You may still be confused about the BMW F650GS. Is it the tried-and-true Single from the ’90s? No, that’s been renamed the G650GS. So it’s a 650cc Twin? No, it actually displaces 798cc, but it’s de-tuned to 71 horsepower from the F800GS’ 85 for more user-friendliness. A Boxer Twin, right? No, silly—Austria’s Rotax engineered BMW’s new lineup of parallel-Twin powerplants with chain or belt drive. To paraphrase Woody Allen, it all becomes clear when we realize George Elliot was a woman.
Those who can figure out what the F650GS is are rewarded by a smooth, torquey ride with plenty of power, good handling and a light, easy character that make the bike a pleasure to ride—plus it’s value-priced at $10,155 (the F800GS’ MSRP is $12,355).
BMW must have gotten tired explaining all this, so for 2013, the F650GS will be called the F700GS. But it’s not just a name change—there’s also a host of improvements on the F700GS and its more dirt-oriented F800GS sibling. The changes are aimed at making the 700 efficient, safe and appealing to less-experienced riders.
Following BMW’s “Safety 360” principle—a safety initiative that includes equipping all models with anti-lock brakes, offering crash-worthy rider apparel and rider-tailored safety training—the F700GS now has ABS standard, as well as a second front brake disc. Wheels and tires are unchanged, with a 19-inch hoop in front (the 800 uses a more trail-worthy 21-incher). New electronics packages—BMW’s traction-control (ASC) and electronically-adjustable suspension (ESA) are available as options. Additionally, lowered suspension and seats will be offered to vertically challenged riders as well.
In the engine bay, the F800GS gets no changes, but the 700 will get a little boost. Output is now up to a claimed 75 hp, while offering a claimed 60 mpg (at a steady 55 mph). That provides, in BMW tradition, “more than sufficient power,” especially when it’s coupled with shorter gear ratios and a curb weight that’s six pounds less than the F800GS’ 472 pounds. Fuel capacity on both models is unchanged at 4.2 gallons.
Finally, there are cosmetic changes. In addition to new colors, the bikes get restyled bodywork, new instrument faces, and a new windscreen for the 700. It looks like both new models are coming to the USA, and should give Triumph’s $10,999 Tiger and the off-road oriented $11,999 Tiger XC a run for their money.