Milan 2007

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BMW Motorrad Enduro goes full throttle.

2008_BMW_F_800_GS-thumb All motorcycle roads led to Milan for the 65th EICMA motorcycle show. The two-wheeled world gathered together for the world’s largest exhibition of all things motorcycling. New models, accessories, clothing, gizmos and gadgets all spread over 65,000 square metres in several halls. This was the big one for 2007.

BMW Motorrad Enduro goes full throttle.

All motorcycle roads led to Milan for the 65th EICMA motorcycle show. The two-wheeled world gathered together for the world’s largest exhibition of all things motorcycling. New models, accessories, clothing, gizmos and gadgets all spread over 65,000 square metres in several halls. This was the big one for 2007.

BMW had for the first time, two presentations for the gathered motorcycle journalists from around the world. This was the first time Husqvarna was seen as an integral part of BMW Group and it would also be the major launch event for BMW Motorrad. The theme could have been ‘The World of Enduro’. 

BMW Motorrad’s executive of Development and Model Lines, Peter Müller, pulled back the curtain on four new machines to excite the motorcycling public. These machines, designed to keep BMW Motorrad as the leading manufacturer in the enduro sector, a genre created by the legendary R 80 G/S in 1980. To emphasise the importance of these bikes, sharing the BMW Motorrad stand were a couple of GS models from the past; a 1995 R 900 RR and R 80 G/S, both former Dakar Rally entrants.

On the stage under the bright lights was the long awaited F 800 GS and a more road orientated F 650 GS (albeit with an 800 cc motor!). Also making its debut was the G 450 X, the production version of the 450 Sports Concept machine that competed in many events during the year. It was also freshen up time for the largest seller in the range, the R 1200 GS and R 1200 GS Adventure.

F 800 GS.

The F 800 GS has been talked (and hoped) about since the launch of the F 800 S and ST. The new parallel twin was an ideal motor to power a lightweight enduro and the market was waiting. Wait no more; the F 800 GS is here.


The F 800 GS has its own individual style, while having the obvious visual characteristics that say BMW. The beak front ’guard, the twin headlights and the aggressive purposeful stance set the scene for a motorcycle that is destined to be one of the most successful BMW models.

The motor that was launched on the F 800 S and ST sits higher in the tubular manganese-alloy steel frame with only an 8.3º forward lean angle, this allows for greater front suspension travel and enhanced weight distribution. It produces 63 kW/85 hp at 7,500 rpm with 83 Nm of torque developed at 5,700 rpm, 90% of which is available at just 4,000 rpm. The band of power is achieved using different cams and valve overlaps from the first two F Series twins. The air intakes are placed above the motor in the cool airstream, which is good for combustion and away from dirt and water when out in the bush. The air box is located under the ‘tank’ area and feeds directly into the injection system. Other changes to the motor used in the GS include a redesigned clutch cover that gives more foot room and the relocation of the water pump and hose mean more efficient cooling. These changes save 1 kg when compared to the S and ST motor.

The tubular space frame has the engine as an integral component and is designed for strength when off-road and positive and dynamic performance when on the bitumen or at walking pace in technical and difficult terrain. The narrow sub-frame carries the under seat 16 L fuel tank, the seat and pannier mounts.

The 45 mm upside-down telescopic front forks with 230 mm travel are complemented by 215 mm of rear travel. The rear wheel is held in place by a double-sided die-cast aluminium swing arm and is controlled by a central strut with path-dependent damping. O-ring chain, as opposed to the belt used on the road models, provides the drive. Wheels are oriented for off-road use, 21 inch up front 17 at the rear.

The exhaust weighs only 8.5 kg and as you would expect it is EU3 compliant. It has the CAT built into the exhaust so the 8 L muffler can be easily replaced and to help clean up the exhaust gases a secondary air system is fitted.

To pull the 207 kg (wet) (178 dry) GS to a halt, twin 300 mm disc are fitted up front and 265 mm at the rear and there is the option of switchable ABS. It is about time BMW stopped mucking about and made it a standard feature on all models as it is on BMW cars.

The standard seat height of 880 mm will give a panoramic view of the scenery but thanks to the innovative seat design it is possible to get a good and safe grip on terra firma when stationary. There is an 850 mm option for those with a shorter inside leg.

There is a full list of options and accessories including an OnBoard computer, panniers, top box and tank bags etc, all designed to take rider and machine around the block or the world in practical style and comfort. The F 800 GS, which will be available in Sunset Yellow/Black or Dark Magnesium Metallic Matt, is destined to be a continuation of GS success that began with the R 80 G/S in 1980.

F 650 GS.

Alongside the F 800 GS is the F 650 GS (800 cc), a more road-oriented motorcycle in style, with its cast wheels, lower seat and conventional front forks. The frontal area and ‘tank’ area is also less aggressive, as is the power output, which is detuned to 52 kW/71 hp. This bike marks a change in standard BMW Motorrad nomenclature, in that it is called a 650 but in fact it uses the same motor as on the GS. This is, to say the least, a strange call. How will it be marketed? How do you explain the concept, no matter how good the bike? It will be for the future to judge if this is seen as a good decision or as one of lesser status.


