After lunch break from F800GS Review, I got out on the 2016 BMW F700GS – being quickly reminded of the model’s admirable simplicity. The smooth and consistent power was easily accessed, albeit feeling notably reduced over that its bigger siblings, with the most substantial difference being the initial pick-up of torque.
The seat heights were also drastically different – by almost 100mm – and the riding position made me feel more sat within the bike, with my knees slightly more bent. The road-riding experience was different, too, partly owing to the riding position, but also the wider and smaller profile tyres. Even if for psychological reasons the 2016 BMW F700GS seemed the better of the two models in the corners, where my confidence was so high the pegs paid the price, being decked out on the Tarmac when riding hard.
This particular base model had no ESA or ASC technology fitted, which caused no issues on the dry and smooth surfaced roads we were tackling. Technology is great, but in this instance I don’t think it would have made much of a difference to the experience. The standard spring rates and suspension settings worked well, although it would have been nicer to have had a bit more compression damping on the forks.
On and Off-Road Abilities
As had been the case with the F800GS, we eventually found ourselves tackling the trails of the Algarve. With my bike’s cast wheels negotiating the boulders and deep shale that littered the mountain route’s decline, I had a sudden feeling of disbelief, knowing that the bike beneath me was no custom-built adventure machine, had no fancy traction control, or knobbly tyres to find grip. 2016 BMW F700GS didn’t even have long travel suspension, or handguards to protect from the overhanging treeline shouldering the sheer drop to the right. It’s hard to define exactly what adventure riding is, but this experience felt pretty close. The ride felt edgier than it had on the F800GS, but it was proving itself perfectly capable of tackling what only Dakar legend Simon Pavey, our lead rider, described as ‘light off-road’. It certainly wasn’t light to the rest of us!
Other than the occasional washing out of the front tyre, the 2016 BMW F700GS performed really well on the dirt before switching back effortlessly to being a perfectly pleasant road bike on the final run back to our base. You can make a machine more diverse by bolting things to it, but not a single item on any of the bikes tested differed to the models you’d find in a BMW dealership. There aren’t that many other machines on the market with such qualities, which is possibly why these models have been so successful since their introduction in 2012.
If you’re new to riding, can’t justify the extra three to four thousand for an R1200GS, or don’t want the sheer weight of today’s ‘big’ adventure bikes, the 2016 BMW F700GS makes for some great options. Bigger isn’t always better.
2016 BMW F700GS Specifications & Price
Engine : 4-Stroke, Parallel-Twin, DOHC 8-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Bore x Stroke : 82 x 75.6 mm
Capacity : 798 cc
Compression Ratio : 12.0 : 1
Induction : Fuel Injection
Transmission : 6-Speed, Chain-Drive
Power : 75 BHP @ 7.300 RPM (claimed)
Torque : 77 N.m @ 5.300 RPM (claimed)
Dimensions (LxWxH) : 2.280 x 880 x 1.215 mm
Wheelbase : 1.562 mm
Seat Height : 765-860 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity : 16 Litres
Weight : 209 kg (dry, claimed)
Frame : Steel Trellis Frame
Front Suspension : 41mm Telescopic Fork
Rear Suspension : Cast Alumunium Dual Swingarm, Monoshock Fully adjustable
Front Brakes : Twin Floating 300mm Discs, with 2-Piston Caliper, ABS
Rear Brakes : 265mm Discs, with 1-piston Caliper, ABS
Front Tyre : 110/80 – 19
Rear Tyre : 140/80 – 17
BMW F700GS Standard : £7815 (Switchable ABS)
BMW F700GS RALLYE : £8275 (As Standard plus Heated Grips, Hand Guards, On-board Computer, Main Centrestand & Pannier Fastenings)