Released in 2013, BMW Motorrad’s Entry Level Adventure bike is the second coming of the F650GS. But is it really an ADV bike?, more on that later. The bike slots into the GS lineup between its little brother the thumper G650GS and its older sibling, the more dirt oriented F800GS. New for 2013+, the F700GS received more than just a name change. The bike looks and feels slightly more hefty and sturdy than the old version. It comes standard with heated grips and ABS. Notable options include Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA), Automatic Stability Control (ASC) which is German for traction control, an on-board computer, and tire pressure monitoring system. These are part of the Safety and Comfort Packages, which can add $500 – $800 to the cost of the bike. The overall look and feel of the bike has changed, but nothing about the bike jumps out as a massive improvement. Even with the addition of a second disc on the front, the braking power seems to be close to the same as before, not bad, just not a really noticeable difference.
I purchased a 2013 Ostra Grey base model in August of 2013. At the time of purchase there was a factory promotion knocking $1000 off the MSRP. I put close to 15k on it, with the majority of the riding being done on 2 different outings. One from central Canada through the Midwest, into the Adirondacks and the Maritimes and then from Nova Scotia down to the South via the Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Deals Gap area. The bike was sold last week, and the new owner is off to Central America on it.
The increase in 50 on the front decal does not actually translate into a displacement change, and in an effort to confuse as many non-BMW riders as possible, the F650GS and F700GS are both powered by a 798cc water-cooled parallel twin. The powerplant is a castrated version of theF800GS’ motor, and the lack of power can be frustrating for a rider looking to have some fun on weekends, especially if the bike is loaded up. The engine claims 75hp vs it’s older brother’s 85hp and at times when rolling on the throttle you might guess it actually peaks lower than that. It feels torquey off the line, but dies out pretty quick and is not very responsive over 5,000 RPM. The engine does have its perks though. It is very forgiving and easy to handle, great for newer riders, someone looking to get back into riding, or someone just looking for an easy to ride motorcycle. Fuel economy is fantastic, and depending on your riding style, expect upwards of 60+ MPG, a godsend in today’s market.
The 6 speed gear box is pretty smooth and shifts with little to no effort. My initial impression was that the shift lever was hard to find, it seemed a little too far tucked in and neutral was a bit hard to hit at times, but like any bike, once you get used to the way it responds, there is really no issues.
The twin does not produce much engine braking, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on preference. It is quite buzzy as you get into higher revs, but when in sixth gear at cruising speed the buzz is minimal.
The twin front disks and single rear provide pretty good stopping power. They are partnered up with Brembo brakes, albeit the lower end of the company’s offerings, as well as some steel braided lines from the factory. ABS can be turned off should you venture into some light off-roading, but it stayed on for 99% of my riding and worked great.
Speaking of off road, that’s just not where this bike likes to be. You can throw a lot at the stock suspension and it soaks up the bumps on the shitty northern roads I ride on, but by no means would it handle gnarly off road routes.
The OEM Bridgestone Battle Wing shoes are fine for pavement and I ran them down many, many dirt roads. The front tire tends to wander a bit on gravel, so a more aggressive tread pattern for riders who want to venture off the hardtop would be wise.
The upright seating position has a very neutral feeling to it. Long days were no issue for a young buck like myself, and I would expect that any older person, as long as they are not overly tall, would feel the same way. I had highway pegs installed on my crash bars for my touring and rarely ever needed to use them. Standard seat height is 32 inches, an available factory low-seat option knocks off an inch, and an optional suspension lowering kit brings it down yet another. Even at the standard height the bike feels low and is a great fit for the vertically challenged and average female rider. The stock seat is a cruel joke, the same joke many manufactures play on customers, but this one went a bit too far. It could very well have been a piece of poplar found in the back forty wrapped in vinyl. The seat was the first thing to go, and was replaced with an aftermarket, a must for any rider planning to go further than the local coffee shop.
The small front faring and narrow seat creates for some adequate wind and rain protection for the mostly naked bike.The stock windshield looks like someone took a chainsaw and cut the top 3/4s of it off. If you do any touring on the bike you will require a new tall screen.
BMW markets the bike as such, with images of it on backroads, in the wilderness, and in the dirt. I would not hesitate to take the bike up the Dempster or any gravel trip for that matter with the right tires. It’s certainly not the appropriate bike for serious Dual Sporting like the TAT. It proudly displays the GS badge, but an “Adventure Bike”? Well the definition of an ADV bike seems to continue to morph nowadays, and the big beasts that manufacturers are producing are really just touring bikes with little to no off-road capability. And that’s kind of what the F700GS is, not a big beast by any means, but certainly not for off-road riding. The F700GS is an entry level upright, styled to the popular ADV segment. It has a 19”cast front wheel, giving you the ability to venture off the beaten path just a little bit, but nothing too crazy. It’s a true all-rounder with the potential to be set up for touring and can be a very fun bike to ride.
It’s light, nimble and easy to handle. It does not excel at one thing, but can be your commuter, tourer, and give you some satisfaction in the twisties, depending on your need for speed. It can rip down backroads, and unlike most naked standards, the rider will feel no remorse for getting some dirt on it and won’t cringe at the sound of rocks flying into the underside of the bike. The one word I want to use to summarize the bike is“practical” but I can’t seem to bring myself to do that for one reason, the price. While it is by no means an expensive bike, its competitors, the Kawasaki Versys 650, Suzuki V-Strom, Honda NC700X and so on can be had for substantially less.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t enough bike for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of riding it. The BMW community is full of great people. The network of riders is very tight knit and stretches across the globe. Previously owned bikes that pushed the 100hp mark provided a certain thrill that the little GS could not, but that is a personal preference, so it is not to say that this is not the right bike for you.
So who exactly is the bike for? It is for someone who wants BMW reliability, someone who values creature-comforts and has the extra money to go BMW vs its Japanese competitors. Unique GS looks, 3 year warranty, roadside assistance, excellent resale value, endless aftermarket support, these are all reasons for you to consider the F700GS. Just don’t expect it to be the bike that will go anywhere and do anything. Do you dream of Adventuring around the world with your buddy Ted Simon? The F700GS could do that yes, under the right conditions. But if you get a KLR or a KTM690 and park it next to your BMW R800R or R nine T, you may just be that much happier.
Panniers: Touratech Zega Pros. Hard luggage has huge benefits over soft, quick detach and quick reinstallation or leave it on the bike, lock it and walkway away. Pannier liners make going in and out of sleazy hotels a breeze. I can’t say enough for the quality of the Zegas, but if they are out of your budget, and they are pricey, try the Tusk Panniers.
Tankbag: Wolfman Rainier Tank Bag
GPS : Garmin nüvi 550
Rear Rack: SW Motech Rear Rack
Auxiliary Fuel: RotopaX
Cruise Control: Go Cruise
Seat: Sargent Seat
Handgaurds: Barkbusters Storm
Bashplate: R&G Bash Plate
Touring Screen: Powerbronze flip/tall Screen
Crashbars: SW Motech Crashbars
Helmet: Scorpion EXO-1100 Jag Helmet
Jacket: Scott TP
Pants: Tour Master Quest Pants
Photo Credit: First shot purchased from US129 Photos. Remainder are own photos. All rights reserved.