Would you buy a cheap BMW sports tourer?

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Remember the old F800ST? Of course you don’t. It was something of a VFR rival based around BMW’s 800cc parallel-twin platform that never sold terribly well. Blame mild performance, high price and the wrong (pre-recession) timing. Now that nobody’s got any money any more and fuel economy is a big concern, BMW figures the time could be ripe for its return, updating the sports tourer with a new fairing, better luggage and en vogue rider aids. It’s called the BMW F800GT.

Upgrades over that old ST include:

• Increased output of the F 800 GT as compared to predecessor model.
66 kW (90 bhp) at 8,000 rpm. (F 800 ST: 62.5 kW (85 bhp) at 8,000 rpm).
• Newly designed trim in more dynamic look with further improved wind and weather protection. New paint finishes.
• The latest generation of BMW Motorrad ABS, now as standard.
• Automatic Stability Control ASC (ex works option / special accessory).
• Electronic Suspension Adjustment ESA (ex works option / special accessory)
• Convenient adjustment of rear spring mount using handwheel.
• Suspension optimised in terms of ride stability and comfort.
• New, lighter wheels in dynamic design.
• Adapted ergonomics for increased touring comfort with higher handlebars and repositioned footrests.
• Enhanced seating comfort for rider and passenger.
• New handlebar switch panels and front brake fluid expansion tank.
• New vibration-free and double-butted aluminium handlebars.
• Cockpit with new dial faces for speedometer and engine speed display as well as an extended range of information.
• Load capacity increased by 11 kg to 207 kg.
• New exhaust system with optimised heel protection.
• Turn indicators in smoke grey.
• Newly developed luggage system (special accessory).
• New connection of BMW Motorrad Navigator IV to handlebar clamp (special accessory).

All that sounds worthwhile, if somewhat underwhelming. Think of this mostly as a do-over rather than an all-new model.

The BMW sport-touring range is pretty swollen, now running from this model all the way up to the mega-buck K1600GTL, with models like the K1300S and R1200RT in between. Hell, bikes like the F700GS, F800GS and R1200GS or even an R1200R with a fly screen make pretty convincing sports tourers too. So, for around $12-13k, is there a gap for another, albeit 55mpg, sports tourer in the range?

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  • http://www.lloydvintage.com Corey

    I bought the poor mans F800ST, it’s a Kawasaki Ninja 650 with luggage rack and touring saddlebags. Half the price, and only a few horsepower down, probably a ton cheaper to own which = more money for road trips.

    • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

      Especially since for a couple extra grand you get get a R1200R or similar. The F800ST is a bit more refined than a ninja 650 though, especially the motor.

      • Rob

        I’m gonna call you on that refined motor bit. The F800 is smooth and refined, as long as you ride it like an old guy on a BMW, ie; keep the revs down. If you ride it where the power is it is quite vibey. Ride the Ninja where the power is; 8k plus, and it’s really smooth. Maybe this is where the Vibration free bars will transform the bike. To me, the F800 has a clear edge in braking, gets great mileage, and is quite light for a dedicated tourer. Is it enough to get me to buy one at that price? Nope.

    • John

      So did my brother, he really likes it.

  • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

    “Don’t call it a comeback/I’ve been here for years.”

    • contender

      This one does NOT rock his peers. Nor does it put suckas in fear.

  • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

    I loved my F 800 S and this one isn’t as fugly looking. Too bad it tried to kill me.

  • Glenngineer

    I always liked the ST, I think I’ll like the GT.

  • John

    I like it BUT not as long as Triumph has an 800 Street.

    Maybe they should slap some number plates on it, call it a Husqvarna and talk about how it’s inspired by a 1970s dirt bike.

    That’s how you sell a BMW that never sold well.

    • http://www.BrewSmith.com.au dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

      Ha-ha-ha. Zing!

    • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

      It’s remarkable how the G650GS is such a “boring” bike but the Husky Terra and Strada are exciting.

      I loved my G650GS and would happily add a Sertao to my garage if the funds were available.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    Maybe if MSRP was $8999…

    • John

      Cheap is clearly relative. Well, at least the Dullville makes it look like a great deal.

