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Took a great trail ride with friends in Anza Borrego on Halloween. I dressed up as a guy riding too heavy a bike, who got stung by a cactus. Oh wait, that wasn’t a costume, that was reality!

Click the link below for some pictures.


Last time I wrote about the bike was, ummm, some miles ago. Here are my current feelings.

Since I bought it in April I’ve logged about 10,000 miles. I don’t feel like I’ve ridden that much… maybe that’s the moral of the story here. The bike is easy to ride, easy to cover miles. The engine is smooth, and seating position comfortable, and the fuel range is good. It can go anywhwere and it’s fun on any surface, from high speed paved sweepers, to rough jeep trails high in Colorado.

It really is, in my opinion, the best bike to buy if you can only have *one*. Others might say the KTM 950/990 ADV, but I disagree. Had one. Too hard to work on, poor gas mileage, not reliable, heavier and larger feel than the BMW… it’s just not grown up yet. The BMW can be crazy when you want it to, but it can also settle down for the ride home. The KTM never settles down. It’s always the crazy one, casing trouble (having fun, too, sure), and acting like a teengaer.

Fuel mileage? I average around 55-60 mpg. I’ve gotten as high as 70 (no typo) and as low as 47. With a 4.3g tank, range is around 220-260 miles, depending on riding conditions.

Handling? Yes, good! Depends on tires. I like the Heidenau K60. Good in all conditions. TKC80’s blow, in my opinion. Tried a combo of Anakee rear, TKC80 front – big mistake. Don’t do it!

The bike has a low CG and handles well on and off road. Comfort – good. Riding position is nice, windflow (lots of it) – but smooth, no buffeting.

Ease of ownership – very good. Well, my rear wheel bearings did fail at 5k miles, a known problem. BMW fixed it, and it’s OK since. I did the 12k miles service including valve check myself – not hard to do, and valves did not need adjusting. Bike is easy to service and parts go together logically.

Things aren’t all peachy, though. Front springs are too soft, they bottom out on hard hits off road, which bends the soft factory front rim. Yep, did that last weekend!

Things I’ve added since my last reports:

Scotts steering dampener ($550). Best gadget ever! Takes all drama out of steering problems – wobbles, shakes, etc. Riding in sand, rocks, ruts? No problem! Just turn up the dampening. I will never have another off road bike without one of these dampers. Ever. Absolutely no downside to this thing.

Bill Mayer custom seat. $360 (on sale from $460). I rode to Ojai and had them make this for me today. I have been using a Sargent enduro, which is better than stock, but still really sucks. Considering that at $450 it costs more than a custom seat, I give a BIG thumgs down to Sargent. In fact, I will never give a penny to Sargent or Corbin again. The custom saddle is about 10 times better, and costs the same or less money!

Soon I’ll be installing the Bitubo springs in the front which should help prevent more damage to the front wheel, and givce a better ride for off road conditions.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with the F800GS, in my opinion. It’s not a dirt bike, so if you ride it like that, expect damage. It can be strengthened at some cost. But for most conditions it performs well and is a very versatile machine.

Had a great weekend at the Big Bear BMW Rally. Thanks very much to the owners clubs of San Diego and Orange County for jointly putting this great party on. And to all the vendors and companies who donated food, raffle prizes, etc. And to my great friends for providing some entertainment. !!

We mostly hung around and were social, but we did go for a ride Saturday. 2 bikes dropped, one water crossing, and some nasty winds coming through the desert. Awesome!

I’ve had the GS now for a few weeks and have put about 1,000 miles on it on freeways, highways, backroads, twisty roads, dirt roads, and jeep trails. I wanted to give my opinion on a few things for those that are curious.

Engine: Responsive, torquey, efficient. Not as smooth as some engines, but not bad for a parallel twin. I get about 55 mpg in mixed riding, 60 mpg if I’m easy on it. Fuel range is about 230 miles to empty when you get 55 mpg on the tank. I ran it to 220 miles with a little gas left. The computer said I had 15 miles left.

Ergonomics: Excellent. I did swap the seat for a Sargent. I changed the stock grips for pro-grips as the stock ones were too narrow and slippery for me. The pegs and bars are in the right place for me.

Comfort: Good. Wind protection is minimal, but at least you get smooth air and no buffeting. I’ve struggled with buffeting on tons of bikes and this is a welcome relief. The ergonomics are good for all day rides.

Suspension: So-so. Knd of dissapointing for a $13,000 bike. The rear shock is just OK. The preload does adjust nicely for varying load conditions (passenger, luggage, etc). There is rebound damping adjustment. The forks are not that good. The initial response is harsh and then they blow through the stroke too easily. There is no adjustment. If you browse the forums the forks are the biggest complaint about the bike other than recall items like wheel bearings, etc.

Overall fit and finish: very good.

Brakes: very good. Switchable ABS – remember to turn it off when in the dirt!! Consequences can be severe if you do not.

Other thoughts. I like the instrumentation. Gear indicator, fuel gauge, mpg readout, temp gauge, etc. Heated grips work well, two settings.

Offroad ability. It’s there. The two things holding the bike back are suspension, and snatchy throttle response (on/off). On a rocky trail, it’s hard to apply smooth throttle at low speeds, so it’s kind of like riding a bucking bronco. There are some things I have done to help this, more on that later.

On dirt roads, this thing is a hoot. The engine has almost no freewheel, so it spins up fast and lets you roost like mad. It loves to throttle steer, even at high speeds. The bike is totally stable at 90+ on a dirt or gravel road. They nailed this aspect of the bike.

Compared to competition. Ok, that’s tough. I did own the KTM 950 Adventure. It was a great bike but I had some issues with it. I could not fix the wind buffeting. It got bad mileage and hence poor range. It was hard to work on. I did not have peace of mind re: reliability. It felt larger and heavier than the 800 does. The suspension was much better than the BMW.

There really are no other bikes that compete. KLR? Yeah, love them. But 35 horsepower single cylinder compared to 85 HP twin? And nearly three times the price. Different universe. The KLR is about the same offroad but not nearly as good a streetbike. But it’s more simple and I would trust it more in a remote or third world environment. Cheap, easy to fix, don’t worry about dropping it, etc.

Why I bought the GS. I wanted a bike that was a good streetbike to start, and then had some offroad ability, more than you get on a vstrom, tiger, 1200GS, etc. Since I had already had the KTM 950 this bike was the only other choice. I’m happy with my choice. I miss the Tiger 1050, but I will get less speeding tickets with the GS. The Tiger was a screamer. But in the end I need a bike that can leave the pavement.

Got a new ride!
I traded my Triumph Tiger 1050 for a BMW F800GS. I loved the Tiger, but it had no offroad ability, and it was so fast that it was getting me into trouble.
I have put over 1000 miles on the GS in the three weeks I’ve had it. I love it so far. I have added a lot of farkles not shown in this pic. More on that in another post. You should have seen my last credit card bill! It was scary. 😉
This bike will be taking me all over the country this summer. It’s not afraid to get dirty, either.