2013 BMW F800GT – First Ride

The name’s almost the same but this middleweight sport-tourer is much better.

I have read so many First Ride reviews but yet to read an in depth on of our 2013 BMW F800GS…so weird how our bike has received so little attention…


April 26, 2013 By
Photographer :  Jonathan Beck2013 BMW F800GT - action #1It’s all in the initials. With the F800ST that BMW has been producing since 2007, the “ST” stands for “sport-touring.” But for 2013, the company rethought and redesigned the ST to provide a little less of the “S” and more of the “T,” then renamed it “GT” for “grand touring.”

If any model sold as poorly as the F800ST has in recent years, most companies would have punted it from the lineup for good. But BMW stuck to its guns, still convinced there is a viable market for a sporty middleweight with long-ride capabilities. “Rider feedback told us they liked the idea of the F800ST,” says Sergio Carvajal, BMW’s Motorcycle Product Manager. “It’s a ‘right-sized’ bike. But they wanted something more comfortable and practical.”

Based on my 200-mile ride over a wide variety of roads as part of the U.S. press launch of the F800GT, BMW seems to have succeeded. The GT is more accommodating than the ST, with revised ergonomics that prop the rider in a more upright, relaxed position. The aluminum frame is unchanged, but the bars are higher, the footpegs are 10mm lower and farther forward, and the seat is about an inch-and-a-half lower (thanks in part to 15mm-shorter suspension at both ends). Plus, a taller windshield and reshaped fairing offer better protection from the elements. Snap on a set of optional hard saddlebags with more total capacity (51 liters) than their predecessors and you have an excellent, easily manageable middleweight for touring, sport or otherwise.

2013 BMW F800GT - static #2

At a claimed 470 pounds (without bags) when its 4.0-gallon gas tank is filled to the brim, the GT is light and lithe, with easy, accurate, predictable steering. In a straight line, it’s rock-steady, thanks in part to a 50mm-longer swingarm. But the GT also slashes through corners with confidence-inspiring ease that makes fast-paced backroad rides more fun and less work. This is no sportbike, to be sure, but it’s more composed than the ST when it comes to spirited cornering.

It’s more comfortable in the process, too, offering a slightly taut but pleasant ride despite its reduced wheel travel. The only standard suspension adjustments are manual preload and rebound damping at the rear, but a simplistic version of the company’s ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) is optional. It allows rear damping to be adjusted on the fly to any of three settings (Comfort, Normal, Sport) with a dual-function button on the left handlebar switchpod; the same switch also toggles the optional ASC traction control on and off. Rear preload remains manually adjustable with a plastic knob.

Among the GT’s numerous other options are two seats: a Comfort version that’s ¾-in. taller than the standard unit and a Low seat that sits about 1¼-in. closer to the tarmac. The bike I rode wore the standard seat, which felt comfy enough, but my time in the saddle was limited to just a few hours.

2013 BMW F800GT with accessories (Valencia Orange) - studio left-side view

Although the counterbalanced, 798cc parallel-Twin’s engine internals remain the same as on the ST, refinements in fuel-injection and ignition mapping allow it to pump out a claimed 90 horsepower, 5 more than before. The engine feels peppier throughout the rpm range, with sharp throttle response, brisk acceleration and good midrange torque for its displacement. But it is a middleweight, after all, so don’t expect it to run with the big dogs if loaded with two large occupants and saddlebags jam-packed for weeks on the road.

BMW also offers a wide range of other options for the F800GT. They include heated grips, a centerstand, an onboard computer, a Garmin GPS, a 28-liter top trunk and even an Akrapovic Sport Silencer. The GT is available in three colors—Valencia Orange Metallic, Dark Graphite Metallic or Light White.

Sticker price for the base F800GT is $11,890, which is the same MSRP asked for the 2012 F800ST. Carvajal says that BMW is not likely to import many—or perhaps any—of the base model, however, but instead will offer the bike in two packages that include certain options for less dough than if those accessories were installed separately. The Standard Package gets the heated grips, centerstand, onboard computer and saddelbag mounts for $12,395. The Premium Package adds ESA, ASC and a tire-pressure monitor for $13,190. That’s a steep buy-in for a middleweight, although the GT is the most well-equipped sport-tourer in its class.

Still, whether BMW’s vision for middleweight grand touring is clearly focused remains to be seen. But if it isn’t, don’t blame the motorcycle. Despite its shift in focus, the F800GT not only is much improved at the T end of the sport-touring spectrum, it’s better at the S than it was before.

