Considering a F800GT - what do I need to know? - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    Aladinbama's Avatar
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    Tom
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    Motorcycle
    '97 ST1100
    My current ride is a 97 Honda ST1100 w/119,000+ miles on it and I LOVE it! Unfortunately, OEM parts are becoming difficult to find and some of the plastic is near impossible. Several years ago I attempted to replace it with a Kawasaki Voyager XII and that didn't work (not even a valid attempt). I then bought a 04 Honda ST1300. I like it, but it's too dang top heavy and I'm getting older and don't even want to worry about weight (the ST1100 is almost as heavy but wears it MUCH better - IMHO). BOTH are currently for sale - lol!

    I posted a brainstorming thread elsewhere as I'm considering many in the 650 to 1000 cc range. I would prefer something with shaft drive, but .... few available in this range. I also need something that doesn't mind cruising at 75/80/85 all day as I live in Texas and to most here, speed limits are mere suggestions. I take quite a few trips so baggage is a plus - mainly for tools, raingear and such, but .... I ride in pretty much all weather (except snow - lol) so protection should be a consideration as well.

    The F800GT was suggested as it's belt drive and can take care of my other needs. Is there anything that I need to know about these bikes specific to the bike (in favor or against)? Any known issues or things that I need to look for in purchasing one? Is one year any better or worse than another? What's maintenance like (valve adjustmenst, etc.) as I pretty much do all of mine?

    I've got about 8,000K planned for my ST1100 this summer (if I can ever get distractions out of the way) and am looking for my "future bike".
    Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Points: 13,014, Level: 78

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    Motorcycle
    '14 F800 GT
    The F800GT is a modernised F800ST on which most teething problems were sorted out. The belt drive has been reported to last much longer than BMW recommendations, so versus shaft maintenance or replacement chains and sprockets is a plus. The Rotax engine can be noisy and snatchy at lower revs and many report too much vibes at higher speeds. Others (me too) don't suffer vibes so not an issue if you get a good one.

    Heat passes from the engine to the left of the bike. If you ride in hot climates be prepared to move your knee out into the airstream.

    Otherwise; This is a slightly tuned version of the engine fitted to the F800GS, so has many thousands of bikes doing many thousands of miles without major upset.

    It is a lighter weight, very manoeuvrable bike. It has good torque and if you wind it up, adequate power. The brakes are great and fuel economy - 60+ mpg (UK)

    Servicing is mainly just oil and filters. High milers report no adjustment of the shimmed valves required. Flushing the brakes with new fluid needs the ABS run with a computer attachment (like other BMWs) and getting airlocks out of the cooling system requires following the instructions.

    Buy something bigger than the 28 ltr BMW top-box (same as fitted to their bigger bikes), but the panniers/side boxes are adequate for touring -even two up (my wife would dearly like a truck following us with all that she wants to bring !).

    I bought mine as something good enough for two-up touring, yet still able to ride out with friends or narrow enough to filter in city traffic (if you are allowed in your state). It has proved capable of all of these.
    2014 GT Orange. Just the comfort pack and heated grips - not into gizmos.

    "Pity the man who wasn't born in the Highlands and hears the pipes"  

  4. #3
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    The GT has a much more expensive belt than the ST and S, because the swingarm is longer. That said, GT and R share a newer ABS system.
    Later is better, although a black engined bike from, say 2014 with a gen3 rear axle that was dealer serviced is going to be technically pretty much on par with a 2018 bike. BMW has a habit of doing "not actually a recall but we'll do it anyway" sort of part swaps - but only if you bring it in to a dealer for a service.
    Check the rear singwarm axle hub for circular indentations around the axle shaft. If there are two of them - good. None - possibly bad. Thats an old rear axle and might have problems. The fix costs 750€ including 19% VAT in parts in Germany. Add shipping, labour and whatever taxes you pay where you are.
    Another problem point is the heat exchanger next to the oil filter. They can bloom up, press themselves out of fit and leak oil, although they probably won't in desert conditions.

