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BMW F700GS vs. Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS - opinions please?

34 posts in this topic

Hey all, looking for some opinions and figured OR might have a couple laying about :-).

The short version: What do you think about those two models? Every angle and opinion will be warmly welcomed.

The longer version: I might be in the market for a new or late model mid-sized sport-touring bike, to purchase this winter or early spring. I'd replace my 2001 V-Star 1100 and a 1985 Nighthawk CB700SC for a single do-all bike that would be equally fitting in-town as on country roads, moderate twisties, long highway stretches and maybe some dirt roads. I mostly ride alone, but I do bring my girlfriend once in a while, so the bike needs to be comfortable for both lightweight tooling around Columbus traffic and weekend (or longer) trips across the states. The bikes I already own are perfect for most of those needs, but my garage is full and I'm starting to see the light re: ABS and fuel injection. I do all my own maintenance so any bike I own needs to be mechanic-friendly.

Anyway, after a ton of research and sitting on dozens of bikes, I've narrowed my list to BMW's F700GS and Suzuki's V-Strom 650 - both of which seem to get great reviews from the press and owner's forums. I like the Beemer's styling better (especially in red), but the V-Strom's blue is rapidly growing on me. BMW wants a lot for theirs, roughly $2-3k more for equivalent packages, so while I'd love to pretend I'm independently wealthy and can just snatch up the F700GS and every accessory available, I have a strong practical streak that's giving me pause, even if I plan this to be the last bike I buy for a while. I do also have just a 30" inseam, so I'd need to lower the V-Strom an inch to be fully confident, whereas the BMW fits me really well as-is. The Strom's stock seat looks better for 2-up, and it meets or beats the BMW in almost every technical category except torque, too speed and weight distribution.

Unfortunately I haven't ridden either yet, so I can't say how they feel. Have you? Would love to hear how y'all feel about the two models!

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VStrom is the better value, given the two choices you inquired about.

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 Stroms have tons and tons of aftermarket goodies to make it your own, while still being cheaper "and more all around reliable" than the BMW. One is also cheaper to work on and maintain, while also being cheaper to repair when/if needed. Stroms have a worldwide cult following, and are very capable bikes in the right hands. BMW's are pretty and they are tempting to me at times, but my senses always come back to me and I stick with the Japanese offerings. Both are tall bikes, and lowering ruins them IMHO......you do not need to flatfoot a motorcycle. They are tough bikes, and just keep coming back for more and more. A recent 1000 Strom just broke the 300,000 mile mark, and all that has been done is basically normal wear and tear and basic maintenance. You are free to take mine for a ride sometime, even though I have the 1000.....it is a much better 2 up machine over the 650 as well. The 650 is the the all round best version IMHO, but the new 1000 coming out may very well be changing that.

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Thanks guys, really appreciate the input!

Pokey I was hoping you'd chime in since you're an owner and advocate - thank you for that and for the offer to ride yours. I'll probably decline since the 1000 is even taller, but thank you!

What you said about durability resonates with me. Although there's a part that really wants the GS (maybe it's the looks, Bavarian design or maybe a little snob appeal), I also wonder if I'd be reluctant to scratch it up for fear I have too much money in it like how HOGs can get about their $20k+ chrome masterpieces. In the end I'd want a rider, not a showpiece - not that the sport touring segment starts off very attractive anyway - hehe.

Suzuki has a $500 rebate going through the end of year on 2013 models, whereas BMW very rarely discounts their bikes. I almost never see late-model BMWs come to market used, so what a dealer wants is what I'd pretty much have to pay. Suzuki dealers seem to understand competition, and they're not managing a luxury brand like BMW feels they are. Part of why I'm stirring up opinions is to see how much of that is justified.

I also hear ya about not lowing a bike, and if I get one I'd try not to at first by getting thicker soles and taking the seat's rubber feet off, but it's hard to explain - I really do feel much more confident on a bike I can almost flat foot. I thought that feeling would go away after my first year of riding but 2 years into it, it's still just as strong. In the end I might have to resort to lowering the links and forks by an inch. Does it really disturb the handling that much? That's one of the things that surprised me about the 2014 F700GS - that half inch or so lower/narrower seat made a big difference in my stance. I like its underseat gas tank too - lower CG. But the specs, following, reputation and value of the V-Strom is impossible to dismiss...

