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BMW F850GS (2018-on) Review

Published: 02 March 2018

Updated: 02 March 2018

Who needs a big capacity adventure bike when the new F850GS is around?

BMW F850GS  (2018-on)

Who needs a big capacity adventure bike when the new F850GS is around?

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

Who needs a big capacity adventure bike when the new F850GS is around? Its characterful engine manages to both purr and raw at the same time, handling is faultless, it’s comfortable, practical and a piece of cake to live with. Standard spec is impressive, optional extras more so and it’s less of a handful off-road than its 1200cc brother. The baby GS has finally come of age. 

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

A stiffer new monocoque bridge-design frame, with calmer steering geometry, replaces the old tubular steel item (it’s still steel for strength off-road) and the 15-litre fuel tank has been moved from under the seat to between your thighs to optimise the centre of gravity. The exhaust has also swapped sides to the right, to make it easier for the rider to swing a leg over.

For a machine with penny farthing-diameter 90/90 x 21 spoked front wheel (and 150/70 x 17 rear) the way it rolls into tarmac corners and nuzzles sweetly into an apex is a joy. Tubeless Bridgestone A41 dual purpose tyres fitted to our test bike offer lots of confidence and grip in the wet and dry (it also comes on similar-genre Michelin Anakee 3s), the BMW is incredibly light on the move and there’s zero feeling of excess flab. It’s nimble at any speed, but reassuringly stable, too.

All-day riding won’t be a pain, thanks to the F850GS’s comfy saddle, spacious legroom, slender fuel tank, natural bar position, wind cheating bodywork and screen. It’s not overly tall, though, despite its commanding stance, dirt-busting suspension travel and big front wheel. The standard seat is 20mm lower than the F800GS’s (860mm) and you can go lower or higher with accessory seats.

For those with a taste for off-road you can order your F850GS with Mezteler Karoo 3 knobblies at no extra cost. Whip some air out to let them grip the mud, soften the rear suspension (either manually, or electronically, if you go for the optional semi-active shock – forks are non-adjustable) and the BMW changes character.

It’s just as easy to handle with mud between its tread, as it is on the road. The standing-up riding position is just as natural as it is sitting down and the Beemer’s nimbleness and easy engine character make it easier to manage on trails than the R1200GS, or any of its more powerful rivals. 

Engine 5 out of 5

A thrapping, motocross-infused soundtrack comes thanks to the Beemer’s new crank layout and firing order. Gone is the old F800GS’s zero degree crankshaft journal and 360 degree firing interval, now the parallel twin cylinder motor has a 90 degree offset and bangs every 270/450 degrees.

BMW have also upped capacity from 798cc to 853cc (thanks to an increased bore and stroke), increased power by 10bhp to 94bhp and added two counterbalance shafts to iron-out the vibes.

Four years in the making and over a million kilometres in testing, all this engine work results in a power delivery that’s packed with rumbling character and shimmering, smoothness. Low-speed manners are impeccable, the new ride-by-wire throttle is jerk-free, and the new lighter-action ‘anti-hop’ clutch serves to make the F850GS natural and easy to get along with at lower speeds.

But whip the motor into a frenzy and its fast, free-revving and fun. There’s none of the rocking and pitching you get from its boxer-twinned, shaft-driven 1200cc big brother, just vibe-free, stable acceleration and a velvety parallel twin-cylinder silence off the throttle.

Power to weight ratio isn’t far short of the big GS’s 125bhp, 224kg, so acceleration and top speed are impressive, especially with its shorter new first-to-third and longer fourth-to-sixth gear ratios.  But if you plan to smother your GS with luggage and people, the extra torque of the R1200GS is still the adventure bike to have.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Build quality is superb, paint finishes and chunky plastics are top notch and the kind of attention to detail, from everything to fasteners, to the silky action of the switchgear, is everything you’d expect from a BMW. Owners reviews for reliability are mixed for the F800GS – most good and some bad, so only time will tell how this new model will stand the test of time. 

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Its natural mid-sized adventure rivals are the identically powered and 21-inch front wheeled Honda Africa Twin and Triumph’s new Tiger 800 XCx. But it’s also a credible rival to one of the most popular sports tourers out there: the Tracer 900. Sure the Yamaha is cheaper, slightly lighter and more powerful, but the BMW handles a whole heap better, has a comfier riding position and has many more bells and whistles. 

Insurance group: 12 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 5 out of 5

You’re not short-changed when it comes to spec. Standard equipment includes tactile Brembos, two riding modes (Rain and Road), ABS and a basic traction control system. Go the extra for the Sport model and another three riding modes are unlocked (Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro) along with cornering ABS and traction control, a quickshifter/blipper, heated grips and an LED headlight and indicators.

Go mad with the options boxes and you can turn your F850GS into an enduro-shaped superbike, with superb semi-active rear suspension, cruise control, a tyre pressure warning system, a multi-function 6.5in colour TFT screen with Bluetooth connectivity, keyless ignition and a bewildering array of official BMW parts and accessories. 

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2018
Year discontinued -
New price £9,400
Used price £7,500 to £13,000
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group 12 of 17
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost -
Max power 94 bhp
Max torque 68 ft-lb
Top speed 135 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Engine size 853cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel twin
Frame type Steel bridge-type
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 229kg
Front suspension 43mm, Non-adjustable USD fork
Rear suspension Single rear shock, adjustable for preload and rebound damping
Front brake 2 x 305mm discs with Brembo four-piston caliper
Rear brake 265mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2008: F800GS released. It was one of the first mid-sized adventure bikes and unlike the R1200GS with its boxer engine and shaft drive, this baby GS had a parallel twin-cylinder motor and chain drive. 

Other versions


Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their BMW F850GS (2018-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW F850GS (2018-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

18 months with the F 850

25 December 2019 by Rick

If you are looking for an all rounder and intend to cover lots of miles the F 850 would definitely be worth a look.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The ride is predictable and can be fun when in the mood. I have used the bike all year round with no qualms. The ride is comfortable for two hours, after which a break will be required to stretch legs and relieve aches.
4 out of 5
The engine is punchy with plenty of power for every day use on the roads. 3rd and 4th will be used the most for back road fun.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
The bike is built to a high standard with the only sign of corrosion/wear on the front of the engine casings where some of the paint has started to come off, probaly due to using the bike all year round with no fender extender installed and being over zealous with the pressure washer.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Insurance cost was high compared to my previous bike, Versys 650 but is probaly due to the age and value of the BMW.
4 out of 5
The heated grips are excellent for all year use and the riding modes work well in differing weather conditions and particularly inspire confidence in the wet. The quick shifter is a good addition after you get used to it. BMW expandable hard luggage was purchased with the bike which works very well and has so far kept everything dry. The luggage hooks onto the bike with no carrier frame required, which means the bike looks tidy with the luggage removed. I have so far ridden 18000 miles in 18 months and am on my second set of Annakee tyres, which have worked well in all weather conditions. The switch for high beam and heated grips has started sticking but will be dealt with on the next service. The quick shifter has also picked up an intermittent fault and does not always work, which will hopefully be dealt with at the next service, as the model has a 3 year warranty.
Buying experience

I purchased the bike from Reiten Motorrad in Glemsford Suffolk; the staff and service cannot be faulted.

Photo Gallery

  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
  • BMW F850GS  (2018-on)
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