2017 BMW F 800 GS Adventure review

If we were really practical about our motorcycle choice, we would probably all be riding the BMW F 800 GS Adventure.

With its big 24-litre tank and go-anywhere capabilities, it is the ideal bike for Australia’s vast distances and rough roads and tracks. Yet it is also refined enough to be a canyon carver and weekday commuter.

At $21,500 you can ride away with one of the most practical and versatile bikes in the world. Actually, you can get a 2017-model bike built in 2016 for just $17,990 ride away if you are quick!

Next-gen F models

They are no doubt trying to clear all models before the rumoured 850cc or 900cc version arrives later this year to compete against the popular Honda Africa Twin.

Spy shot of next-generation F-model GS Adventure (Photo from MoreBikes.co.uk)

This spy photo from MoreBikes.co.uk shows it now has a conventional fuel tank, tubeless tyres, chain and exhaust swapped around, and LED headlights.

Our test bikeBMW F 800 GS Adventure

When I picked up the test bike from Motorline BMW at Springwood, Brisbane, the skies were blue and the roads were inviting!

But over the next week, the weather became deadly as Tropical Cyclone Debbie wreaked havoc across two states.

Yet the bold BMW met all challenges the terrain and weather could throw at it.

At first I headed for the hills to get myself used to the tall bike with its big front hoop.

I owned one of the first generation F 800 GS models and loved it. So it didn’t take long to get back into the feel of manhandling the F 800 GS Adventure into cornersBMW F 800 GS Adventure

Over Mt Tamborine a sportsbike loomed up behind me and I waved him through as we approached the twisting Goat Track. He shook his head and I knew “it’s on!” So I selected the sport setting on the electronic suspension adjustment and set off.

The test bike was shod with Continental TKC80 knobby tyres which had already done the last GS Safari, so they were not only inappropriate for these conditions, but also on the worn side.

My old F 800 GS had none of the electronic chicanery that the new models have, but I was glad of the ABS and traction control as I pushed to stay in front of the sportsbike rider.

On several occasions, the tyres squirmed, slid and wobbled as I braked hard into corners, leaned deeply and throttled hard out of the apex.

However, the electronics saved my bacon each time without any alarming or jerky feedback.

BMW really has the electronic rider aids well sorted these days.

At the end of the Goat Track, the sportsbike rider pulled up beside me and gave me a nod of appreciation. Job well done!

Clean and green

2017 parallel twin GS models F 800 GS Adventure
2017 BMW F 800 GS models

For 2017 the F 700 and F 800 GS range have cleaner engines to meet the tough new Euro 4 emissions, without any reduction in power or torque.

The bikes now come with an “electromotive throttle controller” that delivers a signal from a sensor on the throttle to the engine control system and the throttle valves.

This allows the expansion of the engine modes to Rain, Road, Enduro and Enduro Pro that control throttle response, ABS activation and traction control.

Rain and Road are standard on all models and Enduro and Enduro Pro are optional on the F 800 GS and GSA.

More importantly, it now has one of the smoothest throttles of any bike.

There is no jerk from idle which is a huge help when you are at the limits in a tight hairpin on the Goat Track!

The smooth fuelling also helps when you are caught in a tricky single-track situation and need precise throttle or when lane filtering through commuter traffic.

By the way, lane filtering is easy as the bike is slim, even though it has a fat bum with its underseat tank and wide bars. Those bars are so high they go over most car wing mirrors, but be aware of mirrors on pick-up trucks and SUVs.

Cyclone DebbieBMW F 800 GS Adventure

The third day of my test, Debbie descended on Brisbane and unleashed a waterfall of rain.

So I put on my Draggin Hydro suit, selected the “Rain” mode on the F 800 GS Adventure and headed out into the maelstrom.

That precise and smooth fuelling, together with the traction control, ABS and Rain mode made riding on slippery roads very confidence inspiring, even with knobby tyres.

There was no occasion when I felt the bike was out of my control.

The deluge was short-lived, but the consequences stayed around for days, so I headed away from where the emergency services were active and ventured into the hills.

Even here there were dangers in the gravel and vegetation that had washed across the roads.

So I kept all the electronic controls in place.

Dirty workBMW F 800 GS Adventure

I also found some crushed granite roads and trails to ride that were not rutted and gouged by the rains.

As much of the electronic aids were switched off as possible, but I ended up switching them all back on again. They work so well and adjust to the conditions, depending on the modes you select.

I also hooked up with a friend on an MV Agusta, so I again adjusted the suspension to the sport setting and did my best to hang on to his tail.

The F 800 GS Adventure even got in front of the MV on the rougher sections after I switched to the “comfort” suspension setting.

