Bike launches are a thing a beauty. You’re whisked away to exotic settings, wined and dined at lavish restaurants, all to sway one’s opinion on the said new shiny motorcycle. But placing the product into the intended environment is key to showing off the best attributes of the motorcycle. So does the BMW F750GS and F850GS have more to offer than the splendour of an all-expenses paid launch, or is it just more of the same?
Ok, so what did I learn on my two-day Cape Town adventure? Pay attention, it’s about to get confusing. For a start BMW’s new F750GS isn’t actually a 750, it is in fact the exact same capacity of the new 2019 F850GS, which is an 853cc parallel twin, with a brand new extra balancer shaft, yay. The difference between the pair is the F750GS gets altered gearing and a revised firing order. The 2019 F850GS makes 95hp with 92Nm of torque, while the F750GS makes a little more sedate 77hp with 83Nm of torque. This ‘drop’ isn’t done by BMW magic, witchcraft or cam modifications but purely a fuelling map tweak that limits the power output. Could I feel the difference? Not really, I rode the F750 on day one and loved it.
From behind the bars on both bikes you’re now greeted by a new and very clear 6.5-inch TFT-display. There’re a plethora of new functions, buttons and flashing lights to keep the PlayStation crowd excited. Predictably there’s a fresh batch of electronics, inherited from the R1200GS. Like ‘Ride By Wire’ throttle control offering a Rain and Road mode as standard, plus Dynamic and Enduro as optional extras, and a further Enduro Pro mode available for the F850GS, which accommodates for a bit of off-road fun. Then, there are the usual acronyms like ABS, ASC, plus the options of DTC traction control, ABS Pro and the ESA electronic suspension. All the usual fancy electronic stuff the modern-day rider desires for 2019.
On the chassis front though the F750’s frame is the same as the F850’s. BMW have dropped the old design and recreated a brand new, from the ground up design, including a more conventional place for the petrol tank. However, to keep costs down the F750GS runs conventional 41mm forks and to ensure a more on-road focus, it has a 19-inch solid (mag), front wheel. Where the F850GS has the more desirable off-road sized 21-inch spoke rim. Aside from a slightly lower seat height of 815mm for the F750, that’s about the only differences between the two models regarding dimensions as far as I can see, besides a bit of weight difference.
Now, sit your honest self down, this is where the bikes differ… the F750GS is the road focused bike, bar a groomed gravel road or two. The F850GS is set up for everything an adventure trip can hurl at you, concrete jungle included. Now do you really want to throw more money at BMW for what could be considered the exact same bike? Of course you do! Allow me to spend your money. The F850GS has more power, more suspension travel, and an engine growl not expected from a BMW. The bike sounds better, pulls harder and looks the business. Dare I say exciting?
So the new BMW F750GS and F850GS are way better than the models they replace. In my opinion the new F850GS is also a better adventure bike than the R1200GS, which is way too heavy and expensive for many. With Yamaha and KTM also about to launch their ‘800’ versions of a mid-sized adventure bike there’s certainly going to be an ‘adventure’ war in South Africa during 2019. We can’t wait to get them all together for the definitive comparison, so keep watching this zone for now.
Meanwhile go to www.bmw-motorrad.co.za to possibly grab an early test ride and to find out what these new bikes will cost, because we don’t know yet?