The new 2013 BMW F800GS = ESA = Very Nice feature!

October 17 2013

Today was a great day to ride to AltRider. Why? It was not raining, cool enough to turn on a little heat, traffic wasn’t too bad, the AltRider gang were extremely friendly and helpful and I got to test out the ESA on the “infamous” I-5 from the border to Seattle.


I-5 at the best of times usually makes a rider wish they had a kidney belt. For some reason this road almost all the way from BC to Seattle have these annoying ripples and grooves. Why am I talking about the road conditions? This is where I could really tell that the ESA settings make a difference.

If you ever read my review about the Tigers you will notice I talk about the road comfort that the Tiger’s give the rider. I referred to the Tigers as a very sound street bike with decent off-road capabilities. Remember this is just my opinions which really could mean absolutely nothing to anyone other than me.

My bike before the crash guards and headlamp protector. Had to stop at a rest stop. Anyway…back to the ESA. The Triumph Tiger + Triumph’s gel seats we used rocked on the road. Made the Tigers feel like a super sport bike. The suspension on the Tiger ate up the imperfections in the roads up in Alaska.

Fall foliage almost over….

BMW now has ESA. All the way down from BC to AltRider I played with ESA. Biggest difference is between the Sport setting and Comfortable. Can’t really tell the difference that normal does in comparison to the comfy setting.

When on comfy the bad Washington I-5 felt great. You can feel the difference switching between Sport and Comf. This is where I smiled because it felt as good as the Tigers. The low seat I tolerated pretty well if I do say so myself. I actually was able to ride for 3 hours straight before my butt said stand or take a break. Triumph gel seats kick ass! No pun intended. That is where BMW really needs to make improvements. Adjustable seat height and a better stock seat or upgrade available at the time of purchase. It annoys me that I have to tweak the BMW seats.

The ESA suspension makes the new F8 more road friendly, less vibrations and actually feels like a sport touring bike. Change the setting to Sport and you get a stiffer firmer ride. Makes sense. Glad we got both bikes with this feature because we ride on the pavement so much.

So, to continue to compare the Tigers to the 2013 F8…I would say the BMW can ride like the Tigers on the street and even better if you get a great seat. Then, I would say they are almost equal. Where BMW is ahead of Triumph is the simple handle bar controls, simple on off ABS/Traction Control and just the dash in general. I am sure Triumph will add this feature soon. For the price the BMW seems to be a better deal if you get the ESA.

Sneak Peak into the world of AltRider

Again for Cheryl and myself, street comfort is important and that was one big reason we may have bought the Tiger this time around. The ESA has been a very pleasant surprise and since we have been able to transfer our luggage and some other farkles I am very pleased we bought this bike. There is no doubt in mind and I have said this before, the F800 will be better off-road than the Tigers. That only means something if you really take these bikes off-road. For what we do both the Tiger and F800 will do what we want.

I also confirmed my need for riser which we have and ready to be installed and the need for a taller shield.

This is Erik. When I arrived at AltRider,  Megan greeted me and introduced me to Erik and I am so bad with names, a very nice woman who takes care of their media/PR stuff (NANCY).  Thanks to a FB viewer I was reminded of her name!  Once someone tells me her name I will post it. She was sweet too. Megan had everything ready for my guards and head light protector to be installed initially by Erik and then the owner Jeremy got involved too.

Showing me how to do things right and that AltRider uses stainless!

Erik showing how well they wrap and ship their accessories.  Mentioning how the customer needs to know that they take great care when riders invest in their products.

They worked on my bike right in the parking lot.

Half the guard installed.

They have a really interesting way to connect the bar across the radiator. Two pieces put together with a steel tube.

They look like they will have pretty good coverage for when we dump these bikes.

Jeremy and Erik having a chat and then Jeremy took over while Erik went back into their shop.

It was just a nice day down there. Good conversations, sharing of stories about the ADV world, what’s hot and what’s not…love hearing opinions about accessories and all sorts of juicy stuff. JK!

Initially we got the BMW head light guard but BMW does not seem to think you need an anti-glare piece that goes across the plexiglass. WE sent it back and Jeremy installed mine. Again pretty nice he was able to do this for me as well as Erik. Well, they offered and I did not say no.

Notice in the above picture the glare guard…you need one if you use this set up especially at night unless you are willing to take it on and off.  WE keep ours on 24/7.  BMW does not have this as part of their guard and you CAN NOT order it from BMW, it does not exist.

I love doing this a second time around. I have done more research, trying to by the best quality out there and at the same time just trying to protect our investment.

Inspecting his own work….

Jeremy – AltRider owner

So, in a nutshell…today proved to me we made the right decision, I made the right decision buying the regular height F800 too. There were plenty of uneven, bad parking decisions today where I found a way to not dump the bike. Just did what I did on the Tiger. Adjust my ass towards the side the bike was going to lean. I know I will dump this bike due to being short….but I like the height.

Jeremy decked my bike in his decals….

OH….and why we like this version of the 800 versus our 650? I just love the top end power to pass those big ass trucks in 5th and 6th gear. The pick up is so much fun…it was just a good day.

Tomorrow morning I am heading down to Vancouver to meet Janice from Slim Signature Seats to see if she can make my seat just right. That will be another post as I am crossing my fingers she can get a little more of me feet down and make a more comfy saddle.

