are spread out, and it responds well to body English. A
little advice here: On the 800, the farther you lean forward, the more natural it feels. In turns, you grip the new
shrouds with your knees, stick your head way in front of
the windscreen, and things flow together well. In Enduro
Ride Mode, the suspension is altered subtly for the dirt;
it doesn’t change preload (as with the new 1200), but the
bike handles G-outs better. On the standard 800, the suspension is one of its biggest assets, and that holds true
for the A model too.
Another strong point for the 800 is the motor. It has a
long, featureless powerband that’s always there, always
ready. The Rotax makes itself useful by being somewhat
invisible. There’s power on the bottom, power on the top
and power everywhere in between, so you don’t think
about shifting or revving. Oddly enough, this aspect of
the 800’s personality isn’t as important as it once was.
In 2009, there wasn’t much of a gap between the performance of the 800 and that of the 1200, but since then, the
liquid-cooled 1200 has lost weight and gained power. The
800 A, on the other hand, had no change in power and
gained 20 pounds, so now the 800 doesn’t look as attractive as its big brother.
All BMWs come standard with antilock braking. That’s
become a big sales feature in the adventure bike realm,
but it’s of no real use off-road. BMW understands, so the
antilock effect is diminished when you push the button
for Enduro Mode. The small amount of ABS that remains
is no problem in the dirt, but you still can’t use the rear
The pannier mounts are standard on the F800GS A and double
as crash bars.
brake for steering, as more aggressive riders often do.
You can completely disable ABS, but it takes a little more
effort, and the action must be repeated every time you
start the motor. The same is true for traction control.
This is a feature that tones down motor output when the
rear wheel starts spinning. In sand and silt, it must be
deactivated or the bike will just stop in its tracks. For fast
off-road riding, the modified traction control provided in
If you want range, the 800 A is for you. The new
fuel cell is good for over 300 miles.