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sábado, septiembre 30, 2023
HomeCarsWhy The BMW F 850 GS Is Underrated

Why The BMW F 850 GS Is Underrated

BMW Adventure motorcycles are bestsellers in all markets they are available and for a good reason too. Adventure motorcycles can easily be a jack of all trades since they can be a suitable companion for many riding scenarios. Many motorcycle riders are drawn to a BMW GS motorcycle at some point in their motorcycling career. That’s a noticeable trend that’s been happening ever since BMW invented the adventure motorcycle segment back in the 1980s and has been improving these bikes with each passing generation.

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While the end game might be considered to be an R 1250 GS (soon to be R 1300 GS), the F 850 GS cannot be that easily dismissed and should, in fact, depending on how it’s going to be used, be considered as an alternative to its bigger brother. The BMW F 850 GS is distinct enough to be unique, in the sense that it’s not just a more affordable version of a big GS Adventure motorcycle, but an entirely different motorcycle with its own qualities and characteristics. Looking at it as a standalone model it is possible to come to the conclusion that the BMW F850 GS flies below the radar of many possible customers and that should not be the case with a bike as good as this.

RELATED: 2023 BMW F 850 GS: Performance, Price, And Photos

Comparing The BMW F 850 GS With Its Bigger Sibling Is Inevitable

A side right action shot of a BMW F 850 GS

A rider on a BMW F 850 GS.

This bias created in-house could be one of the reasons why the F 850 GS is underrated. The fact that there is a bigger, more powerful GS within the same brand to consider certainly doesn’t help. That comparison is inevitable, but far from ideal. For starters, it is important to realize that bigger isn’t always better. If that were the case, there would be no reason for having lighter, low-displacement motorcycles since the first ones started rolling. One of the reasons motorcycles are often referred to as ‘bikes’ is the fact that this is their origin. The first motorcycles were merely self-propelled bikes that went on to eventually become the machines we know and love today.

Second, the BMW F 850 GS has a parallel twin engine instead of the characteristic boxer engine found on the bigger GS models. The boxer seats well within the BMW motorcycles ethos and has been successfully used in other noteworthy models such as the BMW R nineT and more recently on the big cruiser R 18 which continues to spawn different trims based on the same platform. This apparently simple engineering design choice is quite significant as these two engine configurations sound and feel different for the rider. Finally, their final drive couldn’t be further apart. The big boxer twin models use a drive shaft while the BMW F 850 GS uses a simpler and lighter chain. Although a chain requires a little bit of care oiling it and adjusting it every so often, which is something that doesn’t appeal to everyone and could help tip the scales in favor of the practically maintenance-free shaft final drive. That usually comes, however, in a much pricier package. The base MSRP for an F 850 GS is $12,595 while a base R 1250 GS starts at $17,995 for instance.

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The 853 cc Parallel-Twin Engine Specs


853 cc

Power Output

90 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm


63 pound-feet @ 6,250 rpm



Final Drive


The BMW F 850 GS Is Pretty Fast

An action shot of a BMW F 850 GS riding off-road

A BMW F 850 GS power-sliding off-road

With a top speed of 125 MPH and 0-60 time estimated to be below 4 seconds, the F 850 GS is quick, but with its max torque just north of 6,000 rpm and max power at 8,000, the bike has a steady, predictable, and progressive power delivery. This tamed power delivery may give the wrong impression since its performance numbers speak for themselves and are quite good. It has to be acknowledged, however, that the big R 1250 GS packs more punch at any given rpm and has an overall better performance on the tarmac. Since a lot of adventure motorcycles are used mainly on the road and traveling long distances, this may also help understand why the big GS gets all the attention while the F 850 GS is overlooked. Interstate speeds and quick acceleration to get away from traffic are the main situations where the big boxer engine GS shines as a sort of touring bike more than anything. To extract the most performance out of the F 850 GS the rider needs to be more conscious of where is the bulk of the power delivered in the rpm range and have the bike at the right gear for strong accelerations. It’s important to emphasize the fact that this is a good characteristic of the BMW F 850 GS. The bike is first, more forgiving in the hands of a less experienced rider, and second, more engaging in the hands of a more experienced one. It’s the sweet spot.

RELATED: The 2024 BMW R 1300 GS’ Launch Is Not As Close As You Think

The F 850 GS Is Still A Heavy Motorcycle

A shot of the TFT color display of a BWM R 850 GS

A view of the TFT color display from a BWM R 850 GS.

While being lighter and narrower than its big sibling, making it easier to weave through traffic, the F 850 GS still tips the scales at 505 pounds wet and doesn’t have the low center of gravity provided by the boxer engine. To be fair, some competitors like the Suzuki V-STROM 800DE are even slightly heavier, at 507 pounds. But on the other hand, the excellent Triumph Tiger 850 Sport weighed 477 pounds with 5.3 gallons of gas and all other fluids. That’s a noticeable difference in favor of the Triumph, which is also a notch cheaper at $12,290, while the Suzuki V-STROM DE comes in at $11,349, but this one is not as performance-oriented as the F 850 GS and doesn’t carry the same brand status of a BMW. It is still a contender, nonetheless.

RELATED: 10 Things We Love About The New Suzuki V-Strom 800DE

Living In The Shadow Of The Bigger GS’

An action shot of a BMW F 850 GS off-road

A BMW F 850 GS riding off-road.

The popularity of the R 1250 GS in the adventure motorcycle segment might overshadow the F 850 GS and other models from the brand. When one thinks about BMW motorcycles or BMW Motorrad, the first bike that comes to mind is usually the big GS. The improvements made over the years to it truly show BMW’s expertise in the segment it created. And a bike with such good reviews as the current generation F 850 GS may simply fall victim to its big brother’s success. A mentality shift is needed so that the F 850 GS can have its rightful place in the sun. It has all the features needed, similar overall performance as the R 1250 GS, it’s lighter, and has a smooth, reliable, and well-reviewed parallel twin engine with its own charm, as well as the luxuries and amenities that come along with BMW products.

It is hard to fault a bike such as the BMW F 850 GS. From the well-engineered chassis and powertrain, its comfortable riding position and long travel suspension (8-inch front, 8.6-inch rear), a big front wheel (21 inches) that gives it straight-line stability, along with the ability to overcome off-road obstacles with relative ease, and a significantly lower price than its big brother, the F 850 GS has all bases covered.

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