Flip Side

Auto Today|February 2019

Flip Side

As they say, two sides of the same coin or in this case, two iterations of the same motorcycle. The challenge is when a manufacturer has to make them stand apart and BMW has done it just right.

Abhik Das

For all the credentials declaring my professional credibility as an automotive journalist, I still go by a very basic gut instinct that tells me if the motorcycle is right or not. Feel. It’s what racers depend on to know if all the engineering geniuses and technological marvels have congregated into making one perfect package. Physical feelings transferred from the chassis, tyres, handlebars and footpegs narrate a tale of success or failure in seeing that chequered flag first or last in a race. For a road motorcycle, those feelings translate to long distance comfort, confidence in handling, the kind of power delivery and most of all, its ability to put the silliest of grins on the rider’s face.

Hopping aboard BMW’s new F 850 GS gave me those right feelings and after only about a 100km on the saddle, I was grinning from ear to ear inside my lid. Although, these emotions didn’t quite come instantly as a fair bit of critical assessment went into evoking them. Intimidation is a fear that comes naturally with an imposing adventure motorcycle. ADVs are inherently tall given their long-travel suspension and high ground clearance. Unless family genes have awarded you a height of over six-foot and hours in the gym have resulted in biceps broader than the 150 section rear tyre, even a middle-weight ADV like the F 850 GS is bound to put in a little self-doubt of inability to handle the motorcycle. I don’t have the height or the biceps but experience tells me that riding the motorcycle would reveal more. The 860mm seat height isn’t low enough for the average Indian height and tip-toeing to reach the floor and move the motorcycle wasn’t adding much confidence either. A sharp rasp of the exhaust note upon thumbing the starter then nudged at my trepidation. First gear, rolling off to a start and almost magically, the F 850 GS transforms into the friendly beast that it is.

The intimidation of a big motorcycle is countered by the confidence afforded by the rider’s triangle. I found myself sitting comfortably upright, easily taking weight off my upper body and concentrating it around the wide but contoured fuel tank. Given the brilliant and natural ergonomics, I would imagine a rider of any size and weight finding the commanding stance and roominess of the rider’s cockpit instantly likable as well as comfortable.

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February 2019