The European and Japanese manufacturers alike have spoiled us over the years with models like the stunning Street Triple R, the Z800 and the smaller Ducati Monsters.
BMW first launched its F 800 R six years ago and they have recently revised it in an attempt to make it even tastier than ever before.
The bike needed a little more than just a quick spit wash. BMW has updated the roadster’s chunky looks, yes, but the chassis has also been upgraded to keep its performance competitive. And of course you can pimp it to give it a more personal feel, from the ever-impressive BMW list of accessories that would put a good old-fashioned telephone book to shame.
Swapping the previous asymmetrical twin headlights for a more conventional singular one has diluted the bike’s unique and instantly recognisable identity. But it has also given the F 800 R a much fresher and more modern style.
It is actually pretty easy to spot the differences between this model and its predecessor.
The rev counter is now set against a black background and it has new wheels, upside-down forks, radial brakes, a mudguard and more aggressively shaped radiator cowlings. The rest of the F 800 R’s design has simply been cut and pasted from the previous version.
BMW want to make this middleweight naked more appealing to new riders, so they have lowered the threshold quite literally by reducing the seat height from 800mm to 790mm.
The footpegs have also been lowered 10mm and moved slightly further forwards, and the one-piece handlebar is now wider to improve not only the bike’s ergonomics but the handling too.
If you’re a six-footer, the higher 820mm saddle (available as an optional extra) will prevent you feeling cramped.
The Germans have also found another three stallions, raising the final performance figure to 90bhp. The 63lb/ft of torque remains the same as before.
The 798cc parallel twin has a delightfully bubbly sound and it is just as content to potter along in the lower revs as it is pushing hard for the redline.
Snap the throttle back and you won’t be met with an onslaught of power that threatens to rip your arms from your sockets, but the delivery is crisp, usable and rider friendly.
The most noticeable improvements relate to the revised chassis. The shorter first and second gears really suit the BM’s character and the sturdier 43mm forks help the F to feel reassuringly balanced. Although the front suspension is not adjustable, the standard bike’s rear monoshock has tweaks for preload and rebound.
Upgrade the roadster with BMW’s £290 optional ESA electronically adjustable suspension and you can choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport settings at the press of a button on the left handlebar.
That said, there doesn’t appear to be much noticeable difference between the latter two settings, and as the Comfort mode is more than capable of handling the majority of situations, those shekels could perhaps be better spent.
Heated handlebar grips maybe? They will definitely come in handy once the British winter kicks in and they’re cheaper than ESA at ‘just’ £240…
If, like the rest of us, you don’t actually have a money tree in your back garden, you can save a few more pennies by choosing your accessories wisely. The £310 ASC (Anti Slip Control) for example does work, but it cuts in a bit too abruptly.
Thankfully there are no complaints about the Brembo stopping power and the ABS is a useful, unobtrusive and standard safety net. Vibrations don’t go unnoticed, though, especially in the handlebars from around 4,500rpm, which unfortunately is pretty much where your revs settle at a motorway-legal speed.
Still, the modest windscreen is proof that the F 800 R isn’t really designed for long distance mile munching. After all, it is a naked bike. One that has received just enough revisions to bring it back into the spotlight and, just about, back into contention in an ever-more competitive class.
Model: BMW F 800 R
Price: From £7,595
Engine: 798cc parallel-twin producing 90bhp @ 8,000rpm and 63lb/ft @ 5,800rpm
Transmission: Six-speed sequential manual, chain drive
Kerb weight: 202kg
Seat height: 790mm (adjustable)
Fuel capacity: 15 litres