The bike is basically the same as the GS but with modifications to the wheels and suspension, as well as engine electronics for performance. It will be marketed as a less confronting all rounder than the GS and in some markets it will be sold as a 25 kW/34 hp model to fit graded licences requirements.  At this stage BMW Motorrad Australia have made no decision as to when or if the F 650 GS will be available here.

R 1200 GS.

The big sellers, the R 1200 GS and GS Adventure have been given, as the say in the trade, a mid-model make-over, both cosmetically and internally.


The look of the GS is enhanced by the stainless steel deflectors on the fuel tank and in the upper area of the front ‘guard and colour change of the rocker covers. This is carried over to the rear where an LED taillight gives a cleaner look and importantly, greater visibility.

Ergonomically, there are improvements to the handlebars, now having two settings for optimising riding long-distance on the road or getting up and active off the beaten track and the seat has come in for a bit of a re-design to add to enhanced rider comfort. The electronics involved in the fuel sensor have been expanded to give greater function and accuracy of fuel levels on the dash display. This is quite important when fuel stops are far apart.

The engine management and gearbox have also been given an update. The power has been increased to 77 kW/105 hp, with the red-line now set at 8,000 rpm. The power spread is now more uniform, making riding off-road more comfortable and this has been helped by modifications to the gearbox. The ratios have been altered and the shift mechanism further improved, for even more precise gear changing. Internally there have been further modifications, with increased bearing diameters and modified shafts, which will benefit those who do a lot of heavy, off-road travel in extreme conditions.

For the first time, ESA is available in a multi format set-up. This system is already available on the road models and has been well received, with riders wanting to take the guesswork out of suspension adjustment. The GS system goes a step further, offering road and off-road modes. The off-road setting gives multiple options for terrain, comfort and load. To cope with this extra load and to run other external devices, alternator output has increased from 600 to 720W.

The colour options have also been given the once-over. Titanium Silver Metallic, Dark Slate Metallic Matt, Tanzanite Blue and Namibia Orange give would-be buyers the choice of a loud or more subdued style. The cast wheels also get an updated style that has a lighter appearance than the original R 1200 GS wheels, which were objects of great beauty.

The R 1200 GS Adventure also receives the internal updates and two new colour options of Red and Magnesium Metallic Matt.


G 450 X.

We saw the 450 Sports Concept at the Expo; it is now the real deal. BMW Motorrad is now into the Sport-Enduro market with the G 450 X. 

The compact, lightweight machine is powered by a double overhead cam, single cylinder engine with an output of about 37 kW/50 hp, (they are still keeping some details for later release!) with 48 Nm of torque. This is a totally new engine that has been designed by BMW, but there has been no indication, as yet, as to where it is to be produced and in fact, where the finished bike will be manufactured. That could be as interesting as the machine itself and have far greater implications for the future.


It is a competition machine, so there will be optional engine management mapping available to increase performance. It is also a road bike, so it comes equipped with lights (the tail-light assembly quickly detaches) and is fitted with a CAT and is EU3 compliant, a first for the market segment.

A balance shaft reduces vibration, which will help in longevity and importantly has a positive effect on rider comfort, important in longer enduro events or just a day belting in the scrub. Two oil pumps keep the engine and gearbox well lubricated, with oil from a remote tank. The engine is tilted forward 30º for total machine balance and allows the fuel injection system to be placed out of danger.

As we saw on the concept bike, innovation is the point behind the G 450 X; it is not just a copy of existing bikes. The drive sprocket and swing arm pivot are mounted coaxially, having the effect of maintaining constant chain tension throughout the suspension movement and also creates a longer swing arm without lengthening the wheelbase. The wet clutch mounts directly on the crankshaft, thus making the design more compact and lighter.

Weighing only120 kg with a full 8.5 L under-seat fuel tank, the G 450 X is unmistakably a BMW, but gone is the traditional roundel from the ‘tank’, replaced by bold lettering. The roundel is now located under the dash, lest the rider wonders what he is riding. This is a quality bike with 45 mm Marzocchi USD front forks with 320 mm of travel and a 21 inch front wheel with an 18 inch rear, mounted on a dual-sided aluminium swing arm controlled by an Öhlins central strut. 

This is a totally new market for BMW Motorrad, but so far the concept bike has performed well in competition and much was learnt in the shortest possible time. We shall follow the next generation G 450 X with interest.

Big interest!

This has been a huge launch for BMW Motorrad and it has caused an amazing amount of interest throughout the world, with the F 800 GS causing web sites to go into meltdown. The target of a 50% growth in BMW Motorrad sales within the next five years is more than possible, if these new enduro models can live up to expectations and if history is anything to go by, they will.