BMW R850R Review

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  • Build quality

  • Reliability

  • Value For Money

foxinsocks74's review of BMW R850R

★★★★★

“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.

  • 2001

    Year Manufactured

  • 3 years

    Length of ownership

  • Build quality

  • Reliability

  • Value For Money

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Cmy5Chi's Response to foxinsocks74's Review

Written on: 02/04/2007

I enjoyed your pointers and ride experiences, especially on the robust response to the Fiat. Overall, a dream for good value on all grounds to cover when travelling near & far. Thumbs UP and take good care of the beast looking beautiful as well!

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Rod Savage's Response to foxinsocks74's Review

Written on: 05/12/2010

I found this review very helpful because...it is the second reference I have heard to changing the exhaust to a Remus system and getting rid of the Catalytic Converter.
<br/>Thats my birthday present to myself sorted!
<br/>Thanks

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Foxinsocks74's Response to foxinsocks74's Review

Written on: 30/03/2009

Just an update after 2 more years and 50k miles. The bike still running nicely and I've further enhanced performance by changing the engine management chip (got a new one from bbpower). Makes a noticeable difference and eliminates some surging at mid throttle positions.<br/><br/>Additional notes: if the bike is equipped with windscreen the metal bars holding it to the bike have a tendency to wear and snap. I've had to replace several. ADVICE: as soon as one breaks, replace it, if you wait, another will break soon. Once two have gone the other two won't last more than 20 miles! ADVICE: Do NOT attach satnav holder to the winsdcreen bars. Bad idea, makes them snap within a few thousand miles.<br/><br/>For some reason I've snapped several clutch cables in the past two years. Not sure why they keep going, but I advise keeping a spare on the bike. They are easy to replace on the fly.<br/><br/>I've recently decided to retire my beloved ride to reserve duty as its hit a venerable mileage and I want a change. Unfortunately I didn't like the new BMW's for personal reasons (too ugly, too plasticky, too expensive) so I went for a Kawasaki ZZR1400. This is a fantastic bike but not for the faint hearted! I'll review it at some point. <br/><br/>But I decided to keep the BMW as a second bike because of its many miles of loyal service and its general reliability. It looks so nice I couldn't part with it. Also good for rainy days when I don't want to soil the new bike.<br/><br/>Happy riding!

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