    For a usual bike life(60k km), the valves don't seem to wander out of adjustment. The black engines seem to be bulletproof, with regular maintenance and good (correct! JASO MA2, partially synthetic) oil, they have been run for up to 850k km in one documented case. Actually adjusting the valves is a PITA afaik, as you have to get the camshafts out and then be very careful with the adjustment ballbearing halves. Dropping them pretty much means dismantling the entire engine. While you do, check the cam chain guides. I know of two cases where they broke and one of them caused the timing chain to hop off the cam wheels. The other was caught in time.
    Granted, these are two cases in a 15 year run of the engine, so they are probably the most unlikely case.

    Things that you can add: MCCruise Cruise Control is about 1200 AUD shipped and would add tremendously to a bike imo. They need a bit of fiddling, but you can add full cruise control to all F800s that way.

    If you want shaftdrive and decent speed: Consider a MotoGuzzi V85TT. No idea how reliable that is though, but performance is somewhat similar to an F800 with what seems to be a more comfortable seating position.

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  7. #4
    Points: 18,409, Level: 93

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    Motorcycle
    '16 F800 GT
    Motorcycle
    '16 R1200RT
    I am a former ST1100 owner - I sold it as my 30" inseam was just a bit short for the bike and I really didn't want a tipover with it. My next bike was an NT700 - much lighter and easier to hold up - the built in luggage was a bit of a problem as even with the wider covers it just wasn't enough luggage.

    I love my F800GT - I put more miles on it than I do my R1200RT or my Cafe' bike. It takes a few days of riding to learn where the 90HP lives - but when you need speed it is available. Although it doesn't have the torque the R1200RT has - I do believe I ride smoother and faster on the F800. Interstate speeds are no problem for the F800 - mine is not buzzy but I have heard complaints that some can be.

    My only frustration is the wind noise in my helmet off the windscreen. I have tried several different sizes and shaped of windscreens - I finally found that an Ermax screen and a Puig deflector and good earpllugs have made it tolerable.

    I am likely going to keep my F800GT for a very long time.....the R1200RT will go as soon as I lose the strength to keep it upright when stopped!

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  9. #5
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    in terms of overall satisfaction, my GT is hands down the best of all the bikes i've owned - having put only about 3k miles on it, i can't give you a lot of in depth pros/cons, but suffice to say, i haven/t found any real negatives - time will tell -
    '13 F800GT
    '93 DR350S 

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  11. #6
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    '18 F800 GT
    Just be aware that the F800GT is physically a smaller bike that the Honda ST's. Bar Riser &/or footpeg lowers are regular mods

    If you are happy with its size, recommended
    Ajay

    F800GT 2018 

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  13. #7
    Aladinbama's Avatar
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    '97 ST1100
    Thanks for all the comments!
    Hopefully after I get the Kawasaki and the 1300 sold I'll be able to find a good low mileage GT to try on for size. I know it won't be as planted as the 1100, but my age is telling me to go lighter and my brain smaller!

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  15. #8
    Points: 2,138, Level: 29

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    '15 F800GT
    Quote Originally Posted by Aladinbama View Post
    Thanks for all the comments!
    Hopefully after I get the Kawasaki and the 1300 sold I'll be able to find a good low mileage GT to try on for size. I know it won't be as planted as the 1100, but my age is telling me to go lighter and my brain smaller!
    If you are looking for a GT check my ad in the classifieds as I just lowered the price. You could do a fly and ride home and your dollar goes a lot further in Canada.
    2015 F800GT 

