Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Evolution of Herbert


Kate rode Herbert 13,000 miles in 30 days this past July and set a record doing it!

Read more here

Kate, my wonderful and adventurous girlfriend, took up motorcycle riding 2 years ago.

She took the MSF BRC.

I bought her a Rebel 250, which she rode for a week.

She then jumped up to a BMW F800ST, affectionately named "Snotrag".  She put a bunch of miles on the ST and loves it.  Great bike.

Last year, I bought Captain USA.  I had sold my glider, and wanted another toy.

Bad move.  Kate decided she needed an adventure bike as well.

So after much research and hemming and hawing, she bought Herbert, a 2013 F700GS, in silver.  Herbert has a standard height suspension, but a low seat, perfect combination for Kate, who is fairly petite at 5'3".

Of course, one does not simply buy a new bike.  One must obtain and install farkles.  Certainly one does not merely pick up a stock bike and ride.

So when we got Herbert, he had the following installed, from Max BMW.  (Best.  Dealer.  Ever.)

Touratech Panniers and Top case, in brushed aluminum
BMW Skidplate
BMW Engine Crash Bars
Touratech Radiator Guard
BMW Large Hand Guards
Touratech Quick Release Headlight Guard

We picked up Herbert and I got the privilege of riding him home.  Here are my impressions of the F700GS.

The bike has ample power and a linear power curve, on acceleration.  On deceleration, I did notice an odd behavior.  When rolling off the throttle, there is a smooth, linear deceleration directly proportional to throttle input, up until the very end of throttle let off.  At that point, somewhere around 5-10% of throttle, there is an abrupt cut off and engine braking engages very aggressively.  This effect is a dramatic one, to the point of giving the impression the brakes have been applied.

Speaking of brakes, the front brakes are amazing.  Very strong, if a bit grabby.  The rear leaves a lot to be desired.  The rear is excellent for control during low speed maneuvers, but almost ineffective for slowing the bike from speed.

First gear is tall and any maneuvers less than 15 MPH will require clutch fanning.  It interferes with attempts to observe the sky without looking up.

The ESA has a noticeable effect on the ride.  I could feel a distinct difference between each of the three modes and they each served their purpose well.  As I was highway droning, Comfort was excellent at absorbing bumps and smoothing the ride.  Normal was used when I was on the Taconic, where there are road imperfections, and curves.  Again, well suited.  I used Sport mode when doing some off ramps and a few twistier roads.  Very effective and well sorted.

The overall ride of the bike is well sorted.  It is very nimble, even with the bags, etc.  It tracked well on the highway and held its line in turns.  No long leggedness or squirrelishness noted.  On bridge grates, I did notice the skinnier tires wandered a bit more than I am used to.  Nothing terrible, just a little more movement.

Overall, great machine.  Kate is going to enjoy it and I would recommend it to other smaller stature riders.  The only caveat being, with a tall first gear, grabby front brakes and that throttle drop off, anyone who purchases this bike should spend some time in a parking lot practicing slow speed maneuvers.  Those three things, in a tight turning or parking lot scenario, could very easily end up in an oopsie.  Those concerns disappear after 15 MPH.

 One thing of note is the complete lack of wind protection.  This may be a great thing if you are back woods bashing, but Kate and I do a lot of Long Distance rallies and riding, which includes highway riding, and a windscreen was definitely needed. Windscreen was delivered on a Friday.  We had a rally coming up that Saturday, Hammy's Trouble With Triples, and Kate wanted to ride Herbert.  We live in a condo, so all my MC work happens in the abandoned lot across the street.   You can't ride a rally without a GPS, and no bike is complete without some RAM Mounts.  Of course, the secret rally weapon needed to be installed as well.

The rally and the install are captured in words and pictures here.

The rally was a success, the windscreen works like a champ.

But damn, poor Herbert is nearly blind.  How do people ride at night with just one measly headlight?  And a non HID headlight at that?  Time for some auxiliary lights!


ADV Monster sells a set of lights that I am a HUGE fan of.  Here is a link.  Those lights turn the night into day.  I LOVE them.  Of course, I can't leave well enough alone and I have played with several controllers trying to get the most fun out of the lights as possible.  And of course, those experiments have ended up with success and failure.

Herbert and Kate do not like experiments.  So I went with a tried and true LED controller solution, the Skene 175.  This controller allows for individual low and high beam settings for the lights.  You can also put one or two other settings in place with the use of a switch, which we have not done, and I am not sure we will.  Additionally, the controller has a flashing sequence for those times when an extra special idiot cuts you off, looks like they may turn left in front of you, etc.

In a stroke of pack rat brilliance, I found a set of handle bar mirror clamps that I had lying around.  Those worked perfectly for mounting the lights to the crash bars in a very solid fashion.

Also threw on another necessity, a hard wired USB connector for phone charging, etc.  I have 2 of these on Consuela and one on Captain USA.  Snotrag has 2.  I have seen these go for up to $30, but I bought a 10 pack from a Canadian company for $6 each.  They work great for keeping the phone charged, running an automobile GPS or charging our SENA headsets.  This is a must have, for long distance riding.

So Herbert is growing up.  Gotta get some more crap, I mean farkles.  He only has 1 ball (Ram Mount), and needs a couple more to make him feel like a real boy.  And where would we be if we couldn't mount a waterproof phone case?

Herbert has more RAM mounts now, one under each mirror.

Additionally, he has gotten Touratech Uppers attached to his BMW lowers and they look and work great (been tested with no damage)

He also has a fresh set of knobbies on him and they worked very well too!


  1. Hi,
    Thanks for posting this. About to get same bike. Kate, I'm almost 5'3". Are you loving the bike? How about the "brake like" effect when you are rolling off the throttle?



    1. Jolene,

      I LOVE the bike. It's great but yes it does have that effect. It's easily manageable once you get used to it being there. I have adjusted my riding slightly to compensate for it and don't experience it anymore. just an FYI, with all the metal luggage, the bike is rather heavy. well over 500 pounds I'd say. Let me know if you have any more questions. I'd love to share.


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