I Want It All, But Not Too Big

BMW F800GS

BMW F650GS

Triumph Tiger 800XC

Triumph Tiger 800

Bigger is better, right?  For the past few years that’s been the mantra of the motorcycle industry, bigger engines and more power.  Bigger also came with a hefty price tag.  Building a bigger engine isn’t as simple as increasing the bore and stroke of an existing engine.  With increases in power come increased stresses on the engine parts so making sure the engine doesn’t fail is important.  The rider also needs to be able to use the power increase effectively so advanced electronics had to be developed.  The cost of all this is passed on in the price of the motorcycle.  Oh, and don’t forget that this wonderful increase in power scares the insurance underwriters to death and the result is a big increase in insurance premiums.

Bring on the Mid-Weights!

Mid-Weight motorcycles, use to be the big bikes but were some how forgotten in the push to get bigger.  Not any more.

BMW F800GS

In the Adventure bike world, Mid-Weight motorcycle is relatively new and until 2011 BMW was the only player.  BMW introduced the F800GS in 2008 and it was an instant hit.  It didn’t have the hefty bulk and price tag of it’s the 1200GS and it proved to be an excellent daily commuter that could be packed up for weekend adventures.  A 798cc parallel twin engine powers the F 800 GS and while the performance may not be “sexy” it is very user friendly and all riding conditions.

BMW F650GS

No, a 650 isn’t a Mid-Weight, unless it’s a 2008 or later BMW F65 GS.  The brainiacs at BMW decided to rename the popular F650GS, a 652cc single, and call it the G650GS.  Why?  Apparently so that it could put the 798cc twin from the F800GS into a more street oriented chassis and call it the F650GS.  Confused?  Well the engineers chose to neuter the F 650’s engine, reducing both horsepower and torque, so perhaps the marketers had a hard time calling it an “800”. 

As confusing as this is, the F650GS has proven to be a great “city” bike that is comfortable visiting the “country” once and a while.

Triumph Tiger 800 and 800 XC

For the 2011 model year, Triumph jumped into the Adventure Touring Mid-Weight market with the introduction of the Tiger 800 and 800XC.  The engineers at Triumph started by taking the 675cc triple that is used in the Daytona and Street Triple and completely reworking the engine to fit the needs of an Adventure Touring motorcycle.  The bore is the same but the stroke has been increased to give the engine 799cc of displacement.  This also gives the engine usable torque in the low and mid-range, compared to its high revving siblings.

The Tiger 800XC is the more Adventure oriented motorcycle and is outfitted with a taller and ore sturdy suspension compared to the Tiger 800.  It also has a 21 in. front wheel and laced spoke wheels for better handling and durability in off road conditions.

The Tiger 800 is more suited for the pavement, smooth or rough, however the occasional gravel or dirt road is still an option.

The Triumph also has the “triple” exhaust note, which is a unique and wonderful sound, especially under acceleration.

Comments

Comparisons will be made over the next year between the German and British Mid-Weight Adventure bikes and in my opinion they will come out very even.  Sure, there will be differences, but they will be minor.  If you want a great Adventure motorcycle that can be used as a daily commuter you can’t go wrong with any of these motorcycles.

Gerald Trees

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