A great bike with a few drawbacks

By Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor

BMW’s F800GT made a mark on us from our initial First Ride report. And after another couple of months of living with the propeller brand’s latest middleweight sport tourer, it’s safe to say that this is the one motorcycle that we’d love to keep in our garage due to its proficient road performance and day-to-day functionality.

Since we took delivery of it in late April, our orange Beemer has collected just under 2,000 miles on the clock. And aside from fuel and its first break-in oil service at 600 miles, it has been cost-free. Amazingly, the OE-fitted Continental Road Attack 2 tires still have considerable life remaining despite our best attempts at melting them down; most mileage was accrued at a spirited pace with both hard cases fully loaded and even an occasional passenger.

One feature that helps ensure maximum tire life is the optional Tire Pressure Monitor system. By using sensors in each wheel, the electronics measure air pressure anytime the motorcycle is moving and displays it on the instrument panel. This helps us keep tabs on tire pressure and serves as a reminder to air up or down the tires depending on conditions. For instance, when we were sport riding in the canyons with minimal luggage we deflated the tires to 32/30 psi (front/back), allowing the rubber to deform more and create a larger contact patch during fast paced braking and corning maneuvers. Conversely, when touring on the interstate or traveling with extra payload, we set the pressure at 36/42 psi per the owner’s manual, thereby reducing rolling resistance and boosting fuel economy.

Speaking of touring, the BMW impressed by recording an average of 47.5 mpg at extended high speed freeway blasts. This nets a range of nearly 200 miles. While fuel economy was better than expected, the F800’s limited 4.0 gallon fuel capacity limits how far you can travel between fill-ups. We home engineers can boost tank capacity by an extra gallon or two, which will no doubt improve on its touring credentials.

Because we were going to spend a fair amount of time on the interstate, we wanted to protect ourselves against overzealous law enforcement, so we fitted a TPX-series radar/laser detector ($299) from Adaptiv Technologies. We attached it to the handlebar via its optional AdaptiveMount ($85). The apparatus has a clever articulating arm and vibration-free aluminum-mounting surface that secures the radar detector perfectly and appears like an integrated OE component. Installation was a breeze requiring access to the F800’s battery located just beneath the pseudo fuel tank cover (the F800’s real fuel tank is beneath the rider’s seat). After hooking up the power, we routed the TPX’s bright LED warning light atop the gauges so we could see it without taking our eyes off the road.

The device is about the size of two decks of cards stacked atop one another. It is weatherproof and features large backlit control buttons, making it easy to use day or night while riding with a pair of gloves. The Adaptiv radar detector has a number of different sensing modes, allowing the rider to isolate interference and false alarms from other electronics. Since we ride primarily in the confines of Los Angeles, we utilized city mode; however, when riding on the interstate outside of town, we selected the highway setting, which reduces the detector's noise signal filtering. The idea is, when it identifies radar on desolate roads, 99% of the time it’s going to be from a speed-measuring unit – not a Walmart security system. The device responded accurately to both stationary and moving radar threats from police with bright LED warning light alerts that were easy to see at a glance. Overall it’s a very effective tool at reducing the likelihood of a speeding ticket. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review in the future.

We really enjoy riding the F800 GT. But there are a few squawks that we have to outline. First, as mentioned, the GT could benefit from a bigger gas tank. Second, the engine is a little buzzy at all rpm. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but it would be nice if vibration were further isolated from the handlebar. We also experienced an occasional mis-shift between fourth and fifth gear. Our final gripe is that you can’t manually disable the anti-lock braking function. For most situations, the ABS works pretty well, but when you’re braking over road reflectors or raised pavement markers, the ABS intervenes aggressively making for a scary moment and increasing stopping distance over what a competent rider could muster without the rider aid.

BMW F800GT Maintenance Costs

  • Months in Service: Two
  • Accumulated Mileage: 1,841
  • Aftermarket Accessories Cost: $384
  • Maintenance Costs: $220

BMW F800 GT Highs & Lows
Highs

  • Great fuel mileage
  • TPS helps rider manage tire wear
  • Comfortable with a passenger

Lows

  • Could have larger fuel tank
  • Engine is a little buzzy
  • ABS could be more refined

2013 BMW F800GT Specs

  • Engine: Liquid-cooled 798cc Parallel Twin, 8-valves
  • Bore and Stroke: 82.0 x 75.6mm
  • Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
  • Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
  • Clutch: Wet multiplate; cable actuation
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Final Drive: Belt
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Front Suspension: 43mm fork non-adjustable; 4.9 in. travel
  • Rear Suspension: Hydraulic shock absorber; two-way adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 4.9 in. travel
  • Front Brakes: 320mm discs with four-piston Brembo calipers
  • Rear Brake: 265mm disc with single-piston caliper
  • Tires: 120/70R17, 180/55R17
  • Curb Weight: 470 lbs.
  • Wheelbase: 59.9 in.
  • Seat Height: 31.5 in.
  • Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gallon
  • MSRP: $11,890 Base; $495 Destination Charge
  • Warranty: 36-month / 36,000 miles