2013 BMW F800GT - action #1
2013 BMW F800GT - action #2
2013 BMW F800GT - action #3
2013 BMW F800GT - action #4
2013 BMW F800GT - static #1
2013 BMW F800GT - static #2
2013 BMW F800GT - static #3
2013 BMW F800GT - static #4
2013 BMW F800GT (Dark Graphite) - studio right-side view
2013 BMW F800GT (Dark Graphite) - studio left-side view
2013 BMW F800GT (Light White) - studio right-side view
2013 BMW F800GT (Light White) - studio left-side view
2013 BMW F800GT (Valencia Orange) - studio right-side view
2013 BMW F800GT (Valencia Orange) - studio left-side view
2013 BMW F800GT (Valencia Orange) - studio 3/4 front view
2013 BMW F800GT (Valencia Orange) - studio 3/4 rear view
2013 BMW F800GT with accessories (Valencia Orange) - studio left-side view
2013 BMW F800GT (Valencia Orange) - studio cockpit view

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!

4 thoughts on “2013 BMW F800GT – First Ride”

  1. Ha ha, what a coincidence, just read this test in Cycle world online last night. Kind of in the line of bikes the 1200 RT would be the next step for long range touring, but the lighter weight of this bike makes it hard not to consider. Still lots of kms to put on my F800GS so will be at least a couple years down the road. The long term tests should be done by then.

  2. I believe the main reason for limited reviews is that the F800GS refresh consists of a few new plastic parts with new colours, a new ABS module with updated software to include ASC function, a new electromechanical bit for the ESA shock, and those annoying new indicator switches. Oh, and a slightly less floppy front brake fluid reservoir. Since none of these items significantly alter the riding dynamics, and the ergonomics are identical to models dating back to 2008 (not to mention no one has deep pockets anymore due to the worldwide recession), the magazines/reviewers have little reason to re-test the bike. BMW clearly took the ‘if it ain’t broke’ tactic to the GS update.

    The GT has new ergos with changed seating position/handlebars/footpegs, altered dynamics with the longer swing arm/different front suspension geometry, and a retuned motor. Other than the common parts shared among the entire F-series range (basic engine components, parts of the rear subframe/fuel tank and switchgear) and the main frame used in the non-GS F-series models, it shares little with the previous ST so is in effect a new model.

    I believe BMW will have the same challenge with the F800GS as they had with the new R1200GS – when it comes time for the next generation (rather than a refresh) they will have their work cut out to take arguably the top bike in the middleweight dual sport class and rethink it. But we can rest assured that they will do a good job, if the amazingly good 2013 R1200GS is anything by which to gauge.

    1. I have to disagree about the new F8. Just adding the traction control and ESA would warrant a decent review comparing to the previous model. I see a huge difference in the handling. I did not own the F8 but took a few out as loaners when my 650 was in the shop. Any “new” model needs a review no matter what but in this case I think the revamped F8 has been over shadowed by the release of the new 1200 and I think the ball has been dropped. Just IMHO 😉

      1. Fair enough, and good point on the R1200GS :)—I think it overshadows any model in their range, to be honest, being their top selling bike by a good margin! Your point on the handling is interesting since the ESA optimally adjusts the rebound and I think most of us are hard pressed to find that precise ‘optimal point’ when using the manual adjustment screw on the non-ESA models with the rubbish toolkit screwdriver which is about 15mm too short to do the job without getting chain grease all over the hands!

        When I had the ESA-equipped F700 as a loaner I could feel tangible differences between the settings but of course the bike overall felt different to my own with completely different suspension settings/wheel sizes. On paper, an ESA and non-ESA F800 *should* not feel any different provided the non-ESA is optimally adjusted as discussed above, since the suspension geometry is identical. I suppose this is the result of electronic measurements for the settings compared to measuring by ‘feel’.

        The new fairings look great and really modernise the bike but I have to say I’m a little underwhelmed that they didn’t give it the re-tuned GT engine settings… a few extra hp would have been great, but without comparing a dyno graph there’s no way to see how the changes made to the GT affect low-end torque which is desirable in a dual-sport… I suspect the development that went into the Nuda’s 900cc version of this motor will not have been in vain now that BMW has abandoned Husqvarna, and we might just see this in the replacement for the F800, maybe an F900 with 100hp? With the crank back to 360° for the boxer sound instead of the Nuda’s 270° 🙂

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