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BMW F850 Review

I've been getting messages... How's the BMW 850?
It's good...I like it. Why? For a parallel twin cylinder engine, it is as smooth as butter and when you release it's voice... It sings!

Chassis and weight distribution is very well balanced. Getting the tail out is predictable and controllable, the long wheelbase and relaxed steering angle make it very stable without sacrificing slow speed manoeuvrability resulting in a very confidence boosting, playful ride. By comparison, the previous f800gs would tip in quick and had high speed stability issues, the 850 is rock solid up to speeds which would destroy your license.

Brakes both front and rear feel better than the 1200 but the rear brake needs the gsa lever for best ergonomics.
The engine has a light flywheel which makes it fast revving however less inertia means more attention is required to keep it in it's sweet spot.
The midrange is really the engines strong point and 4500rpm and above and it starts to sing.
If you're used to a 1200 you simply can't bang the 850 in 3rd and ride it like an automatic, the engine won't lug off idle like it's bigger sibling.

Suspension for my weight is bang on for the front suspension. Rear suspension dynamic ESA does it's thing without fuss.

Lofting the front over erosion humps is easy work on the 850 and this thing loves rear skid turns without excess weight to come around.

There's a great little storage compartment under seat for my tyre repair kit which is a welcome addition and battery access by removing the seat is well thought out.

An adjustable gear lever to get the mx clod hoppers under is also a nice feature. The GS versions don't have wide enduro pegs as standard, so for added standing comfort these are a worthy addition.

The quick shift is nice, but there's a noticeable clicky feel through the lever on downshift, it's not a deal breaker but it's there. A couple of times, I found I couldn't click up a gear but worked out my boot was preloading the lever preventing the change. The bike works fine, rider input error only!
Speaking of clutch action. The lightened flywheel can make you look like a novice at traffic lights until you learn the feel.

Abs and traction work so well I never turned them off, at no point did I feel either interfering. We got through BlackFellows Hand track and up through the Gardens of Stone which has some technical uphill and down hills which would have highlighted any issues. There were none. Further testing down Nullo Mountain on loose rocky descents proved how capable and easy to ride the 850 is.
Another bike on the run... A Honda transalp, fried its clutch on one of the hills. We used the f850 to tow it out of the Bush and into Rylstone. A total of 70km. The 850 didn't break a sweat.

Style wise the 850 resembles the 1200/1250. Even the 1200 tank bag fits and the enduro pegs are the same. The screen is fine and never gets obtrusive, works for me, its a pity there's no adjustment available on the GS. Perhaps a GSA adjuster could be retrofit.

Quibbles?
The front forks could be adjustable. I like to tune my settings. Future farkles maybe but it's not a deal breaker as the forks feel fine.
The GPS mount is difficult to see when standing, I overshot a couple of turns as a result. Reversing the mount should help.
Speaking of electronics, resetting the trip computer is frustratingly difficult, I'll work it out soon.

So the 850 can step out of the shadow of its bigger sibling now. While the 1200/1250 will do things like two up touring better, if you like technical tracks and more offroad than on, then the 850 is worth a ride.

The 850 is a delight on technical trails while still being able to bomb down the tarmac. More nimble than a 1200 offroad but is busier to ride on the tar to keep it on the boil.
Ed74mnd
Author of this article: Ed74mnd
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