The BMW F650 GS was an amazing lightweight adventure bike. Hailing from the same family of two-wheelers as the potent F800 GS and the venerable R1200 GS, the 650 was powered by a large single-cylinder engine that gave oodles of torque that earned a huge fan base.
For the longest time, it was the easiest and cheapest way into the BMW Motorrad Adventure lineup, and the German brand knows it had a hit on its hands. So in pursuing the motorcycle adventure craze, this bike and its successor have big shoes to fill.
Currently, the F700 GS is the cheapest BMW adventure bike being offered in the Philippines. Smaller than the F800 GS, BMW markets this as the best all-rounder, do-anything bike for riders of different riding skill levels. It then begs the question…has this become a jack-of-all trades and master of none? There’s only one way to find out, and that is to take it for a ride.
The GS family has always had signature styling cues. From the wide seat and angular, transformer-like fairing, to the signature asymmetrically designed headlamp cluster, a GS can easily be distinguished from a mile away. The F700 GS comes equipped with most of this familiarity intact.
It borrows styling cues from its bigger siblings in the range. And except for the slightly curvier front fairing (as compared to the almost razor sharp styling of the F800 and the R1200), it carries over most of what makes a GS, a GS.
Sitting your butt on the relatively low 32.3-inch seat, the first thing you realize is that this seat height plus the high handlebar position afford you a very neutral and stress-free riding stance. Fans of similarly shaped bikes like the Kawasaki Versys would feel right at home with the ample space on offer from the F700. The ergonomics are great from the waist up. But possibly due to my 6’2” frame, the pegs make my legs feel a bit cramped after a few hours of riding.
Grasp the well-spaced handlebars, twist the key, and you are greeted with two simple and easy-to-read analog dials for speed and RPM reading, coupled with a monochrome LCD panel with an integrated gearshift indicator. These are standard kit for a bike wearing the BMW badge.
The F700 GS ditches the 650’s huge single cylinder for a 798cc parallel twin mated to a six-speed gearbox. Adding the extra cylinder provides a much welcome reduction in vibration and harshness that was inherent in the F650.
The 75hp twin provides oodles of torque midway through the rev range, but surprisingly it struggled low down in the range. I stalled it a few times when I was using the clutch to filter through slow-moving traffic, and I had to give it some throttle just to keep the engine from dying at speeds below 10kph. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it’s just something to keep in mind and to get used to over time.
Lastly, at higher engine revs above around 6,000 rpm, the engine developed a bothersome vibration. This was amplified by the fact that the bike seemed to lack high-end torque as it approached the 8,500 rpm redline.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The bike handled like a dream. Road-focused rubber will keep your dreams of adventure in check, but for a daily commuter the F700 GS was easy to handle at low speeds and had great feel through sweepers and corners.
The bike is a bit small for my size, but riders below 6’1” should find that the bike feels solid on the road and confidence-inspiring in the bends.
Even being the cheapest GS family in BMW’s local model range, the control surfaces of the bike seem like they were lifted from BMW’s more expensive models. Buttons click and switches switch with satisfying German precision.
The ABS comes standard on the bike and can be switched off and adjusted at will.
Priced at P760,000, the BMW F700 GS more than lives up to the legacy left behind by the F650 GS. It is clearly more road-oriented than the off-road-focused F650. But for those looking for a great, practical road bike with a comfortable and spacious standard seating position and looks to die for, the F700 GS is the bike for you.