Following the break-in service, here are some thoughts at 700+ miles.
I did a 450 mile day in getting the break-in miles complete, and to see how it worked as a longer distance machine. It was all on-road except for about 30 miles of sandy trail. The seat was surprisingly comfortable. I say surprisingly, because on my former 12GSA, I could barely make it 60 miles home from the dealer without searching the web for options. Comments on the pillion seat will come in the future. The ergos are very good seated, but standing not so much. For my anatomy, the bars need a riser, and the brake lever definitely needs a height extension attachment. As usual for all manufacturers, the stock pegs are uncomfortable standing for any length of time. Conversely, the windscreen is rubbish on-road, but very good for airflow off-road, but you could tell that just by looking at it. Grips and controls are all nicely placed, and the wonder wheel (new to me) is a very good piece of engineering, given the options for introducing a new hand/finger control. Like any new toy, I was messing about with it far less at mile 600 than at mile 60. Cruise control makes this a wrist-saving machine for long highway stints, and the excellent headlight can extend the day if so desired. Aux lighting is something I have added to every touring/adventure machine ever owned. This one may only need something for fog rather than more light.
The display is as good as you have read. Brilliant in all types of light and stunning at night. I think it even draws the attention of passing cars! For the first time, I do not miss an analog speedo and/or tachometer. The interface does not start out being intuitive, but you adjust after a while. Resetting the trip meter (which I do religiously still having bikes with no gas guage) is surprisingly complex. It takes many wheel and button presses, and is too distracting if already underway. BMW clearly believes that we are now at the same stage of evolution as the cars and don't need this very much. A more significant challenge is the bluetooth phone/helmet scenario. Several functions (eg: music, nav) do not work unless you have both your phone, and your headset paired and connected to the display. My headset (Sena) already connects to my phone automatically, so if I want to get the F850 functional, I have to turn off bluetooth on the phone, connect the headset, then turn bluetooth back on to allow the phone to connect. This happens every time you turn off the bike! Uuugghhh !! Strangely, it will happily connect just your phone, but I am not sure what it does in that mode. I am hoping that I just have not yet discovered some needed setting that will make this all seamless. The good news is that once connected, things look and work well. The turn by turn Nav is way below the standard of Apple or Google car interfaces, but it is functional. My guess is that they still want to sell full BMW Nav systems, so this is hobbled intentionally. Since this is all software, hopefully upgrades will be forthcoming. Speaking of upgrades, BMW could really take a page from KTM and allow you to put your favorite info on one screen and allow a one-touch return to the default screen. This entire section though, is picking niggles with what is an amazing improvement in instrumentation and navigation. Durability and longevity are the only unanswered questions.
If you skip the previous section, and just evaluate the motorcycle, I remain thoroughly impressed. The engine is the best I have ridden since the KTM 1190R, which makes it the 2nd best motorcycle engine ever in my book. It has plenty of torque, and plenty of HP for the application. It can easily hang with sportbikes in the right hands (not mine). The ride modes are interesting to play with, and I tried out Rain just to see the difference. It certainly tames the throttle response and cuts power, but I did not do anything to test the other safety net features. The gearbox is typical BMW, which is to say solid and clunky in lower gears and great in the higher ones. The quick-shifter is not an option I would have chosen, but it works. I tended to avoid it in the lower gears and use it for 5th and 6th gear where it was very smooth. In fact, 5th to 6th sometimes required a look at the display to confirm the shift had happened. It is that smooth. It is not intuitive for me (in fact, it feels wrong!) to shift without the clutch, so I have to remember to use it. Perhaps over time. The brakes are very good. I have not taken them to the point of engaging ABS, and I am not planning to ;-) I have not played with the suspension yet other than selecting the modes to try them out. I will need full luggage and a pillion to really notice the differences, but hard braking does induce front end dive. Since the front is not adjustable, springs and/or valving may be in the future. Conversely, the front felt perfect for the short stint offroad. YMMV.
More to come