What’s in a letter? That’s the challenge BMW set out to tackle. The BMW F 800 ST carried the company’s middleweight sport touring flag for six years, but after listening to ST owners—and wannabe ST owners who felt something was preventing them from pulling the trigger—BMW decided the bike needed more gran turismo (i.e., touring elements). Thus, by moving the focus of the F 800 ST more toward the touring end of the spectrum without compromising its sporting performance, the BMW F 800 GT was born.
BMW’s designers ditched the ST’s fairing in favor of updated, more stylish bodywork. While the GT’s lines show a family resemblance to the ST, the attitude of the new model is more aggressive and refined.
The grips on the F 800 GT are 0.8 inch higher, allowing for a more relaxed riding position. Longer days in the saddle are more comfortable thanks topegs that are 0.4 inch lower and more forward, while the wider seat offers more wiggle room during those tank-draining stints.
The rider-friendly ergonomics of the F 800 GT are especially accommodating to shorter and smaller riders, as demonstrated by this female rider’s relaxed body position.
Seat height on the F 800 GT has been dropped to 30.1 inches, as compared to 31.5 inches on the ST, without altering the suspension.Higher and lower seat optionsavailable as aftermarket equipmentmake this bike a good fit for a variety of body types. The first drops the seat a half inch lower to 31 inches, while the other, called the “extra low seat,” drops the seat almost an inch and a half to an accessible 30.1 inches. Each of these low seat options is priced at $351.95.
For riders who feel the stock seat height is too cramped, BMW offers a “comfort seat” option that raises the seat height to 32.3 inches, as well as a “high comfort seat” option that brings the seat height to a full 33 inches. Each of those is price at $463.95, and all aftermarket seats mentioned in this article can be purchased from a BMW dealer.
TheF 800 GTsload-carrying capacity increased by 24 pounds, making it possible to transport 456 pounds of large-sized humans (think rider and passenger) and their gear. Correspondingly, the rear subframe was beefed up, and the passenger footpeg mounts were revised.
Saddlebags are optional on the F 800 GT, so those who want them should add an additional $413 per bag to the motorcycle’s retail price, plus the cost of the mountings and fasteners needed for installation. Factory aftermarket locks are available for about $40.
The optional saddlebags were redesigned to bump their total capacity to 55 liters (approximately 28 liters on the right and 27 liters on left). Each is rated for 22 pounds. The new internal shelf holds gear in place, making it easier to close the case when fully loaded. Stainless steel pins lock the bags securely in place while making it easy to mount and remove them on the road. BMW claims the right bag can hold a helmet, but not all full-face helmets will fit—particularly if you have a large noggin. Also available are a 14-liter tank bag and a 28-liter factory accessory top case, which mounts to the luggage rack.
TheF 800 GTs engine is mechanically the same as those on the F 800 R, GS, and ST. The water-cooled vertical twin achieves its 798cc displacement from the 82 mm x 75.6 mm cylinders. The four valves per cylinder are activated by DOHC and breathe into a 2-into-1 exhaust. The 46 mm throttle bodies are controlled by a closed loop EFI. A nifty tidbit about the injection system is that the variable pressure fuel pump delivers more accurate fuel metering without necessitating a fuel return system. The compression ratio is a beefy 12.0:1, requiring premium unleaded gas. If the exhaust canister looks familiar, it should, as it was sourced from the R model. All of these small changes add up to a claimed 5 hp increase, to 90 hp.
The power delivery is linear, peaking at 8,000 rpm. Because theF 800 GTshifts smoothly, stirring the gearbox on winding roads makes for an exciting ride that is complemented by the exhaust’s growl and the intake honk emanating from the opening in the bodywork around the steering head.
Despite a balancer, the solid mounted engine does transfer vibration to the rider. Although it is noticeable at sporting engine speeds in the canyons, the vibration doesn’t become an issue until you spend time on the freeway. The grips and pegs are smooth up to 70 mph. After that, the vibration builds with the rpms. At 80 mph, the vibration in the bar becomes obtrusive, although the pegs tingle only slightly.
