The BMW f800 ST has never been in the highlights of the GP or drag-strips, but this midweight BMW is a fantastic bike that shouldn't be glossed over. A somewhat quiet and non-offensive overachiever. In most single areas it won't be breaking records as it isn't the fastest, lightest or most avant-garde design out there. What the BMW f800 does do particularly well is make a darn good package overall.
It is one of the best bikes in the midweight ST category for overall rideability, comfort and safety. This motorcycle is remarkably easy to ride and live with on a day to day basis in the real world. Let's face it; most bike riders are doing most of their riding in the city or back-roads on the weekend. The time most road bikes spend on a racetrack is almost not worth mentioning. I have to admit I enjoy riding the pants off a motorbike, rather than riding a cruise missile and just flirting with its potential
The BMW f800 ST is precisely the sort of bike you can get the most out of. Ask any biker, and they would tell you that they would love to have a few bikes in the garage - well this is it. Well, at least as well as you can do with one bike.
The chassis and handling of this bike are exceptional, definitely, among the effortless, I've had the pleasure of riding. Supremely stable and flickable.
On this particular occasion, I was lucky enough to be able to take the F800ST from Sydney all the way to the gold coast and back. Fully loaded with my girlfriend - with all of the side trips and back-roads I rode a total of 4200kms on the ST so I can say I got to know it pretty well.
There are a couple of really neat things about this bike that you won't generally find on other bikes of this vintage:
- ABS brakes - front and back- the brakes on this thing seriously work
- Xenon headlights high & low beam which seemed at least 3x as bright as regular. Awesome night visibility.
- Heated had grips - cold days, a man's best friend, and for those that say "old man" well I can tell that you'll be an old man with arthritis
- Belt Drive - non-jerky response, virtually no maintenance and looks cool
- Hand adjustable suspension - super handy when taking on a passenger or luggage, takes 2 mins at most
- great pillion seat without it looking cumbersome
- Remarkable economy - I averaged about 4 liters per 100 km's on the highway, theoretically around 450kms a tank
Our particular test bike is the 2011 BMW f800 st with a touring package that includes;
- ABS brakes front and rear
- adjustable preload and dampening (not tools needed)
- trip computer
- pannier bags
- heated handgrips
- Remus titanium racing full exhaust system
- HID headlights (high and low beam)
- K&N High flow air filter
Performance: Great dynamics, average power
fuel economy: best in class
Safety: ABS brakes front and rear, tire pressure indicators
Aesthetics: somewhat understated (like most things German), engine sound is a little numb
What is great about the BMW f800 st?
- Rip-snorting brakes
- Hand adjustable suspension
- Super easy to ride well
- Belt Drive! No service required!
What isn't so flash?
Nothing much really, perhaps a little lacking in the guns at the tacho layout looks like a Russian water meter arrangement. Oh and the plastic fairing extends to the fuel tank. For those old school tank-needs-to-be-metal type of guys, this may be an issue.
I read somewhere that the motor sound like an engine in a wooden box. Funny and accurate, the ST has quite a bland note out of the shop but can be improved by the Remus aftermarket pipe. My sharpest criticism of the bike is that while I still like the looks, it's otherwise its a bit of a bland bike. Funny enough that didn't stop me buying it - twice.
In my time with the ST I only had two minor issues. 1. The left heated handgrip stopped working, was faulty - replaced under warranty. 2. The thermometer always showed a much higher temp. Never accurate on any bike though.
Hardly significant issues - and otherwise fault free!
Verdict summary and score:
Overall the f800 ST does what it's supposed to and does it remarkably well. It is a sturdy bike and performs well as an excellent all-rounder. Not really for the race track, though I'm sure you could take it out and swing it through the corners. Great for touring and commuting - probably among the most accessible bikes to get on with I've encountered.
Engine performance isn't staggering but well balanced, and an excellent torque spread. Far beyond good enough for a speeding ticket.
If you are looking for a bike that does it all, this is about as close as you get. The BMW f800st is a bike that ticks all the practical boxes, but if it does fall short somewhere, perhaps it's character. However "character" is something many of us could live without when we are talking reliable machinery.
I recall always having the feeling that I can rely on the F800.