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Old 02-15-2013, 11:33 AM   #1
duffs OP
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F700GS first impressions

A week ago I brought my F800GS in for its 6,000 mile service and was given a brand new F700GS as a courtesy bike. As most on here will be well aware—while the 700 and 800 are mechanically similar, there are several differences including:

  • different fairings
  • lighter-duty suspension (lower, less travel and standard front forks)
  • more road-oriented alloy wheels—19" front/17" rear
  • 12% less power and 7% less torque
  • some cost-cutting bits such as steel handlebars and a tiny windscreen

  • My particular 700 was waiting for me dressed in rather stealthy matte grey paintwork, and fully equipped with optional active stability control (ASC), electronic suspension adjustment (ESA), heated handgrips, centre stand etc.



    So what was it like to ride? First impressions—it felt like a toy, and I don’t mean that in a negative way.

    The combination of lower height, slightly lower weight and no heavy aluminium top box mounted up high meant I hopped on it, rather than climbed aboard. It felt slightly more chuck-able and easier to toss about while manoeuvring between cars at low speeds, mainly as I was a good 10cm closer to the ground. I could put both feet firmly on the ground when stopped (I can manage one foot flat at best on the 800 with my short-arse legs).

    However, I was somewhat surprised that the smaller wheels and lower suspension didn’t handle noticeably differently to me in bends or sharp corners.

    At city speeds in stop-and-go traffic, you would be hard pressed to discern a difference in performance since the power/torque curves of the 700 match the 800 up to around 5,000rpm.

    The 700’s engine is a touch more smooth, linear and refined than the 800’s due to the different cam settings and fuel management programme. That said, the 800 feels somewhat pluckier overall—a bit more characterful, rough and alive. If anything, the two models are actually in line with BMW’s own marketing fluff—the 700 indeed feels firmer and more road-oriented whereas the 800 feels softer and more all-terrain.

    I had to play with the ESA which cycles through Comfort, Normal and Sport modes at any time via a toggle switch next to the left grip. With London’s roads rivalling those of a third world dictatorship, there was actually a tangible difference when going between Sport and Comfort modes, with the former transmitting the holes and bumps through to my spine, and the latter soaking them up. Normal mode was, unsurprisingly, somewhere in between.

    If I was buying my 800 in 2013, the ESA is an option I would splash out for without hesitation since I constantly switch between riding alone and with a pillion. Being able to tighten it up at the flick of a switch means it would actually get done since I only end up playing with the manual setting before and after a long (and heavy) trip.

    I didn’t give the ASC a go for obvious reasons—I’m not brave (or stupid) enough to take someone else’s bike to the limit of grip.

    My one hate was BMW’s decision to go back to a traditional single switch indicator control. Now that I’m used to the quirky paddle system on the models up to 2012, the single switch felt unintuitive and awkward.

    There seem to be a lot of people who see the 700 an inferior product to the 800 but I think they’re missing the point. Both bikes have their good points, but for someone who only rides in the city or highway without carrying half their home with them, the 700 is probably the better choice.

    It’s comparatively light, refined and fun in the city—definitely more of a toy than the 800. The naysayers who turn up their nose at the 700 or call it a ‘girl’s bike’ need to have a ride on one, and step back to evaluate their personal insecurities. I quite enjoyed my time with it and certainly didn’t feel emasculated.
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    duffs screwed with this post 03-05-2013 at 02:16 PM
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    Old 02-15-2013, 01:42 PM   #2
    rockycraig
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    How do you feel it would do offroad? Without changing the wheels would you change anything on it to make it more offroad oriented. Not many people have replied to my concerns about this bike offroad. And really you cant test ride a bike offroad so Im sort of at the mercy of other peoples experience and opinions. I have a 1200 gs and its big looking to downsize.
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    Old 02-15-2013, 02:13 PM   #3
    duffs OP
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rockycraig View Post
    How do you feel it would do offroad? Without changing the wheels would you change anything on it to make it more offroad oriented. Not many people have replied to my concerns about this bike offroad. And really you cant test ride a bike offroad so Im sort of at the mercy of other peoples experience and opinions. I have a 1200 gs and its big looking to downsize.
    I think the main issue would be the reduced suspension travel/ground clearance (and associated firmer suspension). Also the standard forks would technically have slightly more inertia/unsprung weight when reacting to uneven surfaces although I doubt it would be enough to notice.