The bike is looking great and I want to thank AltRider for being such gracious hosts!

Author: advgrrl

Avid ADV rider! This Blog is all about the adventure in adventure riding. Researching new bikes, routes, accessories, learning about other riders and hopefully a great place for others to comment and explore with me. PLUS, up and down's, wildlife, my dogs, my life!

11 thoughts on “The new 2013 BMW F800GS = ESA = Very Nice feature!”

  1. You know, I feel you guys made the right decision for yourselves. I honestly love both (Tiger and the BMW 800) for different reasons. It’s all great and we’re so lucky to have the privilege of being able to own these bikes! Life is Good!! Enjoy!! Love how your bike looks too!! Gorgeous!!!

    1. I am very happy that the addition of ESA on the Beemer makes the bike as comfy as the Tiger. Huge plus and yeah makes me feel that much better about buying a BMW again. Also, the fact our luggage could be reused just makes me smile saving that amount of $$. Both are great bikes but where BMW was lacking they have made improvements there and it was street comfort. Now if my seat idea works then I think I will have the best of both worlds.

  2. Interesting to hear your comment on the height. I took a demo ride on a F800GS and it felt so high that I felt that I needed to hop off at every stop but that was after I had only been riding for a while. I should try it again.

    Your bike is looking pretty good!

    1. With the low seat it’s actually not bad with one foot down. When stopped at a light, foot on break my left foot is flat. Both feet never hence why I am getting a serious seat modification done on my Renazco seat. Janice the seat lady will be customizing for real my Renazco seat with a gel pad insert. She is going to make the girth of the seat narrower. I think this will bring my feet down another 1/2 inch and that will be almost perfect. Stay tuned. And I am really having fun on this bike! Love the new street comfort !

  3. Leslie – I have seen and heard nothing but good comments on Alt Rider products. They cost a little more, but I have never minded paying for quality. RE: Seat comfort/seat height – when dialing in the best height, don’t forget to consider the distance between your seat and foot pegs – this also affects the long range comfort factor. I lowered my Wee’s foot pegs 1 and 3/4 inches and it made a world of difference on the ergos and thus, the long range comfort factor. Handle bars up and back far enough also affect overall comfort. Suffice it to say, comfort is a process. -G

    1. Yeah we had the fastway pegs on the 650’s. most likely will get pivot pegs this time around at a later date. My seat is actually being customized and a gel insert put in. If this works even by lowering me 1/2 inch I am golden. With the ESA and new seat this bike will be as comfortable as the Tigers but more nimble and dirt orientated. Very happy with the changes BMW did in the end and with our choice!

  4. I love your bikes, insights, detailed info, and all the great pics!! I just bought my first F800GS, coming from a very top-heavy 1150GS beast. I test rode the 2013 F800GS and fell in love with it, so much fun and so nimble! I decided to go with the new Adventure version of the 800, as I felt that the extra $1500 was well worth it for the extras and love the new look. As a short rider at 5’8″, I’m finding the taller Adventure quite a bit more challenging when at a stand-still but I’m getting used to it, I do the slight shift to the left or right as you mentioned above and the weight distribution makes it easy to manage…even at 500lbs it feels pretty light…and once I get going I love the height and riding position! I’m used to this anyway from the 1150 but it’s so much easier with this lighter bike. I enjoyed reading about your similar experience with the height of this bike. Thanks for providing this website to the riding community and sharing your experiences. Happy riding!

    1. Congrats on buying your new ADV 800! Would love to see some pics? I wonder if the ADV version was available if we would have dug deeper in our wallets for that extra $3000? Everything we do is times 2 of course. Thanks for stopping and commenting…Love hearing about others and their acquisitions. 😉

      Have a great time on your bike and as for the height? All a state of mind. LOL

  5. Hey girls, as I am shopping for a 2014 800GS , not many available yet, I found your postings. Love it!!
    Very helpful, specially since the dealer is trying to talk me out of ESA (they only have one without it.) I almost gave in, but I really wanted the ESA, since I have it on my R1200 GSA. I want to downsize from a 1200GSA to 800GS. since I got this BMW I fell in love with offroad and trail riding… coming from Harleys.
    All that to say that because your post. I will hold my ground and try to be patient and wait for a 800GS that has ESA option!
    Thanks again and I will be looking forward to read more post from you guys!
    PS: What kind of panniers do you have ?? Happy with them?? Have you crash test them yet?? I have the BMW Panniers on my 1200 and I use the top case all the time, but always a nervous rack when I put the side cases, since I can tell that they would not hold well in a drop.
    Take care!!
    David in Nashville

    1. Hi David…glad you will wait for the full deal…it’s worth it so be patient! 😉 We use Jesse panniers Safari’s 8 inch. Jesse no longer makes the 8 inch but makes 9 inch ones. We have dumped our bikes but not crashed. Have had this set since 2010 and H20 proof, touch up scratches with paint pen all good. I like this set up because they are not wider than the bars. We have the top box on all the time for commuting. Neat set up. I think these would hold up as well as any aluminum bags. They are made pretty well and thick enough. Good luck with waiting. You getting the Adventure 800?

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