2006 BMW F800 S
Hot on the heels of the sportiest Boxer ever - the R1200 S - comes a new sports middleweight machine that's designed to offer serious fun to just about anyone, from commuters, to tourers and even those starting out in biking. Welcome to the new F800 series.
Having launched leading contenders in the superbike, enduro, touring and sports touring categories, BMW Motorrad has turned its attention to the sports bike middleweight class. The F800 breaks with BMW tradition in a big way, with a powerful, torque-rich 798cc parallel-twin engine (the first in BMW's history), a sophisticated new suspension system and maintenance-free belt drive. At 182 kg dry, it's also one of the lightest BMWs ever.
Previously BMW had one major gap in its range. There was a huge hike between the single-cylinder F650 bikes and the 1200cc Boxers and four-cylinder motorcycles. Well now that gap has been filled with the new F800 S and ST models.
The 798cc inline twin-cylinder machine will be available in two versions - the sporty half-faired F800 S (£5,995) and the sports touring orientated F800 ST (£6,495) - both of which will provide a thrilling ride for novice riders and experienced bikers.
At the heart of these machines is an all-new 800cc twin-cylinder engine that produces an impressive 85 hp and a punchy 86 Nm of torque, which is a perfect combination because the rider is able to surf the torque curve rather than constantly needing to change up and down the gearbox. This is just one of many factors that will endear the F800 series to all types of rider.
The 800's engine is used as a load-bearing part of the chassis and incorporates Formula 1 technology. The main area of the engine to benefit from BMW's involvement in F1 is the valves, which have been designed to be very strong at high speed, meaning there is less wear, a smoother torque curve and better fuel economy. In fact the 800cc engine is so economical that both bikes have a potential range of 200 miles from only a 16-litre fuel tank, which is where it can steal another march (and save owners money) over its rivals.
The chassis is as impressive as the engine. Attached to the rear of the aluminium frame is a single-sided swing arm while the front end uses conventional telescopic forks in place of the Telelever suspension usually fitted to BMWs. This all means a lighter, more straightforward chassis design that will naturally appeal to those riders brought up (and possibly fed up) with Japanese machinery, who are looking for a change of motorcycle in 2006. The aim of producing a light responsive chassis has worked well, as the F800 S only weighs 182 kg dry (187 kg for the ST version.)
To make the F800 S ownership as easy as the rest of the BMW range (while keeping weight to a minimum) the designers have fitted a belt-drive system. This system is far more practical as it doesn't need the same constant lubrication and adjustment as the chain drives found on most modern bikes. It's also lighter than the shaft-drive BMW generally favours.
At first glance the most obvious difference between the two models is the addition of a lower fairing on the ST for better aerodynamics and more wind protection but there's a lot more to it than this. The F800 S's handlebars are set lower to offer the rider a more sporty position while on the ST, the rider sits more upright, which provides a better posture for long-distance travel as well as benefiting from a higher screen for additional protection from the elements.
While both models are based around the same engine unit, BMW has taken care to clearly differentiate each model designation. The colour schemes differ greatly with the F800 S being available in either red or yellow and the ST in blue or grey. The S version also uses wheels styled to mimic those found on the awesome K1200 S, while the F800 ST's rims share the look of the larger R1200 ST's. ABS is optional on both models, unlike many competitor bikes, for only £500.
A competitive BMW Finance and Insurance package will be available on the two new F800 models. And in 2006, BMW Motorrad will offer Rider Training Direct Access courses so that people without a motorcycle licence and over 21 can obtain their full licence and be qualified to ride the new F800 range. Whichever model they decide upon, F800 owners are in for some serious fun in 2006. The F800 S and ST are confident entries to the middleweight category and will surely raise the stakes in this important class by offering everything that their competitors do but with the addition of BMW quality, reliability and ingenuity. We challenge anyone thinking of trying BMW's newest F Series to let the ride decide.
The new BMW F800 S is available in two colour options, Flame Red and Sunset Yellow, and will retail from £5,995 on the road when launched across the BMW Motorrad UK dealer network in March.
Factory fit options;
Heated Grips - £195.00
ABS - £500.00
On-Board Computer - £130.00
White Indicator Lenses - £25.00
Anti-Theft Alarm System - £130.00
Power Reduction (34 PS) - No Cost
Riders Low Seat (790mm) - No Cost
* Prices current as of 1 January 2006.