Ah, the glorious TDM. I agree with you whole heartedly. Yamaha used to take adventuresome chances with it's motorcycles, and the lack of sales success of the SRX, the TDM and the profoundly ahead of its time GTS1000 in the US is why it we get few of the interesting bikes.
I think that this was the exact reason Yamaha was so cagey about the FJR1300.
Well, it depends on what you want. I tried the S and thought it was really nice. But then, I used to ride British bikes and love the feel of vertical twins, and the F800S reminded me a lot of the old Nortons and Triumphs I so enjoyed.
That said, I'll stay with my Honda 599, which has been just about a perfect fit for me.
Well done, xb12x, you beat me to it. Thanks to my trusty R1100R being stuck at the dealer's while they order up some parts, I've found myself with a demo F800ST for a few days to get around on. I was going to write up a little review and post some pictures, but like I say, you've beaten me to it.
Anyway, what's it like? Well, very light, very neutral in its handling, very modern and together, but I don't think it's much different from an SV in that respect. The engine has plenty of top-end go, with a nice kick in the pants at about 5000 where it gets going, but it also has plenty of torque in the basement, too, which is rarer these days. You can drive it around in top (there are six gears) with two and half on the tacho and forty on the speedo without any problems at all, which is nice for trickling through traffic. You can also drive it at a hundred without any drama in the corners, and without the windblast taking your head off. The overall engine feel is strangely elastic - it feels like you're being propelled by a giant rubber band, somehow! It does, however, make a fair bit of dry rustling and 'shuff'-ing noises on the over-run, but I think many modern bikes do that. My own daily rides are somewhat more antiquated and make more mechanical noise anyway, so I'm not really the one to ask. The ergos are very good for me - I'm 6'3", 200 lbs, 35" inseam - but the mirrors only give me a view of my elbows, which is annoying and unexpected for a BMW. I think it's because the ST's bars are higher. If I sit on it and lower my hands to where they would be on the F800S the view of my elbows disappears. Funnily enough, in a reader's poll on a French website, everyone with an F800ST complained about the mirrors, and nobody with the S did, so I think I'm probably on the right track here.
Okay, so far, so normal. What's the big attraction, apart from the badge? This. There's a trip computer on this bike, same as you have in your car. Mileage, average speed, average fuel consumption, etc. And here's the point - this bike averages 70 to the gallon at 70-80 mph. Drive it with some enthusiasm, get the speeds up to 90 or 100 ( I'm not saying where!) for fifteen minutes or so, and the average drops to about 68. Drive at 50, stick to the posted limits, and it soars above 80. I have never, ever, met a bike like it for the way it sips fuel. The 22 owners who responded to the French website all tell the same story, incidentally. My R1100R produces 80+ bhp, gets 50+ mpg at 80 mph, but this produces the same power, weighs 60lb less ( and you can feel it), averages the same speed, and uses 40-50% less fuel. It is, quite simply, the next generation. In the US, where both fuel and bikes are cheap ( yes they are, don't get me started), I can see that you won't get excited about this, but in Europe this bike is priced like a Japanese middleweight twin, an SV or suchlike - or an 883 Sportster, stone stock and basic - and our gas costs 8 bucks a gallon. This thing is going to sell by the shedload. Finally, the guy at the dealer said that he's never going to get rich selling them, because they have been designed to take only one hour of shop time per year to service. Cheap to buy, cheap to run, cheap to service, lasts a decade, solid resale values, and that badge: what's not to like? Performance isn't all in the quarter-mile times, you know.
As an American who lived in Austria for some time I can say: Americans just don't get it! Most either want "Sleasy Rider" or "Ricky Road Racer" and that is it. It is ALL image. A bike with hard bags? Huh?, Even the ZX14 loses it's grab rail in the USA!
Timing's everything and in the states we're fickle. We want uber cruisers, but complain about their handling, and want track-ready sport bikes, but complain about their ergos. It seems that many peeps just don't understand what middleweights with rational riding ergos and power delivery.
I'm definitely intrigued by the new F800 (not sure which model I prefer yet). That said, I'm with you that it's not really a fair comparison with a DL650... especially, since it's an 800, not a 650, it's half again as pricey, and it's NOT intending for any dual-sport riding.
I was really looking forward to this bike--just the right size and capabilities for the way I ride (80% commute, 15% weekend ride, 5% tour). I went to see one at a local dealer--with all the options (as the available units were set up) you're talking 15 large out-the-door! That's crazy money! Its an 800 twin fercryinoutloud!
Really, I don't think its going to work in this country. How many people here buy bikes for practical reasons (maybe 10% of buyers?). Without the practical considerations, you'd might as well shell out the same or a bit more for the basic boxer or 1200, and impress your friends.
Wow, I really thought a light, agile, quick, and good looking middleweight BMW that starts at less than $10k would be more welcome here at MO. The above comments really surprise me. I took one for a demo ride a couple of weeks ago and came back grinning ear to ear, the s model I rode was fantastic. Quick and smooth, fantastic brakes, great ergos, and the on board computer showed 65 mpg. I thought perhaps it was being over-optimistic but apparently it's true. And I love the fact that you can take the bags, taller windshield, and centerstand from the ST and put it on the S. As for the cost of accessories, you're gonna spend money on them no mater what bike you buy. Sure there's cheaper alternatives, but I'll take the fun nature, low cost of ownership, and long-term durability (based on past rotax engine designs) for a few thousand more. One thing's for certain, I can afford this bike alot sooner than I can afford a K1200 GT. Oh, and consider this....a new Honda Interceptor ABS retails for $11599 and the hardbags are $1000 more. And Honda doesn't offer heated grips or tire pressure monitoring. And it only comes with a 1 year warranty. And it has a chain to oil.....
The VFR is a lame duck, holding place for its replacement. Honda usually keeps the old dogs's price high to make the replacement seem reasonably priced when it finally arrives to a fawning press.
Now to the BMW. I have owned 2 previously: a R65LS and a K75S. I now own a very modified ZRX1200R, which is a really nice bike as well. The F800 is very nice, no doubt. The debate is "is the ST worth 14K+ out the door?" My local dealer has a nice Grey ST listing at $14200 out the door without bags. This is too much.
How bout a loaded Blue ST with bags for $12500 out the door...OK, I'll take it. Untill then, I'll suffer with my powerfull, versatile ZRX
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