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Advice for customising new BMW F700GS

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by nzmike, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Hi all,

    I recently bought a new BMW F700GS which I'm absolutely loving... as a returning "big bike" rider after 15yrs only having scooters it's the perfect bike for me in every way.

    After riding it for a month, the only problem is that I think it's a bit too tall for me as I'm only 168cm or 5' 7". When riding at normal speeds I have 100% confidence and everything feels brilliant but I'm not feeling as comfortable in low speed maneouvers, stop/starts in heavy traffic and when pushing it around etc. I'm not tippy-toeing but I am on the balls of my feet which is obviously not ideal for handling a 200kg bike. (All my past bikes have been a lot lighter!!)

    As a result I've now dropped it a couple of times (from standstill luckily) and have broken the (bl00dy expensive!) front brake lever both times. Luckily there was no other damage but I've realised I need to find some way to make the bike fit me better. (And I need to get fitter/stronger which means getting back to the gym!)

    The dealer I bought it from suggested they could lower the front suspension a bit and take a link out of the back shock which would help but I also get a really sore throttle hand after riding for more than an hour or so, so I'm wondering whether I need bar risers as well or some other adjustment on the bars.

    Anyway, to cut to the chase, what I'm after is someone that could help me fine-tune my bike and either recommend work to be done at the dealers or do the work themselves (assuming they're a qualified bike mechanic).... unfortunately I'm not nearly skilled enough to do all this myself and besides, I want it done professionally so I know it's done properly.

    I asked the service dept at the dealers to help me and they just didn't seem that interested so they told me to try and find an expert to help me set the bike up. I do completely love riding the bike and intend to keep it long term so spending a few extra bucks to get it set up for me is not a problem.

    So if anyone knows of (and even better, can recommend) anyone in the Sydney area to help me do that I'd really appreciate it.

    Thanks - sorry this is so long... probably way too much detail!!

    • Like Like x 1
  2. On the contrary, Mike, there are some details that you've missed out....

    where abouts in Sydney are you?

    what do you use the bike for?

    I assume you bought the bike new, but I think there were options of lower seat and/or lower suspension, did you get either of those or is your bike just the "standard"?

    The business of sore hands, take your time before you try and fix that, because you'll have two things working against you.

    One, coming from a scooter, you won't be used to carrying some of your weight on your hands.

    Two, if you are nervous about the bike, you'll probably be holding the bars too tightly.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. #3 nzmike, Aug 1, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
    Thanks CC - I'm on the lower north shore (Crows Nest) is anyone needs to know.

    At present I'm only riding at the weekend - so mostly longish road rides (200km+). I don't commute on it at all or really even use it much Monday-Friday (unless I get a day off and the sun is shining!!) as it's really just my toy.
    Eventually I want to do some fairly serious touring on it inlcuding gravel roads/firetracks (in good condition) but for now, until I know the bike a lot better and feel comfortable handling it at low/no speed, I'm sticking to the tarmac where I can.

    I actually went for the "comfort seat" when I bought it as that was the only one of the three available seats that wasn't like straddling 3 bricks after 5 minutes. However I'm thinking now maybe I should have got the low seat and then a sheepskin or something (though I don't like that look myself).
    (This is the problem with test rides - they never allow you long enough to really find any potential problems... but really it's my fault as needless to say on my two test rides I didn't really get off it and try pushing it around or doing too many low speed turns (like u-turns on a narrow road);

    I do try to concentrate on a nice relaxed grip but I can see my arms are just are bit too straight and therefore I assume I'm putting too much strain on my palm/thumb/wrist area.... maybe it's just not enough strength or little-used muscle groups but I thought bar risers or a cant adjustment on the bars might resolve that.

    Apart from getting the suspension lowered somebody on the F800riders.org forum suggested just getting boots with good thick soles - which is a great idea but then you need to be careful as you risk losing feel when changing gear & braking. (Edit: I'm going to go and look at boots this weekend as I'm currently using a pair of shorty AlpineStars which are great for summer but a bit cold in winter and really have very little sole to speak of.)

