Starting 25 years ago, BMW did a brave thing: The company known for its legacy air-cooled opposed twins began redefining itself—and reigniting its image—with multiple new engine configurations. These included various single and parallel-twin models, a four-cylinder superbike and a six-cylinder tourer. A parallel success story was the company’s high-profile commitment to the adventure-bike segment, which produced the F800GS. Easily overlooked in a lineup dominated by big, expensive bikes, in many ways the F800GS is the antithesis of the old BMW; it’s quick revving and energetic, thanks to a liquid-cooled parallel twin.
Displacing 798cc, the engine is narrower than the company’s flagship boxers, and thus a more agreeable ADV powerplant right from the get-go. The motor features dual-overhead camshafts, an aggressive 12.0:1 compression ratio, electronic fuel injection, a six-speed gearbox, and chain final drive in lieu of BMW’s trademark shaft drive. Helping the machine do it in the dirt are a 21-inch front wheel (normally found on motocrossers and dual-sports), broadly adjustable suspension, including an inverted fork and a conventional two-sided swingarm.
Likes: Slender steel trellis frame, ample wheel travel (9.1 inches front, 8.5 rear)
Dislikes: Long 62-inch wheelbase and a 478-pound curb weight hamper off-road agility
Verdict: The love child of a BMW's brave engineering and corporate ADV culture