With one major exception, the chassis remained unchanged in the upgrade to the GT. The single-sided aluminum swingarm was lengthened by 2 inches for increased comfort and stability. Also, the rear suspension travel was reduced by 0.6 inches for a tighter, less “wallowy” handling ride (this contributed to the drop in seat height).
The shock uses an updated preload adjustment knob accessed through a space in the right side of the frame. The front suspension is nonadjustable, while the rear features preload and rebound adjustments. However, in a claimed first for a middleweight motorcycle, BMW is offering electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) as a factory option, giving the rider a choice of three damping modes with the push of the left thumb.
Comfort mode softens the ride and can truly be appreciated on extended freeway jaunts. Normal mode offers the best compromise between bump absorption and sportiness. Sport mode firms the shock up for sharper handling. In practical use, normal mode is effective for most riding situations, with comfort mode providing a more floaty ride and a more relaxing experience on extended super slab stints. When the road gets twisty, sport mode delivers a tauter ride that can be appreciated on smooth pavement. When the tarmac turns rough or undulating, the ride becomes somewhat frantic in sport mode, so normal shock settings proved to be more appropriate.
The aluminum bridge frame (a carryover from the ST) saves weight. The GT’s steering is quick, thanks no doubt to the lighter aluminum wheels. Locating the 4-gallon fuel tank under the seat behind the engine clears space for the airbox above the engine and centralizes the mass, keeping the bike from feeling top heavy. Weight savings also comes from the newABS components, which are lighter and more compact than in previous iterations of the system. The front brake features a pressure sensor to prevent early triggering of the system over rough pavement.
When the ABS is triggered upfront, the lever pulses lightly. During ham-fisted stops, the front tire occasionally chirps before the system engages. This should give new riders the confidence to learn how powerful the front brakes really are. Out back, the pedal pulses more noticeably and the system activation can be heard quite clearly.
In addition to the new speedometer and tachometer faces, the onboard computer display features bar graphs for fuel and engine temperature. When paired with the optional computer, the readout also displays the gear, ambient temperature, tire pressure, stopwatch, fuel economy, and status of other systems (such as the ESA mode). The optional heated grips display their setting so that you know whether they are set to simmer or sear.
To manage the plethora of options available for the F 800 GT, BMW has created different packages by grouping the more popular combinations together and offering them at a discount over purchasing them a la carte. The base F 800 GT model is $11,890, which is also the price of the ST. Don’t expect to find any base models on the showroom floor, however. Instead, you have to order one from the factory and wait a couple months for delivery.
The Standard Package adds a centerstand, two-level heated grips, an onboard computer, and saddlebag mounts for a retail price of $12,395. The Premium Package adds ESA, ASC, and a tire pressure monitor, bringing the total to $13,190. Don’t forget that saddlebags will set you back another $826. Then all you need to do is decide which of the three color options you like the best.
BMW has put itself at the top of the heap, price-wise, for middleweight sport touring machinery. Although the packages do offer significant savings over ordering the options individually, the German manufacturer clearly views the MSRP as a premium price for a premium product—much in the way that Apple and other top-tier brands do. As long as the customers feel they are getting an exceptional product, they’ll continue to plunk down their money.
Specs at a Glance: 2013 BMW F 800 GT
Seat Height: 31.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 4 gallons
Wet (or curb) Weight: 470 pounds
Colors: Light White, Dark Graphite Metallic, and Radian Valencia Orange Metallic
List Price: $11,890 base, $12,395 standard, $13,190 premium
Warranty: 3 years, 36,000 miles
BMW listened to riders and delivered what they wanted, a middleweight motorcycle that is tour-friendly. Don’t let the term “middleweight” fool you into thinking you can’t go distances on this motorcycle, though. Riders ready to experience long-haul touring after spending time on a beginner motorcycle, along with veteran riders who don’t want the bulk and bigness of a traditional tourer, should consider the F 800 GT. Not only does this bike offer tons of technology in a user-friendly package, we also think it’s a pretty affordable way to enter the BMW family.
