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BMW F800ST - Pseudo review

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by Butzull, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. I sent someone a PM in response to a brief message asking what I thought of my F800ST, and they suggested that I post it at as a review:
    and verbatim I will quote it,
    Clancy's gone to Queensland drovin'
    and we don't know where he are.

    Sorry, got a bit carried away there, here it is

    G'day mate,

    Before I get into my glowing tribute, let me just try to be a little bit objective by letting you know my exposure to different bikes is minimal. I've ridden a grand total of CB250 (HART courses), VTR250 (first bike), F800ST (second and current...obviously) and 20 minutes on each of the following loan bikes from BMW R1200R, R1200ST, F650GS and K1200-something. Not a wide, diverse exposure.

    I absolutely love my ST. I think the greatest tribute I can give it is that after 9 months of ownership, if something happened to it now, I wouldn't bother test riding anything else, I'd go out and get another one.

    When choosing, along with all the things you would like in a bike, the following things were mandatory:
    1. Lowish seat - I'm fairly short (5'5", 165cm) so overly tall bikes were immediately out.
    2. Two-up handling - I knew an awful lot of my riding would be two-up, so it had to handle well with a pillion, and be confortable for both me and my wife.
    3. Fun - Had to give the grin factor. I didn't want a supersport and am not a rider who goes out trying to kill myself or lose my licence, but it had to have enough zip and flickability to be fun, and to get me out of trouble (or nearly into it!)
    4. Efficient - Within months of buying, I knew my commute was going to change from 10km round trip to 80-100km round trip into the heart of the city, so it had to be fuel efficient and preferably light and easy to filter through very slow/stationary traffic.
    5. Touring - Had to be able to carry a bit of a load, as we definitely plan some two-up touring.

    There may have been more, but I'm sure you don't want an essay (edit-which apparently you got along with my life story!).

    As I was coming off restrictions, I originally considered the 600-650 sports-tourer types. The FZ-6S, ER-6F, Wee-Strom and something else, but then I thought they would be a little bit limiting down the track, so I started looking at the 800-Litre range. The budget was quite broad, and I knew I wanted new, because it is likely to be my bike for a long time...but the Ducati ST4 was out of reach (and I wouldn't have gone for it anyway!), so my shortlist was whittled down to the VFR, Sprint ST and F800ST.

    Before I sat on any, the BMW was the front runner. I'm pretty much a thinker and not one prone to emotional decisions, but the others were going to have to put up good arguments. I loved the look of the BMW, LOVED the belt (no chain lubing, tensioning, etc) and loved the fact that it is bit different both in look, and lets face it, there aren't many out there but Sprints and Viffers are a dime a dozen!

    Then it was time to hop on them. The fact that the 07 Sprint came with panniers by default was a big plus for me, but when I got on it and edged it back and forth, I found it very heavy and the position was too racy for me (I am a little prone to sore backs and all). The Viffer was similar, a little more upright, but I was on my tip-toes, and moving that heavy bike around with just your toes was an issue. No default way to lower them either...it's down to shaving the seat or messing around with shocks, etc.

    Then I got on the ST. Lower seat (on balls of feet rather than tiptoes), more upright position, 30kg lighter dry than either of the other two, loved it (also enjoyed the BMW staff and the thought of NOT buying from PS, but that was just gravy!). Getting some further details, there was about a 2-3 month wait on the F800ST at that point, and I was a couple of months shy of getting off restrictions, so I faced a tough call. Wait to get off restrictions and test ride the three, then if the F800 was my choice, I'd have to wait a further 3 months to get it.

    I was SO convinced that ALL of the factors and scenarios I ran through ended up at the F800ST, that I ordered one without riding it so I could get it when I ended restrictions. Sure enough, they called me 5 days before I got off restrictions saying it would be ready for me in a week.

    Being the first model of a brand new bike with lots of new features, there were a few issues, a couple which really affected the riding pleasure. I'm happy to run you through them if you like, but suffice to say, a few months after I bought it they called it back in for a drive-train mod, and it turned it into a new bike...the bike I always hoped it would be.

    Absolutely love it. It's so light and manoueverable. It's get MORE than enough power for me, plenty of torque with a really good spread, is unbelievably economical. I average about 350km per tank at about 4 litres per 100km, and 95% of my riding is two-up and the tank is only 16 litres. Oh, and I know it's early days, but it's been totally reliable, no little niggles at all which you can get on any new bike.

