You may laugh, but this week I bring you shocking evidence that the Germans have a sense of humour after all.
I refer, of course, to BMW’s mid-range adventure series: The outgoing F650GS, the F700GS which now replaces it, and the F800GS.
If you think those numbers refer to the size of the engine, think again, for they all have the same 798cc parallel twin.
I did ask a BMW spokesman about this, and his memorable reply was: “Just like the British removed all the town names and road signs when the Germans were preparing for Operation Sea Lion, BMW’s revenge is a random number nomenclature to confuse Triumph’s R&D Department.
“Or, back in the vaguely sane world, it’s simply to confer to people that it’s a lower power and lower cost engine and bike than the 800 models.”
Yeah, right, as they say in Bavaria. The real reason is that Germans just love nothing more than a good chortle.
The last laugh, of course, is if the bike’s better than rivals like Triumph’s Tiger 800 or KTM’s 690 SMC, so time to find out.
The seat, like most enduro-style machines with mild adventure aspirations, is narrow and firm, although there is an optional softer version.
Either way, it gives you an upright and commanding position from which you can take note of mirrors which are carefully poised between slightly useful and slightly useless, and a disturbingly dull dash of white on black analogue speedo and tacho whose only saving grace is that it matches the equally dreary black on grey digital information panel.
Note to BMW: sack head of instrument design - in both bike and car divisions.
BMW claims shorter gearing than the F650, but progress is still as ponderous as a cremated slug up to 4,000rpm, after which the engine perks up and delivers seamless oomph all the way to the redline at eight and a half grand, accompanied by a very satisfying snarl from its nether regions.
At sixth on the motorway, the engine is purring away at just over 4,000rpm, giving a frugal 55mpg or more in average use, although spirited riders will find the bike’s sweet spot between five and six thousand, giving urgent progress without too much vibiness.
The long-travel suspension makes the nose genuflect under hard braking like a nun meeting the Pope, so the best way to keep the whole caboodle stable is add a deft touch of rear anchor, although ABS as standard and optional traction control will stop even ham-fisted jockeys coming to grief.
Handling, with the bike’s featherweight 209kg, perfect balance and wide bars, is sweet and neutral, although not as precise as the Tiger 800’s, but where the Beemer really scores is the clever optional electronic suspension adjustment.
Comfort makes the steering a little distant but mollifies the annoying firmness of the seat, Normal is a happy medium, and Sport makes the bike shoot its cuffs, slap you on the back and hunker down for serious fun in the twisties.
And fun it is, making it a tasty compromise between the smooth precision of the Triumph and the lunatic gnarliness of the KTM, and possibly the best 798cc 700 on the market.
Source Mirror Online