BMW are about to unleash a powerful new F850GS in a bid to blow the fast-selling Afrcia Twin and Multistrada 950 into the weeds. With adventure bike sales still strong, one of the key growth areas is the sub-1000cc sector. With more bikes in this competitive category expected at the end of 2017 – such as a production version of Yamaha’s MT-07-based T7 concept – it’s little surprise that BMW appear to have created an all-new and much sharper version of the F800GS.
The last big F-series update was in2013 and, although it had a few Euro4tweaks in 2016, BMW are very aware that the competition is creeping away from them. And rather than merely evolving the existing machine, they appear to have started with a clean sheet of paper, and created a quantum leap forward.
All-new 850cc motor
The new motor is likely to have expanded by 50cc to become an 850cc parallel-twin. We’re also led to believe that the new engine has a 270-degree firing order, so it will sound like a throaty V-twin, rather than the Boxeresque 360-degree firing pattern of the current F800.
The new F850GS engine will produce around 100bhp – a chunky 15bhp more than the current bike - which will bring it in line with the Triumph Tiger 800 (94bhp), Honda Africa Twin (93bhp), Ducati Multistrada 950 (113hp) and upcoming KTM 790 Adventure. The output shaft side has switched too, with the chain on the left now instead of the right, confirming that it has a completely new engine rather than an updated 800. It’s not just the engine that’s new – very little of the old bike remains.
One of the biggest single changes is the new chassis, which appears to use a cast aluminium frame in place of the steel trellis found on the current F800GS, and the R1200GS – and comparing it to the F800GSA, it does appear more compact. The fork is new too, although it appears to offer a near-identical amount of travel.
The wheels remain as 21in front and 18in rear, but that’s the only similarity – in every other way they are completely different to the current ones. New hubs carry new brake discs and the laced rims now mimic the ones found on the firm’s Boxer twins, meaning that they can now run tubeless tyres.
Other features that bring the F850 into line with its bigger brothers include removable pillion pegs and the addition of extra electronic options such as Cruise Control and the Multi-Controller wheel on the left handlebar switchgear. There’s also a quickshifter – it appears to be BMW’s current Gearshift Assist Pro – which allows clutchless gear changes both up and down the gearbox. It’s an optional extra on the R1200GS for £375 and we’d expect it to be a similar price on the new F850GS.
Another big change is a new dash, which emphasises the revs with a large analogue tacho, while there appears to be a larger LCD to display the speed and other important information.
Hey good lookin’
There are some big changes in the looks department too. The front end on the F850GS has sharper and more aggressive lines, while the asymmetric headlight has more than a hint of a rally bike about it. The bike in the spy photographs has a short screen, similar to the R1200GS Rallye but we assume numerous shapes and sizes will be available. The test mules pictured have a much more pronounced step in the seat, too – but this could just be an optional, extra-low seat.
Although not present on the test mules photographed, it’s fair to assume the 850GS will have the same range of bashguards, luggage racks and other adventure accessories, as well as aluminium panniers as an option to the plastic Vario luggage seen here.
BMW would not confirm the bike’s existence, but the finished-looking state of the bike suggests we could see it unveiled at the Milan show in November, with the bike on sale in 2018.
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