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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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Old 5 Aug 2011
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Aus. Qld. Mackay
Posts: 384

As far as the F800 goes I don't know, but I just flogged my 650 twin thru some very tuff roads in Uganda, I wanted to get off the beaten track and the bike never missed a beat. One flaw is that it is a bit low but I think the 800 would not have that problem. I may be lucky ? or others just unlucky ? who knows ?
I only know i like mine more & more each time i ride it, hope my luck doesn't run out in the Congo & Sth. Sudan ! tho.
....rather Die Living.....than Live Dying !
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Old 6 Aug 2011
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Location: QLD Australia
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KTM Adventure

Last year i rode so many different adventure bikes it got beyond a joke. I wanted to replace my faithful Vstrom 650 with something a bit more powerful. Rode the BMW's both the 1200 and 800. The 1200 was way to cumbersome and was out of the running straight away. The GS800 was an ex demo they were trying to get ride of and it felt terrible. It rattled so much I was looking for bits falling off. The gearbox was fine for the test ride but I could feel that once in the loose stuff it would be a problem. I had also heard lots of stories. The Tiger at that time was not an adventure bike just an upright tourer. Seriously looked at the 1000Vstrom but the shop would not let test ride so that was the end of that. In the end I walked into a KTM dealer who had two 09 990 adventures he wanted clearing off the floor. He let me test ride a bike even though it was brand new. The bike felt good standing and sitting and I could feel the bike would not be embarrassed when the roads turned to crap or disappeared.

Glad to say I am still happy a year after buying the bike. I have done trips into the Aussie bush 2 up with far to much gear on board, organised adventure rides that reminded me of my enduro days and recently did the loop from Brisbane to Alice springs and back on the seal with my wife who was riding her CBF 1000. The bike has never let me down and has had some rough handling. My only bitch is the need to carry octane booster everywhere as you can not run anything less than premium fuel for more than one tank. I think this is a problem for a lot of modern adventure bike though.

What ever you chosoe I hope you still love it after owning a year.
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Old 28 Jul 2013
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Location: Maplewood NJ USA
Posts: 243
F800GS Latin America 2012-2013 ride

Left New Jersey with 3200 miles of break in, no issues prior to leaving.

Modifications (for a 6'3" rider)
- Madstad 22" windscreen (adjustable pitch and height, love it)
- BMW touring seat (forget the stock enduro seat, built for those that mostly stand on the pegs...)
- Beadseat (thousands of truck and taxi drivers can't be wrong, they aren't)
- Foam sleeves for hand grips (helps smooth the throttle action, not installed for vibration)
- PIAA Cross Country (love them regardless of various blub failures, now discontinued)
- ScottOiler (can get messy, hate oiling chain all the time, also carried spray and used from time to time.)
- Roxs Handle bar riser
- AltRider bash plate
- AltRider crash bars (love them)

Failures (during 32,500 miles / 9 month trip through CA, then clockwise around SA, boat to Cuba, boat to Cancun, MX and back to New Jersey)

- Burnt low beam bulb (south of Salvador, BR)
- Front chain sprocket lost a tooth (somewhere south of Salvador BR, replaced in Sao Paulo, BR, replaced chain and back sprocket while at it.)
- Oil heat exchange caught a rock (despite the AltRider bash plate...replaced by private mechanic in Buenos Aires, AR)
- Chain broke on country road in Bolivia (repaired without chain breaker tool, still riding on same chain. May have been caused by rock or poor lubrication?)
- Rear wheel bearing (replaced with generic bearings, Cusco, Peru)
- Battery failed (near the last leg, south of Mexico City, covered by warranty when I got home, but had to buy one in DF)

- 4.1 gallon / 16 liter gas tank is too small. The 2013 model has more capacity.
- How can BMW sell a GS (enduro!) with a tiny side stand pad?
- Gas gauge does not update fuel level well...jumps from near full to 1/4 full. I use the odometer and wait for the low fuel light to come on. Best practice is to fill up when your tank is half empty...

- With large load on back of bike the front tire has little braking traction when stopping on steep inclines...back wheel failed to grab on gravel and another time on cobble stone, sliding backwards, not a pretty story. This could happen with any bike.
- Responsive off road. I rode mostly on paved surface except:
  • A couple hours off road north of Lake Atitlan, GU.
  • Several hundred miles of dirt, clay and some sand in Guyana.
  • More dirt and gravel entering Brazil from French Guiana, ~100 miles
  • Dirt roads in Argentina (off road riding for a few hours, then getting to a camping site for a stage of the Dakar Rally)
  • A few hundred miles of dirt entering Bolivia from Yacuiba and riding to Tarija...)
  • Maybe 50 miles of dirt northwest of Sucre, BO and miles and miles deep truck grooves south of La Paz...I still get nightmares from these...
- I found the gear ratio to be fine, but what do I know. This is my second bike and I don't have a lot of off road experience.
- Plenty of power, but had trouble keeping up the 1200's =)

Final word
Glad I had this bike when off road, plenty of power/speed on highway. I travel solo most of the time and don't ride dirt roads by choice, unless riding with others, so not that many miles logged on dirt. The F800GS has plenty of height for bumps, might be too high for vertically challenged riders. Rode an 21 year old K75 during a Central America trip in 2008-09 and had issues finding parts in some locations. Decided to get a late model BMW and rely on dealers in almost every country (I think there are three countries in Latin America without a BMW dealer.)
The bike is larger than most will need. I wanted the power for after the trip, not while in Latin America. It is light enough that I could pick it up, sometimes I had to remove luggage, but could always recover when dropping bike.
Yeah, BMW is expensive and I think its worth it. I did not suffer engine or structural problems once. Sure there will be small mechanical problems with this bike, as with any bike.
Wish I had maintenance statistics across the whole production run. Individual experiences can be misleading.

I hope this is useful to someone.
Peter B
NYC to Tierra del Fuego (and back!) 2012/2013

Blogs: Peter's Ride
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