Our personal relationship with BMW goes way back, but from 2019 we are working closer with BMW Motorrad Hellas. Both co-founders have been owners of many BMW motorcycles in the past like the R1200GS, the R1200GSA, the UnitGarage R120G/S, and the exotic HP2 Enduro. This year we will be riding something very special for BMW Motorrad, it’s first mid-sized adventure motorcycle powered by an in-house power plant. The brand new BMW F850GS Rally!
At first, we had mixed feeling about this motorcycle, but after a 1.500km adventure, we realized that it sits just in the middle between the BMW R1200GS/GSA and the KTM 950-990 ADV/SE we had been riding for the last years. It feels lighter, shorter and slimmer than all the GS/GSA models and it’s 21/17 size tubless wheels work excellent both on the tarmac and on gravel. It is softer and way more comfortable than any LC8 we have ever ridden, so it is basically better than the R1200GS/GSA off-road and better than the 990 ADV on long tarmac miles, with the addition of the BMW Comfort Seat.
It just hits that perfect place where everything is great. Not perfect, but good enough.
The F850GS engine is friendly and has a strong pull from 4000rpm all the way to the limiter. Kudos to BMW Motorrad for such a brilliant powerplant. We are using the optional BMW Akrapovic exhaust system, but engine and noise characteristics are identical. Nevertheless, it seems like the right choice since the weight reduction and the places it is removed from, work well on this beast.
Arguably the most important part of an adventure motorcycle is the suspension. Let me start by addressing the elephant in the room. It is not a KTM, so it could never come close to the hardcore off-road performance. Period. On the other hand, the softish suspension is very capable and can carry the bike’s weight well on travel-enduro conditions. Your hands do not get tired and vibrations have a hard time reaching your torso and neck. It doesn’t like being rocketed full gas on an obstacle (your typical KTM riding style), but it will easily make 200+ off-road kilometers per day, plus 300+ tarmac. At the end of the day you will still be smiling and with a good night sleep, you will be totally ready for more action in the morning.
The F850GS is a real world traveler and since in nature circumstances often change, so should your motorcycle be able to adjust with ease.
We have opted for the ESA version for one main reason: ease of use. When you change from tarmac to gravel, or you just remove the panniers, you can change the suspension set-up with the press of a button, in comfort from your cockpit. This is not your hardcore KTM 950 Super Enduro that gets set-up once you are done.
So is it all perfect? Certainly not, they never are but with minor upgrades, it can be. The mirrors are not well designed, since looking better rarely means working better. They are small and the shape lacks field of view. That is one upgrade coming soon to our bikes. The F850GS is also lacking wind protection because of the short windscreen, that is fine for travel speeds up to 130-140km/h. After that, you are pulling hard with your biceps and the trip stops being enjoyable. On the bright side though there is no helmet wind-turbulence, so aerodynamically the shape works. Its size is also perfect for off-road riding, somewhere in the middle between a Super Enduro with the 690 screen and a 990 with short aftermarket screen.
The OEM footpegs are small and not suitable for standing up, so we upgraded with the optional BMW Rally pegs. Last, the OEM luggage system just doesn’t feel built for the Greek rough gravel soil. We are also not fond of hard luggage systems for reasons you can read in our Hard or Soft luggage article. This was easily solved with the addition of the Enduristan Monsoon 3 panniers, with 2×30lt of storage. We are adding to the rear the brilliant 15lt Enduristan pannier Topper and the 7lt Enduristan Sandstorm tank bag for a total of 82lt of 100% waterproof cargo space with the minimum weight added on the motorcycle. This is very effective and light, the best combo in my book.
We are very excited to work with this fabulous motorcycle since it’s ride characteristics seem well suited for its future in the Greek mountains with us. Furthermore, it is a perfect platform to work on the development of future products with AltRider and Enduristan, so keep posted for future updates.
We have been using KLiM Gear for the last 6 years now and one thing that we have come to realize is that the taste every motorcycle adventure leaves is directly related to whether you were in your “comfort temperature”. This is a dominant factor for well-being in all of our activities and rarely gets enough focus. As an Architect with specialization on Bioclimatic Architecture, I know it’s importance and try to educate as many users as possible. If you want to ride in comfort, you must understand Micro Climate.
If you want to read about our current 2018-2019 riding gear, early this year we did a full review of the KLiM Badlands Pro and last year we did a full review of the radical KLiM Krios Helmet. More reviews about the KLiM Badlands Aero glove and the Sidi Adventure 2 boots coming soon.