When dreaming of exploring the globe on two wheels, adventure riders usually dream big, aspiring to high-end machines like BMW’s iconic R1200GS and KTM’s wonderfully fast and capable 1190 Adventure. However, those lust-worthy globetrotters are priced in a strata that is a stretch for the reality of most riders. Both have entry fees starting around $16,000, but adding optional accessories can bring the MSRPs dangerously close to $20k.

Best On-Off Road / Adventure Motorcycle Of 2014

Single-cylinder adventure bikes are more affordable and often have greater off-road abilities, but they’re less happy droning along boring interstate routes that are often the best or only way to the epic trails.

Enter Goldilocks. BMW’s F800GS and Triumph’s Tiger 800 are relatively affordable adventure conveyances, with highway manners vastly preferable to one-lunged ADVs, but lighter and more manageable – on the trail and the wallet – than the choices in the 1200cc range. The F800GS made its debut in 2008, and Triumph followed BMW’s lead in 2011 with the Tiger 800.

2011 Adventure-Touring Shootout: Triumph Tiger 800XC Vs. BMW F800GS + Video

It’s been three years since we last compared these Euro ADVs. They are, in most ways, very well matched – even in terms of the way they look. Triumph clearly had the BMW as its target when designing the Tiger 800.

BMW F800GS Adventure WING4949

We rode the Sandrover Matte version at the GSA’s launch near Moab, Utah. Racing Red would come later.

This class remained static for a couple of years, but in 2014 BMW debuted an Adventure version of its venerable F800GS. Perhaps its biggest upgrade is its underseat fuel tank, enlarged from a barely adequate 4.2 gallons to a Baja-ready 6.3 gallons – yielding as much as an extra 100 miles between fuel stops. Touring amenities are also improved by a larger windscreen, standard hand guards and a more comfortable seat

BMW F800GS Adventure WING5261

The new version of the F800GS is ready for Adventure.

A BMW with Adventure in its name still must include equipment to handle off-road terrain more effectively. As such, the 800GSA includes tubular engine guards, a nylon sump protector, beefier subframe and aluminum saddlebag mounts as standard equipment. Visually, the GSA can be spotted by its longer beak of a front fender, larger engine shrouds and a wider tail from the bigger fuel tank. Short riders may want to order the optional-at-no-cost low seat that brings saddle height down from 35.0 inches to 33.9 inches

2014 BMW F800GS Adventure Review

The F800GS Adventure has a base price of $13,550, a $2,100 upcharge over the base GS, which includes a luggage rack and 12-volt outlet. However, our GSA was fully loaded with options, including the “Premium Package,” an $800 upgrade that includes niceties like heated grips, traction control, a centerstand and BMW’s nicely tuned “Off-Road” riding mode, which allows useful slips and slides on dirt terrain. Add another $645 for the LED fog lights and electronic suspension adjustment (ESA), and we’re at $14,995.

2014 BMW F800GS Action Front

Note the Adventure’s tall windshield. Another desirable option for the GSA are these sturdy and nicely welded aluminum side cases ($1,070) that are purported to hold 82 liters of stuff, despite the left bag narrowing at its bottom to clear the muffler. Conveniently, they can be used as ice buckets if you need to chill post-ride beverages.

Meanwhile, the Tiger 800 carries on basically unchanged. As previous, opting for the XC model yields a more dirt-worthy adventurer for an extra $1,000. Spoked wheels replace cast-aluminum ones, and the front hoop grows in diameter from 19 to 21 inches. Longer suspension travel, nearly two inches up at both ends, helps suck up bigger hits and raises the seat to 33.2 inches. The saddle includes a seat adjustment that lifts the seat nearly an inch from its low position. The 2014 800XC has a base price of $11,999.


Following the F800GS Adventure’s launch in Utah, we were able to spend a couple of days riding it alongside a Tiger 800XC in Colorado, a 2012 model owned by friend of MO, Dean Hight. You might recognize Dean as a guest rider in our 2013 Adventure-Touring Shootout.

Dean accessorized his Tiger with Triumph crash bars ($200) and heated grips ($249). Rather than buying Triumph’s saddlebags ($800), Dean uses a set of Wolfman soft bags. The stock Bridgestone Battle Wings were replaced by Heidenau K60 tires, and Dean reports being impressed by their grip, both on and off the pavement, and with their durability. They also better match the off-road intent of the BMW’s GSA and its Continental TKC80 knobby tires fitted as a no-cost option instead of the standard Michelin Anakees.

