If the BMW F 850 GS was an amazing motorcycle, then the new F 850 GS Adventure is a phenomenon. With more off-road capability and better features, this is the bike that you are going to want to cross continents with.
A few months ago, we were lucky enough to get our hands on the BMW F 850 GS and ride it to the lower hills of the Himalayas. If you read that story or watched our video, then you would know that I strongly believe the 850 GS is one of the most amazing motorcycles on the planet. And yes, it also won our autoX Best of 2018 award.
When Indian pro racer Sarath Kumar rode it on the track for us, it clocked a very impressive lap time around the Buddh Circuit. That is more than enough proof to show that the 850 GS is a terrific road-going machine. Its handling capabilities are out of this world, and its wonderful 853cc twin engine has just the right amount of power for you to have a jolly good time with it.
So, what is the F 850 GS Adventure then? Well, the standard 850 GS was flawless on the road but, it wasn’t really a proper off-road machine. Sure, you could hit some nice trails with it and go long distance touring but, if you wanted to take it off-road and throw it around in the rough stuff it needed some improvement.
How’s it better?
The 850 GS Adventure gets a few design tweaks to make it better. The fuel tank has been made larger and so has the radiator cowling so it's much wider now and can go the distance when you want it to. The engine is the same but, power is pumped up to 95bhp, while torque remains the same at 92Nm. It gets 43mm up-side down forks that now have more travel at 230mm and the rear gets more breathing room as well at 215mm. The front tyre is a larger 21-inch on spokes, and that obviously will aid in off-road handling and steering. The seat height has also been lowered but, you can always adjust the seat height in the accessories package. There is also the Rider Pro package that you can opt for and that increases the number of riding modes you can choose from, and the Enduro Pro mode is what makes all the difference here.
How does it perform?
There are no significant changes to the way the bike handles on the tarmac. Despite having the larger front tyre and a much wider body, and a little more weight thanks the engine crash bars and luggage rack, the 850 GS Adventure is still a tarmac hungry machine that is exciting and fun to ride around and tour on. It’s incredibly comfortable and the engine is smooth and powerful.
The difference is certainly felt when you decide to head off-road though, and I got to ride this machine on some obstacles set up at the BMW Motorrad GS Experience in Pune. The GS Experience is a wonderful event organized for GS owners so that they can learn the skills necessary to handle these big and powerful machines.
I kept the 850 GS Adventure in Enduro Pro mode and this disables the ABS and controls the throttle so that it doesn’t kick the power in right away, which allows you to have more controlled traction. Standing up on the bike is now much more enjoyable thanks to the adjustable handlebars and levers, which makes a world of a difference when you want to ride off-road. The foot-pegs are also enduro pegs and you get a much better grip for your feet. With the improved travel suspension, the bike feels much better as well, and even though the rear is a bit stiffer, to compensate for the added weight of the bike, it still does its job of making the bike stable and offers a great feel of the rear tyre. The larger and narrow front tyre also makes steering in the rough stuff really nice, and I also like the fact that the bike gets a steering damper so your hands don’t get tossed around on bumpy surfaces. Even the standard 850 GS gets that.
We rode mostly on very loose mud and dirt, and the bike felt stable throughout our ride. I also managed to learn some important riding skills thanks to the exercises we practised with the help of the BMW instructors. We learnt about our footwork, controlling our body weight and our field of vision. It was a wonderful experience and I definitely came out of it a better rider.
What’s the deal?
The new F 850 GS Adventure is priced at Rs.15.4 lakh (Ex-showroom Delhi) and that’s pretty steep for a mid-segment ADV, but there is nothing that comes close to this in terms of quality, performance and capability. Its closest competitor is the Tiger 800 XCa, and while that bike is priced almost the same and gets the same features, the engine isn’t as torquey. The 850 GS Adventure also seems to be a much better package since its on-road capabilities are a little better and it’s better suited for long distance riding. There is a reason why the GS models are the best-selling adventure bikes in the world, and that’s because they are built to cross-continents and take on anything that comes in their path. The new F 850 GS Adventure is, in my books, the best mid-segment adventure tourer available in India, and it’s perhaps even better than many bikes that lie in segments above it.