BMWs F650GS — an entry level bike? MIND over MOTORCYCLE

13 Июн 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи BMWs F650GS — an entry level bike? MIND over MOTORCYCLE отключены

BMWs F650GS – an entry bike?

Deep in my profile on my you’ll find a short of the most disappointing bikes ridden. Naturally it’s a thing, and I’ve caught a lot of over the years for including machines on the list that captured their owners’ but not mine.

High up that was the original ’94 Funduro BMW. as an entry level machine, the 650cc single cylinder was anaemic, overweight, over-tall and – it was anything but fun.

I came that bike working for CSM in the UK-wide motorcycle training that dominated bike in the 90s.

As the new boy, I was last in the order for the instructor bikes, and meant I got to park up my Yamaha and jump on the unloved Funduro for the

Now, the FZ could never be as a light motorcycle, but it carried its low and for a long wheelbase 750 it was extremely balanced at slow speed. The though nominally around lighter, carried it high and with the trail bike position you felt every whilst performing slow or even just levering the off the side stand.

The FZ also had one of the 750 motors ever made – linear power from to the redline, to the point where the was almost redundant – it was as happy up 140mph as it was trickling through traffic on a whiff of throttle.

I’d owned a bunch of singles an XBR500 so I knew they be light, smooth and flexible. By the BMW suffered the single cylinder which made it unrideable 3000rpm and the short rev range there was only one gear for any speed so urban traffic constant swaps. Titanic at higher revs limited top speed to about 75mph and if you could live with the the “full-stop” rev limiter cut in at 100mph and over 6000rpm in any case.

in a sky-high seat that I was constantly searching for high to get on and off (and I’m not exactly a short-arse at and you could soon see why the BMW was universally and abandoned by the other trainers at the I thanked my lucky stars the day one of left and I was able to grab his

My feelings for the Funduro were a year or so later when I a Honda NX650 Dominator. A of years ownship of that as well as the chance to ride like Honda’s 650 Transalp, the Suzuki V-Strom, a BMW R100GS and a Africa Twin, all served to just how far off the mark BMW were that original 650GS.

So then, back to the present; that history behind me, offered the chance to ride a new ’08 800cc twin cylinder I can’t say I exactly jumped at the despite the owner’s enthusiasm for me to try out her

First stop was a bit of research, as mid-sized model range has got a bit of late.

The F800 twin engine first appeared in and touring guises three or years back, and shocked by being a parallel rather the trademark boxer twin. soon after, the engine was into an F800GS version spoked wheels and the potential for use.

The F650GS tested shares the basic 800cc but with retuned with power and more torque at low Modifications include the exhaust no sump guard, a smaller wheel, alloy wheels than spokes, a single up front instead of two and a different The suspension is apparently lower too.

I logged onto website to see what the bike was BMW say this:

“The BMW F 650 GS is a real all with real power. and lightweight, practical and well-balanced, it is at home around town, on trails, or for a weekend away a passenger on the back.

“The F 650 GS is a which can perform in any situation. a water-cooled 798cc parallel engine, and an impressive 71hp, sturdy motorcycle will let you down. BMW Motorrad also a reduced power version which is perfect for beginners, and is our of choice’ at our very own BMW Rider school.”

The basic machine in at a not-unreasonable £6500 on the road, fitted with an immobiliser, and the low option (which this was fitted with) and a 34PS reduction kit so you can ride it on a restricted are both free options.

you can soon empty the bank with the factory-fit options; the reduction kit comes in at £165, a stand is another £115, the computer is £145, ABS is an eye-watering and heated grips a mind-boggling

That’s over £1300 of extras already, so you might as go all the way and specify the tyre pressure system (whatever that the factory alarm and LED indicators (to the LED tail light) for “just” £500! You’ll get a bit of change out of and a half grand.

Actually at the bike I was about to ride, the Blue (mis-spelled on the BMW UK website is the most attractive colour and looks far nicer in the sunlight the publicity photos do credit – the owner’s “Dragonfly” moniker for the

Climbing on, I had no problem with both feet on the ground. The is a little shorter than me and was a tippy-toe but the machine is perfectly by shorter riders.

