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R 850 R as a GS


Ben There

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I am shorter in height (5'6") and getting longer in tooth but still like to ride. I have an 1100RT that I never take off tarmac, but live in an area with hundreds of miles of dirt and gravel roads. So, just wondering how an R 850 R would work on these roads with aggressive tires, etc. Got a line on a couple of 850R's with less than 40,000 miles on them for around $2,000 easy. Interested in the 850, in part, for the oilhead boxer engine and shaft drive. Any comments?

 

T

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Guest Kakugo

I don't know if it made to your neck of the woods but BMW did manufacture an R850GS in limited numbers.

I'd like to say when one of these bikes pop up for sale it goes for silly money but I'd be lying: they go for absolutely insane money. :P

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I am shorter in height (5'6") and getting longer in tooth but still like to ride. I have an 1100RT that I never take off tarmac, but live in an area with hundreds of miles of dirt and gravel roads. So, just wondering how an R 850 R would work on these roads with aggressive tires, etc. Got a line on a couple of 850R's with less than 40,000 miles on them for around $2,000 easy. Interested in the 850, in part, for the oilhead boxer engine and shaft drive. Any comments?

 

Morning Ben There

 

Just about ANY motorcycle will work OK on fairly smooth dirt & gravel roads with proper dual sport (re-aggressive tread) tires.

 

You won't need the additional suspension travel/ground clearance until you start going off road in the rough stuff.

 

If you are venturing into rough rocky areas, or deeply pot holed areas, then you will probably need some sort of under bike bash plate. If wanting to ride fast & hard in rough terrain then you have the wrong bike with an 850R bike.

 

Probably the limitation of the 850R is soft suspension, lack of ground clearance, lower gears too high for technical areas, & soft rims for properly airing tires down. (a 19" or 21" front tire wouldn't hurt either).

 

It's doable as I rode a properly tired 1100RT to the artic circle years ago without issue.

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I don't know if it made to your neck of the woods but BMW did manufacture an R850GS in limited numbers.

I'd like to say when one of these bikes pop up for sale it goes for silly money but I'd be lying: they go for absolutely insane money. :P

 

Never understood that.

 

AFAIK the 850's are no different than the 1100's except for the engine. Maybe I've been wrong all these years.

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What I thought more or less also.

We sold a few R 1100 R's that the new owners lived on a dirt/sand road. Put different tires on and the owners said it worked.

Don't recall tire options/limits etc.

 

If it was me, might rather look for an airhead GS to have all the GS advantages and the lighter weight, simpler design.

Cost a little more up front, but worth it, IMO.

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Guest Kakugo
I don't know if it made to your neck of the woods but BMW did manufacture an R850GS in limited numbers.

I'd like to say when one of these bikes pop up for sale it goes for silly money but I'd be lying: they go for absolutely insane money. :P

 

Never understood that.

 

AFAIK the 850's are no different than the 1100's except for the engine. Maybe I've been wrong all these years.

 

The 850GS was originally intended to provide BMW with an adventure bike that could be easily restricted and derestricted to meet EU license limitations. The idea was to sell the bike with a "restrictor kit" installed which the owner could then have removed by his dealership (which would also update the bike papers) once his "apprenticeship" period was over.

 

However there was a tiny fly in the ointment: the R850GS was expensive. Really expensive: I seem to recall in its bare-bone form it was DM 18,500 in 2000. Hardly new riding license owner territory.

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Yes I've thought about the 850 GS and yes they are rare and expensive.

 

DR, thanks. All of that are things to consider.

 

 

Morning Ben There

 

And tall.

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Thanks for all the input. Made me rethink the R850R for a dirt/gravel bike. Maybe a 1200 GS with low suspension. Found a couple, but beyond my budget.

 

T

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I am shorter in height (5'6") and getting longer in tooth but still like to ride. I have an 1100RT that I never take off tarmac, but live in an area with hundreds of miles of dirt and gravel roads. So, just wondering how an R 850 R would work on these roads with aggressive tires, etc. Got a line on a couple of 850R's with less than 40,000 miles on them for around $2,000 easy. Interested in the 850, in part, for the oilhead boxer engine and shaft drive. Any comments?

 

T

 

An R850R will work "OK" on gravel and dirt roads especially if you put dualsport tires on it. They're actually nice bikes and smother than the 1100's because they have smaller pistons and less reciprocating mass. I've had a couple over the years and liked them but didn't take them off road (although did ride an R80RT and 1100RT offroad fairly extensively before I wised up and got a GS). But I understand the attraction for 2k.

 

The negatives like dirtrider said are ground clearance, soft suspension, and another, the ergos are all wrong for offroad. If you can raise the seat a little, put wider and higher bars on (I know those bikes have unconventional bars), and lower the pegs some you'll be closer to what a GS is like. They're that way so it's easy to stand on the pegs and have more leverage with wider bars. Another issue is dirt/gravel roads are almost never uniform, they can change due to several factors, the main one being weather. What looks fine at one end may not be that way at the other. But again, probably all doable.

 

Personally I'd look for an F650 in the '03-'09 range, they're a nice all around bike, probably as comfy onroad as an 850/1100 and way better off road (you can get a low seat for them too). Or a KLR or DR650 (on the KLR maybe install a lowering link, the DR has an adjustment on the shock). They'll sacrifice some onroad comfort but are even better offroad, there's always a compromise w/dualsports. Older Wee-strom's are pretty cheap too and they're adequate on dirt, not great though.

 

 

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Guest Kakugo

While it has no shaft drive, have you considered a Suzuki V-Strom 650?

There are literally hundreds to choose from, used and aftermarket (meaning cheap) spares are freely available, and it's lower and lighter than your full liter adventure bike while still retaining decent ground clearance. The downside, apart from being chain-driven as said, is spoke wheels were only introduced on last year model as an option and it lacks any form of oil sump protection.

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Guys, thanks again and keep the comments coming. I did try out a 700 GS low. Fit was good, nice ride, but I like the boxer engine and shaft drive. Logic pulls me away from the Vstrom. Why is the oil filter located in such a vulnerable spot! (Retoracle).

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