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Old 12-16-2014, 11:40 PM   #1
UKRider OP
Joined: Dec 2014
Location: Pinner, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Oddometer: 6
Choosing a F700 GS as a first medium-size adv bike

Hi, All

I just completed the "step up" process from a Honda Varadero 125 (10k miles in one year on a L plate) to a 2013 F700 GS. In two weeks, I have about 500 miles on so far (in December, in the UK).

It was a tough process deciding on a F700. The V-strom 650, Versys, MT-07, XJ600, F800 GS, F800 R and similar were all on my list, and I test rode most of them, but in the end I traded in the Honda and rode off on the F700.

Others have probably done so, but I'll post some info here about the process and some pics of what I rode. The F700 isn't a perfect bike (vibration at 75 mph and up, slightly stiff clutch, no magical exhaust note, expensive), but the strengths of the bike still made it come out on top for me-- especially as I lay on the miles in the dark, in the rain, in heavy London traffic, and in below freezing temperatures...

I'm looking forward to some great day and overnight tours, just as soon as I can ride in daylight again! Following posts will have background and process.
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Old 12-17-2014, 06:35 AM   #2
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: The great state of confusion
Oddometer: 4,204
Congrats on the purchase.

I think it's a fine bike.

Some folks are more sensitive to vibration than others, and it is said that some bikes vibrate more than others.... I'm sure the first part of that sentance is true ... not sure on the second part having only ever ridden my own personal F650GS twin which I would call "smooth".

I would clock in a few thousand miles and see how things mate in...

There is a long thread over on regarding vibration on the twins if it turns out to bug you. a
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Old 12-17-2014, 06:49 AM   #3
Joined: Sep 2014
Oddometer: 13
I think those are great bikes. I've been looking at one myself.
Your vibration could be something simple like a wheel being out of balance.
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Old 12-17-2014, 11:03 AM   #4
UKRider OP
Joined: Dec 2014
Location: Pinner, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Oddometer: 6
Part I: Beginnings

Thanks for the replies-- I should clarify the vibration note. On my Honda Varadero 125, I had a V Twin engine with pistons about the size of 35mm film canisters. Even at 10,000 rpm, it didn't produce much vibration. (And yes, I would cruise in 5th at 10k for about 66 mph.)

Compared to the Honda "sewing machine" smoothness, all the bikes I test rode felt vibey, and not just the F700. Also, I don't find the vibe a problem at 75 mph and up, it's just there. (After 120 miles on my first day, my hands felt fine.) Also, the 18 month old F700 only has 1500 miles on it, so by 6k miles it may be gone or less vibey (or I won't notice it any more, having forgotten the Honda...)

Here's some background on my riding-- since I like seeing others first bikes, and I think the bikes we first have affect what we own in the future. For the record, the F700 is the fourth bike I've owned.


Like a lot of us, my first "ride" was a 1970s mini bike with a lawn mower engine owned by a friend. It looked like this:

I was about 11 years old and I rode this baby for about 20 minutes up and down a gravel road across from the small farm I grew up on in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. After 20 mintues, thrilled by doing 25 mph or so, I crashed it in the gravel. I have fond memories of using tweesers to pull tiny pieces of bloody gravel out of my shredded palm and knee. No helmets back then, or even long pants. I guess you could call this bike a dual sport...

At age 15, somehow I was legal to buy and ride a Honda Passport C70. It looked exactly like this:

I used my summer work money (picking berries) to buy this new for about $550 in Woodburn, Oregon. I would put about 1400 miles on it through the rest of High School, doing amazing trips to Salem, 30 miles away. On an occasional Saturday night, I'd even "cruise the gut" in Salem-- literally "American Grafitti." Very reliable, but the electric start gave out so I used the kickstarter. No strong enough to take girls out on. Sold it to a farmer for $350 when I was done. Super easy to ride. I was the nicest person on this Honda...

About the same time, I was "gifted" a 1960 Vespa GS 80cc:

This was his father's bike, and my friend was upgrading to a new 125cc Vespa. I pulled the engine for a rebuild, repainted the bike with paint I had from my MG Midget paint job, and this bike was a blast but somewhat weak and smokey, being a two stroke. I still own this bike-- it's in my mum's barn in Oregon. I keep encouraging my brother to pull it out for a rebuild.

