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2013 BMW F800GT Review: Utilitarian Soul + Available Bells & Whistles

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2013 BMW F800GT Review

The 2013 BMW F800GT.

Photo © Basem Wasef

What's New With the 2013 BMW F800GT?

The new 2013 BMW F800GT starts at $11,890 and replaces the outgoing F800ST.

In addition to resculpted bodywork, the latest Beemer claims a power boost from 85 horsepower to 90 hp, a 2-inch longer rear swingarm for added stability, more load carrying capacity due to a slight reduction in spring travel, and lighter wheels for better handling. Ergonomics have also been improved, with .8-inch higher handlebars which now feature double-butted aluminum tubing for greater isolation from vibration. Pegs have been moved .4 inches forward and .4 inches lower. The saddle is now not only wider, but also lower, dropping from 33.1 inches to 31.5 inches.

New instrumentation features re-worked dials and the addition of an onboard computer, which was previously an option. However, that's not to say the options list isn't long: the F800GT can be ordered with the $795 Safety Package (Electronic Adjustable Suspension, Tire Pressure Monitors, Automatic Stability Control-- aka, traction control), the $505 Comfort Package (heated grips, onboard computer, center stand, saddlebag mounts), and $867 lockable saddlebags, to name a few.

The Ride: Jack be Nimble, Jack be Slick

Finished in Radiant Valencia Orange Metallic, my BMW F800GT test bike attracted plenty of attention thanks to its look-at-me color and sleek bodywork. But how did it handle Los Angeles interstates and surface streets?

The 798cc parallel-twin powering the 2013 BMW F800GT isn't particularly charismatic due to its mild, practically agricultural exhaust note (have I mentioned BMW will happily sell you a street-legal Akrapovic silencer for $993?), but accelerate off the line and you'll enjoy crisp acceleration from its progressive powerband, light clutch action, and clean, positive shifts from the six-speed transmission. The addition of a fork brace improves the bike's handling efforts, and despite a curb weight of 470 pounds, the F800GT turns in easily and negotiates corners with ease. Brakes are strong when summoned, though the anti-lock system (which has been improved for '13) kicks in rather early, and can't be defeated.

On longer rides, the F800GT proved comfortable and capable, with its short windscreen diverting airflow to my chest area (I'm 5'11"), just the way I like it. High speed handling revealed a distinct tendency towards stability (thanks in part to a built-in steering damper), and cruising at 65 mph in top gear translated to about 4,000 on the analog tach. Though the electronically adjustable suspension didn't create dramatically different damping (partially due to the fact that it only controls the rear shock), the stiffer settings became apparent over big potholes and lane dividers. Smart money, in my book, goes towards the $505 Comfort Package (primarily for its heated grips), and the $867 saddlebags, which remove easily and hold a total of 14.5 gallons. Incidentally, the right bag is big enough to hold a full-face helmet.

My tester may have started life with a sub-$12,000 starting price, but its generous options list pushed it just past the $14,000 mark-- and that doesn't include the $495 destination charge.

The Bottom Line + Who Should Buy the BMW F800GT?

2013 BMW F800GT Review

The 2013 BMW F800GT in action.

Photo © BMW

Bottom Line

BMW has created a double-edged sword with the F800GT. Impressively, they've held the line on the base price despite numerous improvements, though parts of the bodywork (namely the black engine cover inserts) feel noticeably cheaper than its predecessor. But the other upgrades are real, and very much appreciated, among them improved ergonomics, nimbler handling, greater power, and more standard features.

The F800GT starts at a relatively reasonable $11,890, a price which includes defeatable ABS. But pile on the options-- particularly the long distance-friendly ones like saddlebags and heated grips-- and this sport tourer can approach the mid-teens. BMW's latest achieves notable improvements without affecting its starting MSRP, an impressive achievement when price creep seems like an inevitability among new motorcycles. Too bad those options are so tempting; it may not be as elementally simple and utilitarian as the $7,000 Honda NC700X (this is, after all, still a BMW), but as a relatively new foray into affordable sport touring, the F800GT certainly straddles that delicate line between accessibility and sophistication rather nicely.

Who Should Buy the BMW F800GT?

Sport touring enthusiasts who can appreciate this Beemer's flexible engine, precise handling, improved ergonomics, and available creature comforts.
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