    I really don't know if there's anyone out there that specialises in helping tune bikes to their riders (and vice versa perhaps) so I have to I'll go back to the dealer and see what they can suggest but they seemed to think I'd be able to find someone easily.... though they couldn't name anyone themselves!
  4. uploadfromtaptalk1375342564470.
    Got this at home it fits f800 I also think it fits f700
  5. That looks good... can you let me the brand/model etc? Assuming you want to sell so how much do you want for it? And do you have the matching clutch lever by any chance?
  6. Well, if you were in Crunulla, pointing you to someone in Hornsby might not be too helpful.

    OK, so the point of the question was that if you plan to do some mildly serious dirt riding, mybe you don't really want to lower the suspension too much.

    Oh! "Comfort" seats often translate to broader than standard, requiring slightly longer legs than standard to usefully touch the ground.

    Ask around, maybe you could borrow a low seat for a day or two to test.

    Yeah, sheep skin is just too daggy, especially if you're from N.Z. ;)

    Another option is push bike riding nixs, they come with internal padding, doubles as an incontinence pad if you get over-excited, and, under normal motorbike riding pants, no one need know. :)

    Very few test riders do.

    Possibly so, but, as I said, don't panic trying to fix that problem.

    There is a good chance that, once your gut muscles (for the lack of a better technical term) build up, you should be able to carry more weight off your hands.

    If you end up needing it, adjusting the height of the bars is fairly simple, but don't rush into it.

    That was a potential suggestion, especially if you have plans to use the bike riding on rough dirt, as it saves you loosing ride height.

    Remember, it is fairly easy to adjust the gear lever to give more space between it and the foot peg.

    Out of curiosity, what dealer are we talking here?

    The guy I would recommend if Michael Cook at Castle Hill Motorcycles, but it is a fair hike from Crowie. If you do go to him, tell him CrazyCam suggested it.

    I have no idea if this is any use to you, but, more or less any weekday afternoon, typically from 3.00pm or so till 7.00pm, you could drop into my place in Beecroft, for a wee chat about what might, or might not need to be done.
  7. Thanks Cam - lots of good info and ideas there.

    No, not planning any extreme off road, just the odd gravel side road when I come across them will pretty much be the extent of it for now.

    Still not really keen to consider the low seat as on my first test ride it was so uncomfortable it actually put me off the bike (though I suppose you can get used to anything). When I returned and told the dealer he actually laughed and agreed it wasn't the most comfy. The comfort seat probably is a bit wider as you suggest so that doesn't help I guess. :-(

    No one else I know has a BMW F series, let alone the low seat so giving it another go would probably involve asking the dealer if they had one I could borrow for a weekend.... definitely worth asking them. I do also need to do some research on the interwebs to see if anyone else make lowered seats - given the seats are the same as an F650GS there must be some out there.... maybe, just maybe, thicker soled boots and a lower seat might be enough but without testing a seat out it's a risk.

    I'm a bit reticent to mention the dealer as they looked after me in every other way - did me a great a great deal on the bike and threw in quite a bit of stuff... and they did my first service overnight at almost no notice. I think they're just so busy they don't really have the time to fuss around fitting a bike to a customer... no, not very impressive but they charge a fortune anyway so would be happier shopping around if I'm getting the suspension lowered.

    Anyway, it's definitely not Castle Hill motorcycles though so thanks for the recommendation - I might give Michael a call or take a ride up there tomorrow if I get time. :)

    I'd love to drop by sometime though I don't usually get home until 6pm myself so would be pushing it to even get there for for 7pm... but if you want we could swap details and maybe meet up sometime.


  8. Just for general info, I copied this from the ProCycles site about the F700GS:-

    › SEAT HEIGHT : 820 mm (low seat: 790 mm, lowered suspension: 765 mm, comfort seat: 835 mm)
  9. Hmmm, ok so I clearly got the tallest (but most comfortable!) seat - maybe not my best move ever. I actually had no idea the difference was as much as 45mm... that would probably see me flat footed. If only the low seat wasn't so blasted uncomfortable. Perhaps I'll ring my dealer (and yes, its one of the pro cycles stores) and see if they can lend me a low seat... or maybe just buy one then sell it on eBay if it really proves to be too nasty on the buns. Probably still cheaper to get the suspension lowered though as the seats are apparently over $650! First though I'll try some thicker soled boots and see what difference that makes... MCA seems to have a pretty good choice.
  10. Cool... just rang the dealer and asked if they had a low seat I could borrow for a few hours and they said I could grab their one for the weekend if wanted. Still think it's going to be too uncomfortable over a long ride but I guess I'll find out tomorrow.... and what a great excuse for a day ride!
  11. Given the figures, and the cost of another seat, and you like the seat you have....
    maybe this might help....

