I’ve been fairly busy with the F700GS since I bought it at the end of last year. In only a few months I have racked up just over 3000 kilometres (more than the total I put on the ZX10R in the two years that I owned it) and these kilometres have left me impressed. As impressed as I was, I still thought I could improve on the bike; because after all, what does BMW know?
First and foremost was the location of the oil filter. While this isn’t something I could easily change I did feel like it need some protection. Why BMW would place such a vital – and relatively fragile – component directly behind the front wheel and in line of sight for debris is beyond me. Luckily I’m not alone in thinking like this and there’s plenty of companies that sell bolt on protection for not only the oil filter, but the entire underside of the bike. An SW-Motech bash plate was bolted on and while its fit and finish is flawless, it needs to be removed to drain the engine oil. Not a massive flaw but a bit of a pain none-the-less. Water cooled engines allow engineers to use far smaller tolerances throughout the engine – resulting in not only a more efficient motor – but a quieter one. They also bring radiators into the equation that are susceptible to being punctured very easily; hence the addition of Wunderlich’s ‘F series’ radiator guard. This isn’t a part you notice visually, but the piece of mind in having it is priceless. Last on the list of protection items was a headlight guard that’s equal part fence as it is headlight protection. Personally I think it adds a touch of menace to the front end, especially teamed up with some clear yellow vinyl wrap over the high beam.
Next up were the purely cosmetic mods. I’ve already mentioned the tinted yellow high beam (a person favourite) and just a few centimetres above you’ll see the small standard screen in black. The stock item is made from a certain kind of plastic that gathers tiny scratches simply by looking at it, it seems. One can of plasticised black paint and you’ve not only protected the stock screen but you’ve improved the front of your F700GS no end. Another item that BMW really dropped the (visual) ball on was the mirrors. The original items look like something poking out the top of Mickey Mouse’s head. After buying some cheap metal units from eBay (and waiting four weeks for them to arrive) I removed and replaced the threaded base of the mirrors with the thread I needed and hey presto! Vast improvement on looks, massive degradation of rear vision…You win some, you lose some.
The rear end of the bike was never going to be pretty. The fuel tank is located under the rear seat of the F series and it adds visual bulk around the tail (a fair trade-off for greatly reducing the bike’s centre-of-gravity. The rear mud guard and number plate mount
is was huge on this bike. After moving the number plate up about 30mm on the plastic guard, the angle grinder was brought into action to cut melt my way through some superfluous factory plastic. It’s a subtle modification that is anything but subtle to do.
Last but not least is the removal of the stock exhaust silencer and its replacement with an item that does a lot less silencing and a lot more shouting. The Leo Vince item blends into the rear-end of the bike perfectly. The option of a carbon fibre end cap was debated, but with masses of black plastic and no carbon fibre any where else on the bike I went with the cheaper plastic option. The sound is similar to BMW’s boxer twin as the F’s parallel twin has a very un-parallel twin 180 degree firing order. There’s some nice pops on down changes but without a tune and maybe a high flow air filter the performance gain is far outweighed by the smiles of riding a motorcycle that actually sounds like a motorcycle.
So I set out to improve BMW’s F700GS. Did I? I would say a categoricall yes. I still get comments about having an ‘old man’s bike’ but when the doubters see the sheer capability and general multi faceted nature of the bike, they’re soon won over. So sure, I can’t see behind me any more but who cares? The only thing back there is the mud that’s got past the hacked down fender and the sweet noise of an 800cc twin sung through an Italian pipe!