2019 BMW F850GS Review First Ride

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2019 BMW F850GS Review First Ride

Since the announcement of the new BMW f 750 gs and f 850 gs BMW adventure motorcycles, there’s been a lot of anticipation around the latest models. To replace the faithful workhorses that were the f700 and f800, they are big shoes to fill. This review takes a close look at the road-oriented BMW f 750 GS.

The world of adventure bikes has exploded in the last few years and the company that pretty much started the segment wants to remain top-dog. The f700-800 series was always an essential line for BMW, making up a considerable chunk of sales, and these bikes are the foundation of a long list of models to come. BMW couldn’t afford to stuff this up. Fortunately, they haven’t.

First impressions

The bikes look thoroughly modern and have shed any remnants of goofiness. The BMW 750gs presents adequately grown up and probably for the first time a bike you would choose, rather than just settle for. 

Looking now a bit more like a fighter plane donning sharp angle and a right combination of textures and finishes. While the 850 is impressive, it seems more dirt specific, so the 750 looks right for the road and urban environment.

Engine

Arguably the star of the show, the all-new parallel twin engine is the beating heart of the new BMW f750 gs. As the bike is all-new from top to bottom, it’s hard to isolate differences from the prior model.

On paper, the numbers look lack-lustre, and one may wonder why to build an all-new engine if it offers no real improvement. Let me put that idea to rest: It was worth it. This new mill provides a level of performance, elasticity and excitement that far exceeds the old one.

The new BMW f750 gs / 850 gs engine are mechanically identical units, just the f750 runs a different map with lower peak output and shifted torque curves. Riding both almost back, there is no stark difference in power on the road. 

They both feel very swift, indeed. Even from modest output numbers, BMW how somehow managed to enable most of that power in the right spots. That must explain why the bike feels way more powerful than the numbers would suggest.

Even more importantly, this new engine is a barrel of laughs - literally. On one of my first rides through a series of bends, I caught myself giggling like a schoolboy as the f750 gs would slingshot me from corner to corner. The punchy engine and fantastic handling will have plenty of people grinning from ear to ear.

rubbatech tank pads 750gs f850gs

Chassis and Handling of the BMW f 750 gs

I was blown away with the 750’s handling in corners. The initial-in, and the way it just stays there like it’s on rails. No doubt the result of the all-new chassis and steering damper. Transitions are dead easy.

I Haven’t been that impressed with a motorcycle’s handling for some time. I’d go as far as saying it’s one of my all-time most comfortable bikes to put through sharp corners. It would be a piece of cake to embarrass an unsuspecting once-a-month weekend supersport racer. Keep in mind I’m talking about road-going corner speeds of 60-120kms.

Manners On and off-road

I tried the 750 on light dirt trails. The enduro ride mode lets you slide the rear while retaining front ABS. With a road bias and limited travel, I wouldn’t be venturing to your favourite motocross trails, but in skilled hands, I think the f 750 gs would take you quite far. 

VS the 850, the 750 is obviously the road-focused version and feels a bit more planted on the road being lower and using 19-inch wheels front and back up with a stiffer suspension. The f 750 gs isn’t merely a matter of being inferior off-road to the 850. The 750 gs is a better bike on the road, mainly through corners - it’s quite astonishing actually.

Excellent LED lights, with bright running light, main beam and hi-beam. Easily the best lights I’ve used on a motorbike. And the daytime running lights manage to look very BMW while also looking sharp.

Brakes, typically Brembo excellent, though not the sharpest I’ve used. That could be down to simply not being run-in yet.

