IT’S NO secret just how much I love the new F850GS – so much so in fact that I managed to convince BMW to loan me one on a long term basis.
I collected the Sport model yesterday afternoon and wasted no time in testing its ‘Gelände’ capabilities, nearly doubling my 50 mile journey home as we cut through green lanes to the north of Hampshire.
In the ‘Exclusive style’ and finished in ‘Pollux Metallic Matt’, the middleweight GS certainly looks the part – utilitarian enough to be at home in the mountains, but smart enough to suit the streets.
It’s powered by a completely redesigned 853cc parallel twin, which boasts a new crank and 270-degree firing order to give it that v-twin noise – and it certainly sounds a lot better than its predecessor. Power is much more abundant lower down and delivered far smoother, too. An anti-hop clutch makes for a light lever, while ride by wire throttle and various riding modes also feature (two as standard, but my test bike has the additional ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Enduro’).
I first rode the 850 on launch, and then again at BMW’s GS Challenge last month, and so felt immediately comfortable as I climbed aboard. It’s tall, but not so tall that I require the low seat (unlike on the gargantuan F800GS) and the ride is comfortable and exciting – especially in Dynamic mode. As we hit the dirt I switched to Enduro and let the bike do the work, bucking and sliding beneath me.
A deep patch of sand – unseen through the dark visor on my road lid – was a cause for concern, as the front dug in and threatened to throw me sideways, but a spurt of power was enough to see us through the other side, giving truth to the phrase: if in doubt, flat out.
I took it slightly easier after that, determined not to drop my new long termer on the very day I picked it up. Visor up, and squinting through the trail of dust left by my companion, I bashed through a few more miles of byway, before emerging triumphant back on to the road. What a way to get acquainted.
We followed sweeping roads south to Petworth, cutting through the picturesque town and taking the A285 towards Chichester. I loved the GS for its off-road capabilities, sure, but its on-road ride was equally impressive. The optional ESA (electronic suspension adjustment) constantly adapts to the riding and road surface, making for an extremely smooth and performance orientated ride.
I have big plans for the middleweight GS, starting with a trip to Motorrad Days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen next week. But for now, you’ll find us playing in the mud somewhere down south.