Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

2011 BMW F800R First Ride

Monday, December 20, 2010

2011 BMW F800R.
BMW motorcycles finally brings the F800R Streetfighter over to the U.S. for 2011 and we dig what it brings to the class!
German powersports giant, BMW enters the mid-sized Streetfighter market in the U.S. with its 2011 BMW F800R motorcycle. This naked street bike is based around the existing 798cc Parallel Twin platform and is designed to offer motorcyclists more sport-oriented road handling performance. For technical information on this motorcycle check out the BMW F800R First Look. For this review we will focus on our riding impressions. (Ed. Note: a video review will be coming in the future as we log more seat time.)
Slide into the saddle and you notice immediately how low the seat is. In standard configuration it measures 31.5 inches off the pavement. High and low versions are available as a no-charge option which raise or lower height by one full inch. Based on my six-foot-stature, those at or above that height might be interested in the taller seat. Still, there was a reasonable amount of leg room while riding and my legs and my knees did not feel cramped. We were also pleased with how comfortable the seat was even after a 100-plus mile ride.
One of the benefits of the F800R’s liquid-cooled engine comes in the form of packaging. It’s extremely compact and positioned in such a manner that keeps the motorcycle short in terms of length. It also aids how slim it feels between the rider’s legs. Furthermore, the 4.2-gallon fuel tank is located beneath the seat which further contributes to its friendly mass distribution. This makes it an easy motorcycle to command regardless if you’re maneuvering through parking lots or wailing around corners in top gear.
Although it weighs 439 lbs. with a full fuel load it feels far more agile than its curb weight leads you to believe. The motorcycle changes direction with very little effort and is stable at speed over bumps or rough pavement. The suspension does a marvelous job of soaking up pot holes and pavement irregularities in the city without comprising sporting ability on curvy roads. Equally as pleasing was braking performance though we would prefer if the optional-ABS system ($900 on its own but it is also included in the $1445 premium package) could be deactivated by the rider.
Below 70 mph the F800R delivers an exceptionally smooth and vibration-free ride.
The BMW F800R is a very high quality motorcycle.
Handling is one of the F800Rs best attributes.
Below 70 mph the F800R delivers a smooth and vibration-free ride. Meanwhile, light and agile handling is one of the F800R’s best attributes. We like these headlights too.

On the road the rider is positioned in an upright riding stance. The aluminum handlebar features a distinct bend with a high amount of rearward sweep at both bar ends. This does two things: first it allows the rider to keep a majority of his or her weight toward the front of the bike without feeling like you’re hunkered down in an aggressive race tuck. Secondly it allows the rider a high degree of leverage when steering which benefits a wide range of skill levels.
Switch gear functionality is similar to other name brand bikes with the left and right direction indicators now combined into one toggle on the left-hand side of the bar. The engine starter and kill switch has also become a single rocker-style switch on the right handlebar.
Instrumentation is comprised of BMW’s traditional stacked tachometer and speedometer that is flanked by a rectangular LCD display which provides a fuel gauge, gear position, trip and odometer functions. It also offers the ability to cycle through the optional Tire Pressure Monitor ($250) function and Heated Hand Grip ($250 or included in the premium package) mode selection. Additional features like a stop watch are included with the on board computer function ($295). For the most part it is fairly easy to read though we would prefer a digital tachometer as opposed to the analog setup as it is hard to read when riding at speed.
Right off idle it is apparent just how smooth and vibration-free the engine is. The engine sounds similar to the low frequency hum produced by the 1200 Boxer-style engine. This can be credited to the even cylinder firing order in which one of the two pistons fires each time the crankshaft makes a full rotation. Compared to the roar of an Inline Four or rumble of a V-Twin engine the Parallel Twin sounds subdued.
But don’t let its passive demeanor fool you. The powerplant generates a robust amount of thrust at low-to-mid rpm which makes it feel quicker than other bikes in its class including the Monster 796 and Shiver 750. Yet because its power is produced so smooth, it doesn’t catch the rider off guard making it a versatile engine for both new and experienced riders alike. Fueling is also calibrated to near perfection which aids in the instant acceleration. Response from the cable-actuated wet-style clutch is also good which makes it easy to identify the engagement/disengagement point when launching from a stop. The transmission meshes between each of its six gears without issue as well.
At speeds less than 70 mph the BMW delivers an exceptionally smooth ride. Above that threshold vibrations leak through the control surfaces and distort the view from the mirrors. At speeds over 100 mph it makes it difficult to keep an eye on what’s happening behind you and renders the mirrors useless. Granted, most riders won’t be cruising at this speed, but it could still be better.
Focus your eyes on the Beemer and its impossible not to draw an opinion on its styling. While it doesn’t have the lustful silhouette of Italian machinery or the slanted contour of bikes from the Far East, its appearance has an industrial appeal in the same vein as Hummer’s rugged military vehicle. The F800R looks like a purpose-built tool. We’re drawn especially to the non-symmetrical headlights, skinny black frame rails and blacked-out multi-spoke wheels, not to mention the engine and chassis parts. It is available in four colors, our favorite being the Alpine White / Lupine Blue Metallic / Magma Red (BMW motorsports) colorway.
The BMW F800R is very well made motorcycle and is a much better value than other bikes in its class.
The 2011 BMW F800R is very well made motorcycle and is a much better value than other bikes in its class.

