‘A wel­come mat to BMW own­er­ship’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - ANDY DOWNES SE­NIOR REPORTER andy.downes@mo­tor­cy­cle­­mandy.

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’

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