OPINION | Completely redesigned, new electronics, more power, but….
The new F850GS is finally here. It’s one of the biggest news this year, a highly anticipated adventure bike, with a totally new engine, a completely new design and a tough mission: to become the upper-middleweight adventure leader. Still, it’s a tough job, because it fights Honda’s Africa Twin, which already established itself as a leader in this segment. Also, there’s the updated Tiger 800 XC and the up-coming KTM 790 Adventure.
But, let’s get back to the F850 GS. Because there are some things that I love about this bike. And there are some other things that I just don’t like. Just to be clear, this is just a preview, and we’ll come with an in-depth test ride as soon as the bike is available on the market.
Watch our F850GS – What I Love and what I Hate video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more:
What I love about the BMW F850GS
- The completely redesigned engine. It’s not just about the displacement. BMW claims that this inline-two comes with 95 horsepower, no vibrations and a V-Twin sound and feeling, due to the crankshaft and firing interval.
- The R1200GS electronics. It’s unbelievable how you manage to control the bigger R1200GS in enduro mode: the traction control has a perfect set-up, the suspension is softer, the throttle acts differently. If passing a section with mud, or a river, you just have to pull the gas and stand on the bike. It does the job for you. You can even kill the ABS on the back wheel and set-up the front-wheel ABS for enduro. Now, all these electronics are available for the F850GS. And here’s the best part. If you’re not into electronic sistems and you just need a rough and simple bike, you can buy the basic version.
- Dynamic ESA. Another love or hate thing. Some of you might consider it an useless feature that would break in the middle of nowhere. Well, if planning to cross Mongolia and you don’t trust the electronic suspension you can go for the basic F850. But I love the Dynamic ESA – at least the way it works on the BIG GS. It’s a tricky thing to set-up a classic supension to match different motorcycle loading, different terrain and to be both confortable and dynamic. This is where the Dynamic Suspension kicks in. Just by pushing a button you can have either an off-road performer or an asphalt carver bike.
- Tubeless tires – Yes, I know that the wheel might bend in off-road conditions, but I still prefer the tubeless tires combined with the spoke wheels. That’s becaus it’s easier to repair them if having a puncture.
- The cruise control and other BMW comfort options. The cruise control is a must-have for a touring bike. And I also love that BMW offers all kind of comfort features: different seats, heated grips, higher windscreens, that TFT connectivity smart-dash – some of them are not really necessary, they are more a nice to have thing that makes your life better.
- The standard seat height was reduced by 20 mm compared to its predecessor. there’s even a low seat that comes as an option so you have a 815 mm minimal seat height for the F850GS and 770 mm for the F750 GS.
What I don’t like about the F850GS
- The weight. This bike has almost 230 kilograms, the same as Honda’s Africa Twin. Everybody knows that lighter is better. Everyone knows that it’s not easy to control such a heavy bike in off-road and the things are getting worse if you drop it. Still, the engineers are focusing on adding more electronics and tft-dash displays instead of building lighter machines.
- Those golden rims. I know that BMW is fighting the Africa Twin but I just don’t get why they chosen this color for the wheels. BMW has a very rich legacy when it comes to dual-sport bikes. The first GS appeared back in the 80s, it had that BMW motorsport colors, but I never seen a GS to feature golden wheels. However, it’s just an option.
- The 15 liteer fuel tank. BMW claims a low fuel consumption, but still, having 15 liters on an adventure bike is not enough if asking me.
The "made in China" thing
So, where is this bike made? In Berlin, Germany. But the engine is made by Loncin in China. Of course, designed and supervised by BMW, but still made in China. I wouldn’t say that I hate it, because it would be a prejudgement. It’s a global thing this day – Triumph makes his iconic Bonneville in Thailand. BMW claims that this is a high-quality product, and it must be, because it has a 11,000 euro starting price and it can go up to 15,000 euros in full-spec. For me, it’s not a love it or hate it thing. I just don’t care where it’s made as long as it works well. These days, everything is made everywhere and I’m starting to get used to it.
That’s it for now. We’re eager to test this bike and we’ll come up with a review as soon as possible. Meanwhile, watch our EICMA first view video, where we managed to interview the F850GS product manager.