It’s no secret why Triumph created the 800XC. It is
aimed directly at the BMW F800GS, which came out two
years earlier. The BMW was a hit with the off-road touring
crowd, as well as with those who aspired to be off-road
tourers. Triumph wanted a piece of the action and had a
Unfortunately, the target is moving. The 2014 BMW
F800GS Adventure just hit the showrooms. We took the XC
and the new BMW on a ride to see how they compare,
point for point.
RANGE: BMW wins. The new GS carries 1.3 gallons
more fuel than the Triumph ( 6. 3 versus 5.0), and it gets
more from each gallon. The BMW will go about 75 miles
POWER: Triumph wins. The XC is much faster and much
smoother. The BMW redlines at 8500 rpm, whereas the
Triumph is just taking off on its way to 10,000. On the bottom, the GS has a little more torque.
COMFORT: BMW wins. There’s no doubt that the
Triumph’s three-cylinder motor is almost vibration-free,
whereas the twin-cylinder Rotax mill in the BMW is quite
the shaker. But, the low-frequency rumbling of the BMW
isn’t annoying. Many find it comforting. They both have
excellent seats but BMW has better wind and heat protection. The BMW’s foot controls are slightly nicer.
GEARING: Even match. Both bikes have super-tall sixth
gears for a comfortable cruise on the freeway. Both have
tall first gears. The BMW clutch is a little more solid, while
the Triumph’s shifting is crisper.
WEIGHT: Even match. According to factory specs, the
Triumph is about 25 pounds lighter than the new BMW GS
Adventure, but on the trail, the BMW is a little easier to
Triumph 800XC vs. BMW
manhandle. The Triumph keeps its fuel high in the chassis
and has a taller motor, giving it a more top-heavy feel.
TRACTION: BMW wins. We got both bikes stuck in the
sand, and the BMW was slightly easier to unstick. This has
nothing to do with traction control, which was actually a
hindrance on the GS and had to be disabled. Even on
hardpacked roads, the BMW hooks up slightly better.
GROUND CLEARANCE: BMW wins. It has about an
inch more space below. The BMW motor is also narrower
and should be less susceptible to damage.
SUSPENSION: Triumph wins. The new BMW GS-A has
very sophisticated suspension if you get the ESA option,
but it’s still not quite as solid as the Triumph off-road.
TECHNOLOGY: Even match. The BMW has more electronic wizardry available, but in real-world performance, it
doesn’t tip the scales. The Triumph motor is very sophisticated compared to the somewhat archaic Rotax engine,
but again, it doesn’t make us smile any more or less.
PRICE: Triumph wins. The MSRP is $11,999, whereas
the BMW starts at $13,550. Just for the record, the standard F800GS is $12,090 but has a smaller tank and less
THE VERDICT: It’s a close call. We thought the Triumph
was going to be the better street bike and the BMW would
rule the dirt, but it’s not that simple. Each has encroached
on the other’s domain. With our priorities, we still feel the
BMW is the better adventure bike package, thanks mostly
to its range. But, it should be pointed out that the BMW we
tested is the premium Adventure model, and Triumph
doesn’t have an exact counterpart to that. If the comparison were between the XC and the “standard” GS, the
Triumph would come out the clear winner. ;
Triumph created the 800XC to go after the BMW F800GS. For 2014, however,
BMW upped the ante with the F800GS Adventure.