It is now ten years since the introduction of the small GS series with the 800 Rotax twin. From this point of view, a new edition is quite appropriate. Especially since the competition from Japan and Austria was in the fast lane with this genus. If you consider that the African Twin, for example, ranked 5th in the 2018 admissions charts, the F 800 GS was relatively far behind only to be found at number 29. It remains to be seen whether this advantage of the competition can be made up with the new "big ones" among the small GS.
Compared to the predecessors F 800 GS and F 700 GS, a lot has changed besides the name of the F 850 GS: frame, engine and much more have been completely retreaded: the 853-cubic twin from Rotax with 270-degree lifting pin offset has been replaced by a Loncin engine from China. At the exhaust, which really gives a nice sound of itself, there was a page change from left to right, while the
chain drive has now found its place on the left side. While the tank was still in the rear at the 800, the 15 litres now migrated to the middle of the vehicle, where they are also better off in terms of a meaningful distribution of the mass. There is a switch-off and mature ABS and for a good 450 € there is also an ESA chassis available. The voluminous front silencer nestles tightly under the engine to the frame. And the new engine has again a small heat exchanger that was protected instead of a less protected oil cooler.
As standard, there is a plastic motor protection or, at an additional cost, the more valuable aluminium version. At the front, the F 850 GS has a full-blown 21-inch tyres - especially with a matching coarse -- this of course makes an impression. The tidy TFT display can be read perfectly even under poor conditions and you can connect to the on-board computer via smartphone to operate various applications. However, this has its price at around 600 euros and requires a certain training time, which also applies to all other electronic helpers such as engine and chassis mapping or traction and stability control. In view of the many innovations and a significantly more performance, comfort and equipment, the F 850 GS has in our opinion a real chance to make up for the advantage of the Africa Twin.
Before we turn one thing away from the front at the Gashan: The BMW F 850 GS is visually extremely successful and is almost reminiscent of the boxer-powered big sisters. The machine provided to us comes in a kind of hunting green (BMW calls the Pollux metallic). In our opinion, the GS is completely elegant but much better than the rally style. Of course, this is a purely question of taste. In any case, the BMW 850 GS is a full-blown and visually truly successful bike!
Almost intuitively, the F 850 GS steers, switches and brakes and you immediately feel comfortable on the motorcycle. The fact that our test machine is plentiful for me (1.77m) could easily be adjusted. Numerous benches with different seat heights are available here. There is also a low double bench and a comfort bench. And on request, the motorcycle can also be lowered. Thanks to the GS typical ergonomics, one sits upright and confident with a very wide handlebar - there is really nothing wrong with that.
The new China Twin has 10 hp more than the old Rotax engine. The strengths of the two-cylinder in-line engine with its 95 hp are a high torque and a sparkling character. The sound of the engine is appropriate and pleasant. The machine operates sparingly with a consumption of 4.1 liters and delivers a convincing performance. With this (of course only where it is allowed) you can also use the top speed of about 200 km/h without the machine looking restless. Despite its 21-inch front tyre and the upright sitting position, the machine sticks absolutely stable and calm on the asphalt. The large front tyre ensures that you can keep track in uneven terrain, but is probably also reason why the machine is not quite as manoeuvrable.
The F 850 GS, on the other hand, can score points with its electronic helpers for driving safety. In the basic equipment, BMW provides the Road and Rain driving modes as well as the stability control ASC. The Dynamic Enduro and Enduro Pro driving modes as well as the dynamic traction control DCT and the electronic chassis Dynamic ESA are only available at an additional cost. All assistance systems have been well implemented and function perfectly, as bmw expects. The cockpit is tidy and very easy to read. Thanks to the "intelligent emergency call", the driver can trigger the e-call system installed on the handlebars at the touch of a button in case of an emergency in order to get help. Depending on the situation, it is also automatically dropped off and supports a faster supply by the emergency services – wherever you are on the road.
Of course, the multitude of possibilities means that one has to reckon with a certain training time. But this is quite common with the newer, more lavishly equipped bikes. All in all, we had a lot of fun with the F 850 GS during our test rounds and can only recommend a test drive!
The PRICE and origin of the BMW F 850 GS are criticized at times. For example, in our test channel on YouTube you will find comments such as: "... Motorcycle from China, price from Bavaria..." "... without Navi, with 'nem Chinamotor (only BMW saves money)..." or "... China Böller as a premium brand...".
Certainly, BMW motorcycles have your price, that's no question. However, we do not find the entry-level price for the series model with 11,900 € (the current CRF1000L Africa Twin costs 13,490 € in the basic version) so excessive. The problem is rather that - and this can also be discussed well - the long list of special equipment options makes the price soar quickly. Depending on your wish list, you can easily land at 15,000 € and more. And yes, this is unfortunately typical BMW.
But it doesn't help in the end: BMW Bikes enjoy a large fan base, despite the high price, because they are just successful and solid motorcycles. We cannot support the thesis that the F 850 GS cannot keep up with its quality due to its origin. In our eyes, the BMW F 850 GS has become significantly more grown-up than its predecessors and is thus clearly closer to its great boxer sisters. However, to what extent it is possible to catch up with the advantage of the Africa Twin (which we want to get for a test in the next few days) from competitor Honda, one has to see. In any case, we keep our fingers crossed because the Bavarian has really liked us.
from 11,900 € and here you can configure your F 850 GS. We clicked on all the extras that weren't at three on the trees and ended up at a proud 16,435 €.
Standard equipment:BMW Motorrad ABS, ASC (Automatic Stability Control), Driving modes Rain / Road, on-board computer Pro, LED rear light, 12 volt socket, handbrake lever, clutch lever adjustable, engine protection
Special equipment: Dynamic ESA (electronically adjustable chassis), DTC (traction control), driving modes Pro (Dynamic / Enduro / Enduro Pro), LED headlights incl. LED daytime running lights, connectivity incl. 6.5" full-colour TFT display, switching assistant Pro, keyless ride, RDC (tyre pressure control)
and where we are already with equipment: even more vehicle-specific accessories can of course also be found at suppliers such as Touratech or Wunderlich.
The test motorcycle was kindly provided to us by Bergmann and Söhne.