After 175 cold, soggy miles on BMW’s (relatively) affordable demi-sport, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. It’s a bit small you aren’t. And if you’re over six feet tall, the optional tall seat really isn’t an option. To be fair, shorter gearing in the top three cogs and a complete lack of wind protection make this agile mid-sized torque pump more adept at urban adventures than 125 miles of freeway on a foul December night. On the plus side, it turns an alleged 87 horsepower—two more than an F800GS—into more enthusiastic forward progress than previous iterations of this 798cc parallel twin. Its 360° crank timing plays an the same flat, boxer-esque soundtrack, while </span>variable-pressure fuel-injection delivers refreshingly crisp response and more miles per gallon than most similarly sized offerings. Did somebody say torque? The PowerPoint presentation before me also alleges 63 lb.-ft. of the stuff at 6000 rpm. The seat of my pants sense a respectable amount of workmanlike steam between idle and the 8500 rpm redline. There’s also a fair bit of buzz above 5000 rpm, which where I’ve been spending most of my time.
Thanks to an improved ABS sensor, R-spec brakes ignore bumps unless you’re hard on the brakes. Suspension is more than adequate for the genre. And despite various concessions to the almighty bottom line—chain final-drive on a conventional swingarm in place of the now-discontinued F800S model’s belt and single-sided setup—the R always manages to feel feisty instead of cheap. Relatively conventional MID switchgear—Molded Interconnect Devices for all you acronym aficionados out there—will be more familiar to the customers BMW wants to attract from other brands. We’ll see how the unconverted feel about the $9950 sticker price—$11,395 with ABS, heated grips and an onboard-computer—when the bikes roll onto BMW showrooms in January. It does come three-year 36,000-mile warranty. I’ll let you know how I feel about the whole thing as soon as the optional tall seat shows up.