2015 BMW F800R
With all the major updates to the Motorrad range in 2015, you could excuse BMW for making only minor changes to the F800R.
A baby of the big bore range, the F800R has been a popular entry level Beemer since its debut in 2009.
Updates are mostly styling with a redesigned air intake/radiator cover, a revised front mudguard, a new rim design, revised exhaust brackets and a symmetrical headlight.
It’s the front of the bike that’s received the most attention with a new upside-down fork replacing the previous model’s conventional items. Suspension travel remains the same with 125mm available both front and rear. Brembo radial mounted calipers now stop the 320mm twin front disks. A new tapered alloy handlebar and bar clamp complete the revisions up front.
ON THE ROAD
Performance from the 798cc, liquid-cooled, four-valve, parallel twin-cylinder engine has been upped from 64kW at 8000rpm to 66kW. Internal gear ratios have been modified with both a lower first and second in the six-speed box.
Seat height has been lowered 10mm to 790mm and the foot pegs positions have been moved 10mm farther forward. These changes obviously made for a lower and more relaxed riding position to benefit novice riders. Unfortunately, the seat has a fixed position but BMW offers both lower 770mm and higher 820mm saddles in their extensive options list.
Out on the road the new F800R feels very like its predecessor in the way it goes about its job.
The ‘sit up and beg’ riding position of this roadster is comfortable for slower speed riding. Until speeds rise and wind buffeting is felt, there’s no cause to complain. I walked away from the F800R feeling as fresh as when I began my ride.
A lower first gear gives a noticeable improvement when getting off the line. It’s always a surprise how much gearbox ratio changes can make. Handling is compliant and plush – the same words I could use to describe the engine’s performance.
With many bikes now offering big horsepower figures, the 66kW of the F800R doesn’t seem much but it’s adequate for the package. The design of the twin cylinder engine with its unique balancing shaft system provides incredibly smooth power. I found it almost electric-like without troughs or peaks but also without a lot of personality.
Change up early in the gears at low revs and it will pull away without complaint. Open road touring won’t have it working up a sweat. In sixth gear at 100km/h, the engine will be ticking over at a lazy 3800rpm. Droping a gear and opening the throttle will see the twin zing away as the tacho needle reaches its 8500rpm redline.
What high technology does an ‘entry level’ BMW actually offer?
As standard, the F800R comes fitted with anti-lock brakes (ABS), on-board computer and heated grips. Automatic Stability Control (ASC) and Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) are available as extra-cost options. If you are not familiar with BMW jargon, ASC is its acronym for traction control.
If there was a model in the BMW range that didn’t require these extras, the F800R would be it. Power is so smooth the ASC would only be a safety net for unseen, slippery spots – sudden experiences of oil on the road or loose gravel. The stock suspension is a decent compromise and switching ESA modes on my test bike didn’t make the difference it has on other BMW models I’ve ridden lately.
If you decide to carry a pillion or load up the optional panniers, you would still want to add some rear shock pre-load. This must be done via the manual pre-load adjuster on the shock body.
IS IT FOR YOU?
The F800R is a difficult bike to fault as it does what it should without fuss but it also does it with very little excitement.
In the BMW spiel for the F800R, the word ‘dynamic’ is used more times than I care to count. Nothing about the F800R, from the engine’s performance to the chassis handling, ever had me thinking ‘dynamic’. It probably didn’t help that I rode the bike at the same time as I rode the R1200R and the astounding S 1000RR.
For some buyers, the lack of surprises in the F800R’s performance would be considered an asset.
BMW predicts that the ‘sport touring’ segment of motorcycling will be the next big thing after the current “adventure bike” boom peaks. The roadster-style bike seems to be making a comeback. As an entry level to this style, the F800R is a contender but it has strong competition.
The top-selling Yamaha MT-09 and Triumph’s 675 Street Triple both offer more performance in a naked, roadster package. Even the under $10,000 LAMS-eligible Yamaha MT-07 is a major contender. If BMW is serious about grabbing more of this mid-size market share, it may have to work some thrills in. Its S1000RR and R1200R both demonstrate the company is more than capable of doing this.
BMW F800R OPTIONS
As usual, BMW offers a comprehensive options list to spend your spare cash on. Why the ‘Touring Package’ options are not standard fitment has me baffled, but I guess it helps keep the recommended retail price lower to offer the bike without them.
TOURING PACKAGE: $230
- Main Stand
- Luggage Grid
- Pannier Fastenings
- Power Socket
DYNAMIC PACKAGE: $257
- LED Rear Light
- Engine Spoiler
- Pillion Seat Cover (only fits standard seat)
TRACTION PACKAGE: $985
- ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment)
- RDC (Tyre Pressure Monitoring)
- ASC (Automatic Stability Control)
2015 BMW F800R
Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, in-line, 8-valve twin
Bore x stroke: 82mm x 75.6mm
Fuel system: EFI (95 RON)
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR
Frame: Bridge-type, cast aluminium
Front suspension: Upside-down fork, 125mm travel
Rear suspension: Monoshock, preload/damping adjustable, 125mm travel
Front brakes: Brembo twin 320mm discs, 4 piston calipers ABS
Rear brake: Single 265mm disc, single piston floating caliper ABS
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
Claimed weight: 202kg (wet)
Seat height: 790mm with 770 and 820mm options (see text)
Tyre sizes: 120/70ZR17 front; 180/55ZR17 rear
Power: 66kW (90hp) @8000rpm
Top speed: 200km/h-plus (claimed)
Economy: 3.6l/100km at 90km/h, 4.8l/100km at 120km/h
Price: $13,100 plus ORC
Warranty: 2 years; unlimited kilometres
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