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What pokey said is all true...I have a DL1000 also, my buddy has a F650GS. I bought the Vstrom for a light sport touring bike, after owning a FJR, the Vstrom is a good fit as a all around bike with some 2 up riding, my wife says it's the most comfortable bike we've had. I have a 30" inseam, and lowered it right after I got it, but soon put it back to stock height, it's not a problem stock height for me.

 

My buddies F650 has "anemic" power compared  to a 650 Vsrtrom I think, and it sounds like "a maytag full of spoons" as my dad would say...He has had a few minor issue's with it, but it's been very reliable...His bike is also terribly hard to work on (a oil change takes 1.5 hours) !!!air filter about the same. And parts, and labor at a dealer is very expensive, as well as the dealer network is small, and getting smaller.

 

My pick hands down the Vstrom

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Awesome input, thanks jnor! Any BMW fans out here?

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Awesome input, thanks jnor! Any BMW fans out here?

 

I am a fan, just doubt I will ever be an owner. There is a good reason why BMW has been referred to as "Bring my wallet", whether that be neglect on the owners part or BMW have a legitimate issue with the bike. You mentioned my 1000 being taller, if it is taller than the 650 it would be hardly noticeable at best. The new 650 is very nice and I like what they have done, however a nice used Strom will serve you just as well and already will likely have some goodies installed on it. I really like the Triumph Tiger 800, buddy of mine has one and just loves it to death. GET THE FLAT FOOTING A MOTORCYCLE OUT OF YOUR SKULL, if you can't you may want to stick with the cruisers. A cruiser limits where and how you can ride "especially for me", but enjoying what you ride is all that matters.

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I am a fan, just doubt I will ever be an owner. There is a good reason why BMW has been referred to as "Bring my wallet", whether that be neglect on the owners part or BMW have a legitimate issue with the bike. You mentioned my 1000 being taller, if it is taller than the 650 it would be hardly noticeable at best. The new 650 is very nice and I like what they have done, however a nice used Strom will serve you just as well and already will likely have some goodies installed on it. I really like the Triumph Tiger 800, buddy of mine has one and just loves it to death. GET THE FLAT FOOTING A MOTORCYCLE OUT OF YOUR SKULL, if you can't you may want to stick with the cruisers. A cruiser limits where and how you can ride "especially for me", but enjoying what you ride is all that matters.

Im not sure about the newer models but the previous gen Vstrom, the DL650 had a low seat stock which the DL1000 had a high seat. Otherwise they were nearly identical frames and bodies. The seats are interchangeable and there is a factory gel seat that is a little lower than the DL650 seat. Ofcourse aftermarket seats are popular and most are on the low side.

ADV bikes tend to be tall and those with short inseams are going to have to get used to not being able to flat foot. If you want the extra suspension and ground clearance these models provide then the seat has to be high.

 

I think the DL650 Vstrom is the best value. The F800GS is a better than the Vstrom with more power and better suspension but at a cost. It looks like the F700GS is an attempt to get closer to the Vstrom price by despecing the F800.

 

Craig

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Wow, I think the new Strom 1000 is styled better than the Beemers: http://www.ridermagazine.com/latest-news/2014-suzuki-v-strom-1000-first-look-review.htm/

Anyway, I'm seeing some really nice pricing on 2013 650 ABS models near Akron and Sandusky, and Suzuki has a $500 rebate running through December... Tempting.

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I was in a similar situation as you last year, and around the same time too. 

 

I wanted a Triumph Tiger really bad (and still do to a point), but the V-Strom 650 just made more sense at the time,

So far I am happy with my decision, was it the best decission, With all considered, yes (for me)!

 

I know my V-Strom is no comparison to the Tiger (whichever model chosen), and more than likely the Triumph is better at everything, I get that, but the V-Strom is pretty good at what I have asked of it so far, for a much lower pricetag than what the Tiger would have cost me.

 

Trust me, I was not happy at first, but now I know how capable and fun the V-Strom 650 can be, so all is good...

 

I would suggest getting what is best for you, rather it be money, fit, use etc. etc, that makes your decision, the V-Strom 650, given a fair chance (which I nearly did not, even after the purchase), should be a good choice.

 

I do not have any experience with the BMW, but the people who do, seem to like them.

I also considered one myself, same scenario as the Tiger though, the V-Strom just made more sense for me...Plus I cannot afford the expensive rideing gear that is required with BMW ownership, nor do I have a Starbucks card... :D

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Aaaand... I'm now the proud owner of a blue 2013 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS!

