‘A welcome mat to BMW ownership’
With the single-cylinder G650GS quietly discontinued for 2016 (though unsold 2015 bikes are still available), the F700GS takes its place as the junior model in BMW’S GS range. That’s a role it’s perfectly placed to fill, as everything about the bike feels purposefully new-rider friendly.
It’s closely related to the F800GS, but sits 60mm lower thanks to shorter suspension, with a right-way-up fork instead of the 800’s inverted unit. Wheels are cast instead of spoked, with a smaller 19-inch front and a skinnier 140-section rear tyre. Calmer cams reduce power by 10bhp, but capacity remains at 798cc – as it has since 2013, the ‘700’ part of the name doesn’t relate to engine size.
Just like the F800GS, the changes for this year take the form of a new two-tone seat and electroplated trim by the rider’s knees. The F700GS now comes in white, grey or orange, priced from £7815. Like its taller sibling there’s also a new Rallye version, which similarly has a red frame, handguards and the £525 Comfort Pack, all for £8275.
Sitting lower to the ground makes the F700 feel more of a road bike than a dual-purpose machine. Steering is sharper and the front end feels more planted mid-turn – while it’s intended as a novice machine, riders of all experience levels will find it the more confidence-inspiring through a sequence of corners. At low and mid revs the engine doesn’t really feel any different to the 800, but at the top end it’s noticeably less pokey.
It’s easy to ride off-road on a gentle trail or fire road, though the lower bars make it feel more awkward when standing up. And on trickier terrain, the roadfocused suspension and front wheel make it less surefooted. Still, its overall off-road ability remains higher than most would imagine. Adventure-style bikes don’t get much more welcoming.
riginally created to celebrate the company’s success at the famous Colorado hillclimb, Ducati’s Pikes Peak special edition is back for 2016.
Multiple class wins have made the model a near-permanent part of the Multistrada range since 2011 – only absent in 2015 – with the UK one of the biggest markets for the range-topper, accounting for around 23% of UK Multistrada sales.
This year sees the PP return to the fold, based on the 2015 Multistrada 1200S with its new engine that features
ODucati’s Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) hydraulic valve timing.
Changes over the S-model are mainly cosmetic, with a liberal sprinkling of carbon fibre, red-striped wheels and a red, white and black paintjob. The more significant tweaks include an Öhlins TTX36 shock and Öhlins fork, both of which are fully adjustable. The Öhlins replaces the S-model’s semi-active Skyhook system, and delivers a more connected feel on the road.
There is also a road-legal carbon fibre Termignoni exhaust and carbon screen. Our test bike was fitted with the standard adjustable screen, which also comes as part of the package, and uses a pinch-and-pull manual adjustment system that’s effortless in operation.
The rest remains largely faithful to the S-model donor. That means the full gamut of electronics including cornering ABS, cornering LED lights, wheelie control, traction control, cruise control, keyless ignition and a multimedia system that links by Bluetooth to your phone to control various functions through the dashboard.
The electronics are governed by an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which constantly assesses all of the handling control systems to ensure the rider is always getting maximum benefit from each mode selection.
After a week riding the PP I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, for my tastes, it’s the best of the current Multistrada range and could – perhaps – be the best Ducati outright for British riders. I’m a big fan of Skyhook (unlike some of my MCN colleagues) as it suits the bike’s touring role so well, but I can’t deny that the more analogue feel from the top-specification Öhlins gives a closer connection between rider and road, and even copes better with our rough tarmac.
The aim of the PP is to be a bit more ‘sport’ than ‘adventure’, and after a week of riding in conditions ranging from near freezing and wet to near freezing but sunny, via lashing rain and flooded roads, it definitely achieves the attitude switch.
This PP is producing 160bhp thanks to that 1198cc V-twin and the performance, even with its 235kg kerbweight, is blisteringly quick. This is the kind of power figure that Carl Fogarty would have enjoyed at the height of his World Superbike career with Ducati. The electronics can be adjusted to suit a rider’s wishes and each rider mode (Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro) changes the feel of the throttle, ABS intervention, traction control level, power and anti-wheelie control. Each mode can also be tweaked to suit the rider’s preferences.
I attended the original launch of the DVT Multistrada and noticed there was a slight lag in the power delivery as the DVT system needed time to
‘It’s the best of the Multistrada range and could be the best Ducati for British riders’