    I'll leave you to do the sums about comfort seat and lowered suspension.

    See what Cookie sez first, but under 300 Euros is probably cheaper and long term better than $650 for a new seat
  12. Brilliant find - thanks again... always nice to have someone do your homework for you! ;-)

    The plan is to test the lower seat tomorrow (along with some new boots) and then if I decide not to go ahead with the seat then I'll go out and see Mick (or at least give him a call) as that kit may be my only option for lowering the suspension. And if it is I could get that kit imported to his address then drop my bike off to him at some stage.
  13. #13 nzmike, Aug 6, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
    Well, I rode the bike with the low seat on Saturday for over 220kms and found it to be better than I remembered on my test ride. It's certainly not ultra comfortable but over a distance like that it wasn't really any worse than the so-called "Comfort" seat (though I think over a day/weekend ride I'd notice it).... in fact in some ways it was better as I felt more "in" than "on" the bike and my sore wrist/thumb were much reduced. And I really felt more confident riding it a bit faster too - guess the lower centre of gravity is to thank for that.

    Someone on the F800riders.org forum suggested adding an Airhawk "Medium Cruiser" cushion to it as apparently only raises the rider up fractionally but increases the comfort ten-fold so will look into that as well.

    So I'm thinking with that combo and some new slightly thicker soled boots I should be pretty much flat-footed on the bike. Once I know I don't need the Comfort seat I can eBay it and that should put a big dent in the cost.

    Everyone I've asked has said to make lowering the suspension the absolute last resort.... and though I'm not planning too much serious off-road any time soon I'd rather have the original suspension setup when I'm ready to do some proper adventure touring.

    Cam, FYI, I'm still going to call Mick anyway (as I need my replacement front brake lever fitted) and I'll see what he says re the lowering vs low seat.
  14. nzmike - I too am a bit height challenged in terms of leg length, have the comfort seat, and like you have dropped my f700gs at stand still - it stalls easily - a mate from NZ visited (he owns an 800gs) and suggested I drop the front sprocket from 17 to 15 teeth - I was skeptical but got my dealer to do it at a service and it has changed the bike immensely especially when pulling away 2 up or loaded - it pulls much better and is very much more controllable at low speeds. It took me a little to get used to the slightly higher engine revs in each gear (check out gearcommander online), but I love it more than ever. It has increased fuel consumption by around 0.1 of a litre per 100km as far as I can tell at this point, but I feel the trade off has been worth it. My bike came fitted with bark busters so no lever problems so far. Also ditched the tiny screen and fitted an f700 Eagle screeen from Western Australia this a;lso made the bike imminently more ride-able on long trips. Am working on a cruise control at the moment to save the wrist a bit..
    Hope this helps.
  15. Be careful if you get the lowered suspension. I bought a bike (not the F700GS) with lowered suspension and found that cornering clearance was reduced and the side stand was then too long and made the bike sit up too much, so I had to be careful parking it. I also had a lot of problems getting the bike on the centre stand (as I effectively had to "lift" the bike higher). I ended up putting it back to normal (change lowering links in rear suspension and adjust forks in triple clamps).

    As the F700GS lowering kit is a proper factory option, they have probably addressed these issues, but just be aware.

    Incidentally, you talk about "comfort seat" vs "low seat". I think there is a "standard seat" which is between the two.
  16. #16 jstava, Nov 8, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
    Re: remedies for "ducks disease" I have had this from an early age at 5'7" on a "tall day" Afflicted all my life. They tell me its hereditary, but not terminal.

