

Not found the perfect out-of-the-crate bike yet...

Tim
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  #4  
Old 9 Apr 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickaha View Post
I also found lots of contradictory information about the reliability of the bike on the web, but very few reports of travelers riding it on RTW for overland trips.
Si Johnson took one to Russia last year and the clutch gave up. I think a new one had to be sent out if my memory serves me right. Check out his story at

Away From Here
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  #5  
Old 9 Apr 2011
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I know a guy who rode his from UK to Capetown..

After two engine rebuild on warrenty, he was worried but set off anyway.

It kept cutting out on him all the time while in Africa. Turned out to be the side stand switch which was an easy fix.

Apart from that, he said it was faultless....

There have been quite a few posts on here about fuel pump failures !! Do a search.

Either way, seems a massive improvement over the earlier F650's
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Old 10 Apr 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crappybiker View Post
BMW didn't want to replace on warranty and blamed the roads in Chile!
Yeah.. That sounds like BMW !!

They sell the bike with videos and brochures of it flying over sand dunes and bouncing rock fields; but when their bikes fall apart because of it, they don't want to know...

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  #7  
Old 10 Apr 2011
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It's not a great bike. It's a nice bike for those who want to brag about the potential of their bike rather than finding out for themselves if it has any. It's also not a good bike to own out of warranty. In my opinion the power over a 650 single is not enough to warrant the massively reduced reliability, simplicity and price. I had one, very nice to ride in the short term. Seat is torturous over 50 miles and screen is a joke (again, my opinion but a taller screen looks ridiculous).
Very expensive to get bits to increase the versatility and usefulness of the bike and I found it fragile. Build quality is not where it should be either. Sadly this and a lot of other bikes (triumph 800, etc) are now the latest trendy fashion and are being built japanese style to fill a gap in the market rather than for genuine durability. There needs to be another Dakar style rally where bikes like this can compete and we might see better bikes getting to the market. Until then enduro-tourers come with starbucks coffee holders.
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Old 10 Apr 2011
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What evidence do you have that the Triumph Tiger 800 is built to a similar crappy standard that the F800GS is built to? I think the Tiger is a much higher quality machine, in fact.
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Old 10 Apr 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Docsherlock View Post
What evidence do you have that the Triumph Tiger 800 is built to a similar crappy standard that the F800GS is built to? I think the Tiger is a much higher quality machine, in fact.
Well, still too early to say !!

Although, Triumphs are usually built to a pretty high standard !
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  #10  
Old 10 Apr 2011
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Quite.
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  #11  
Old 10 Apr 2011
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I've spent the last 10 months riding a BMW F800GS 34000 odd miles from New York up to Alaska, Alaska down to Ushuaia & tomorrow I'm shipping the bike back to London from here in Buenos Aires.

70% Of my trip was on sealed road but in places such as Bolivia the bike did have it hard, so keep that in mind...

Faults.

Radiator fan - far too exposed to the ingress of dirt & by no means am I talking about hard core off road riding. Got wedged & threw up an oil pressure fault (???) on the electronic display, the computer cut in & shut the bike down whilst the temperature gauge didn't move despite the lack of cooling. Happened to me after crossing into Mexico & cost a mere $420 to get a replacement fan back in San Diego. All of this was less then 200 miles of freeway riding after a $1000 BMW service.

Side stand. Too short to adequately support the bike.

Fuel gauge. Despite being 'updated' under warranty reads full for 110 or so miles & then plummets to empty.

Water pump - failed & the new $520 replacement that took three weeks to arrive in Santiago, Chile was unable to pump water. Had to bastardise the old & new to avert another three week delay. $520 Well spent.

Rear bearings - failed & took most of the rear wheel hubb with them, despite being replaced at recommended intervals. 6 Hours in the desert spent smashing the remnants out with a rock as they'd been ground into the hubb when the bearing failed. Fun, fun fun.

Long first gear - when the going is slow off road (which is was for day after day in Bolivia) the clutch takes a hammering & therefore mine might just get me to the airport in the morning.

Front fork seals. One blew, followed by the other soon after.

I rode with three others. One African Twin - no faults & ridden hard. One neglected & hammered DR650 which still proved more reliable then my BMW & one other F800GS who had the same tale of woe as me.

Don't even consider buying one.

Smudger.

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Old 11 Apr 2011
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Might have to put up one of those 'is anyone having a trouble free run' threads to see if they exist! Doesn't sound good, I was considering one of these for the upgrade bike but think I might stick to the KTM990.....
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Old 11 Apr 2011
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Your reports are SCARY! Seems better of sticking with the Dakar...
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Old 11 Apr 2011
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Thoughts from F800GS land

I've got to way in on this one but full disclosure I'm an F800GS owner (wife has the F650GS twin) and a big time Yamaha fan. A true contradiction indeed.

It's my belief that there is truly no perfect overland bike. Like stated previously its all about compromise, what you value in a machine and its' capabilities.

All bikes have something go wrong at some point, but the F800GS has had its fair share upfront to be sure. Mine has been flawless so far with the exception of the recalls, (fingers crossed). Yes the throttle is "snatchy".

The new 660 tenere may have been my choice but I can't get one here in Canada. I've had several Yamahas in the past and have had very few problems. Then again they were very different bikes that weren't expected to travel thousands of miles over terrain varying from tarmac to Mongolian plains.

So what to do? First determine where you will really be riding, we all think we are "hardcore" but the truth is very few are and that's not a bad thing. Buy the bike that fits you, buying a 1200 adventure if you are 5'.4" and 150 pounds wanting to ride off-road maybe mission impossible. Lastly know your machine and its potential weaknesses. Prevention is always the best medicine. Lastly get on a bike and ride, shit happens and that very often is the best part of the adventure.
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  #15  
Old 11 Apr 2011
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There is one bike I definitely would NOT take on a RTW and that's the F800GS - way too many problems; pretty indisputable problems, too, from people that have done big trips on them. In fact, I have to say I would steer clear of BMW full stop, given their reputation for reliability (or not).

Of course all bikes can have their problems, but BMWs have more than most - a 30% warranty rate on new bikes - that's outrageous. The V-strom 650 has something like a 2% warranty rate.

It would have to be Japanese bike (think XT660Z) or Triumph for my money, based on personal experience and hearsay, but what else does one have to go on?
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