A bit later, I would "borrow" my brother's late 1970s Yamaha 400:

When my brother wasn't around, I'd swipe this bike to "tear about" the farmlands of the Willamette Valley. The speedo was out, but the tach said I was doing 8 or 9k, which felt like about 100 mph. I'll never know.

In college, I changed to cars (Morris Minors, MG Midget, MGB, Honda Prelude) but afterward I wanted a bike again. I test rode one of these in Eugene, Oregon back in 1983:

The bike had some miles on but was only $350. My future wife joined on the back for the test ride and liked it, but in the end I went to graduate school in Philadelphia and gave up on motorcycling for about 30 years (until 2013, that is). In those 30 years I had kids, lived on east and west coast, rode up to 5000 miles a year on bicycles, owned some sizeable sailboats, and then ended up in London in the UK.

And that is when part two will pick up in next post...

UKRider screwed with this post 12-17-2014 at 11:51 AM
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Old 12-18-2014, 03:53 PM   #5
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: N.E. Wyoming
Oddometer: 194
Ya, I love my F700GS.
Ride Safe, Richard 14 F700GS ( My Wyoming has an East infection )
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Old 12-19-2014, 01:50 PM   #6
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Joined: Dec 2014
Location: Pinner, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Oddometer: 6
Part II: Path to a GS

About 18 month ago I had a sudden big need to log about 225 miles a week to be with a family member after work. It would take weeks to get a car license in the UK (tests, training costs) and a full motorcycle license would also take weeks, money and three tests. To ride a 125cc motorcycle with L plates, however, only required one day of training, so that is what I did.

After basic training, I bought a 2007 Honda Varadero 125 with only 877 miles on the odometer. I thought it fun to visit the Ace Cafe with such a small cc bike sporting big L plates:

I test rode other 125cc bikes, but they seemed small compared to the big baby-Vara. All in all, I probably couldn't have made a better choice because this bike was just about flawless at what it could do (about 65 mph tops with my carcass onboard), and it was bulletproof (other than I killing the chain by riding in so much rain).

I think most UK riders are expected to do around 4-5k miles a year, but I put on 10k in 12 months on the little Honda, including about 380 miles in two days for an overnight stay at a youth hostel in Sherringham in Norfolk, L plates all the way:

Over the summer, I ticked through the classes and the test for a full UK car license, and in November I earned a full UK motorcycle license. As the MOT and road tax and insurance came up on the Honda, I opted for a trade in for more cc's.

Overall, I wish I could have kept the somewhat slow but hyper reliable Honda-- I did a lot of miles in the dark, rain and cold, and I never worried about being stranded. However, the headlights were a bit weak on dark country roads, she was very tall in the front end and light (leading to some scares in strong cross winds), and I didn't like having a slow 0-60 mph time, since more than once I had cars on my tail on on ramps and similar. Also, in strong headwinds, the bike could be blown down to less than 50 mph, which didn't make one feel very safe on a busy dual carriageway.

Then the search for a 650 to 800 cc bike began, resulting in a used but low mileage BWM F700 (in next post). Like the Honda, I was looking for an upright riding position, strong reliability, safe handling feel, but much stronger accelleration, better slow speed handling, a more planted feel on the road and longer-distance touring ability (including light off road, perhaps). Like the Honda, I liked the idea of "a bike criticized for being expensive," but one with a year or more of depreciation and pre-farkled to keep costs down. That's what I found...

My next post will focus on the search and choice of the F700, and some pictures of the bike tomorrow (which will be the first time all week I get to ride her in daylight, given that I have a night commute). I have about 100 miles of riding to do tomorrow, but I think I'll do an early start and visit the Ace Cafe for breakfast around 7:00 a.m.
2013 BWM F700 GS
1960 Vespa GS
2010 Van Nicholas Ti Euros (road bicycle)
1999 Bruce Gordon BLT (touring bicycle)
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Old Yesterday, 02:51 AM   #7
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Joined: May 2011
Location: Southern Vancouver Island
Oddometer: 170
It sounds like quite a process to get your motorcycle license in the UK. How expensive is it? And what is insurance like? It has to be pricey!

Sometimes I bet you miss the freedom of riding in Oregon. I live in BC, and it's pretty similar to Oregon with lots of trees, hills and great riding. How does the UK compare other than of course the congestion.


All who wander are not lost.
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