    With this in mind, I would rule out really bad tracks but for most people (and with the right tyres) I believe it would be nearly as capable since it is so close mechanically to the 800. And considering the worst the majority of the GSs get is a rough gravel road it would probably be absolutely fine, depending on what you had in mind.

    The main thing I noticed going back to my 800 was how much softer it is over the rough bits, but with that comes a higher centre of gravity and more movement on braking/acceleration. While I can't comment on the 700 off road, the 800 with the right tyres is staggeringly good (stable/controllable/predictable) for such a big bike on any surface I've taken it and I imagine the 700 wouldn't be far behind.
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    Old 02-16-2013, 04:05 PM   #4
    Danzo
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    I agree, it is a great bike . I never rode an 800, but I ride 80% pavement and 20% gravel/dirt roads... no real off road. Coming from a Ducati MTS620, it is the perfect bike for me. Nice in the city and really fun on back roads. I ride year round even though it is as cold as shit now. My ride today was short (25 F)... no other bikes out. Heated grips work nicely, but some handguards might be a good investment!
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    Old 02-16-2013, 04:36 PM   #5
    duffs OP
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Danzo View Post
    I agree, it is a great bike . I never rode an 800, but I ride 80% pavement and 20% gravel/dirt roads... no real off road. Coming from a Ducati MTS620, it is the perfect bike for me. Nice in the city and really fun on back roads. I ride year round even though it is as cold as shit now. My ride today was short (25 F)... no other bikes out. Heated grips work nicely, but some handguards might be a good investment!
    Agree completely - what a difference heated grips make in cold weather, warm hands warm body, hand temperature is directly related to your core temperature (works like a radiator)... the hand guards help a bit also, especially in the rain (for a while anyway!)... the MTS620 is a proper hefty bike though! must have been a bit of a change to go to the relatively lightwight 700...
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    Old 02-16-2013, 09:49 PM   #6
    wortho
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Danzo View Post
    My ride today was short (25 F)... no other bikes out. Heated grips work nicely, but some handguards might be a good investment!
    I got to try out the heated grips the other day as the temp went down to 15c overnight
    They were only on the lowest setting though
    I wish i'd had them years ago when I rode around Northern England in the winter in all kinds of weather.
    A few weeks ago I saw 47.5c on the computer and I was thinking why did I pay extra for the heated option. On that day the brake and clutch lever became very hot to touch with what felt like riding in a furnace.
    Well i'm sure they will be handy later on as we do get around 0 degree's in the winter time so i'll be looking for some handguards as I suspect the heated grips can't do much for the top of the hands, with the windchill etc. Any tips on hand guards for the F700?
    Cheers
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    Old 02-17-2013, 09:07 AM   #7
    duffs OP
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wortho View Post
    I got to try out the heated grips the other day as the temp went down to 15c overnight
    They were only on the lowest setting though
    I wish i'd had them years ago when I rode around Northern England in the winter in all kinds of weather.
    A few weeks ago I saw 47.5c on the computer and I was thinking why did I pay extra for the heated option. On that day the brake and clutch lever became very hot to touch with what felt like riding in a furnace.
    Well i'm sure they will be handy later on as we do get around 0 degree's in the winter time so i'll be looking for some handguards as I suspect the heated grips can't do much for the top of the hands, with the windchill etc. Any tips on hand guards for the F700?
    Cheers
    Mark
    Southern England is bad enough at this time of year, it's been a couple months since the temp rose above 10°C... though the opposite extreme isn't much better!

    I have the full BMW guards on my 800 (same part number for the 700) and no complaints - they help a bit with windchill but no guard will help much, you'd need handlebar muffs to reduce it significantly... the OEM handguards seem sturdy enough, i've scraped mine against the wall a few times going into the car park at work (<1m clearance for motorbikes) and they haven't even scratched noticeably... also they have stood up well when the bike has gone down off road, no cracking etc.
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    Old 02-17-2013, 04:00 PM   #8
    moe.ron
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