BMW’S NEW F 800 GT looks instantly more mature than the sportier F 800 ST.

The riding position is clearly better suited to longer journeys, with revised, roomier ergonomics and a saddle that warmly invites you stay onboard to drain the 15-litre tank.

I’m not normally a fan of orange, but this burnt autumnal paint scheme looks classy and original, and the same compliments go for the logical controls and displays.

The aluminium handlebars are 20 mm higher and are ‘vibration-free’, says BMW. They also have new switchgear. The footpegs have been repositioned 10 mm further forwards and 10 mm lower to give more legroom and both the rider and pillion seats have extra cushioning and are wider to make long-distance tours more comfortable.

The perch is much lower, too. The rear spring travel has been shortened by 15mm to reduce squat under acceleration, give a more precise feel and to allow the seat height to be lowered from the ST’s 840mm to the GT’s 800mm, but there are more than enough alternative seat height options available to suit riders of any height.

Heading out towards the Belgian Ardennes, the obligatory highway section is always an eye opener. The GT clearly has more weather protection than its sportier sibling but although the windscreen is effective, it doesn’t feel quite as barn-door wide as it looks.

That’s not to say the buffeting is excessive; far from it in fact. But if you’re interested in this bike for its long-distance capabilities – and you’re six feet or taller – a higher screen certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Thanks to the longer stems, the mirrors are clear, very well positioned and there are no discernible vibrations worth mentioning.

‘My’ bike is loaded with the usual press fleet goodies including electronic traction, stability and suspension controls. The ESA here is a simpler version of the electronic suspension system found on the Germans’ real touring buffaloes, and it has three options; comfort, normal and sport, which are all available at the touch of a button.

The difference between the first two options is negligible, but both are more than comfortable for the highway section, absorbing the worst bumps and gliding over potholes pretty successfully. The sportier setting is noticeably tighter and it works well for a more spirited ride.

I’m extremely grateful for the optional heated grips that work an absolute treat, another box that’s worth ticking on the predictably comprehensive accessories list.

The panniers are far roomier than they appear to be and my full-faced, size-large helmet fits easily in the right hand side, the left being slightly compromised by the exhaust. Removing them is also a fuss-free affair.

As we leave the motorway’s drone behind, the GT’s sporty background shows. It’s not a superlight bike to throw around but it is more agile than it looks, weighing about the same as the F 800 GS and with a low centre of gravity. With tricky surface conditions and decidedly dodgy weather, I’m grateful that this Beemer is my test mule.

It’s fair to say that the GT doesn’t quicken my pulse with sheer excitement but it does reassure me that wherever I want to go, at whatever pace I choose, it can and will deliver without complaint, I never have the feeling that the bike is overriding me or that I’m a twist of the wrist away from trouble.

The power delivery and handling are both precise and predictable. I try to provoke a handlebar shake with no effect, presumably thanks to the new, longer swingarm. Here in the twisties, the BMW is behaving with impeccable manners and its user-friendliness should help secure mass appeal.

Gear changes are slick, and even holding on to gears until high revs fails to aggravate the twin cylinder’s vibes. There is plenty of low down grunt for catapulting off the line and more than enough midrange to propel you through overtakes.

Customising a bike is a completely individual call, but, looking at the rather expensive options list, adding to the F 800 GT’s starting price of £8,175 could be daunting. At least it’s not compulsory.

A new age of motorcycling is upon us, where a bike isn’t just a weekend plaything. More and more people are waking up to the dual benefits of using bikes for commuting as well as leisure and even touring, and for that rider the GT is just about spot on.

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: BMW F 800 GT, from £8,175 on the road.
Engine: 798cc liquid-cooled parallel twin producing 89bhp @ 8,000rpm and 63.4lb.ft @ 5,800rpm.
Transmission: six speed sequential manual gearbox, toothed belt drive.
Weight (kerb): 213 kg.
Seat height: 800mm or 765mm standard (895 optional; 845, 820, 785 via special order).
Fuel capacity: 15 litres.
Contact: www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk.

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