Preparing to the machine upright off the side I nearly threw it on its opposite It’s not particularly light at on 200kgs fully fueled and to go, but unlike the Funduro all those ago which actually weighed the same, much of the mass is lower down. That the illusion, if not the fact, of lighter

The bars are a nice height and for me but the angles of the grips was a little and flat for my liking – I’d prefer turned back and down a more, but I suspect they’ve designed this way to allow the to be ridden standing on the pegs.

the key was a slight problem – I eventually it behind the tankbag, under the of the “tank”. The starter button on top of the right hand switch and pressing it down started the and brought the permanently-on dip beam to

Off down the road and up through the the cable-operated clutch was nice and very progressive too, and the brake operating a single disc also proved “soft” and progressive and would be easy on the dirt. It reminded me much of my old Dominator, in that a squeeze WOULD pull the up fairly quickly but if you’re to a sportsbike you might easily “what brakes?” for a moment you try to slow. Braking a dual-sport needs a little more ahead.

The suspension too had a nice feel, quite plush the bumps. Straight line was impressive – I deliberately aimed at the road imperfections I could (not difficult after winter) and the bike just going where it was pointed. I it would be a very forgiving on gentle off-road stuff.

For the of hours I was riding it, the seat was although the frame presses on the of the thighs.



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The isn’t the slickest in the world, the tend to go home with a rather than a “snick” but perfectly acceptable. There’s a vibration from the twin motor itself and some which I suspect is the chain this bike had just had a new one fitted under warranty. from some of that cost perhaps – try that your Honda / Yamaha et

The fuel injection is excellent, a very smooth pick-up you shut then open the again; no sudden jerks despite what I read in a test by Kevin Ash.

The exhaust has a surprisingly loud to it – I could hear it through ear when following on my own bike. As an the new Yamaha XJ6 has a definite ‘snarl’ and I’m left wondering how they are these new bikes through the tests – the XJ6 actually registered on the noise tester at Castle which is way above the test

The motor is surprisingly flexible for a big with the ability to trickle barely over tickover and to rev so it’s not often you’re in an inappropriate gear, though the does run out of puff as it heads off the red line. Nevertheless, peak of around 70 horses comes up at which isn’t that far of the red line, despite the fact the has been retuned.

That’s to send the speedo the wrong of 100mph fairly briskly – the top speed is 115mph.


OK, I it, I’m a gadget freak. The Beemer equipped with an “info” of the sort that you find in The panel right of the speedo and rev displays the now usual twin fuel and temperature that expect but it also shows MPG, average speed, and to empty” which I am informed is accurate.

It can also monitor pressure.

The bike has also got a adjustable shock with damping, an LED rear light, levers, hazard lights and a socket. Alloy wheels for the fitting of tubeless tyres, some spoked wheels handle.


The mirrors are a shape but actually too small to see The aftermarket taller screen a lot of turbulence about my helmet, the owner says she doesn’t that problem and that better than the original fly The levers have a skinny and feel to them that unique to BMW, but at least are a sensible reach from the unlike the R1100S I rode years ago.

The speedo was much too tiny. The gap 30 and 40 was barely more than the of the needle which made it difficult to actually see what you were doing.

My one pet hate is the system. I’ve been by many, many owners get used to it”. But should you to?

The cancel button is horribly and positioned ergonomically. You have to your thumb to an awkward to reach it and the bit you have to press fall naturally under the of your thumb either; too close to the grip.

And after I hit the for the 3rd or 4th time when trying to left I’ve no doubt in my that the single button common to just about other make IS superior. please don’t write in to me I’m wrong – it’s my opinion and I’m as entitled to it as you are to disagree with

You’ll notice I haven’t the handling yet. From the I moved away, I wasn’t comfortable with the way the bike

At low speed it felt well-balanced but it seem to be going quite I wanted it to go. I tried various like dragging the rear and counterweighting to get the bike leaning and going a little quicker but it never worried me, it just feel that I could it precisely – the very antithesis of my 600 which can turn on a sixpence one hand on the bars.