2014 Triumph Tiger 800XC Action Front

An adventure bike like the Tiger 800XC in Colorado is a match made in heaven.

Colorado, of course, is a prime location to test adventure bikes such as these, and we spent nearly as much time off-road as we did on pavement. Our BMW was accessorized with the optional aluminum bash plate that guards the oil filter and exhaust header pipes, a virtual necessity if riding an 800GS in rugged and rocky terrain. The Contis on our GSA are adequate on paved surfaces, but they excel during off-road use.

On The Road

The most obvious distinction between this pair is found in the engine bay. BMW relies on a ruthlessly efficient parallel-Twin powerplant. The 798cc motor boasts a broad spread of power that makes for an effective tool, but its character isn’t as smooth or as sweet as the wonderful 799cc inline-Triple in the Tiger. Boiled down to their base characteristics, the BMW’s mill is more tractable and better suited to off-road duties, while the Trumpet’s peakier ‘plant shines while out on any paved roads.

2014-BMW-F800GS-vs-Triumph-Tiger-800XC Dyno

In terms of output, the BMW cranks out more power sooner than the Triumph (except for a lull from about 3500-4500 rpm) from bottom until 8500 rpm when the Tiger revs out to a slightly stronger finish. (Dyno runs from our 2011 comparison test.)

The Tiger hews closer to a sport-touring ride than the F800, with lower-set handlebars and a shorter windscreen. Its three-cylinder motor is revvier than the BMW’s Twin, which makes it more fun to spin up when space allows. It’s also immensely smoother than the vibey German unit. The F800’s pronounced vibration was Dean’s biggest complaint about the Beemer. As for me, the vibes are apparent but not particularly bothersome, even after the long ride from Utah to Colorado.

The BMW edges the Tiger in its over-the-road comfort. The Adventure’s adjustable windshield is remarkably effective at diverting air from a rider, and its ride is so plush that it’s difficult to imagine a cushier ride. The BMW’s trip computer is a nice feature on a bike meant for traveling, but the LCD info screen is fairly small and not easy to read. On a related note, we’d gladly give up the analog speedometer’s 160-mph range for larger and more clearly defined numerals.

2014 BMW F800GS Beauty

The F800GS’s instrumentation could use an update but, with scenery like this, we weren’t looking at the gauges very often.

The Triumph is also a comfy traveler, and its height-adjustable seat gives the option of extending legroom if desired. Its digital speedo is easier to see than the little numbers on the Beemer’s analog unit. The Tiger’s front end earned some criticism for a fork that compressed too readily, even though the bite from the brakes was relatively soft compared to the F800’s firm and accurate lever feel. An engine whine above 55 mph is mildly irritating. Additionally, a Tiger owner must do without traction control.

2014 Triumph Tiger 800XC Action

Despite a design four years old, the Tiger 800XC remains an excellent traveling companion.

Off The Road

When it comes to navigating the variable complexities of off-roading, the GS Adventure is the preferable mount. Its motor tractors away from as little as 2000 rpm, spitting out exactly what a rider’s wrist demands. The Tiger, despite a narrow clutch engagement zone and a peakier powerband, performed surprisingly well in the dirt – second gear is usable from just 15 mph. It delivered more traction than expected on hard-packed dirt, but, in loose terrain, the motor spins up too quickly and causes the tire to lose grip. And, on washboard surfaces, the Tiger suffers annoying axle tramp.

“The BMW felt more planted in the dirt that we rode,” Dean commented. “It had plusher suspension in the dirt, and it was easier to moderate the throttle at slow speeds. The Twin lugged better than the Triple.”

2014 BMW F800GS Action Off-Road

The Tiger 800XC performs fine on graded dirt roads like this, but the BMW is the preferred choice when off-road adventures become challenging.

A lower center of gravity is another off-road advantage for the F800, despite a 30-lb weight disadvantage. With the fuel tank placed under the seat and the engine’s inclined cylinders, the BMW feels much less top-heavy than the Tiger. In certain gnarly circumstances, this could be the difference between riding through them or eating dirt.

If things do get out of hand, the BMW’s sturdy engine/bash guards will probably do a better job of limiting damage. Dean doesn’t rate the Triumph’s guards highly.