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  17. #9
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    Bama:
    A few opinions, since I have owned both an ST100 and an F800GT:
    *Drivetrain smoothness: I was impressed with the ST1100 smoothness. I found the ST100 4cylinder engine smooth as glass. In comparison, the GT 2cylinder may seem vibey. Some riders complain of vibrations at certain rpm ranges; my 2013 GT has none of those characteristics, but the GT 2 cylinder will never be as smooth as the ST.
    *Ergonomics: The GT weighs in about 475# wet, less than the ST and carries it superbly. The GT is more maneuverable, feels narrower, and I don't worry about dropping it in parking lots. That said, the ST has more of a cruising posture. Many GT riders modify it with barbacks.
    *Luggage: The BMW touring cases are very well made. They are an improvement over the ST's. Hint: use bag liners and leave the hard bags on the bike at motel stops.
    *Ease of maintenance: Neither is outstanding. The GT is Canbus, which complicates farkling. Both use shims for valve adjustment. Fortunately the need for adjustment is uncommon, once engine is run in. Common GT problems encountered are headlight bulb changes (read up on this before attempting) and alternator failures (like the ST). A $15 voltmeter addition is advised. Avoid early years GTs, with old-style flywheels, as they are said to contribute to stator failure. Many opinions on this.
    *Wind management: Many opinions on this. Stock windshield on both ST and GT probably could use improvement. There are many solutions.
    *Exhaust sound: In my opinion, avoid the allure of aftermarket pipes on the GT unless you like more sound. They can be obnoxious. I found the stock ST pipes were easy on the ears.
    * in summary, I prefer my GT over the ST. If I could have put the ST on a diet and lose 100-150#, would probably still have it. But it refused to diet. Ride safe.
    Last edited by nevergiveup; 06-23-21 at 08:14 PM. Reason: additions

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  19. #10
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    @Aladinbama,

    Hi there...I'd both the ST11 PanEuro and my current ride is F800ST(pretty similar to the F800GT).

    Lemme give you my feedback between these 2 great rides...

    1. Engine(vibrations/smoothness...)
    ST11 is silky smooth and really quiet. Actually, it was too silent for my liking. F800ST will never be as smooth nor as quiet. Actually by the ST11 standards, you'll consider it rough. The Rotax engine seems to translate more vibrations to the handle bars which makes for long distance hands numbing. This can be helped by getting better damping/softer grips. While the ST11 can eat miles after miles of road without a blink of an eye, I can manage only about 250km/day on the F800ST.

    2. Weight(ease of control)
    ST11 is a whale. Once, it's moving, it's fine. However, once you need to move it around tight corners slowly, it's a real pain. I'd not dropped my ST11 before, but it came close cos' of the weight, sandy ground, bad footwear... The F800ST is a breeze when compared...lighter, much lighter... Naturally, the F800ST is a lot more nimble and you can throw the bike around. I am not saying that you can't throw the ST11 around, but just that it's less easy to do this with a whale.

    3. Shaft/Belt drive
    I enjoyed both of them, cos' they were just about "maintenance free".

    4. Performance
    Come to think of it, both of them are similar. Maxed out at about 240-250kmh. I didn't measure, but both 0-60's felt about the same. However, with riding 2-up, the ST11 feels more stable, just on the basis that it's heavier...remember, it's a whale. However, the F800ST is sufficiently stable for me to go at speeds.

    5. Comfort
    ST11 is very comfortable to lap up miles after miles. After a long ride, you won't feel a tired on dismount. The F800ST can do distance, but it's more cramp...it's just a smaller bike. However, the F800ST has a sufficiently comfortable posture for me. It's also sportier...which means it allows me to do the corners with more confidence.

    6. Wind protection
    ST11 provides what I consider to be almost GOLD standards in wind protection. I'd done 160kmh cruise and I didn't even feel the wind. You basically got a wall in-front of you. Seriously, feels nothing. Actually almost like driving a car. F800ST is different, it's a very small protection envelope. Even when you upgrade to after-market windshield...it's still almost non-existence. You got to tuck in, which is not too comfortable when you want to do miles after miles. So....get a better wind isolated helmet and earplugs.

    7. Engine heat
    ST11 gets hot when it's around town and not cruising. I mean really hot...almost like an oven between your legs. When the fan kicks in, seriously...my balls and tights feel like BBQ. It's a lot more forgiving for the F800ST. There's some hot air when the fan kicks in, but very manageable.

