BMW F850GS (2018 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£200|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel twin|
|Frame type||Steel bridge-type|
|Fuel capacity||15 litres|
|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|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£200|
|Used price||£8,500 - £9,300|
12 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||94 bhp|
|Max torque||68 ft-lb|
|Top speed||135 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
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.
MCN Long term test reports
MCN Fleet: Getting dirty with the BMW F850 GS
UPDATE 2: Getting Dirty with the F850 GS I have to admit that I’m not really the off road type. Sure I was a dirt bike junkie as a kid but my love for off road dwindled and I’ve become more accustomed to the tarmac life. That hasn’t stopped me from the odd jaunt down some green lanes though and whe…
Owners' reviews for the BMW F850GS (2018 - on)
3 owners have 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£200|
Annual servicing cost: £200
Engine paint flaking and tarnish on down-pipes spoil the otherwise mint appearance.
Front brake is incredible, rear brake is vague. No complaints really. I'm a big heavy bloke and the stock suspension is adequate for myself and two up riding IF you take it easy. The 21" Front Wheel takes a bit of getting used to.
Absolutely love the airbox growl and the power rush when you use the Quick-shifter. For overtakes is brilliant. So much better than my old 59 Plate 800 GS
My bike is an ex-BMW employee bike and was on 6k miles when purchased. Now done 10K and the engine paint is starting to flake. Really disappointed about that as I have not ridden it through the winter.
I have to pay £245 for an oil and filter and brake fluid change this year to keep the warranty going. Next year it will need the £400+ valve check service. But that said, it is a BMW from a main dealer and I knew this when I bought it. I happen to think it is worth sucking it up after years of riding older bikes and having a few reliability issues.
Has everything I could ever need and a bit more. TFT is brilliant and easy to use. Quick-shifter is a game changer.
Buying experience: Bought from Rybrook BMW Wolverhampton. Nice and simple. They also reacted really well to a couple of niggles that I had after a few days of ownership. I would / will go back as and when I decide to trade.
built to a price..
The seat hurts after a few hours..
The engine works really well but dose rattle. taking away from a quality product.
Goes well s d everthing works..
Costly to run..
quick shifter pro.. brilliant..
Buying experience: Dealer purchase and i will do it again..
Version: F850 GS Sport
If you are looking for an all rounder and intend to cover lots of miles the F 850 would definitely be worth a look.
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.
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.
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.
Insurance cost was high compared to my previous bike, Versys 650 but is probaly due to the age and value of the BMW.
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.