L.I.F.E / July 2019

A Road Bike with Adventure Muscle

Sharing the famous Java North Coast Road, locally known as Pantura, with hundreds of travelers returning to their hometowns at the end of the fasting month, this motorcycle stood out from the rest. The BMW F 750 GS turns heads wherever it goes. Although slightly smaller than its stablemates in the GS series, such as the F 800 GS or even R 1200 GS, the familiar logo on the tank always draws attention. The first impression is dashing and classy, while the prestigious name adds value. Although equipped with an 800-cc engine, the F 750 GS is as light and easy to handle as a 250-cc. Amid heavy traffic on the Java North Coast Road, it faced no difficulties getting around. In terms of performance, it is more than capable to roam the streets of Indonesia. This bike may be soft, but the power is great. Let’s look at the engine. Despite its name, the new F 750 GS does not have a 750-cc powerplant. The new F 750 GS has the same 853-cc parallel twin engine as the F 850 GS. A different set of intake and exhaust cams, as well as a different engine control module, distinguish it from its bigger sibling. BMW claims the engine delivers 57 kilowatts at 7,500 rpm and 85 Nm of torque at 6,000 rpm. That is 1.5 kw and 5 Nm more than the model it replaces. And while it is not a huge increase, the character of the engine has been changed drastically. With a bore of 84 mm and a stroke of 77 mm, the new bike’s engine uses a 270-degree firing interval with a 90-degree crank pin offset. BMW added twin counter balancers, resulting in significantly reduced engine vibration and a smooth throttle response. It also has a completely different and more aggressive engine sound, if that is important to you. Even though the F 750 GS is an adventure bike at heart, the cast aluminum wheels with unique air intakes placed on the bar not on the rim, shiny bodywork, lower seat height, and street-biased tires mean it leans toward the street. In fact, the 750 is designed for new adventure riders who plan to ride mostly on the street and work their way into the dirt. It has lower suspension, a detuned engine and lower bars compared with the 850, making it better for riders intending to do most of their riding on paved roads. Another good thing is that there are plenty of options available to tailor the bike to your needs. Adjustable foot pegs, different height seat options, a suspension lowering kit, several luggage configurations, crash bars, hand guards, GPS on the dashboard and the various performance packages all allow you to build the bike that suits you. The bike is also equipped with a TFT dashboard used in high-quality flat panel liquid-crystal displays, traction control, anti-lock braking system and hand guards. It also has switchable rain, road and dynamic riding modes. The TFT dash mirrors your smart phone. You can answer phone calls without having to remove your phone from your pocket, select music, or display the map (which you must download first through the BMW Motorrad Connected app). The app connects your smartphone, other riders, your helmet and the passenger’s helmet. All of this is controllable through a switch on the left-side handle bar. I can say the F 750 GS is the first generation of smart motorcycle. And do not forget, the keyless technology requires you to keep the key in a well-placed waterproof pocket. Anyway, the F 750 GS is a nice-looking motorcycle. Its GS heritage shines through, thanks to the pointed beak, angular lines of the bodywork and relocated fuel tank. To increase range, the tank was relocated beneath the seat as it was on the previous-generation F 800 GS series. BMW has replaced both the F 700 and F 800 dual-sport adventure motorcycles and delivered the F 750 and F 850 as replacements. Unfortunately, they also did away with the G 650 GS, which was a lot of fun. I tried the BMW G 650 GS Sertao on the Cipali Toll Road in 2015, before it opened to the public. I am more interested in what a bike can do than what is it called. The BMW F 750 GS is no doubt a looker. Well, in all honesty, the adventure touring segment is not exactly the pretty swan of the motorcycle world. The F 750 GS is essentially a slightly less powerful version of the F 850 GS. This bike is a very comfortable ride – the seat is large and well-cushioned, so you can spend hours in the saddle. There is 151 mm of suspension travel up front and 177 mm at the rear, so it can take off-roading well and the rebound damping (adjustable) allows it a sporty disposition. As I said before, the F 750 GS gets an elaborate list of electronic gadgets on board. Features like automatic stability control, ABS, riding modes – rain and road – come as standard. Then there are optional features, such as electronic suspension adjustment, dynamic traction control and pro-riding modes – dynamic and enduro, a quick-shifter among others. With such electronic assistance, the F 750 GS will make sure it remains on its two wheels and not the other way around. But if you must be a maniac and wish to ride rally style and slip and slide, the ABS is switchable. While the BMW F 750 GS may fit the bill, it is not exactly an affordable machine, costing nearly half a billion rupiah off-the-road. In comparison, a Japanese bike with the same engine capacity costs about Rp 250 million to Rp 300 million ($17,600-$21,200) with similar power figures. But the F 750 GS does have a strong presence on the road. This is a BMW motorcycle, after all. But realistically speaking, for a motorcycle that will spend most of its time on the tarmac, the F 750 GS fares very well, with room for mild off-roading. It’s not as big and heavy as a fully grown adventure bike; it’s agile in traffic, keeps you comfortable on bad roads or even off them, promises swift power delivery and offers a lot of electronics to play with. It can easily be a motorcycle you live with every day – a motorcycle that does pretty much everything.