BMW F 850 GS Adventure Review – The Friendly Mammoth

The BMW F 850 GS Adventure is one of the largest middleweight adventure motorcycles one can buy. We spent an exciting day with this motorcycle to bring you a detailed review

Story: Azaman Chothia
Photography: Apurva Ambep

Having spent quality time with the F 850 GS in Kerala, we now explore life with the Adventure variant. This updated BMW F 850 GS Adventure is now available in the Pro trim, meaning all of the additional features are available as part of the standard package. The design and styling are identical to the F 850 GS’ and it also takes inspiration from the mighty R 1250 GS. The only difference is that the Adventure variant gets a large 23-litre fuel tank that gives this motorcycle its massive proportions and stance. Apart from that, this model also sports a set of fog lamps, crash protection all around, a main stand, keyless ignition, Pro riding modes, cruise control, heated grips, and much more. For this review, we had the motorcycle in the Triple Black colour scheme that looks really cool and managed to grab eyeballs everywhere it went. Overall, the build quality and fit and finish are premium as you would expect from a BMW. The TFT dash has a lot of information on display and the switchgear is easy to use once you get used to it.

As soon as I got astride, I quite liked the commanding and comfortable riding position. A rider sits high up over the wide handlebar and the seat makes the ride really plush. Given my short stature of 5.7 feet, the 875-millimetre seat is really high, but like many ADVs, there is an option to get it lower with a different seat option. The 248-kilogram kerb weight of this motorcycle does make it extremely heavy and even getting it on the main stand was almost impossible for me. That said, all this weight disappears as soon as the motorcycle gets going; it feels so stable and perfectly balanced. That is what makes the GS so special in my books. Its larger sibling, the R 1250 GS, is known to be one of the best-balanced motorcycles and those capabilities have been carried over to this one as well. With the comfort that it offers, I never felt tired or strained any part of my body, which goes to show that this will be brilliant for travelling for really long distances.

The 853-cc twin-cylinder motor powering this motorcycle produces 95 hp at 8,250 rpm and 92 Nm of peak torque at 6,250 rpm. It is mated to a six-speed gearbox and now also gets a bi-directional quickshifter, which had to be purchased separately earlier. There are four riding modes—Road, Rain, Dynamic, and Enduro—and the bike also gets electronic aids like traction control (DTC), engine-brake control (MSR), and cornering ABS. As soon as the clutch is released, you can feel a burst of torque right from the low-end rpm range and the crisp throttle response gives the rider a very nice feel. This motor packs a good punch with its strong mid-range which makes it very engaging to use. It can easily cruise at speeds of over 120 km/h and when the opportunity presented itself, I was able to cross the 180-km/h mark with ease. This bike should easily be able to do over 200 km/h and it feels really confidence-inspiring even at high speed. It is also very tractable and could handle doing around 70 km/h in fifth gear with no misbehaviour from the engine. From that speed, all that is needed is a twist of the throttle as it begins to quickly gain momentum and build up speed. Within city traffic, the bike does tend to run really hot and you can feel your legs getting baked, but once you are out on the highway, it becomes manageable. Enhancing the ride quality on the highway is the windscreen that is easily adjustable on the go. Apart from properly protecting a rider from wind-blast, I appreciated this unit as it is well built and does not rattle or vibrate even at high speed.

The lower gears are shorter, which makes the bike really good through off-road trails as well. A little force is needed to upshift while using the bi-directional quickshifter, but the downshifts are really slick. You might think that this massive 248-kg motorcycle is meant for calm long-distance touring, but slot the bike into the Enduro mode where you can disable traction control and ABS at the rear, allowing all manner of hooliganism on and off the road. The front wheel is ready to come up when you really ask it and locking up the rear to pull off big slides off-road makes the ride highly engaging. Even though I was intimidated by the size of this thing and how tall the saddle was, it was one of the most stable and confidence-inspiring bikes I have ridden off-road.

The suspension set-up comprises 43-mm USD forks at the front with 230 mm of travel and an electronically controlled rear monoshock that offers 215 mm of travel. With this set-up, the bike soaks up everything that our roads throw at it very easily. The ride quality on the highway is plush and even sudden undulations that arise while travelling at higher speeds are absorbed without any problem. Completing the do-it-all nature of the bike is how it blasts through a set of corners. It’s surprising that such a large and heavy motorcycle can be flicked around with such poise and give you the confidence to lean lower while providing superb stability. You literally become one with the F 850 GS Adventure as it responds so well to any input.

Stopping power comes from twin 305-mm disc brakes at the front and a single 265-mm disc at the rear. These brakes are adequate to get the bike to a stop and were helpful in keeping me safe throughout the day. The 21-inch front wheel and the 17-inch rear spoked wheels are wrapped in Michelin Anakee rubber. These dual-purpose tyres provided good levels of grip in the city, on the highway, through twisty sections, and short off-road stints as well.

What has made this motorcycle a superb proposition is the price it is being offered at. For Rs 13.25 lakh (ex-showroom), this is a complete package at a competitive price point. It will go up against the likes of the Ducati Multistrada 950 and the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro, both of which are priced higher. With all this additional equipment, a really raw and engaging motor, and the do-it-all nature of the motorcycle, it proves to be a great deal. I would personally pick the standard F 850 GS only because it is slightly lighter and more manoeuvrable through narrow city roads and in stop-go traffic. For the riders who will be regularly heading out on long-distance tours, this F 850 GS Adventure ticks all the boxes and is one of the friendliest mammoths you will come across.

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