    I've got a heavier bike than yours - at over 230 kg, probably well over 250 with panniers, rack and bag all loaded and fuelled. Your description of how you stand astraddle the bike pretty much matches my experience. This is what I've done. You may or may not find this useful.

    Re: boots. My modern, and "current" boots by Dri-Rider have thin soles, compared to my old gear, which is still in good condition, and I still use occasionally. The cm or so difference in sole thickness and nearly 25 mm difference in the heel makes a significant and surprising difference. There is no impact on my ability to use the controls.

    I looked at the seat - mine can be in a "higher" (805mm) or "lower position" (785mm) lower, thank you. Still not satisfied, I started looking at alternative seats, then a secondhand Corbin came up which I bought, then when I put it on, was lower by 35 mm or so, flatter, harder and a little broader but being so, used up some of the extra reach it provided. so while the ground was closer, it wasn't actually a comfortable reach, however, I do touch the ground earlier and there is no doubt I am lower - but I feel the edge of the seat when I put my feet to the ground. I took it off, didn't really like it initially, but have used it for longer trips, where it is way more comfortable than the stocker, because I move around a little on it. The softer stocker tends to settle and eventually I am locked into the "one spot" where I settle and stay for the duration and this becomes very uncomfortable after a time. The rise to the pillion portion of the Corbin is a little far rearwards for my liking. If I sit back against it, the bars get to be a bit of a reach. I have 1 inch risers on already. I would benefit perhaps by having different risers which would move the bars rearwards possibly 30-40 mm. I don't tend to slide forward or backward much as a matter of course - the rider portion of the seat is flat.

    I discounted the suspension lowering (entirely possible) on the basis of expense (dog bone, side stand) and possible impact on handling.

    I think If I were to do it over, and I might anyway, I'd go to someone who recovers seats and get them to modify the padding on the original seat, It could be brought down and made harder, flatter but no wider, and not as low as the Corbin. I don't really think I need it quite that low. A custom cut (remodelled) seat would be cheaper even than the seat I got (less than half the price of a new one), and I'd have exactly what I want, without then starting to consider work-arounds for the minor reach issue the new seat has introduced. Most of the better seat makers will tell you that a firmer seat is actually preferable - and can easily improve on what the manufacturers provide.

    It's probably worth looking up some of the seat people in your area. You might be surprised what they can do for you. And the boots. My old boots are seriously meaty in the soles and have real heels on them. Priceless when I rode a kick-start only thumper. Many modern boots are not built so heavily in the bottoms because of electric starters, but unless you go to heavy motocross boots you won't find much difference in your ability to operate your controls, and even they are often surprisingly good despite the chunky look, however they often don't have much heel on them.

    We all have whoopsies from time to time in relation to bike height. One soon learns to read the terrain in relation to which foot to "land on" when stopping, and it becomes habitual to consider the camber of a shoulder when stopping on a road side. My best (worst) was stopping on a road side at night, mindful of the camber, touching down first on my right foot, deciding the pitch was such that the side stand would hold if I was careful, and then put my foot in a pothole, which pitched me into the bushes and left the bike more than horizontal. It was a 240-250 kg bike which took some effort to lift. However there was no damage apart from a slight bend to the clutch lever. You just get careful. I never was able to wheel that bike forwards or backwards while astride, but never regarded the bike as simply too big. One learns what the side stand will (or won't) do for you on uneven or soft ground and get off it to move it, learn the balance of the thing and so on.

    For Natalie B - Centre stands are no harder to use so long as one remembers that that lever on the side that you use to put it down initially, exerts leverage to lift too. Push down on it at least as hard as you lift and it goes up easily. It's not really a case of lifting the bike outright. Some of them are a lot better than others.
  17. My 5 cents. I got my F700GS second hand last month and it came with the low seat, which is too low for me (5"9), but actually not a bad seat as such. I'm contemplating getting the Wunderlich Standard Ergo Seat through Procycles in Hornsby. The have a low version as well and they have the same seat height as the standard BMW's. You can read about it here: http://www.wunderlichsf.com/Merchan...oduct_Code=8360070-075&Category_Code=F700GS-X
    Does any of you fine people have any experience using the Wunderlich Ergo Seats?