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★★★★★

“I commute everyday in an out of London, and my choice...”

Written on: 24/03/2007 by foxinsocks74 (2 reviews written)

Good Points
I commute everyday in an out of London, and my choice of bike is driven by need for something very practical and comfortable but also fun. I used to think the R850 was underpowered until I read a bike magazine review that cited it as a 'hooligan bike'! I was curious and read further. The absolutely key thing to do with this bike is to remove the standard catalytic converter. It was designed for the much bigger R1150 series and is far to big for this bike, and significantly restricts the power. It also makes the bike sound like a moped. When I replaced the exhaust with a lovely Remus system, the bike was transformed into a real monster.

The bike is ideal for me because it is tuned for low-end power, which lets me get away at the stoplights fast. With careful thinking I can easily leave the supersports behind as there is power from the moment you flick your wrist and the upright position lets me easily plan my route through the traffic. I often get stares and compliments from unsuspecting fellow bikers who are surprised by the 'wolf in sheep's clothing'. In terms of performance, its a dream to drive, with the classic Boxer low center of gravity.

Also it is big bike which is good for stability and visibility in the urban jungle, but its not too big like some of the newer BMW's designed for the US market. This means that I can still filter through traffic easily, even with the panniers on. The panniers are great because no need to carry a backpack for my hour-long commute, and when I leave the bike at the airport I can put helmet, over-suit and all into them.

Of course it is a BMW 'touring' class bike and I have made several trips into Europe on it. It can cruise at 90mph and handles nicely when fully laden on twisty country lanes.

Mine is the 'classic' model with hand painted tank lines, spokes, and lots of chrome, so it looks nice too.

Last year a driver pulled pulled in front of me and I ran into the side of his car (a Fiat Punto). It was a real testament to the robust build of the bike that it sustained only light damage while the Punto was crippled with a broken axle and major panel damage. Unfortunately I fractured my wrist, but as soon as the cast was off, I was back on the bike immediately!

Perhaps the best thing is that this bike tends to be undervalued on the used market because of the perception its a 'courier bike' so you can get excellent value for money.

Bad Points
Compared to the older generation of BMW's the build is lower quality. After 30k miles the paint on the engine block is beginning to peel in places, and there is more plastic than there used to be, but this also makes the bike lighter.

Servicing can be expensive, but since when are bikes cheap? BMW's persistence with sticking to the dry clutch is not optimal for urban commuting, but mine lasted over 30k miles, which is apparently very good. It was a little expensive to replace, however. But apart from that its just been regular services.

General Comments
I commute everyday in an out of London, and my choice of bike is driven by need for something very practical and comfortable but also fun. I used to think the R850 was underpowered until I read a bike magazine review that cited it as a 'hooligan bike'! I was curious and read further. The absolutely key thing to do with this bike is to remove the standard catalytic converter. It was designed for the much bigger R1150 series and is far to big for this bike, and significantly restricts the power. It also makes the bike sound like a moped. When I replaced the exhaust with a lovely Remus system, the bike was transformed into a real monster.



The bike is ideal for me because it is tuned for low-end power, which lets me get away at the stoplights fast. With careful thinking I can easily leave the supersports behind as there is power from the moment you flick your wrist and the upright position lets me easily plan my route through the traffic. I often get stares and compliments from unsuspecting fellow bikers who are surprised by the 'wolf in sheep's clothing'. In terms of performance, its a dream to drive, with the classic Boxer low center of gravity.



Also it is big bike which is good for stability and visibility in the urban jungle, but its not too big like some of the newer BMW's designed for the US market. This means that I can still filter through traffic easily, even with the panniers on. The panniers are great because no need to carry a backpack for my hour-long commute, and when I leave the bike at the airport I can put helmet, over-suit and all into them.



Of course it is a BMW 'touring' class bike and I have made several trips into Europe on it. It can cruise at 90mph and handles nicely when fully laden on twisty country lanes.



Mine is the 'classic' model with hand painted tank lines, spokes, and lots of chrome, so it looks nice too.



Last year a driver pulled pulled in front of me and I ran into the side of his car (a Fiat Punto). It was a real testament to the robust build of the bike that it sustained only light damage while the Punto was crippled with a broken axle and major panel damage. Unfortunately I fractured my wrist, but as soon as the cast was off, I was back on the bike immediately!
Perhaps the best thing is that this bike tends to be undervalued on the used market because of the perception its a 'courier bike' so you can get excellent value for money.
A great all-rounder that's plenty of fun, cheap to buy and reliable. If you are looking for a practical everyday car-replacement bike then you won't go wrong with the R850 (just lose the catalytic converter!).

I'll be sad the day I need to get a new bike because I'm not quite sure what current production bike can provide the same combination of good looks, performance and practicality as this one.

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