Bridge frame made aluminium, load-supporting
91 mm / 3.6 in.
∅43mm Telescopic fork
Front Wheel Travel
125 mm / 4.9 in.
Cast aluminium double-sided swing arm, central,
suspension strut, spring pre-tension by means of hand
Rear Wheel Travel
125 mm / 4.9 in.
2 x ∅320mm discs, 4 piston calipers
Single ∅265mm disc, 1 piston caliper
3.50 x 17"
5.50 x 17"
Length 2145 mm / 84.4 in.
Width 905 mm
/ 35.6 in. (incl. mirrors)
Height 1160 mm
/ 45.7 in (excl. mirrors)
800 mm / 31.5 in. (low seat: 775 mm / 30.5 in., high seat: 825 mm
/ 32.5 in)
177 kg / 390 lbs
199 kg / 439 lbs.
16 Litres / 4.2 US gal
6.1 l/100 km / 16.4 km/l / 38.6 US mpg
218 km/h / 135.5 mph
It's a fun, easy to ride, all-rounder that will suit anyone
looking for their first larger capacity motorcycle. Better still the 800 can
also meet the expectations of more experienced riders.
Well-built and rugged-looking, the BMW's solid macho looks are certainly
distinctive, making it a good choice if you want to stand out. More
importantly the parallel twin is a great bike to enjoy and copes well with
just about any task. I have to admit it took me a little while to see the
800 in its very best light. But the more time I spent with it, the more I
As I was to discover, there's definitely a bit of sporting focus to the BMW.
The riding position is the first reminder of this, and though it's generally
roomy, anyone with longer legs might find the quite high-set footrests
leading to some cramp after a while in the quite low slung saddle. One
solution for them would be a taller factory-fitted seat giving them another
25mm of leg room. There's also a 25mm lower seat option to make the bike
even more manageable for shorter riders.
Once the wheels are turning, the 'built for speed, slightly more than
comfort' design remains clear. With quite firm suspension the ride quality
over bumps isn't too plush on standard settings. At first I wasn't too
content with this sort of ride and wondered if it would suit typical BMW
customers. As the miles went by though I changed my mind completely and
began to revel in the control and feel from both the forks and
hand-adjustable rear shock.
They help to give the R its excellent handling
characteristics which contribute significantly to its fun factor. One day
spent covering a couple of hundred miles winding through some of the
Cotswolds' more pretty and entertaining routes really highlighted the BMW's
abilities. Precise steering, lightness and the aforementioned qualities of
the suspension result in much smiling and riding confidence when covering
ground of this sort. This is an easy machine to master, requiring little
physical or mental effort to progress in a spirited fashion.
The same firmness from the suspension that provides the necessary support
for speedier progress can make the bike kick off some of the more serious
bumps at a more reduced pace when its springs aren't loaded quite as much.
And the Metzeler tyres don't always offer the very best feel. With more and
more time on the 800 though, you get used to this occasionally harsh ride,
forgiving it because of its attributes under more suitable conditions. And
with no actual slides or scares, it doesn't take too long to trust the
rubber and rely on it fully. In the end, I was happy to ride the BMW hard
and not worry about its tyres.
One aspect of the bike that permits speedier and very
assured progress is one of its very best features. Quite simply, the F800R's
front brakes are some of the finest I've tried. They have superb strength to
guarantee very short stopping distances, but even better is their
progression and feel. It gives you huge confidence to use the brakes hard
should you need to. With the optional ABS our test machine was fitted with I
felt really safe and secure whenever I needed to lose speed.
The action of the ABS is of top quality too. I had to deliberately prompt it
into action thanks to the superb control offered by the brakes under normal
circumstances. But when it did kick in, it quickly reapplied pressure to
continue the deceleration virtually unhindered.
Gaining pace is a pretty easy job for the 800 too. The engine, a slightly
modified version of the one fitted to the 800S, ST, and GS models, is very
friendly and useful, and at higher revs provides enough of an extra surge to
excite. Even when the digital gear indicator is showing you're in the higher
ratios of the slick six-speed gearbox, the twin pulls cleanly and strongly.
This flexibility adds to the relaxed general feel of the bike, making moves
like overtakes more clean and certain. In unfamiliar environments where you
might have to lose and regain speed promptly, the 800cc motor is a real
There's little need to rev the motor high to achieve the
required results for the majority of the time, but the discernable increase
in horsepower at around 6000rpm is well worth sampling from time to time
just for the extra thrill it brings. Our test bike was fitted with the
optional Akrapovic sport silencer which gives the twin a fruity, yet
inoffensive roar to heighten the excitement still further. It really is a
lovely engine with its obedience at any speed and rpm being of real benefit.
It's not perfect mind you and light, high-frequency vibes that can occur
when you're not more committed to the throttle may be seen to spoil things a
little for fans of total civility. Fussier types may also detect the
lateness of the clutch bite and slightly abrupt pick up from a closed
throttle caused by flawed fuelling. It's only in town that they're really
apparent, and I might add that though I noticed the throttle glitch at the
start of my testing, it seemed to 'disappear' later, suggesting it's related
to a particular riding style which some might not notice at all. In any
event neither is an issue I'd regard as serious in any way.
Another thing time on the bike did reveal though, is some
slight compromise to comfort after an hour or so of riding. Again it's not
what I'd call worrying in any way, and as the issue of comfort is so
subjective anyway, it may well not affect other riders as it did me ever so
slightly. Even so, it's perhaps worth noting that after the BMW's useful
instrument-mounted stopwatch had gone past the sixty minute mark I started
to shift around in the seat a little looking for relief. If I got off the
bike, or even just stood up on the footrests for a few seconds that normally
sorted things enough.
But if I was interested in buying an F800R I'd take it for a longer two hour
non-stop run to see if matters became worse - after all, the excellent fuel
economy of around 50-60mpg allows such lengthy continual stints. Bar that, I
found the bike pretty easy on the body. Of course its naked nature means it
gets quite breezy at prolonged motorway cruising speeds, even if you can
actually use the wind under your chest to support you and rest your arms and
neck. The small fly-screen on our test bike did assist matters, and given
the sportier intent of what BMW calls its 'mid-sized dynamic roadster'
perhaps these criticisms aren't really too appropriate anyway. Neither the
seat nor the lack of protection reduced my smiling at any time.
I was never bored on the F800R, which in itself says a hell
of a lot. But if I ever needed some additional interest then the on board
computer with its array of information on current and average fuel
consumption, remaining range, and average speed always proved helpful. It's
one of many factory-fit options available for the bike to make it even more
purposeful than it is already.
BMW says the F800R is more likely to sell much better in mainland Europe
where machines in this category are much more popular. However considering
its qualities I'd say there's a chance UK sales could begin to catch up with
those of our Euro cousins, just like they did with big adventure trail bikes
a while back.
I'd see the German roadster's closest rivals are other non-Japanese machines
like the similarly-priced Triumph Street Triple, Ducati Monster 696 and
Aprilia Shiver 750. Like the BMW they have a slightly rarer and classy
appeal that gives them a chance to stand out more and offer more fulfilling
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