2009 BMW F800GS - Long-Term Wrap-Up

Commuter meets tourer meets off-road adventurer.

2009 BMW F800GS - Long-Term Wrap-Up

2009 BMW F800GS - Long-Term Wrap-Up

Our long-term evaluation of BMW’s F800GS wasn’t supposed to take this, um, long to complete. Mix-ups with a couple of aftermarket suppliers, for example, forced us to miss an entire summer of riding. So, while our time with the midsize GS wasn’t without a few bumps in the road, when the dust finally settled (literally), we came to the conclusion that this parallel-Twin is one of the most enjoyable and versatile motorcycles available today.

Actually, we were fans of the bike right from the get-go. After sampling the then-new GS in early 2008 at the international press launch near Durban, South Africa, we came away from the event quite certain that this lighter machine with its upright cylinders had even more off-road potential than its larger, heavier Boxer brethren.

We took delivery of our early-release 2009 model in September with just 21 miles showing on the odometer and immediately headed to our annual three-day, industry-only 2008 Cycle World Trek dual-sport ride in central California's Sierra Mountains, the course sticking primarily to dirt fire-roads and asphalt.

Upon returning from that trip, we decided to upgrade the bike to enhance its off-road worthiness without hurting its excellent on-road demeanor. A BMW aluminum enduro skidplate ($273), a Fasst Company handlebar ($350) and Barkbusters handguards ($160) were the first additions. Our intention to install an Öhlins fork kit never came to fruition because the company failed to mention that the kit was still in development—using our fork!

New components in place, we attacked the 2009 CW Trek, with Senior Editor Blake Conner chasing Off-Road Editor Ryan Dudek (Husqvarna TE310) and photographer Jeff Allen (Suzuki DR-Z400) through rocky, tree-rooted single- and two-track A-loop sections. Conner had to take care through whoops, sharp-edged rocks and over fallen trees to avoid overwhelming the stock suspension. But with a bit of rider finesse and shock spring preload on its maximum setting, the GS tiptoed through the tough stuff just fine. When fitted with Continental's TKC 80 knobbies ($325), the GS was transformed into a single-track-worthy machine, surprising quite a few fellow riders along the trail.

When it comes to all-day comfort, the GS is likewise very good. Our F series traversed the entire state of California and experienced every type of weather. In fact, on a trip north to the CW Motorcycle Show in San Mateo, we experienced everything from pouring rain to sub freezing temperatures. Heated handgrips are one of the single greatest inventions of all time, but the accessory power port couldn't handle the high amperage of our Gerbing's heated jacket and gloves. The solution was to wire the plug directly to the difficult-to-access battery.

We switched back and forth between the stock windscreen (great off-road) and a Cee Bailey’s darkly tinted tall windscreen ($170) for highway-oriented rides. We also regularly swapped seats. Taller staffers preferred the standard seat (34.5 inches), while the vertically challenged favored the optional Low Seat (33.0 inches). Both saddles provide decent comfort and are firm enough for off-road riding. Based on Internet forums dedicated to this type of thing, the seat is one of the first things many owners change; Sargent appears to be a favorite.

Problems? We ran out of gas four times due to a faulty fuel-level sensor. The unit was replaced with a similar design from another manufacturer and accompanied by a software update during the 6000-mile service at our local dealer, Irv Seaver BMW in Orange, California. Seaver also attended to several minor recalls and replaced the severely bent sidestand.

Since then, the F800GS has performed flawlessly. As noted, the middle-class GS is one of the best all-around motorcycles on the market today and will be sadly missed by our staff.

List price (as tested):|$13,496
Current Blue Book value:|$10,675
Warranty:|3 yr./36,000 mi.
Engine:|liquid-cooled, four-stroke parallel-Twin
Bore & stroke:|82.0 x 75.6mm
Valve train:|dohc, four valves per cylinder, shim adjustment
Fuel injection:|46mm throttle bodies
Weight: tank empty:|471 lb.
Weight, tank full:|497 lb.
Fuel capacity:|4.2 gal.
Wheelbase:|62.1 in.
Rake/trail:|26.0º/4.6 in.
Total miles:|9,985
Miles since last report:|3,951
Average fuel mileage:|47 mpg
Repair costs:|$357
Maintenance costs (incl. tires):|$932

2009 BMW F800GS 004

2009 BMW F800GS 003

2009 BMW F800GS 002

BMW enduro skidplate and expandable hard luggage, plus PIAA?s auxiliary halogen lights, helped the F800GS explore night or day, on- or off-road.