Soggy handling and a high price hurt this Beemer

Coming in as the most expensive bike, the BMW F800R ($10,840) didn’t exactly wow the test riders, but it did tie with the Triumph Street Triple for the top spot in the objective performance tests. Motorcycle USA has enjoyed its time with the quirky Beemer in the past, testing the twin-powered Bavarian in our 2-3-4 Middleweight Streetfighter Comparison.

This F800R is classified by BMW as a “roadster” on its website, and the literature about the bike states it “offers a breadth of performance which pleases experienced riders just as it does beginners.” I don’t think any of the test riders would argue that positioning statement.

The BMW powerplant led the torque parade and was second best in the horsepower, 0-to-60 and quarter-mile acceleration tests. For some reason, this did not translate to the riders’ interpretation and subsequent scoring of the bike’s “power feeling” once underway.

One tester felt like the top speed of the bike was sufficient but thought the bottom end felt flat. I found enough power everywhere, but it was clear that the F800R was the one bike least like the others.

We all couldn’t help but notice the buzzy nature of the Parallel Twin, especially on the highway at higher speeds somewhere around 5,500 rpm. When the bike buzzed, the mirrors were near impossible to use.

For an 800cc motorcycle, the consensus was that the BMW felt like it lacked power and could have benefited from taller gearing. “At one point I thought I was in fourth gear, went to grab a couple of upshifts, and to my dismay, I was maxed out in sixth already,” says Vicki.

Our resident Kiwi – you know, the one with the small paws – had another complaint about the drivetrain. Namely that the lack of adjustments on the levers made shifting a bit more challenging.

The Beemer’s brakes were smooth and dependable but not beyond criticism. “I thought the levers felt a little clunky compared to the European bikes we tested,” says Vicki.

Tania agrees, noting the brakes performed well, but its European rival, the Triumph, features brakes that are “in a class of their own.”

The BMW’s standard ABS is a nice feature for those who like it. I don’t think most females who ride on the street for recreation walk around boasting about how they can out-brake a German-built ABS system. For me, it’s comforting to know that when I need to stop in a hurry, the technology of ABS is on my side doing what it can to keep me upright.

The BMW had super soft suspension, and while that’s nice for long highway rides, it translated to a less confident existence, especially when carving through the canyons.

“The suspension on this motorcycle was so soft that I felt like I was riding a giant sofa,” explains Vicki. “I didn’t like this when we rode through the more challenging parts of the ride, like in the canyons.”

Tania put it this way, “When we were navigating through the best part of the ride, like the tight twisties, the BMW tended to sort of wallow through the turns.”

One rider felt like the seat tried to conform to her body, which made it difficult to move around from side to side on the motorcycle, particularly in the canyons. Another rider noticed what felt like a square edge on the seat. The wider seat also made it a little more difficult for the height-challenged, and it seemed to hit everyone at the thigh.

The BMW felt like the tallest of the five for me,” shares Tania. “I liked the upright seated position, and that would be great for longer rides.” According to the BMW website, there may be three options for seat heights, ranging from 30.5 to 32.5 inches. I am not sure which seat we had.

The BMW’s digital instrumentation panel was easy to read and provided lots of information that was well placed. The gear indicator is a nice touch, too.

The F800R looks bigger and more bulky compared to the other motorcycles. The asymmetrical headlight configuration was talked about frequently. I think the bike looked a little more like a dual-sport bike and will score higher grades when tested alongside a pool of sport-touring models.

For those looking to tackle straighter roads on longer outings while leaving the smallest possible footprint, the BMW earned top honors as the quietest and most fuel-efficient bike in the lineup with an average mpg of 49. But that thrifty mpg reading doesn’t quite make up for the BMW’s steep $10,840 price tag – over a thousand more than its nearest competitor.

“With the MSRP tipping the scales over $10,000 with ABS, compared to the other four bikes, I just don’t feel like I’m getting enough value from this bike for the price,” explains Tania.

“The BMW is the most expensive bike we tested,” agrees Vicki. “Yet it has the least appealing features and it performs the least well in this environment. Perhaps this bike belongs in more of a sport-touring category, but it simply did not measure up to the sportbikes we tested, and certainly not for the price.”

On the scoresheet, the Beemer stacks up favorably in objective performance tests. However, the F800 didn’t wow our testing posse, particularly when it comes to value. That said, the F800R offers a user-friendly entry to the Propeller brand, provided you have the money to buy in.