2011 BMW f800 st motorcycle review – test ride

The BMW f800 ST has never been in the highlights of the drag strips or custom-nitro builds but is a fantastic bike that shouldn’t be glossed over. A somewhat quiet and non-offensive over achiever. In most single areas it won’t be breaking records as it isn’t the fastest, lightest or most avant-garde design out there. What the BMW f800 does do particularly well is make a darn good package overall.

It is one of the best bikes in the midweight ST category for overall rideability, comfort and safety. This motorcycle is remarkably easy to ride and live with on a day to day basis in the real world. Let’s face it; most bike riders are doing most of their riding in the city or backroads on the weekend. The time most road bikes spend on a racetrack is almost not worth mentioning. I have to admit I enjoy riding the pants off a motorbike, rather than riding a cruise missile and just flirting with its potential

The BMW f800 ST is exactly the sort of bike you can get the most out of. Ask any bikers and they would tell you that they would love to have a few bikes in the garage – well this is it. Well, at least as well as you can do with one bike.

The chassis and handling of this bike are exceptional, definitely among the best I’ve had the pleasure of riding. Supremely stable and flickable.  

  On this particular occasion, I was lucky enough to be able to take the F800ST from Sydney all the way to the gold coast and back. Fully loaded with my girlfriend – with all of the side trips and back-roads I rode a total of 4200kms on the ST so I can say I got to know it pretty well.

 

 

 

There are a couple of really neat things about this bike that you won’t generally find on other bikes:

  • ABS brakes – front and back- the brakes on this thing seriously work
  • Xenon headlights high & low beam which seemed at least 3x as bright as regular. Awesome night visibility.
  • Heated had grips – cold days, a man’s best friend, and for those that say “old man” well I can tell that you’ll be an old man with arthritis
  • Belt Drive – non-jerky response, virtually no maintenance and looks cool
  • Hand adjustable suspension – super handy when taking on a passenger or luggage, takes 2 mins at most
  • great pillion seat without it looking cumbersome
  • Awesome economy – I averaged about 4 litres per 100 kms on the highway which was pretty amazing, theoretically around 400kms a tank

 

 

Our particular test bike is the 2011 BMW f800 st with a touring package that includes;

  • ABS brakes front and rear
  • adjustable preload and dampening (not tools needed)
  • trip computer
  • pannier bags
  • heated handgrips
  • Remus titanium racing full exhaust system
  • HID headlights (high and low beam)
  • K&N High flow air filter
Performance: Great dynamics, average power
fuel economy: best in class
Handling: excellent
Comfort: excellent
Safety: ABS brakes front and rear, tire pressure indicators
Aesthetics: somewhat understated (like most things German), engine sound is a little numb
 
What is great about the BMW f800 st?
  • Rip-snorting brakes
  • Hand adjustable suspension
  • Economy
  • Super easy to ride well
  • Belt Drive! No service required!
  • Comfort

 
What isn’t so flash?
Nothing much really, perhaps a little lacking in the guns at the tacho layout looks like a Russian water metre arrangement. Oh and the plastic fairing extends to the fuel tank. For those old school tank-needs-to-be-metal type of guys, this may be an issue.
I read somewhere that the motor sound like and engine in a wooden box. Funny, but not true, the ST has quite a nice note out of the shop and improved by the Remus aftermarket pipe. 

Problems?
In my time with the ST I only had two minor issues. 1. The left heated handgrip stopped working, was faulty – replaced under warranty. 2. The thermometer always showed a much higher temp. Never accurate on any bike though.
Hardly significant issues – and otherwise fault free!

Verdict summary and score:
Overall the f800 ST does what it’s supposed to and does it remarkably well. It is a sturdy bike and performs well as an excellent all rounder. Not really for the race track, though I’m sure you could take it out and swing it through the corners. Great for touring and commuting – probably among the easiest bikes to get on with I’ve encountered.
Engine performance isn’t staggering but well balanced, and a good torque spread. Far beyond good enough for a speeding ticket. 

     
 
If you are looking for a bike that does it all, this is about as close as you get. The BMW f800st is a bike that ticks all the practical boxes, but if it does fall short somewhere, perhaps it is character. However “character” is something many of us could live without when we are talking reliable machinery.
 
I recall always having the feeling that I can rely on the F800.
 
 

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8 thoughts on “2011 BMW f800 st motorcycle review – test ride

  1. you have really impressed me with this review as a 50 year old buying his first big bike i have been looking at kawasaki and harleys [previos convictions 400cc]i hope i win the auction for my 800 st by the way i own a bmw tourer for 10 years so love bmw reliability and quality of drive

    1. Hi Geoff, you’ll love the ST. It is one of the best all rounder bikes out there. Uses almost no fuel and is super comfy yet easy to ride in heavy traffic. Cant say that about many other bikes.

  2. I have 2011 model and it is fantastic – if you understand what you are buying. It is reliable, looks good, has plenty of power (for a 800cc ST) and handles well. It’s not a sports bike – nor does it claim to be. It has ABS, panniers, top box(optional) and a comfy seat. Good bars, seat, pegs arrangement. I’m in my 50s and past needing to be the fastest guy, but with enough ability to be able to ride with a bit of pace. If that’s you – get one. Post 2010 models are the ones to buy though. Earlier ones had issues.

    1. Thanks for the comment – f800 ST will remain a favourite of mine as one of the easiest to chew the miles on. Great handling too.

    1. Thanks – yes that’s true. Fuel tank and filler under the seat. Someone commented that the gas cap on the side looks like it’s from a BM 3-series Car!

  3. Roadcarver, thanks for the article. I’m on my second ST. Bought a 2012 used. Great machines. You can ride them all day long. Some of the mods I made, being older and short of stature, are Heli-Bar risers, lowered the suspension with Hyperpro lowering kit. Also added more lights (Skene design) front ant rear, Beemer Buddies grip wraps for less vibration, VStream windscreen which I like very much. Not much else. Looking into aftermarket exhaust.

    1. Thanks for your comment John, the ST is a great all-rounder. As for aftermarket – I’d say go remus or akrapovic for this bike. I had a remus installed which can be ridden baffle-in or out.

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