As the speed up, the steering became more at least it was right up to the point I started to try to power harder out of

Immediately, the slightly loose and feel to the front was back and the threatened to run wide in the turns. The and earlier I accelerated, the worse it

Suitably detuned, over the few miles I messed about into corners on a closed even on the brakes, and using throttle openings mid-corner and on the to try to get my head round what was

With steady throttle it precisely enough, but with any of acceleration mid-corner, it suddenly its poise. I’ve ridden a few different dual-sports and lightweights the years, so I’m used to the feel of tyres or a light front end but uniquely in my experience, the baby felt totally composed in on a closed throttle or even on the It never threatened to get unstable but it ran wide and felt ‘loose’ on the

For comparison purposes, it’s totally the opposite to the SP1 Honda I a couple of weeks ago which sat up and went straight on if you braked but felt like it was on rails the you put the power on.

Eventually, I found a happy of steering and throttle that had the cornering smoothly and nimbly but not one a novice would be likely to up with in a hurry.

After an pondering about the slightly odd I suddenly realised that the BMW reminded me of more than and that was riding my old 400-four out with a pair of loaded with a month’s camping stashed in them.

And that in got me wondering about the fuel positioning.

I have to question the of storing 16 litres (and the best part of 16kg) of in pannier tanks either of the top of the rear wheel. By contrast a tank isn’t very higher and is actually much centrally balanced between the

If I had to guess, I’d say that the designers had a in that the 800cc twin is quite tall, and to give ground clearance, it has to sit high and has to have the cylinder head in the you’d normally expect the to live. The rest of what normally be the tank is airbox.

The gap between the downpipes and the front also seems to imply the itself sits a long way in the chassis and that means visibly no room for the fuel behind the engine and over the where the FZ750 tank was was. What space is behind the engine appears to be of pumps and the rear shock.

Add to the undoubtedly weighty silencer three stage catalyser carried high on the left, the fact that the rider just ahead of the back and the implication is that a fair of the bike’s weight is carried far to the rear… just like my Honda.

Now, before I that’s a final judgment on the itself, I’d like to try it on different

The 650GS sits on a 19″ alloy and a 17″ rear, with skinny and 140/80 tyres, to which Battlewings were fitted.

there was loads of tread on the the front was slightly squared off may at least partly account for the weird handling; or it may be the Bridgestones I had a similar unhappy Bridgestone with low-speed handling on the XJ6 I tested late last but the same model on Dunlop was transformed.

So, can I sum the bike up?

Not easily.

It looks robust, with the aftermarket bash brush guards and engine that this one had been with, but these aftermarket and all the BMW factory-fit extras take the firmly out of the entry level this machine is aimed at and serious hit on the bank balance A pre-registered ABS-equipped XJ6 Diversion can be had for around £5,200 – that’s £2000 less than a equipped F650GS with no extras fitted. £2000 a lot of kit for a new rider.

Fuel economy is impressive. This machine was an indicated average of 63mpg, but the competition can manage mid-50s and the in price will buy me an awful lot of fuel.

The relatively light means it’s easy to at a standstill, the riding position an excellent view in town and the low rev and light controls make it to ride in stop-start traffic but moving the slow speed is vague.

It’s a lovely with sensible power and incredibly flexible and non-threatening delivery, and combined with line stability that is on bumpy roads, the 650GS is ideal for the short straights on B and for novice riders, but the lack of feel and weird handling on the mid-corner means it’s not an bike to ride on the twisties join those straights

So, would I buy one?

If money and were no object, I’d not certainly to finding one in the garage. It’s fun and to ride, particularly if you like the of a dual-sport bike that is of a bit of riding on easy trails, I’ve missed since my days.

Just like its GS siblings, there’s also a of aftermarket equipment from the plate and brush guards to full pannier kits to bolt on so you can customise the machine to heart’s content. In this it’s got just enough to make a pretty good

But asked to recommend an XJ6 or a F650GS to a new I’d probably say go for the Yamaha simply it’s a lot cheaper and it’s to ride.

It’s a quirky yet one that I’m positive is going to a lot of respect from its owners – certainly gained mine. respect and quirks go hand in

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