[photo 14888]About the Author: Evans Brasfieldbought his first motorcycle in 1989 and rode it until he ran out of continent. Once settled on the Left Coast, he worked various jobs to support his riding habit until he stumbled into a staff editor position at Motorcycle Cruiser magazine (and later Sport Rider) 17 years ago. As a freelancer, Evans wrote and photographed two books: “101 Sportbike Performance Projects” and “How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser.” Evans’s recent writings and photography have appeared in Backroads, Friction Zone, Motorcycle Cruiser, Motorcyclist, and RoadBike magazines. Evans recently took on a fulltime job at Motorcycle.com so he is no longer writing articles on a freelance basis. We were fortunate to get this article from him right before he got this job. When he’s not test riding a motorycle, he can be seen on his Yamaha R6. Evans and his wife live in Burbank, Calif., where they are raising two strong-willed, independent daughters.
18 thoughts on Motorcycle Review: 2013 BMW F 800 GT, A Sport Tourer Youll Love!
I bought my 800 GT new in 2013. As a new new rider and after telling the salesman at the dealership what I wanted the bike for—that I did not want a crotch rocket or tank kisser (as I call it)—he showed me the F 800 GT. I decided to go with it. Two years and more then a few thousand dollars later I have discovered a few things about myself and the F 800 GT. Overall this is a better then good but not quite great bike. I would have to say the biggest pitfall of this bike is the lack of power. BMW dropped the ball when they only gave it a 5 horsepower boost. Would it have really hurt to have made the GT at least 100 hp or offer upgrade package with a bigger motor as an option. The F 800 GT isn’t going to be around long at least not in the states because even though it has a awesome look, the lack of power will turn younger riders away. And despite what BMW thinks, I have seen it myself: older riders want a bigger bike even if they are downsizing, so the F 800 GT isn’t what they want either. And number three, with nothing else in the sport touring line between the F 800 GT and the $16,000 to 20,000 K 1300S, why would you not have a bike that could fill the gap. If I could go back in time even with what little knowledge I have now and stand beside myself I would tell me to get that Honda VFR1200 and don’t act a fool on it. The F 800 GT is a good bike that can be top of the food chain if BMW is willing to put the finishing touches on it.
Thanks for the feedback on the bike, Pete! Your insight will surely help other riders considering this motorcycle.
I recently moved from a BMW R 1150 R to the 2014 F 800 GT. I love it! I am 5 feet 5 inches and really like the lower riding position. Can get my feet on the ground so I feel so much more in control. The bike has great handling and lots of power. I added the bags and am so happy with them. This is a great review and although I bought my bike before I read this review – I was happy to see similar comments and it reaffirms that I made the right decision. Love my F 800 GT!
I have had three RTs, one R 1200 R and a F 800 ST, but the best of all is the one I have now, the F 800 GT. This is one fantastic bike. Well done. BMW.
Finally a review of this bike that doesn’t sound like it was written by BMW. Have been debating between this bike and the Honda VFR 800. Starting to lean towards the Beemer.Thanks for the review! I’ll bookmark your site!
Glad to see a review of BMW bikes for women riders. The reduced height of the 800 GT is a plus for riders under 5 feet 4 inches. I added short shocks to my R 1200 RT. At 5 feet 6 inches it is much easier to maneuver at low speeds but still have the smoothness on the highways.
I want to thank you for this review. I’ve been on the bubble about getting this bike. After reading your review I’m going to see if I can get a deal on this bike. I’m a short rider and I think this might be the sport touring motorcycle for me.
Thanks for this review. As a short (5-foot 2-inch) female, newbie rider, I purchased an F 650 GS when I started riding a year ago. I was lucky to find a used model with lowered seat. I love the bike. Love it. Not sure I “need” to move up to a heavier bike, but have been considering it. Your review gave me excellent info. As one of the few sport tourers I can ride, this set of bikes from BMW is important for me to understand. I also appreciate the comments that have been posted. Really helpful!
