MCN Fleet: The GS takes a trip home

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I arrived back to the familiarity of my small cul-de-sac at 1:30am after having ridden solidly for nearly 16 hours; tackling the 820-miles from Berlin on my trusty F800GS after attending the BMW-sponsored Pure & Crafted festival.

A 16-hour motorway slog is enough to fill me with dread. In the past, the prospect of sitting on a bike for long periods with nothing but a straight road ahead has been greeted with the same enthusiasm as a child who has just been told to do the dishes.


It wasn’t the case with the GS though, it’s great for tackling big distances. With the seating position being very neutral and comfortable, I’m able to ride it for long stints with no problems whatsoever. If it weren’t for the obstacles that I would encounter on the way back then my journey would have been completely effortless. I was tired, but only because I had a long day, not once feeling worn or cramped through being on the bike. 

Said obstacles came in the form of traffic and diversions that added an extra two and a half hours to my journey time, meaning that I was going to run the risk of missing my train. With it being my first time travelling to Europe on my own, I didn’t realise that the guys at the Eurotunnel can be pretty understanding when it comes to problems with traffic, accommodating you on later trains if they can. Rookie error on my part. 

Not knowing this however, I instead proceeded to use the unrestricted German Autobahn to full effect trying to claw back some increasingly precious time. Also curious at the same time to see what speed I could push out of the GS when it’s fully loaded with luggage and how much this might affect my average mpg.

The top speed is a claimed 130mph, but I wasn’t going to reach that though as I found out. With the BMW panniers (£493) and my 40-litre Givi roll-bag (£103) adding weight and significant aerodynamic drag, getting the F800 flat-out was going to be pretty much impossible.

The top speed I saw on the speedo was 130mph, with a truer speed registered on my sat-nav as 196kph, which equates to 122mph, not bad considering the GS was laden with gear. It would have gone faster, too, but the panniers helped load up the rear and combined with the aerodynamic efficiency of a sail in the wind further pushing the back end into the tarmac, the front started to get really twitchy at over 110mph. I wasn’t brave enough to try and push it any further. 

I knew the mpg was going to take a big dip from riding quickly on the Autobahn and this proved true with my lowest figure to date of 38.37mpg at one point. I was also surprised to find my highest figure of 66.23mpg too, taken after being forced to ride really slowly because of heavy rain and poor visibility. Overall, the trip averaged out at 43.35mpg, which was around the figure I was expecting given the 700 or so Autobahn miles.

Since taking on the GS back in March, the mpg has been a little lower overall than I was expecting from the frugal motor, with a total average of 48.45mpg. I don’t exactly ride that slowly though and a lot of my travelling has been completed riding at pace on the motorway. I’m going to take some time to ride with a little less haste over the next few weeks to see if I can put some pounds back in my pocket.

Overall, the bike’s outstanding versatility and capability leaves it continuing to be an outstanding all-rounder that still overcomes anything put in front of it with ease. The BMW has once again proven itself, now I need to follow suit and start planning my next big trip; with the GS there are definitely no excuses.


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James Archibald

By James Archibald

Former MCN Junior Web Producer