Saturday, May 16, 2009

BMW K1300R & F800R

Helen and I went over to Southport Superbikes today so Helen’s F800ST could have a service prior to us going to Catalunya next month. We went up the M61 to junction 8 and then cut around Euxton under the low bridge and through Croston on our way to Southport. We arrived at around 10:00am just in time for Helens allotted time and managed to miss all the rain on the way.


While Helen’s bike was being serviced we had arranged for myself to take out the K1300R demo bike. Being a demo bike the K1300R was fully loaded with all the optional extras available. Including ABS, ASC, ESA II and the very handy HP Gearshift Assistant (quick shifter). I would have preferred to have tried the S version but they didn’t have any. Helen asked about a bike she could borrow and they got her the new F800R out. 


BMW K1300R Anyway we set off as it started to rain in Southport, with in no time at all we were out of the rain and on dry roads. We went down Marine Drive and past Crossens Marsh and I opened the thing up from 2nd gear at about 30mph, bloody hell with 173bhp/103ftlb on tap this thing really moves. Apart from 1st and 2nd gear which tends to lift the front under full load, it is possible to pin back the throttle and use all of that power. With the quick shifter you can keep the throttle pinned and shift up through the box with ease. After getting out of Southport we headed over Croston way and took the A581 into Croston. This is a nice wide road with a few tight and longer sweeping bends with a few nice straights. We stopped in Croston to take a few photos and then headed back over to Southport to return the bikes.


The K1300R comes with 3 settings on the ESA Comfort, Normal and Sport. I had the bike on Sport for most of the ride and would say the ride wasn’t that hard really, much softer than the Viffers. Although after the short ride my bum was starting to feel it, although I think this was more down to the seat. The screen did a really good job of deflecting the wind and you could of been forgiven for not thinking that you were actually on a naked bike, apart from the mirrors being in your face of course. I found that the power was really usable on the bike and it has loads of it. It will pull in any gear at any revs even 6th. Accelerate hard in any gear and in no time at all you are doing silly speeds. Although the bike is heavier than my Viffer it actually felt lighter, it is a better balanced bike and not top heavy like the Viffer. Then we have the brakes, they are incredible. I tried an emergency stop from motorway speeds and it pulled up very quickly and it was super stable doing it. I found it easy to get the bike to turn and it handled well, feedback through the bars is not as good as the Viffer but it is nowhere near as bad as some people have stated. All in all if you are after a super fast naked bike then you should defiantly give it a try. TBH if they had sent me out on a K1300S today they may well have got a sale today, it was that good.


Helen’s Review of the BMW F800R

My first thoughts were that it’s just a naked version of mine but with traditional indicator controls and a chain rather than a belt, therefore it should feel exactly the same as mine.  However, the spec and the test ride showed otherwise…




BMW F800RBoth are 798cc but the new R is 87bhp and the ST is 84.5bhp. Top  speed on the R is 133mph but the ST is 140mph - I presume your head gets blown off if you do that extra 7mph on the naked R version!!! Torque 63.5ftlb on the R and a bit less at 59.5ftlb on the ST. Dry weight of the R is 177kg the ST is 182kg (or 187 for mine which has ABS). Standard seat height on the R is 800mm, ST is 820.  Low seat on the R is 775mm (great for anyone less than 5ft 6!) and the high seat is 825mm. The R has a stiffer double-sided swingarm, rather than the single on the ST. Insurance group goes up from the ST’s 11 to 12 for the pleasure of the extra 2.5bhp on the R. There’s £70 difference in the base price, the R being the cheaper of the two.  You can still get all the add ons that you can on the ST.


Test ride

Riding position:

Completely flat footed when stationary which was good for control and padding about, but my legs felt cramped on the R when riding, similar to when I tried my ST with the lower 790mm seat before I settled on the standard 820 seat.  The higher seat would probably have been just a tad too high but I couldn’t put up with the standard seat for a long ride.  The low seat at 775mm and the narrow waist means this bike would be perfect for anyone petite or with short legs - and as per the ST you’re pretty much sitting on the fuel so the weight’s low down, great for the vertically challenged! Bars are the same as the ST, flat but not too high which makes for a comfortable position. I much prefer my ST’s riding position, but then if the R had an 820mm seat then it’d be exactly the same.



Felt much smoother than my ST and much faster to change up.  Gears went in solidly with no fiddling about.  But I’m more than happy to cope with the clunkier belt drive if it means not having to maintain a chain again!


Handling, performance, sound:

For some reason it seemed to flick from feeling exactly like mine to feeling completely different, and then back to like the ST.  Without the fairing of the ST the bike takes on a meaner character and feels like a bit of a street fighter hooligan rather than a fun & sporty-ish comfy mini tourer that the ST feels like.  I felt like ragging it and being a bit of a nutter!


It seemed a bit more flickable than the ST (not sure if that’s anything to do with the stiffer double-sided swing arm??) and the extra 2.5bhp seemed to show in the acceleration, especially picking up rapidly to overtake in 6th without having to change down like I do on the ST.  Getting up to 70 on the dual carriageway out of Southport was interesting.  I’d forgotten what it’s like on a naked bike at motorway speeds, felt like someone was trying to push me off backwards!!


Brakes seemed keener, but then that’s probably the difference between an 09 bike and an 06 bike with original pads.


Different standard exhaust on the R which sounds MILES nicer than mine.  Sounds more like the burble you get from the F650GS.  Think I may need to ask Santa for a new exhaust this year!



Overall it was great to ride, in some ways better than mine but many practicalities and our touring plans mean I prefer the ST (just right seat height, protection from the fairing, no chain to clean).  If anyone’s offering though, I’ll have one in orange for weekend blasts please!


Anonymous,  9 July 2009 at 17:20  

Liked your input on the K1300R, but would like to know your height in contrast to the bike's seating height. Thanks