    In summary, I got older and felt that I really don't want to lug the extra weight around. The F800ST is never gonna be a ST11, but it was never designed to be. The latter notwithstanding, I really like my F800ST...it felt just so well balanced, between ease of use, power, fun, light....it's a really good bike; albeit, not really a super-long distance tourer. I don't tour as far and long as before...


    Rgds,
    Maverick.
    Last edited by bandit2220; 06-23-21 at 11:43 PM.

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  21. #11
    Points: 6,425, Level: 55

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    Owner of a 2013 GT bought new, now pushing 70K miles. It feels like this bike will just go on forever, and it hasn't exactly had an easy life. Yes, it's a little buzzy at higher rpms, but heavier bar ends took care of 50% of it, and don't wear mesh pants unless you want a broiled left thigh. A couple of points I would differ with other posters:

    - Why bar risers? To me they take away some of the essence of the bike - the GT is a SPORT touring bike, vs a sport TOURING bike. I think it handles great with the stock bars, which I believe are a bit higher vs the ST.

    - If you ride even a little aggressively, lowered pegs will scrape in corners a LOT - I know this. Instead I found the perfect set up is the "comfort" seat with stock pegs - I'm 5'8' but can still flat foot at stops, and now rarely touch the pegs while cornering, even in WV.

    I tried the Laminar Lip - it definitely deflected some air off the chest, but created a lot of noisy turbulence - I now stick with the stock shield.

    It's a wonderful bike, light, nimble, fun to ride, but have no trouble staying with (or ahead) of the big 1200's.

  22. #12
    Blapper's Avatar
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    I am at the same stage of life as you and swapped from R1150RT to the F800GT for the same reasons. Norfolk UK gave good advice as have others except for the panniers. I think they are a joke and you should fit the biggest top box that you can. Get a dealer to check your valves and change your brake fluid.

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  24. #13
    Bogbody's Avatar
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    Motorcycle
    '16 F800GT
    Compared to the ST1100 the f800gt will feel like you are riding a bicycle, much lighter more manoverable and as quick.
    I found out the hard way that a loaded up ST1100 is a big handfull in a do or die emergency stop. A 300kg plus bike really needs ABS.
    I like the f800gt, its more comfortable with similar performance.
    As one gets "older" the f800gt is a viable, lighter option.
    F800GT in blue known as "The Blue Bat"
    Based near Peterborough, Cambridge, UK 

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  26. #14
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    Bama:
    A few things I forgot to add, after reading other posts:
    *ABS: I love my GT's ABS. It is unobtrusive but effective within bounds of what ABS can do. I think mine has prevented several problem situations. One prevention pays for the system.
    *Storage space: The GT is sleek as an ocelot. As such, there are few places to stash cellphone, wallet, snacks, water, etc. Many riders prefer at least a tankbag or tailbag even for short jaunts. It may look out of place, but I used zip ties to mount a bicycle water bottle holder for hydration.
    *Fuel: My ST1100 happily took any regular, whereas the GT prefers premium but gets better mileage.
    *Throttle response: Modern fuel injection bikes are tuned to run woefully lean. As such, the GT may feel snatchy/touchy compared to the ST. Many opinions on this, but my "Booster Plug" was an easy install and made a big improvement in driveability.
    *Vibes: This is subjective, but I believe heavier bar end weights and "grip puppies" help vibes.

    Good luck in your search for the right bike. As we get older, we must adapt. Safe riding.
    Last edited by nevergiveup; 06-24-21 at 10:57 AM. Reason: forgot stuff

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  28. #15
    Aladinbama's Avatar
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    '97 ST1100
    Some VERY useful information in these posts! Thank You!

    It is true, as we get older we must adapt! I also know I'll not find the rock steadiness of the ST1100 in a bike nearly 75% of it's weight, but at some point in the not so distant future one of us will need a break from the other. My ST is beginning to show it's age and I am as well!

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