Everything looked remarkably similar as I was introduced to the bike. The same three switch indicator system, heated grips and a slightly more sophisticated “computer” than I’m used to. The big difference, as I climb aboard the bike is how small it seems. After a R1200RT any bike short of a Honda Goldwing would seem small I guess, but the F800 really seemed tiny to me. Pushing it out of its parking bay was such a breeze, I’m sure I’ve wheeled heavier bicycles! The next big surprise is the seating position. The bike is called a ST because I guess it’s for Sport Touring (although I might be wrong). If this is so, then the bike falls much closer to Sport than Touring. On the RT there is at least a foot in a direct line between my hands and my knees. On the ST it’s more like six inches or less. The handlebars are slightly dropped (instead of the risers I’m used to) but the biggest thing for me to get over is the footrests that seem to be just below the seat. I know they are not, but the bend in my knees is much more than I’m used to. It’s no big problem however, and I’m soon away into the Norwich morning rush hour traffic. The bike feels so small and light and the pick up from the super smooth fuel injection system means I’m soon filtering through the traffic like a seasoned London courier. Roundabouts are great fun. Now I know why those footrests are set so high. In many ways it reminds me of the Triumph Street Triple R, I tried out a few months ago at Ling’s open evening. Part of me wants to keep going around and around the roundabout to see just how far I can lean the bike over before something touches the ground. Finally I manage to get out of Norwich and I’m heading firstly for North Walsham and then Aylesham on some lovely but mud splattered and wet leaf clad minor A and B roads. The F800 is in it’s element. It just glides around bends in the same way as the aforementioned Triumph and far easier than the R1200RT. The brakes are superlight but the bounce back from the conventional telescopic forks takes some getting used to. The most unBMW like thing however, is the gearbox. I’m sure Suzuki must have designed it. A BMW box that does not clunk every shift and is so light and fast, yet precise. Power is not short on this bike either, look above 6,000 rpm and it really starts to fly.
The SAM Observer November 2009
The November 2009 edition of "The SAM Observer"