The dual-sport category has changed quite a bit since Yamaha made the go-anywhere genre popular in the late 60s. BMW’s latest dual-sport offerings, the F700GS and the F800GS, are relatively capable in the dirt but still much more street-oriented than the Yamaha ATs, CTs, and DTs of yesteryear. (Or the various lightweight dual-sports of today.)
For the 2013 model year, BMW has tweaked the twin-cylinder F-series lineup, with minor revisions to the F800GS and substantial updates to the F700GS, which will replace the F650GS in the lineup. If you didn’t know, the model number has nothing to do with the engine displacement. The 700 (along with the previous 650) has the same 798cc motor that is in the F800GS, but it’s been de-tuned so as to be suitable for less experienced riders. In the update, BMW cut loose another 4 horsepower, bringing the 700 to a claimed 75 hp at 7300 rpm; the F800GS supposedly puts down 85 hp. To further improve acceleration in the F700GS, BMW shortened the final drive ratio after the unchanged 6-speed gearbox.
The biggest news for the new 700 comes in electrical form. Two-channel ABS remains standard—BMW gave all U.S.-bound models the feature last year—but it operates on dual front discs; the previous F650GS had a single binder up front. In addition, ABS is now mated with ASC (automatic stability control) as an option. This is the first appearance of ASC in the F series, and helps bring the entry-level siblings onto a similar technical level as their more expensive classmates.
If you’re imagining the F700GS and the F800GS as miniature R1200GSes, here’s another parallel: Both are available with BMW’s electrically adjustable suspension, called ESA. It’s not quite the same as used on the R-GS, though; this ESA controls the shock’s rebound damping circuit only. Rear spring preload remains manually adjustable. Front suspension on the F700GS and F800GS is not adjustable; the main difference is that the F800 gets an inverted fork. And, as before, the F800GS rides on a 21-inch front wheel while the 700 retains the 650’s cast-aluminum, 19-inch hoop.
Changes to the F700GS’s bodywork include a new windshield, dial faces, and tinted turn signal lenses. With a stock seat height of 32.3 inches and the option to lower it down to 30.1 inches, the F700GS model will likely be popular among new riders, short riders and females—as was the F650GS. The 2013 F700GS is offered in Red Apple metallic, Ostra Grey metallic matte finish and Glacier Silver metallic, but no word yet on whether the American market will get to choose from all three colors.
The F800GS underwent a few cosmetic changes as well. It’s got a new windshield, intake snorkel, upper mudguard and fuel tank trim. Oh, and the 800 can now be lowered by way of optional suspension modification, dropping the seat from 34.6 to 32.3 inches. Unfortunately, the lowered F800GS cannot be had with the ASC/ESA electronics or a centerstand. Color choices include Kalamata metallic, Alpine White, and Cordoba Blue.
Price has yet to be announced, but these models should arrive in dealerships sometime in the fall.