Features and equipment

Bordering on obscene - there is so much technology on this bike I’d need a week to read all the manuals. The bike I was testing was a burger-with-the-lot. In BMW-speak this means:

  • Cruise Control, Heated Grips
  • Comfort Package + Touring Package
  • Dynamic ESA, Keyless Ride, Navigation Preparation
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Centre Stand
  • Luggage Grid with Pannier Fastenings
  • Dynamic Package + Lights Package
  • Dynamic Traction Control
  • LED Headlight, Daytime Riding Light
  • Gear Shift Assist Pro
  • Riding Modes Pro
  • White LED Indicators, ABS Pro
  • Hand Protection
  • Comfort seat

What’s not to like:

Not much, really. There really is no major flaw I could point out, but a few niggles if we’re pedantic:

  • Wind protection: What wind protection...
  • At higher speeds, you feel a fair bit of wind turbulence. Not clean air like you do on a fully naked bike. The small screen doesn’t do much. No doubt a bigger screen would make this a decent touring machine.
  • The standard-issue Anakkee III tires give off a strange whistling/humming between the 80-110km/h which can get irritating, albeit just a question of fitting different rubber. (not the bike’s fault as such)
  • Even in dynamic mode, the throttle response feels a bit soggy - especially taking off. I wish BMW made it more aggressive (in dynamic mode anyway) on the flip-side the fly-by-wire throttle super light and makes slow-speed riding super easy. This is likely something to get used to.
  • In classic f800 fashion, it gets quite warm between your legs.
  • BMW F 750 gs model - no option for the tubeless spoked adventure rims which looks excellent on the f850gs (guess they have to differentiate these models somehow)
  • Limited choice of colours: I did like the Stereo Metallic option the best.
  • Not exactly a cheap bike. 

Value

This midsize BM is not a cheap bike, especially if you tick a few option boxes.

On paper, you’ll find many bikes with as good or better power figures. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

While you could consider the base models without the fancy gear, they would need to be special order. Most bikes ordered for BMW tend to be fully optioned - or close to it. You can opt for the poverty pack version which starts at around 14k which is pretty impressive considering you still get the important stuff like the frame, engine minus the extra toppings. 

If you’re a frugal person, the basic bike would be more than fine. Problem is, after years of riding BMWs with-the-lot, it’s hard to go back to low spec bikes. 

On this sort of bike, the bells and whistles make sense. If you want a purist throwback machine, buy an R nine T. On this midsize GS which already looks proper modern, the technology fits in really nicely.

While you can argue that you can easily do without, I love the dynamic suspension, TFT, quickshifter, riding modes... and believe it,  or not I do use them all daily because they made it so easy to use.

So, BMW has made a bike that can be had in basic form for a very reasonable price and a fully loaded version for a lot more. 

Overall first impressions on the BMW f 750 gs

At the end of the day, I was left with a lot of admiration for the BMW f 750 gs. I didn’t expect it to be so swift and entertaining. F series BMWs in the past to me were a synonym for “useful, reliable and boring”.

Not any more- fun is back at the top of the menu. Also worth a mention is that while it feels super nimble and light to ride, the bike feels substantial.

Once in a while a model comes along that delivers something special and surprises - the BMW F750 GS is precisely that.

I was so smitten by this mid-weight beemer I ordered one.

Who will like it?

  • Anyone who wants a fun, practical bike and like tech and convenience.
  • This bike is excellent in the city, canyon rides and even touring (with a better 

 

Who won’t like it:

  • Soy latte-sipping hipsters. This bike is neither retro or made of coconut husks. Hipsters aside, even you just like classic motorcycles, this isn’t is.
  • Die-hard supersport rocketship riders. The f BMW 750 gs is swift but certainly not a contender for a showdown with the s1000rr on a racetrack. In real-world back road bends the f 750 gs would keep up no sweat.
  • Viking-Stature Giants may find this bike a bit small - which is why BMW makes the 1200GS Adventure tank. Myself at average 178cm find it perfect.

Competition:

  • KTM 790 Adventure (heavy dirt bias)
  • Triumph Tiger 800 (road bias)
  • Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled (cool bike but very basic)
  • Bigger Brother BMW 850 gs (if you ride more dirt than road)

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