Carrying a base price of $9950, the BMW is an excellent value. The build quality and overall fit and finish is at a much higher level than other motorcycles in this price range plus it looks refreshingly different as well. Perhaps even more important is how rider-friendly it is to operate due to its peppy engine performance and agile handling characteristics. Riders seeking the premium riding experience will also be interested in the various options FROM bmw including the $1445 premium package which adds ABS brakes, heated grips and on board computer. Bikes will begin rolling into U.S. dealerships January 2011.
2011 BMW F800R First Ride Photos
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
Recent Street Bike Reviews
2015 SYM T2 250i Comparison
The SYM T2 250i is a bit out of place among the sportbikes of this test, but it's MSRP makes it an alluring option for entry-level riders. Will it's performance warrant the money saved?
2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Track Ride
The Beast gets nastier… KTM provides a race-prepped version of its 1290 Super Duke R for some track time.
2015 Middleweight Sport Twins Shootout
Ducati’s Monster 821, Suzuki’s SFV650 and Yamaha’s FZ-07 battle it out for top honors in our Middleweight Sport Twins Shootout.
2011 BMW F800R Specs
BMW motorcycles finally brings the F800R Streetfighter over to the U.S. for 2011.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 798cc Parallel Twin, 8-valves Bore and Stroke: 82.0 x 75.6mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate; Cable actuation Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain
Frame: Aluminum
Front Suspension: 43mm fork non-adjustable; 4.9 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Hydraulic shock absorber; 2-way adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 4.9 in. travel
Front Brakes: 320mm discs with four-piston Brembo calipers
Rear Brake: 265mm disc with single-piston caliper
Tires: 120/70R17, 180/55R17
Curb Weight: 439 lbs.
Wheelbase: 59.8 in.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gallon
MSRP: $9950 Base; Premium Package $11,395; $495 Desination Charge
Colors: Alpine White / Black Silk Shining; Shine Yellow Metallic / Black Silk Shining; Granite Grey Metallic / Black Silk Shining; Alpine White / Lupine Blue Metallic / Magma Red
Warranty: 36-month / 36,000 miles
Street Bike Dealer Locator

Login or sign up to comment.

NumberSix   February 18, 2011 07:03 PM
Freeway speeds are 100+? OK, well, in that case, you shouldn't have too much time to check mirrors when blowing by 75mph cage traffic. Mount that radar detector facing rearward :p

I live the BMW's looks. It neither looks anime-styled Japanese nor wild-eyed Italian. It looks mechanical, "purpose-built" to quote the review, Teutonic; efficient and stark.

