Off-roading in Kerala with the 2022 BMW F 850 GS
Kerala is a place that is technically home to me but one that I haven’t been to in over 13 years. Now, you can imagine my joy when BMW Motorrad India phones up and tells us to pack our bags for a day of experiencing their 2022 BMW F 850 GS, GSA and the F 900 XR in the Hills of Thekkady. It felt like a homecoming of sorts and in hindsight, what a homecoming it was!
This is not the review of the BMW F 850 GS, we will do that once we get the bikes at our home base for a more extended period of time. This is just my (someone who hasn’t spent enough time off-road) experience riding the fairly large F 850 GS on some tricky trails with the stunning backdrop of the best of God’s Own Country. The off-road bit was organised by none other than Ouseph Chacko, lead instructor at the School of Dirt, so you just know there was a lot of fun to be had. The trails were broken into different levels of difficulty. There were trails that were fast-paced over softer mud where you had to navigate through bushes, slush crossings, rock climbs and everything in between.
After being off sale for a while now, the BMW F 850 GS was finally relaunched, now compliant with the latest emission norms. The Bavarian manufacturer certainly has a certain feline in its crosshairs with this 2022 F 850 GS considering that it is now available only in the Pro variant with most of the equipment that was paid extras when it was last available, as standards and here’s the kicker, it doesn’t cost more than it did either. But, I digress. The prospect of riding a 230-ish kg motorcycle off-road, in many cases along literal cliff-sides was fairly daunting. That fear however quickly started to go away by just how friendly the GS is to ride. It felt just right when straddling and handled everything like a champ, despite my unskilled approach to the whole ride. The rocky sections were especially fun and challenging at the same time. The key to navigating these sections was to maintain momentum and keep the throttle steady, else it’s very likely that the rocks and you will have unpleasant interactions. The rest of the course included a few jumps which were immensely fun to do on this bike and then another thing I thoroughly enjoyed doing was crossing the slush pit. Pick a line, stand on the pegs and just gun it!
After mucking about for a bit, Ouseph took us on a lovely trail around the circumference of the adventure park with the beautiful hills of Thekaddy as the backdrop and a 600-foot drop. No room for error then. But after a bit of sightseeing, the sun was beginning to set and we had a 60km ride up the winding hills of Kerala back to the hotel which I can honestly say was one of the best rides of my life. Now there’s a lot more I would like to talk about the BMW F 850 GS but more on that when we get our hands on it for a full-fledged review.