    What type of riding do we do?
    - Commute pretty much every day (two-up), even in inclement weather. 50km each way, ring-road->citylink->city return, so it's mostly freeways, which it eats up the km, and splits easily when they back-up (most mornings at least a little bit!).
    - Get out into the hills a bit and have some fun in the twisties, again often two-up (I'm lucky my wife loves pillioning), but I do get out myself sometimes too! We're quite close to Whittlesea, so the roads around Kinglake are just around the corner.
    - We loaded it up with luggage (panniers, tankbag, large sportsbag on the back) and went up to Canberra for the Cup Day long weekend. Rode up the Friday and back on the Tuesday. Neither of us had any issues at all with the 650-700km days, and it was the first time we'd ridden more than a couple of hundred kms in a day, so we are definitely not accustomed to long stints in the saddle. That bodes really well for some long touring trips we have in mind...especially when our butts get used to it!
    - We're planning some weekend bike-camping trips, a Tassie tour and a big-grand-master-tour-plan that is in its infancy.

    What have I done to it?
    I installed an Autocomm. Because we spend so much time together on the bike, it's nice to have music and be able to chat to each other. It's really made a nice difference. I also installed an aftermarket double-bubble screen. Being short the stock screen was dumping the airflow in the middle of my helmet, buffeting me a fair bit. Apparently this is not an issue for "normal" size people as it dumps it on the chest which is fine. Cost me under $200 from a dedicated F800 website in the US.

    What did I get on it?
    Almost everything. I got the trip computer and ABS, but didn't get the tyre pressure monitor. In hindsight I wish I had got that too, but no big deal. I also bought the BMW panniers with the bike, and have since bought the large F800 tank bag and a large BMW soft-bag for the back rack. The bike's rack price was 15k at the time, but with 1250 for ABS, something like 450 for the computer, something like 1100 for the panniers and mount, and about 1500 on-road costs, I rode away at just over 19k.

    The 1,000km service intervals are nice too and I was surprised to find (given that it's BMW) that the servicing is NOT that expensive. Around $100 for the 1000km run-in service and about $140 for the 10,000km service. Apparently they do more at 20,000, so that will be about $240. I'm not sure about servicing costs on other bikes, but I assume they're cheaper, but most of the Japanese bikes are 6,000km intervals, so it's 5 services to every 3 of the BMW.

    The bad?
    Very little really, a couple of minor things. The sidestand is a little deficient, but you learn to live with it and a centre-stand is standard when you want to be sure. The mirrors are quite narrow, so you do have to tuck in the elbows a bit to see directly behind, but this is common on a lot of bikes, and you can get mirror extenders if you want.

    In short, I absolutely love it and would easily and happily recommend it. I'm more than happy to catch up with you somewhere, sometime if you like. We can grab a coffee or something, have a chat about it and if you don't seem TOO dodgy in the flesh (you seem pretty decent and sensible from your posts and position here), then perhaps you can even take it for a spin if you like?

    Sorry for the HUUUUGE message, but I figure more information is better than less.

    Gav. (Butz. )
  2. Awesome review, very informative. I think the F800ST is also a nice looking bike. I dont like some of BMW's other quirkly styling cues however this bike looks the goods. Pity about the price though, 19k at then end of the day is large layout.

    Happy mile munching!!!!!
  3. I hope that you forgot a zero on the service intervals!

    Good write up, I think a F800 would suit my motorcycling needs

    I lived out your way until recently, that commute racks up the km quickly!
  4. Yeah, damn that zero. The worse thing is, I saw the error as I was re-reading it, and resolved to fix it before pressing add post...apparently I have short-term memory loss.

    Or perhaps I have short term memory loss?

    Butz. :beer:
  5. Great review mate!

    Makes me actually want to buy a beemer.
  6. great review!!
    thank you so much for posting it

    I am looking at the same bike at the moment
    and I have the same needs you did when you were searching
    but I bought the Strom
    I am not happy with the touring side of things
    I end up too sore and stiff

    I am also the same height as you and tried the factory lowered one that Southbank had there and it was almost too lshort for me, but thats cool

    thanks again for helping to make my decision to get the F800ST set in concrete next year

  7. A pleasure.

    I didn't get the factory lowered one, that wasn't available when I got mine, and if I remember correctly from what I've read, if you get the factory lowered one it doesn't (and can't) come with the centrestand.

    I just got the lower seat, which is 790mm clearance instead of something like 810. Both the Sprint and VFR are in that 805-815 range, and for me that 2cm or so, along with the shape of the seat, makes ALL the difference.

    Hope you get what you want! :grin:

    Butz. :beer:
  8. Good review. Like hearing from owners rather than sales people.

    I currently own a 650 V-Strom and absolutely love it. Thing is, I actually don't do any touring anymore and was looking to upgrade to something a bit more...um...er..fun.

    The 800s is top of my list. I know the st is set up more for touring. My brain says "ST" but heart says "S"

    It's a decision I'll make closer to the time ( early / mid next year)

    Have never read a bad word about these bikes. The Rotax paralell twin is apparantly awesome.

    I rode one (an ST) a while ago now and was really impressed. I was also considering the VFR but at similar prices (neither cheap) I found the build quality of the Bimmer exceptional.