That having been said, I also like the Italian bikes for their style AND the Japanese style; I wouldn't want them all to blend into a bland amalgam. Save that for the sedate sedans.
sushinav -cruising at...  January 28, 2011 01:13 PM
"Granted, most riders won’t be cruising at this speed" you mean everywhere but California. If this bike can't be tolerated at Freeway speeds, it's useless. And isn't that part of the appeal of BMWs to BMW riders?

todd -in addition to \l/  January 19, 2011 08:29 AM
I forgot to add that the only thing holding me back from buying bmw is the reliability. I might as well say that if ktm made a 750 adventure 40lbs lighter, this would all be a moot point.
todd -why complain  January 19, 2011 08:21 AM
Some people like 7/800cc size bikes, some like rockets. I dont like 900+cc bikes. They are way to touchy for me. Some people like me, like a bike that is easy to ride. Easy to ride fast, looks not like every other bike and has a good riding position. I'm sure that to manufacture an 800cc bike does'nt cost much less that making a 1000cc bike given similar models. Example: Dr 200 vs Klr 650. I dont know about all the nay sayers, but if I like a bike or anything for that matter, if I can afford it and want it, I will get it. All that and I was still able to write that some people like me, (save) inadvertently.
Keith -BMW F800R  January 15, 2011 08:45 AM
Does this model also not come w/ 3-36k warranty? I believe that's better than the others too.
Keith -Naked Middleweight comparo!!  January 15, 2011 08:44 AM
Can't wait for the head to head.. i've not owned a bike in 20 years and am re-entering the market (had an 85' GS550E from 87-89 and did 14k miles on it.) Would love if this model had kept the single side swingarm. Bring on the m796, aprilia shiver, fz8, street triple, etal review.
kyle -F800R  January 3, 2011 02:04 PM
Adam, I can't believe you call this an "excellent value." For $10,000 this naked bike should have at least 100 HP, fully adjustable inverted forks & radial mount brakes. This bike has none of that. The Z1000 is an excellent value IMO.
Gunther -proper little middleweight  January 3, 2011 05:58 AM
Bit sad thta so many people on here only look at spec sheets and say it's a crap bike. BMW did a good job on this bike, good mileage, decent power low down, good ergonomics and looks that actually have character. Tje japs may be good but they all look alike in the same segment. To each his own but have a ride on it first before dismissing it on a spec sheet. Or just get a hayabusa and not comment on this :)
Jay -President of the US  December 29, 2010 01:27 PM
How does the power and handling compare with a Bonneville, for example, which is about the same size?
AM -@ ZIPPY  December 28, 2010 05:03 PM
Sure you can buy a H-D Sportster. But what are you going to do with it? Try to follow your buddys on a F800R? Surely not. You are not trying to say that the Sportster is in the same level as the F800R, are you? Goofy looking thing??? So tell us about the style of the Sportster and it's nice features, like, technology, scooter like performance, handling, brakes, oil leaks, headakes, shaking, quality, etc....

