BMW re-invents its 800cc GS twins
When BMW resurrected their venerable Rotax-engined dual-purpose single as the G650 they found themselves in the difficult positions of having two 650's in their range - one a 654cc single and the other a detuned 798cc twin (which, incidentally, also has a Rotax engine).
Now the Blue Propeller Boykies have sorted out the inevitable confusion with a masterstroke of mix-'n-match marketing - and invented a new model in the process, as well as seizing the opportunity to upgrade the existing F800 GS at the same time.
The F800 retains the full-strength version of the 798cc parallel twin, delivering an unchanged 63kW at 7500rpm and 83Nm at 5750.
The new F700 GS, however, has been retuned from the 52kW at 7000rpm of the 2007 F650 to 55kW at 7300 and from 75Nm at 4500rpm to 77Nm at 5500rpm.
At the same time the F800 GS has been re-focused as a true dual-purpose bike, as much at home on a footpath as a freeway, while the new F700 is geared more towards road riders who see gravel roads as a way to get to the fun rather than as a reason for riding.
It's also more user-friendly for less-experienced or vertically challenged riders, with its lower seat, street furniture and smooth-running engine tuned specifically for economy and linear power delivery.
The F800 GS has a 21” front rim, spoked wheels, inverted long-travel forks, progressive damping on the a rear monoshock, an aluminium handlebar and a seat height adjustable between 850 and 880mm. Kerb weight is 214kg.
The F700 GS, by contrast, boasts cast wheels with a 19” front rim, conventional telescopic forks, a gas-charged rear monoshock, a steel handlebar and a seat height adjustable between 790 and 820mm. Kerb weight is 209kg.
However, in response to requests from existing F 800 GS owners for a lower seats, BMW now also offers a lowered suspension kit and cutaway seat for the F800 as an ex-works option or as a special accessory.
Both models now have dual front disk brakes with ABS as standard; traction control and electronic suspension adjustment are available as ex-factory options. The handlebar switchgear has been simplified and the two models share a new instrument pod with analogue speedometer and rev counter vertically laid out, a bank of warning icons on the left and an LCD data screen on the right, now displaying fuel level and coolant temperature as standard.
Styling has also been revised, with new, more clear-cut side trims designs, new paint colours (candy apple red, metallic grey and metallic silver for the F700; matte metallic gunmetal, blue and white for the F800) and what on a Japanese bike would be called Bold New Graphics, but being as how these are BMW's we'll call them restyled logos.
The new F700 GS and revised F800 GS will be released in South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2012; prices, as always, when they get here.