2006 BMW R1200S And F800S/ST - First Ride - Up To Speed

More Than Ever, Not Your Father's BMWs

By Charles Everitt, Photography by Courtesy of BMW

In fact, the F800s' engine character is defined more by torque than peak horsepower. BMW says the engine pumps out a workmanlike 63.4 lb.-ft. of torque at 5800 rpm, with 90 percent of that figure available from 5000 rpm to 8000 rpm. Peak horsepower is an unremarkable-compared to middleweight sportbikes-claimed 85 bhp at 8000; redline is at 8500 rpm. The Rotax-made mill does have a satisfyingly healthy midrange shove, but its otherwise low-key nature makes it near-perfect and unintimidating for newbies and returnees alike. A clever swiveling con rod (similar to the system used by Ducati's Supermono and Yamaha's Tmax 500 scooter) damps the typical parallel-twin shakes almost to oblivion.

The F800s' chassis performance is just as reassuring and confidence-inspiring as the engine's. As with other BMWs, stability is the overriding theme, although the bikes' light weight contributes to light, precise steering manners. The brakes could stand to offer more initial bite, especially at the front, but again, their overall power and feel should suit the intended audience just splendidly.

Most riders will find the ST's ergos preferable, with the slightly more upright body position they provide courtesy of the higher conventional handlebar. In addition, fairing lowers, and a taller windscreen that offers significantly more protection from windblast and weather, make the ST amply suitable for its role as a sport-tourer. Conversely, the S bike's clip-ons and more lithe appearance ought to appeal strongly to riders of the beveled-boots persuasion. And if they want to bring its capabilities closer in line with those of the supersport middleweights that have owned the class up till now, there's always the usual upgrade path of better, tauter suspension and sharper brakes.

BMW says the 800s will arrive in U.S. showrooms in February or March, 2007, though pricing could be problematic. Retail prices have not been announced, but rooting around on the Internet found U.K. prices that translate to about $10,700 for the S and $11,600 for the ST. It's difficult to predict how other markets will react, but in this country that's a mighty steep tariff for an entry/re-entry ride.

BMW R1200S
MSRP $14,700


Type a/o-c opposed twin
Valve arrangement SIHC, 8 valves
Displacement 1170cc
Transmission 6-speed


Weight 419 lb., claimed dry (190kg)
Fuel capacity 4.5 gallons (17L)
Wheelbase 58.5 in. (1487mm)
Seat height 32.7 in. (830mm)


Type l-c parallel twin
Valve arrangement DOHC, 8 valves
Displacement 798cc
Transmission 6-speed


Weight 401/412 lb.,claimed dry (182/187kg)
Fuel 4.2 gallons (16L)
Wheelbase 57.5 in. (1466mm)
Seat height 32/31 in. (820/790mm)
By Charles Everitt
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