I sure hope they fixed the killer fuel pump issue. That is the fuel pump that over heats and seizes and the bike stops and you cannot restart it until the fuel pump cools off. Damn near killed me on my 800ST. I have a bike that is useless five months out of the year. BMW has done no recall and the National Highway Safety Foundation has ignored my repeated attempts to get them to address the issue. Sure hope no one is killed or injured because of this problem. Think it does not happen? Ask the dealers in the southwest and parts of Texas and Calif. as they have all seem this issue. People have returned bikes under the lemon law due to this issue.
I’ve owned an R90S, R100S, and R100RS back in the 80s. This bike is interesting, but I think it’s overpriced for an 800.
I have 6000 miles on my GT; purchased it in Feburary 2013. It is a nice motorcycle and I generally agree with the points in the article but I do miss the boxer engine of my R 1200 ST. The lighter front end and weight make it better for the “goat roads” though.I would not recommend buying the ESA if you are a small woman. The rear spring is too tightly coiled for a lighter rider. Changing the setting does absolutely nothing to improve the ride unless you weight at least 150 to 160 pounds. Preload setting is useless. You are better off buying the stock suspension.The rear actually bounces me off my seat when I hit a bump and the front is unsettled because my weight is too slight to compress the rear; front is too light. Makes for some interesting moments when riding more aggressively.A male friend who tried the bike out did not have this issue and rather enjoyed the suspension set up.I am looking at a complete upgrade of the suspension to get it right for my weight – total waste of money to buy the ESA but it came with the package so I had no choice.It is buzzy as well but that is part of the “charm” of the 800 engine. I’d also love a bit more torque and power but you can’t have it all.I’ve done 450+ miles days on it comfortably.I also had an F 800 ST and this bike is much improved over the ST.
I was impressed by the options available on the bike. I now own my fourth BMW F 650, a 2012 F 650 GS twin. Others were a ’97 F 650 and two ’98 F 650s. Only one was lowered and I found it best for around town, and used the un-lowered one for traveling. I would have appreciated several of the options offered here!
First and last picture is a female rider. Otherwise the “bike” takes the spot light. Kinda boring shots. Maybe if the female rider had a very bright riding suit and/or helmet I would have noticed her and the bike.BMWs are awesome motorcycles. I am tall and can’t extend my legs like on my Harley. I have test rode BMWs whenever the opportunity arose.
The woman is riding the red motorcycle, and is in all the shots where the red motorcycle is featured with a rider.
I’ve been riding a cruiser for the last five years but have recently been thinking about getting a touring bike as my next ride. I really didn’t even consider BMW because the ones I’ve seen were always too tall. When I saw the post from WRN I had to take a look after seeing the woman rider. I’m 5 feet 4 inches and prefer a 29-inch or lower seat height. Never figured BMW would fit but have to admit I will be giving this some serious consideration when I’m ready to start test riding.
A friend who is of similar size to me (5 feet 1 inches, a small woman) is on her third BMW. Her latest is the R 1200 R, factory lowered. Her other two had been custom lowered. The only change she made on her new bike was the seat was professionally redone to make it a bit lower and narrower. I sat on it last weekend and fell in love.She is an Iron Butt rider and prefers a 1200. Several of our BMW friends have also had issues with the liquid cooled models and most have gone back to air cooled.I would not hesitate buying a BMW. My hubby bought one last year and I hope to someday move up to one but can’t justify the expense yet.Thanks for the nice review!
What is interesting to me is that the actual power to weight numbers for the 800 GT and the 1200 RT are almost identical: 5.3 pounds / HP on the RT and 5.2 pounds / HP on the 800 GT. The GT may not be quite as comfy as the RT for all day riding, but at 110 pounds “less” to haul around, a rider won’t get nearly as tired either. I think BMW did a fabulous job on this latest entry into the touring category. Great job on the evaluation.