Rider Envy -Asian envy?  December 28, 2010 03:13 PM
Maybe one should ride the 800 motor and see what it's like before complaining about its so called "down on power". Sure you can buy Asian and have all that power between 10,000 and 15,000 RPM. Talk about worthless HP for day in and day out riding. The 800 motor is sweet AND usable. Go ride one. You actually can do that BEFORE you buy one, unlike almost all Asian bike dealers that require their money up front.
andy -Not even like BMW...  December 27, 2010 11:29 AM
....but have to admit the same as the previous reader said....that one nice bike!!
Jon -Love it.  December 27, 2010 10:13 AM
I think this is one of the best looking bikes I have ever seen. Love the motor; reminiscent of an RD350LC. This is what a german-designed motorbike should look like: stark, cohesive, minimalist yet practical. Perfect engine size and power, raw but refined looking and completely manageable for any rider. It's all I need and I'm getting one as soon as they arrive. In white. Drool!
Zippy -$10k for this goofy looking thing  December 25, 2010 08:05 PM
You can get a Sportster for that much.
Morvegil -I like it  December 24, 2010 10:22 AM
Looks like a MANS bike.
jonoabq -review by omission  December 23, 2010 04:28 PM
Every time I see "brisk" and "powerplant" in the discussion of speed/handling while failing to mention HP figures I almost stop reading. High cost, down on power, just another whitewash of a ho-hum bike to please the manufacturer.
Randy -Hackeye?  December 23, 2010 07:11 AM
"You are angular and beautiful..."
Dani -Nice addition to the selection  December 22, 2010 03:07 PM
Nice report. To reply to some of the comments made it is a different bike from the street triple and others. The FZ8 is the nearest competitor in the US and the BMW will trounce it for usability (much higher torque in the useful range and much better fuel economy). The chain is a bonus - I rented an F800ST in Europe for 2500 km in 10 days and found the gearing way too low (3000 rpm at 62 mph) for a bike. You can't adjust the belt - you can the chain. This bike is reportedly most comfortable for both rider and pillon. It's demographics will be different than the street triple. I am happy to have this option in the US and frankly wished more bikes would come with ABS and heated grips - both useful during the winter for us true riders.
Drunkula -Not bad  December 22, 2010 10:07 AM
It's a little funky looking but I like it. ;-)
adam - motousa -nice bike  December 21, 2010 11:31 PM
what up guys unfortunately this failed to come across in my review but this f800r is a pretty nice bike and i'd rather have it then the ducati monster 796 or aprilia shiver 750. compared against the z1000 i'd take the kawasaki i can't lie...adam
MikeD -No Thanks.  December 21, 2010 05:31 PM
Nothing for Japan Inc. to worry about, overpriced as usual and lacking like most of us have already mentioned. And why a Chain ? It's NOT a TRACK BIKE...why a dirty ATTENTION NEEDY chain ? Why not the Belt System from the F800S & F800ST ? Go figure.
wildpig -mr wildpig to you  December 21, 2010 05:13 PM
its a BMW of course it's over priced and marginal perforemance--wanna talk re-sale value? re-sale is far less than a japanese bike... bmw is only an uber performer in the minds of -- bmw. as a bmw owner ---i'll pass on buyin another......
Chris -On looks...  December 21, 2010 03:45 PM
A bike only a mother could love. Woof.
Brandon -Rip off  December 21, 2010 03:06 PM
Compared to the new Yamaha FZ8, this F800R seems overpriced. What do you get from the BMW for the additional $1,500 over the Yamaha? Or you can buy the new Kawasaki Z1000 for only $600 more and it will destroy the BMW in every performance category.
Bill Fabian -Human  December 21, 2010 02:36 PM
I would like to hear more about the handling. I see that there is some adjustment in the rear shock and none for the forks. For a $10,000 naked, the ability to set-up the suspension isn't an option, it's a necessity.
Gritboy -Sweet! Another naked enters the fray  December 21, 2010 02:34 PM
Looking forward to seeing how this compares with Street Triple, Monster 796 and Shiver 750, FZ8, etc. in a side-to-side, but it looks slick.
mcguire -sewer rat  December 21, 2010 02:40 AM
How about a comparason between this and the new Norton?
Michael Cyprus -2011 BMW F800R NO Thanks  December 21, 2010 01:31 AM
Though BMW put a strong effort to make a good bike, they are behind the Japanese manufactures.
First and most is BMW problematic products in general. See JD Power customer satisfaction. Also see the numerous BMW recall also see how many motorbikes fell off the production line after 2 years.
But they are very expert in promoting their products as the most advance and luxurious in the market. Of course they are not and this is the story for this bike as well.
If I want a quality product then I will look for a Lexus, Infinity, Acura, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha Super Tenere
Nick -PLEASE  December 20, 2010 10:42 PM
Please give that bike to Denny Berg. If he can't fix its looks, they can't be fixed at all.

Maybe it's a terrific bike, but there is no way I'm spending my money on something that looks like that.