Supersize Me - BMW F800R vs. K1300R

BMW have launched two new streetbikes for 2009, the twin-cylinder F800 and the 150bhp K1300R. Is all that extra power, weight and expense at all justifiable?

In the next issue of Visordown, on sale July 24, we settle the power versus lightweight argument once and for all, ably assisted by two new naked BMWs, the K1300R and F800R. Does riding experience have anything to do with it, which is best and does a big bike really cost any more to run?

First, the bikes. While two cylinders side-by-side is a fairly unfashionable engine configuration in any class, in every other way the F800R is on the money for a 2009 middleweight. At £5925 it’s a touch expensive and peak power is a little down on the multi-cylinder competition but the BMW fights back with more torque and geometry directly comparable with the competition; 25° head angle (same as a Honda Hornet 600), 800mm seat height (same as the Hornet and Triumph Street Triple) and a claimed wet weight of 203kg (Suzuki claim 202kg for the new Gladius). In short then the F800R is representative of a class now bursting with quality machines.

But while BMW’s 800 may blend into the middleweight streetbike spec sheet like a grain of sand in the Sahara, the K1300R sticks out like some kind of two-wheeled Great Wall of China, its engineering eccentricity visible from space. There’s nothing odd about an inline, four-cylinder engine in a big streetbike, but 153bhp at the rear wheel and 91 lb/ft of torque gets your attention, as does a factory-fit quickshifter.

Then there’s the 1585mm wheelbase (an Aprilia Tuono is a full 17.5cm shorter between the wheels), the Duolever front end and shaft drive. Only the brave move to a conventional indicator arrangement (the old K1200R used a button on each side in traditional BMW style) stands between your typical Hornet rider and a feeling of hopeless alienation. So it’s a unique beast then, the K1300R, but for the purposes of this investigation, a suitably extreme example of the big street bike breed.

Read the full big v small story in the first issue of Visordown, just part of a streetbike special that also includes a big naked showdown – Triumph Speed Triple v Ducati Streetfighter v BMW K1300R v Honda CB1000R – and Niall Mackenzie and James Whitham’s verdict on the European middleweight tussle, F800R versus Triumph Street Triple R.