BMW made a rather capable little motorcycle in the F 850 GS and added to its capability with the F 850 GSA (the A standing for Adventure, of course).
A perfect little middleweight ADV for the discerning rider not interested in the size, weight, and girth of the big R 1250 GS, the 850 is supremely capable.
However, part of the joy of motorcycle ownership is the personalization and customization experience. Buying a bike is one thing. Making it your own is another matter entirely.
Especially when it comes to adventure riding. In this guide, we’ll show you nine must-have parts and accessories for your BMW F 850 GS and F 850 GS Adventure.
With the exception of one item on this list, we’re keeping this list generic so you can do your own research and buy the product that’s right for you.
However, you’ll recognize that one exception when you see it. We think the combination of parts on this list will help you get the most out of your F 850 GS, no matter if you’re going near or far, on-road or off. So, let’s begin.
1. Crash bars
Adventure bikes fall down. That just comes with the territory. Without any form of protection, you run a serious risk of damaging some vital parts of your 850, especially the engine. It’s extremely easy to have a minor tip-over puncture a hole in your case cover, dumping out all the bike’s vital fluids and leaving you stranded.
With some crash bars, designed to wrap around your engine, the odds of that happening go down dramatically. Crash bars come in many shapes and sizes, but the general purpose is the same – to protect the engine from damage in case you fall.
The bars will take the brunt of the impact and/or touch the ground before the engine does, so while your 850 GS might sport some new scrapes and scratches, at least you’ll be able to keep riding.
Installation is usually pretty simple, too, as a lot of kits available take advantage of existing mounting points so you don’t need to drill new holes (though sometimes longer bolts or modified hardware is needed. A reputable company should provide them if so.)
2. Skid plate
Equally as important as crash bars is having a skid plate underneath the engine to protect the fragile underbelly of the 850 from damage. Even if the bike doesn’t fall down, all sorts of objects can get kicked up from the front tire that has the possibility of damaging the engine.
Also, if you find yourself high-centering the bike (that is, cresting a rise without enough momentum to completely pull you over, centering the motorcycle on the highest point of the rise), you’d rather have the bike sitting on the skid plate rather than the engine.
Any adventure rider will tell you a skid plate is a must. Otherwise, you’re playing with borrowed time before something catastrophic happens. Skid plates come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, but we tend to favor those that are sturdy and all-encompassing, made from thick steel or aluminum.
If you plan on going any significant distance with the F 850 GS or F 850 GS Adventure (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll need luggage. Just like crash bars and skid plates, panniers go together with adventure bikes like peanut butter and jelly.
In fact, Lone Rider makes its own set of panniers, called MotoBags. These semi-rigid bags are completely waterproof, incredibly spacious, and are a perfect complement to the 850 GS.
Compared to the more common aluminum panniers you might see on adventure bikes, semi-rigid bags are lighter, less likely to injure you in a fall, and are less likely to get damaged in a crash.
But compared to soft luggage, the MotoBags’ semi-rigid construction gives them a higher weight capacity, while also allowing the bag to maintain its shape so you can better organize the things you’re going to pack. They really are the total package.
Aftermarket footpegs exist for the F 850 GS and F 850 GS Adventure, for the rider who does a lot more standing on the pegs than sitting in the seat. The more aggressive, spiked nature of the pegs does a much better job of gripping the rider’s boot than the standard peg.
5. Sidestand enlarger
The small footprint of the standard BMW sidestand has the potential to dig right into the terra firma, and instead of keeping your GS upright, it all comes crashing to the ground. To help stop that from happening, get a sidestand enlarger.
You can probably guess what this product does. This simple attachment greatly expands the footprint of your sidestand, providing a larger surface area to touch the ground.
6. Auxillary Lights
The standard headlights on today’s motorcycles, including the F 850 GS, are plenty bright, but they’re more suited for road riding. Off-road, you need illumination across a much wider swath of land. That’s why aftermarket lighting solutions are necessary.
The amount you need will depend on the kind of riding you do, but there are several different makes and models that are small and light for easy installation and are powered by LEDs which are extremely bright while having the added benefit of drawing very little power.
7. Headlight guard
While we’re on the topic of lights, let’s not forget a headlight guard. Similar in concept to engine protection, if an object were to smash your headlight, that could spell bad news.
Help prevent that from happening with a headlight guard, preferably one with a mesh-like design. Several options for the 850 GS and its “sideways-thermometer”-style headlight exist.
8. Handlebar Risers
This one is really more dependent on your body shape, size, and riding style, but if you’re not a fan of the 850 GS’ handlebar position when you’re standing, a set of handlebar risers could be the thing you need.
These simple devices provide a few extra inches of height for your handlebar (which, by the way, is also replaceable) so you have less of a reach when you’re on your toes.
Let’s face it: You can reach the limits of the F 850 GS’ suspension pretty quickly. You don’t need to be that aggressive to bottom the suspension, which clearly does little to inspire confidence. It doesn’t help that the fork is a rather basic piece with no adjustability and all the damping done in one fork leg.
The shock, too, while equipped with BMW’s dynamic electronic suspension, reaches its limits quickly if you’re pushing the pace. No matter what you ride, upgrading the suspension to suit your weight and riding style is a worthwhile investment that will transform your motorcycle.
The F 850 GS and F 850 GS Adventure are no different. With proper valving, correct spring rates, and the ability to adjust compression, rebound, and preload, you’ll be surprised how much performance potential you can unlock from your GS.
As you can see, there are a lot of options for customizing your 850. While some of these upgrades may not necessarily apply to you, we encourage you to pick and choose the accessories that are most applicable to you and go for it.
We think you’ll agree that these nine things have the ability to completely transform your F 850 GS riding experience.