  • Johndo

    I tried the F800ST and the leg room was terrible for a bike with this kind of vocation. Looking at the GT, ergos seem to be just the same. Look elsewhere if you measure more then 5’6″…

    And yeah the Ninja 650 is a cheaper more reliable option, with similar engine caracteristics. And if you do have a problem while traveling, you wont have a problem finding a place that can fix it.

  • Rick

    To answer the original question:

    NO.

  • Justin

    sure

  • Sentinel

    Do you even know that the F-GS models suffer from sudden, premature, and repeated failed wheel bearings in the rear due to improperly manufactured wheel hubs?

    Did you know that the fuel injectors on these bikes fail far too often as well?

    Did you know that to this day BMW has not yet positively addressed these issues?

    And what about the exploding hand-grenade of an engine in the S1000RR?

    I’m sure I”m missing some here, but you get the idea; BMW is not a brand you can really trust, so why would I even consider buying one?

    • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

      Hey, if you’re a potential whistle-blower from BMW’s warranty claims department, you should just contact Wes directly for an interview. If you’re a guy who read some stuff on the Internet and has never ridden the motorcycles in question, you should probably keep it to yourself.

      • BMW11GS

        hahah yep! It’s difficult to get past anecdotes and get into real data…however many people will believe the emotional anecdotal claim even when confronted with scientifically derived facts.

        • Wereweazle

          He’s being kind. He forgot to add the constant stall problem that an ecu reflash, replaced fuel pump, updated idle air hoses, charcoal canister delete, Boosterplug, iridium spark plugs (actually recommended by BMW to fix this for some reason), and fuel treatment can’t fix.

          Oh, also the multiple cases of piston slap on <25k engines made before 08.

          Source: 3 years of ownership.

          Edit: Should also mention that, as far as I know, after 2008 all these things are no longer an issue on the F series and should be ignored if considering a new one.

          • Sentinel

            Wrong. There are plenty of reports of all issues ongoing even with the latest versions with all bikes I mentioned on the related forums.

        • Gene

          Hm. I’ve seen too many letters to the editor of Motorcycle Consumer News starting “My BMW broke…” ending with “and BMW can’t fix it.”

    • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

      The guy sitting next to me works at at BMW shop and he says the R1200GS is the one with the imploding rear end.

    • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

      Painfully aware.

  • Ganesh

    Why would this be any better than a decade old VFR800? I don’t get motorcycling where there is no progress….fucking move on already..

    Do you like your computers with serial ports, vga ports still.. why the fuck would I want ny modern bike without adjustable USD forks, radial brakes (no I don’t buy cost as a issue), more efficiency (measured as output or mileage) than a decade old bike.

    don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of sport tourer – i think the whole market for sport tourers suck – there is not one good product – everything is a ridiculous compromise. But this is lame product strategy to get more revenue from a existing platform versus a bold product to capture market

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

      2nd. If companies wanted to get more revenue from existing platforms, I wouldn’t mind if it was slapping risers, a bigger windshield, and friendlier pegs on a company’s last-gen supersport. But $12k for that? No thanks.

      • Kevin

        Tourers tend not to want supersport power bands on a tourer any more than they want supersport ergos or suspension. I think this package makes sense, and the price is comparable to other sport tourers, albeit with the typical BMW premium. I might be interested, but for the apparently kinda soulless engine.

    • http://www.BrewSmith.com.au dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

      Preach on, my many-limbed friend!

  • Gene

    “Cheap” and “BMW” never fit in the same sentence.

    My FJR is close to that price and it has more power, hardbags as standard, an electric windshield, probably better wind protection, and is actually comfortable with the stock seat.

  • Kevin

    I’d like to see a R1200GT variant more than this one. That boxer motor just seems a more attractive power plant.

  • Kerry

    Think V-Strom instead. And I own two BMWs.
    Really, it’s kind of ugly IMHO but that’s neither here nor there. Instead, I think it’s just another platform for BMW to sell very expensive, model specific accessories that won’t enhance the ride, the functionality and will look odd at Starbucks.