“They made the bike look more Adventur-y, I suppose, but one tip-over off pavement left them pretty scarred, as well as the plastic bits at the tank,” he lamented. “The plastic tank and rad covers weren’t expensive, but I had expected the crash bars to be more protective.”


If price was no object, and off-roading was to be a key mission, BMW’s F800GS Adventure is the superior machine. It boasts robust wind protection, higher technology, a better luggage system, and versatile competence no matter where its front tire is aimed.

2014 BMW F800GS Profile

The King of the Hill sits at 14,000 feet atop Pikes Peak.

However, price is almost always a factor in anyone’s purchasing decision, so the Tiger’s cheaper ($1,500-plus) entry fee looks rather appealing, especially to riders who intend to keep their adventures on paved roads. .

“The Tiger better suits the type of riding I would do with either of them,” said our Coloradan tester. “The Triumph costs less and, in my opinion, is more fun to ride.”

2014 BMW F800GS vs Triumph Tiger 800XC

BMW F800GS Adventure

+ Highs

  • Ready for almost anything
  • Off-roading champ
  • Nice touring rig, too!
– Sighs

  • Pricey when accessorized
  • Coarse engine
  • Instrumentation could be easier to read
Triumph Tiger 800XC

+ Highs

  • Sexy three-cylinder sound and feel
  • Strong value
  • Sportier on-road handling
– Sighs

  • Less adept at off-roading
  • Less wind protection
  • Less factory customization options

Middleweight Adventure Shootout Scorecard

Category BMW F800GS Adventure Triumph Tiger 800XC
Engine 84.38% 85.00%
Transmission/Clutch 97.50% 85.00%
Handling 82.50% 85.00%
Brakes 90.00% 77.50%
Suspension 88.75% 82.50%
Technologies 95.00% 60.00%
Instruments 80.00% 87.50%
Ergonomics/Comfort 95.00% 78.75%
Quality, Fit & Finish 90.00% 82.50%
Cool Factor 82.50% 85.00%
Grin Factor 65.00% 80.00%
Overall Score 86.25% 81.15%
Middleweight Adventure Shootout Specs
BMW F800GS Adventure Triumph Tiger 800 XC
MSRP $13,550 ($14,995 as tested w/o luggage) $11,999 ($12,448 as tested w/o luggage)
Engine Capacity 798cc 799cc
Engine Type Liquid-cooled 4-stroke in-line two-cylinder engine, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line three-cylinder
Horsepower 81.3 @ 8400 rpm 84.0 @ 9900 rpm
Torque 57.2 lb.-ft @ 6100 rpm 51.2 lb.-ft @ 7800 rpm
Bore x Stroke 82 mm x 75.6 mm 74mm x 61.9mm
Compression 12.0:1 12.0:1
Fuel System Electroinc intake pipe injection, digital engine management (BMS-K+) Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Transmission Six-speed Six-speed
Final Drive Chain Chain
Front Suspension 43mm Upside down telescopic fork. 9.1 in. travel 45mm Showa telescopic fork. 8.6 in. travel
Rear Suspension Single shock, rebound and preload adjustable. 8.5 in. travel Single Showa shock, rebound and preload adjustable. 8.5 in. travel
Front Brakes Dual 300mm discs. Two-piston calipers with switchable ABS Dual 308mm discs. Nissin two-piston calipers. Switchable ABS
Rear Brakes Single 265mm disc. Single-piston caliper with ABS Single 255mm disc. Nissin single-piston caliper with switchable ABS
Front Tire 90/90-21 90/90-21
Rear Tire 150/70-17 150/70-17
Seat Height 35.0 in. (optional 33.9 in. seat available) 33.3 in. – 34.1 in.
Wheelbase 62.1 in. 60.8 in.
Rake/Trail 26.0 deg/4.6 in. 24.3 deg/3.8 in.
Curb Weight 505 pounds 474 pounds
Fuel Capacity 6.3 gal 5.0 gal
Warranty 3-year, 36,000-mile 2-year, unlimited-mile

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  • TonyCarlos

    BMW needs to address the vibration issue with this engine. They charge a premium for their products based on an expectation of refinement. It is seriously lacking here.

    • Kevin Duke

      Yep, the F800 engine is polarizing. The high-amplitude but low-frequency vibes it emits aren’t bothersome to me. It’s less pleasing in sound and feel to the sweet Triumph Triple, but it’s very efficacious.