    You've chosen well. Hope you have many great years of riding her ahead of you. Well done.
  9. Excellent review, this is my 2nd bike of choice if my Ducati falls through, I have been waiting for 3 months now and the Distributor still can't get there act together, so if they dick me around anymore I'll get my deposit back and go and put a deposit on one of these.
  10. Ahh, thread resurrection at its finest.

    Just to provide some more details, it's just had it's 20,000km and 1 year annual safety check done in combination, along with a valve clearance check. Came in at a total of about $368.

    I'd read elsewhere that the best part of a year ago someone was quoted the figures below, so I guess I can't complain...indeed, each of my services have come in below the numbers listed below thus far:

    Still running great and I'm very happy with it. Still averaging about 3.9l/100km, with about 95% of riding being 2-up. When solo it is down closer to 3.3l/100km.

    Butz. :beer:
  11. SMug bastard! Love the bike and it was good to reread the review. have your thoughts changed at all??
  12. Nope, thoughts haven't changed at all. Still very happy and there's still nothing out there that I wish I rather had, which is perhaps the biggest compliment I could give it.

    Once we're on our grand tour, I might, at times, wish I had the F800GS that's about to be released so we could do things like the Gibb River Road, or perhaps the Tanami, but we'll stick to mostly the black stuff with just the occassional off-road jaunt, and that will be grand.

    There might also be times when my wife would wish we had a Goldwing or a K1200LT so that she could sleep in the armchair, but she loves the F800 too! ;)

    Edit: Just (still...) waiting for Mouth's review to see if he agrees and is happy with his, or whether I'm a lone voice! *nudge-nudge* *wink-wink*

    Butz. :beer:
  13. Excellent review, Gav.

    Just put a deposit down on one last week. Have to wait till mid/late next month before it arrives. :( Not too bad though.

    Wanted to ask you about the luggage. Is it all OEM stuff you're using? How do you find it?

    I ordered the pannier set with it but I'm still debating with myself about whether I should get them to toss on a topbox as well or go with their tank bag + tail bag solution.
  14. I saw this beast at the bike expo for the first time and thought it was the best allround pick of the beemers on display.

    Nice bike. :)

    And damn your fuel economy!!! [-(
  15. As a new member to the Bavarian tribe, I can safely say that the OEM luggage is simply ace.

    Mine came with the 2 hard expandable panniers, clip on tank bag, tail bag and luggage rack.

    It is all quality stuff, cleverly designed and looks the business.

    They all have liners inside them that have a draw string that you tighten and then clip to the roof of the bag/pannier. This aids in keeping your gear dry in the event that there is a leak. This works by placing the opening to the liner at the highest possible point in the bag/pannier.

    Yes they are expnsive but you get what you pay for. My laptop fits in my tailbag perfectly and have yet to use the hard panniers.

    Maybe on my next Tassie adventure :)
  16. It is a nice bike but it lacked HP for me. I opted for the K1200R. It has double the horsepower and is far far sexier than me even :p
  17. Awesome bike mate! And exceptional review to match :)
  18. Oooh, I made the right decision then. I don't think I could control myself around something that sexy. :wink:

    And thanks for your input on the luggage, vic. For the most part I'm sure the panniers will suffice. I'm mainly considering how I'm going to transport my camera, lenses, etc on the bike. I'd like to be able to just throw my (reasonably large) shoulder bag, already packed, into the bike's luggage.

    Problem is, when I get to where I'm going I just want to grab my shoulder bag out and leave the luggage with the bike. That's why I'm more inclined to find a suitable hard-case top box. I might even look at putting a GIVI on the rack because I understand that the 28L BMW one is a bit small.
  19. Yeah mate, I'm very happy with the luggage. The piccy in my sig is the bike loaded up with the panniers, the tankbag and the BMW soft bag on the back rack with another generic (reebok) sportsbag strapped on top of it for a camping trip. The panniers were hardly extended at all (in other words, room left over) and it was all my wife and I needed for a 3 day camping trip.

    I wanted to get the big-bugger hard case for the back, but they talked me out of it. They said it fits the mount but they'd never sold one for an F800 because it just looks too big on the bike and would encourage people to load up too much in there, which being a light bike isn't such a great idea to have a lot of weight so high and so far back.

    My answer should have been, bugger that, I want it anyway, but I didn't so for now I don't have "lock it and leave it" security in my travels (assuming of course you carry the tankbag off).

    Butz. :beer:
  20. Ahhh grasshopper, you have much to learn. $20. Go to a bike shop, k-mark, big-w, goldcross etc and grab yourself a pushbike lock. I went to the thugby the other week and simply locked the tail bag to the frame. Locked the zippers together with a travel combo padlock and everything was there when I got back.