BMW F 800 GS Review
What better arena to flog the 2010 BMW F 800 GS through than Morocco? The GS is perfectly acclimated to the North African landscape by virtue of its robust, off-road capabilities. Because when you ride in Morocco, even if you’re planning to ride on the road, it’s pretty much going to be like riding off-road.
For quick comparison, the 800 GS weighs 55 pounds less than its big brother (the 800 weighs in at 392 lbs dry as compared to the GS 1200 at 447) although it feels considerably lighter. The parallel twin engine gives the bike a narrow profile, adding to the machine’s maneuverability.
The compact, liquid-cooled 800cc twin is electronically fuel-injected with dual overhead cams, providing 85 horsepower (62 ft/lbs of torque) that gets channeled through a 6-speed gearbox to the rear wheel via a chain.
ABS (anti-lock brakes) can be switched off for the dirt and the 4.2-gal tank provides a decent range.
A 21″ front wheel helps the 800 GS roll through ruts, with a traditional telescopic front fork absorbing the terrain.
Although the 800 is more off-road focused than its big brother it handles pavement remarkably well. All in all, the F 800 GS is a solid additional to BMW’s category leading line of adventure bikes, giving customers a wider selection of machines to tailor to your preferred type of riding.
Ten people die each day in traffic accidents in Morocco. Not the thing to be thinking about as I whip between an old taxi and an overloaded mule cart driven by a shoeless peasant on a cell phone. I escape the fog of diesel exhaust and bolt for the distant snow-capped mountains. I’ve come to North Africa to ride a BMW GS 800 through the High Atlas Mountains.
Four hours later I’m thrashing the GS over rocks and ruts, ascending the High Atlas. In every village kids come running with up-turned palms asking for a “stillo” (pen), “bon-bon” (candy), and money. Illiteracy is rampant. In lieu of writing, Coke cans mark graves in the cemetery; three Coke cans is uncle so-and-so, two Cokes is auntie, etc. Coke and Michael Jackson, the universal threads of society. I wasn’t sure if news of the gloved one’s death had reached these parts so I keep quiet.
Still assimilating the culture shock of Marrakesh earlier this morning; women in Berkas, snake charmers, the Muezzin’s call to prayer, backpacking potheads cruising for “kif” and Albert King spilling out into the North African ether at a hooka café. This is a strange place.
Miles and miles of dried out, rock-strewn riverbed. The banks are lined with caves where people live as early man did. They cower from the presence of a stranger. A foreigner, alone. I could disappear here.
Steep switchbacks lead to the Gorges du Dades. I stop for the Moroccan ritual of mint tea at a small café at the summit. The food in Morocco is to my liking; vegetables, meat, plenty of koos-koos, and bottles of Arabic labeled Coca-Cola.
The lingering jetlag is playing havoc with my senses and catches me out. Boulders in a washed out riverbed almost rip the bike from my hands at speed. Visions of getting thrown over the bars, ending up with compound fractures in an unsanitary hospital.
Sheer willpower gets the BMW straightened out and tracking straight. Heart rate returns to normal. The near crash spooks me to slow the pace a bit. How much more of this torturous, dry, dusty bongo board is there? Finally, Tizi-n-Tichka, the first summit is crested. Brisk air. Absolute silence.
South across the Jebel Saghro Mountains by way of the spectacular Tizi-n’ Tazazert Pass. Bleak but beautiful. In the villages the hands continue to come out. One long Congo line of poverty. Somebody somewhere taught these kids the thumbs up-probably a passing tourist unaware of his lasting legacy. From the high plateaus I descend into the valley of the river Draa where long belts of date palms create a lush oasis.
The winding, glass smooth pavement mountain pass of Tizi-n-Tinififfti is too seductive not to crack some speed. I get the BMW screaming up near the rev limiter. The thing hauls. It feels good to get it moving after all the careful first gear tiptoeing through rock fields.
Steep lean angles and speed shifting. I’m in heaven. At least there’s a guardrail here, unlike the previous days. Adrenaline supersedes common sense and I see 165 km/hr on the clock. Arriving in one piece at my hotel a sense of survival acquaints the end of the day.
Central High Atlas into the Tassaout Valley. One hundred kilometers of broken, winding mountain pavement covered with gravel, rocks, and mudslides. It’s the most dangerous riding thus far, a virtual slippery slide waiting to catapult an unlucky rider into the abyss.
I repeatedly lose traction with the front and rear wheel but manage to save it. I recall hearing there’s one helicopter in Morocco, and that’s reserved for the Royal family. If I accidentally toss myself off the cliff it’s pretty much over.
Dusk. Marrakesh in the distance. Beat, dusty, and thirsty. I’d managed to get immersed in another land and escape the comfort zone of my familiar surroundings back home. The BMW has conquered 900 kilometers of thrashed road, mountain trails, and desert romping without missing a beat. For a motorcyclist in a foreign place a reliable machine under you is critical.
Back in Marrakesh I learn that an Icelandic volcano is spewing clouds of jet-engine choking ash into the atmosphere. CNN is running footage of stranded travelers in every major European airport. I gamble and fly to Madrid.
I’m rerouted to Miami. Flight from Miami to LA. After a week in Morocco I’m acutely aware of how fat Americans are. The gray-haired flight attendant tosses a tray of reheated chicken down in front of me with some crackers. I try to watch one of Hollywood’s saccharin interpretations of romance. I’m suddenly yearning for the Atlas mountains, the serenity of those remote, rocky passes and outposts of humanity with their lavish spreads of koos-koos.
4-stroke, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts, dry sump
|82 mm x 75.6 mm|
|85hp (63 kW) at
|62 lb/ft (83 Nm)
at 5,750 rpm
|12.0 : 1|
control / engine management
|Electronic intake pipe injection / digital engine
3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-3
Performance / fuel consumption
|Over 125 mph [200
|Frame||Tubular steel space frame,
wheel location / suspension
|Upside-down front fork, Ø 45 mm|
wheel location / suspension
|Cast aluminium dual swing arm, WAD strut (travel related
damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously
variable) at handwheel, rebound damping adjustable
travel front / rear
inches (230 mm) / 8.5 inches (215 mm)
|Wheelbase||62.1 inches (1578 mm)|
|Castor||4.6 inches (117 mm)|
|2.15 x 21″|
|4.25 x 17″|
|90/90 – 21|
|150/70 – 17|
floating brake discs, diameter 300 mm, double-piston floating calipers
|Brake, rear||Single disc, diameter 265 mm, single-piston
|ABS||Optional extra: BMW Motorrad
ABS (can be switched off)
Dimensions / weights
|Length||91.0 inches (2320 mm)|
inches (945 mm)
inches (1350 mm)
height, unladen weight
inches (880 mm) (low seat: 33.5 inches [850 mm])
leg curve, unladen weight
|76.4 inches (1940 mm) (low seat: 74.8 inches [1900 mm])|
weight, road ready, fully fuelled 1)
|455 lbs (207 kg)|
|392 lbs (178
(with standard equipment)
|520 lbs (236 kg)|
|Reserve||approx. 1 U.S. gallon|
According to guideline 93/93/EWG with all fluids, fuelled with at least
90% of usable tank volume
2) Unladen weight without fluids