  • EcoMouse

    3 Cylinder with 7 Gallon Under Seat Tank. Then we’re talkin’

    • Kevin Duke

      Don’t get the Explorer if you want to do a lot of off-roading, as it’s more of a sport-tourer than a big dirtbike. Also, you might want to wait a month or two to make your decision. The 800 might be due for an update…

  • Old MOron

    Beemer for me, please, but at the base price, not the ultra deluxe super stratum price.

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    Not bad prices I guess. I suppose I’ll need to win the lottery to buy any new bike these days. Was in the local Yamaha shop and they have a Tenere and it’s $15K. I said Never mind. It also being a Kawasaki shop I actually went in to see if they had any KLR650’s. Nada. Maybe I can find a used Vstrom someplace. What’s up with the “Beaks” on these bikes. That looks bizarre.

  • DeadArmadillo

    That’sa nice. BMW wins again. Are they only giving out free food and wine or are the squids getting something stronger?

    • Kevin Duke

      The last BMW launch we attended was based out of SoCal, not even out of state and not a glamorous international launch. It’s a wonder why we even showed up!

      • DeadArmadillo

        I’d bet that the food and drink wasn’t bad.

        • Kevin Duke

          Oh, how I suffered!

  • Esteban Fernandez

    In numbers BMW is great, off-road … Great. But the seat could use some improvement, cause it’s a killer. Just to hard!!!

  • Kevin

    Welcome back, Kevin: I have missed your reporting, hope you enjoyed riding in my native state!

  • JMDonald

    I’d like these bikes more if they weighed a bit less.

  • Andrew Capone

    My Tiger 800 is the Swiss Army Knife of motorbikes, and handles everything i throw at it. I’ve rented both the F800 and Tiger at the TT, and prefer the Tiger, but both are seriously versatile and competent bikes. Shave 30 or 40 lb’s and a few tech upgrades and I’ll be all over the next generation T800. Nice comparo, Kevin.

    • Kevin Duke

      But which would be your choice if you had to take them over challenging off-road terrain…?

      • Andrew Capone

        Well, my buddy and I had a Tiger XC and a Tiger Roadie at the Isle of Man this year, and we took on, inadvertently, some serious prehistoric shit…boulders and rock paths left by the Vikings…and both bikes acquitted themselves admirably. The very same bikes were a hoot at speed on the TT course. So, the versatility and that sweet triple motor versus the slightly agricultural BMW twin, lean it heavily towards the Tiger for me. While the BMW might have a slight advantage in deep doo-doo, I’m not sure if, based on my particular riding skills, it would make a big diff. If I were to go adventuring, I’d rather not do it on 500 pound road bikes with beaks, but a more dedicated dirt devil. Just IMHO.

      • Nathan Valentine

        Ridden both and own the Tiger and until Triumph comes out with a Tiger 800XC Superleggera 😉 I’ll take my plated WR over either.

  • bbtowns

    If you didn’t have to shell out so much more for an adequate fuel tank the BMW might be in consideration. My buddy with the 800GS is looking for gas at 120 miles, though he surely has a gallon left. That torque “curve” on the triumph is more like a door!

  • SRMark

    Very nice indeed but I’ll wait to see if Yamaha can save me a few thousand with a similarly set-up FZ-09 or FZ-07.

    • FreeFrog

      Just try an FZ-09 or -07 in the dirt. Tires, suspension and rider position will fail on any real dirt. That said, I can’t wait to see when/if Yamaha does build a proper ADV bike using one of these bikes. 😉

  • FreeFrog

    I LOVE my 2013 Tiger 800xc. With the handlebar mount brackets reversed when doing serious off-roading it comfy standing, but in regular bar positions this is a perfect 70% road/30% dirt bike. Great road bike and good dirt bike and the engine is awesome. I’ve burned off the good road-centric, but weak dirt Pirelli Scorpion Trails that came stock and am pleased with the Shinko 705’s additional dirt grip. Sadly the Shinko’s at 2600 miles the Shinko’s are probably 50% worn, so that explains their bargain basement price. Still, I like the Shinko’s, but will try the Heidenau K60’s next. Pricier, but MUCH longer lived and probably better all around.

  • Kurtis Davis

    I am in the Market for a new bike leaving my KLR650/2013 to go on a new Adventure 2014 BMW GS800 Adventure or the Triumph 800 Tig / I dont know what to chouse

  • Jakub Hytych