This is simply the most versatile and practical bike for every occasion. The only limiting factor here was the tyre choice.

Handsome F 800 GS Adventure

At a lunch stop, I noticed a guy looking at our parked bikes. I thought he was admiring my friend’s sexy MV parked next to the BMW, but he was actually interested in the F 800 GS Adventure.

“Looks nice,” he said.

That’s weird because I never considered any of the GS models to “look nice” (except the gorgeous R nineT Urban/GS). Maybe handsome in a rugged Micky Rourke sort of way, but certainly not nice.

However, I do love the milky grey paint which is nicely reflected in the new instruments.

2017 BMW F 800 GS F 700 GS F 800 GS Adventure
New instruments

For 2017, BMW has added a few cosmetic garnishes, such as a new galvanised radiator trim and integrated GS emblem, a redesigned airbag cover and ignition lock and added a GS emblem to the windshield.

A couple of gripes

The only gripes I have about the F 800 GS Adventure are the heat from the engine and the low gearing.

My old F 800 GS poured a fair bit of heat on to my right thigh. A later model had a plastic shield inserted to stop this.

Now the bike spews even hotter air on to the lower legs and feet. If you wear high boots, it would be no problem, but I wore short airflow boots and it was uncomfortably hot, especially in slow trail and traffic conditions.

BMW F 800 GS AdventureI suspect the extra heat is a result of the leaner burn to meet Euro 4 demands

It certainly helps fuel economy which was 3.9L/km for my test which included some very hard accelerating. That’s ample range of up to 600km from a single tank!

As for the gearing, it is great for trail and traffic, but too low for highway riding.

At 100km/h in sixth gear it is buzzing at 4000 revs. In fact, that buzzing continues right throughout the rev range.

I’m not sure why as my old F 800 GS did not buzz like this, it also had TKC80 tyres and the gear ratios are exactly the same.

While it’s great on dirt roads, on the highway I was constantly reaching for that elusive seventh gear.BMW F 800 GS Adventure

Verdict

The BMW F 800 GS Adventure really will take you anywhere you want to go with very few compromises, tyre choice aside.

However, only tall people should apply. I’m 185cm tall and I can’t get my feet flat down on the ground in the 890mm seat. You can get an optional 860mm seat, but that’s still very high.

Top 10 tips for short motorcyclists F 800 GS Adventure

BMW F 800 GS Adventure

Price $21,500 (ride away) – $17,990 (ride away for a 2017 model built in 2016)
Engine Water-cooled 4-stroke in-line two-cylinder engine, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Bore x stroke 82mm x 75.6mm
Capacity 798cc
Rated output 63kW (85hp) at 7500rpm
Max. torque 83Nm at 5750rpm
Compression ratio 12.0 : 1
Mixture control / engine management Electronic intake pipe injection
Emission control Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter / emission standard EU-3
Performance / fuel consumption
Maximum speed 193km/h
Fuel consumption per 100 km at constant 90km/h 4.3 l
Fuel consumption per 100 km at constant 120km/h 5.7 l
Fuel type Unleaded super, minimum octane rating 95 (RON);
Electrical system
Alternator three-phase alternator 400 W (rated power)
Battery 12 V / 14 Ah, maintenance-free
Power transmission
Clutch Multiple-disc clutch in oil bath, mechanically operated
Gearbox Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox integrated into crankcase
Drive Endless O-ring chain with shock damping in rear wheel hub
Chassis / brakes
Frame Tubular steel space frame, load-bearing engine
Front wheel location / suspension Upside-down telescopic fork, Ø 43mm
Rear wheel location / suspension Cast aluminium dual swing arm, WAD strut (travel related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable, rebound damping adjustable
Suspension travel front / rear 230mm / 215mm
Wheelbase 1,578mm
Castor 117mm
Steering head angle 64°
Wheels Wire spoke wheels
Rim, front 2.15 x 21″
Rim, rear 4.25 x 17″
Tyres, front 90/90 – 21 54V
Tyres, rear 150/70 – 17 69V
Brake, front Dual disc, floating brake discs, diameter 300 mm, double-piston floating calipers
Brake, rear Single disc, diameter 265 mm, single-piston floating caliper
ABS BMW Motorrad ABS (disengageable)
Dimensions / weights
Length 2305mm
Width (incl. mirrors) 925mm
Height (excl. mirrors) 1450mm
Seat height, unladen weight 890mm
Inner leg curve, unladen weight 1960mm
Unladen weight, road ready, fully fuelled 1) 232kg
Permitted total weight 454kg
Payload (with standard equipment) 222kg
Usable tank volume 24l
Reserve ca. 4,0 l

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