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post-16604-13841385032076.jpg

I'll add another once my Givi cases come in :)

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Nice choice... Congratulations!

 

I hope you enjoy!

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I think you made a great choice....congrats !!!!!

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That 650 twin is one of the finest motors ever bolted on to 2 wheels.

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I'll add another once my Givi cases come in :)

 

Wow that was fast!

Givi cases are nice, many choices in accessories, hours and hours of research for me, no way I could decide that fast (price, fit, size etc.)...OEM cases are too wide in my opinion, I am still not used to them when I have them on.

 

I use a Besteem top case, I have my Cortech tail bag on there now though.

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I bet your bags look good - I'm a fan of the Cortechs.  I ordered the Givi V35 side cases to give it the tightest look, and they had two in stock but they were display cases that has some dings so I ordered new ones.  I originally wanted an E36/E45 combo because it's a lot less expensive and still looks great, but we couldn't find them on the web site for IP to order them.  I don't remember the model I picked for the top, but it's a 45 gallon model with red reflectors that I may LED at some point.  We must have spend an hour trying different case combinations - kudos to the patience and service of Marc and Sue.

 

From the little I've ridden, you're right tpoppa, that engine sure is smooth!  I spent 30 minutes in Iron Pony's parking lot getting used to the bike at very low speeds, then testing the ABS and doing firm (but low RPM) acceleration and engine deceleration runs to carve in the rings before the cylinders glaze over (some of you will scream, but that's my preferred method and it's my bike :)).  I was thoroughly impressed with the power of that plant, and it's pretty torquey at low speeds too - maybe a little less than the V-Star 1100 I traded, but more than my CB700SC.  I'm already loving the ABS - I tend to lock up rear wheels when braking hard and this isn't going to let me (yes, except in turns).

 

The seating position on the stock seat is quite nice, and that's with my already cramped-up back (Friday non-motorcycle related injury).  The wind was a little noisy at 50 mph but no buffeting.  I'm looking forward to a longer, faster ride as soon as my back relaxes.

 

Thanks for the great advice guys - I'm in love with the bike already!

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OEM cases are too wide in my opinion, I am still not used to them when I have them on.

 

I felt the same way - especially the aluminum cases on the Adventure model.  They're rugged and say "I'm headed to Alaska" but the racks are set out 1" further than necessary and the square profile of the cases add to the visual illusion.  Not bad, just bulky and utilitarian.  I'll have less capacity in my V35s I think, but I'll just have to pack lighter.

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Reading the V-Strom's maintenance schedule - talk about easy peasey. At 600 miles, maybe 60-90 minutes' work to change the oil, filter, basic inspection items and some bolt tightening. New plugs and coolant at 7500 miles, air cleaner at 11k, valve clearance at 14.5k and regular fluid changes and inspection items for everything else. Nothing requiring a shop as far as I'm concerned, except for tire changes - I carry my wheels in for those.

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removing and installing the body panels (covers) and the front fairing kind of sucks the first time.

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I can imagine. Couldn't be worse than taking a block of 4 carbs off a Nighthawk several times a day for two weeks while working through mixture issues. :-)

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Reading the V-Strom's maintenance schedule - talk about easy peasey. At 600 miles, maybe 60-90 minutes' work to change the oil, filter, basic inspection items and some bolt tightening. New plugs and coolant at 7500 miles, air cleaner at 11k, valve clearance at 14.5k and regular fluid changes and inspection items for everything else. Nothing requiring a shop as far as I'm concerned, except for tire changes - I carry my wheels in for those.

 

Congrats that is so awesome, hope my recommendations helped ya some!!! You will find that the plugs DO NOT need done at 7500 miles, they can easily be tripled from that mileage "trust me". Air cleaner I check after every season and just clean it out, will replace about every 15K. The valves will more than likely not need to be touched, were it me I would also double that mileage for first check. You will find that these bikes just run and run with minimal anything, and are fun fun fun.....beware of your wallet getting lighter due to all the farkles available out there. We need to meet up sometime soon, and be sure to put my Laborday weekend rally "V-Stroms are always the most popular bike there"  on your calender for next year. Be sure to checkout http://Stromtrooper.com   for the best forum out there.

Edited by Pokey

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I rode my Gladius (same motor) hard for 15k.  Despite my best efforts, I could not get a single valve out of spec.

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Man you guys are awesome and yes, your advice was instrumental in my decision. I'll absolutely be at any Stromfest in the making!

C'mon weather, give me some good riding temps! :)

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