The BMW f650GS. It’s not just a starter bike.


2006 BMW f650 GS twin spark. 

I’ve been reluctant to do a bike review of Bigby. For one, I still consider myself a novice. In fact, aside from a few bikes at my training school, Bigby is the only bike I’ve ever ridden, so I don’t have much to compare it to. Doing a review, I thought, would inevitably lead to the faulty comparison, a logical fallacy I warn my students to avoid. (i.e. “Gets your clothes cleaner!” Ugh, cleaner than what?) Second, I’m still learning about the bike. Although I’ve owned it for almost three years, I’m still finding my way around the engine and mechanics and still discovering its potential. Passing judgment now would be like bailing out of a relationship after the second date. It would be, in the literal sense of the word, prejudice.

So why have I decided to do it? Well, after watching a lot of reviews online, I’ve come to realize that most are not very good, so the bar is set pretty low. They are usually more product descriptions than reviews, and Ryan at Fort Nine has blown the whistle on the nepotism of corporate reviews, how they are always positive because the big bike companies offer a lot of treats to the reviewers, like paid vacations in exotic locations. And those reviewers ride the bike for, what, a day, a couple of days, max, so at least I can say that after three years with Bigby, I know more about this bike than they ever will. So with my concerns made explicit, let’s jump in.

* * *

The three things I like the most about the f650GS are three things I noticed within the first five minutes of riding it: ergonomics, suspension, and balance. Okay maybe you don’t need to have ridden a bike for long before you discover its essence. Let’s look at each in turn and then move on to other stuff.

Ergonomics: At the school, we’d learnt on cruisers—Suzuki Boulevards and Honda Shadows. The ergonomics of the GS are very different. Being a dual-sport bike, it’s capable of going off road, and you need the pegs beneath you in order to stand. This placement also results in your weight being distributed evenly between the seat and pegs, with knees bent at roughly 90 degrees. It’s the ideal sitting position and how every office chair should be set up, thus making the GS also a very capable touring bike. The dual-sport, according to its name, involves compromise, but there’s no compromise when it comes to ergonomics: the GS provides the perfect sitting position, and the capability to stand when you leave the asphalt.

The other thing I like about the ergonomics is that you can flat foot this bike. The standard seat height is 30.9 inches, so super low. This is confidence inspiring once you take it off road; I know I can easily dab a foot if needed. In fact, since I am rather long-legged, the seat was a bit too low; my knees were bent more than 90 degrees and I felt a bit cramped after several hours in the saddle. So when I upgraded my seat (more on this later), I went for the high version to allow a bit more room, and that has made all the difference. If you are long-limbed, you might want to look at the Dakar version, which has a 34.3 inch seat height, or swap the saddle for a taller one. Despite these issues in my lower half, I haven’t had to add bar risers, and when I stand, the grips fall perfectly to where I need them, maintaining my standing posture.

Suspension: As I rode off on my first ride, the second thing I noticed was the suspension. This bike is smoooth, at least compared to those cruisers. And what better place to test a bike’s suspension than Montreal roads! Of course it makes sense that a dual-sport bike would have very capable suspension; it’s designed to be able to handle some pretty bumpy terrain. But just before I went for my riding test, I hired a private instructor for a class. He rode behind me and commented on things he saw. Now here is someone who has a lot of experience with bikes and has seen a wide variety from behind. Ironically, the first thing he remarked when we first stopped had nothing to do with my riding but how impressed he was with the rear suspension of my bike. “I wish you could see what I see from behind,” he said. “It’s amazing!”

In fact, I’ve wondered if the suspension is a little mushy. I’ve only bottomed out a few times while off-roading, and the front end dives a bit under hard braking. I’ve considered upgrading the suspension, but frankly, at only 140 lbs, I’m actually underweight for this bike. Front suspension travel is 170 mm and rear is 165 mm.  Since ideal SAG is roughly 30% of total travel, SAG for the 650GS is 49.5 mm.. Even with the pre-load completely backed off, all of my 140 lbs is putting a little more than 45 mm on the suspension. Which brings me to another plus of this bike: the pre-load adjuster. Okay, it’s not electronically controlled like the new Beemer’s, but the ability to adjust with the turn of a knob when you are two-up or have gear on the back is a nice feature.

Balance: The thing I like most about the 650GS is its balance. This is accomplished mainly due to the gas tank being under the seat instead of high on the bike where it normally is. Where this is most noticeable is in how the bike corners. At the school, we were taught to countersteer to initiate a turn and to accelerate at the end to straighten up, and this was necessary with those cruisers. But I quickly discovered that on the GS you can manage an entire sweeping curve simply by leaning in and out. It’s hard to describe, but the bike feels like it straightens up itself with the subtlest weight shift.

The balance also shows when riding at slow speed, like in parking lots or technical sections off road. I’ll challenge anyone to a slow race any day! The bike is easy to move around by hand and to turn in tight spaces. With a little practice, I was riding figure-eights full lock. You can add all the accessories you like to a bike, but getting the balance right is something that happens at the design stage. BMW got it right on this one, which is why I was surprised to hear that they’ve moved the tank to the traditional location in the hump on the 2018 750s and 850s.

* * *

The engine is a Rotax, 652 cc single-cylinder, water-cooled, DOHC with twin spark plugs and four valves. It provides 50 HP @ 6,500 rpm and 44 lb/ft torque @ 5000 rpm. What these numbers mean is that it’s not the gutsiest engine. I’m up for a slow race but I won’t be challenging anyone to a drag soon. When I did my research, I kept hearing how this bike is a good beginner bike. There’s not a lot of power to manage, and you don’t have to worry about losing the back end by getting on the throttle too hard. On the other hand, it’s got lots of torque down low in the first two gears for hill climbs off road, and still some roll on in 5th gear at 120 km/hr. I’ve never maxed it out, but I’ve had it up to 140 km/hr and that’s fast enough for my purposes. And since we’re talking about gearing, 3rd and 4th are wide enough to enable me to navigate a twisty piece of road pretty much in one gear, depending on the type of road: roll off going into a corner, roll on coming out.

Single-cylinder engines have their advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is this wide gearing. My dad often talks about how he loved this aspect of his 350 Matchless. In heavy traffic, you can stay in 2nd and just ease the clutch back out when traffic picks up again. He once road his brother’s parallel twin and said it was horrible in stop-and-go traffic; you had to work twice as hard to prevent the engine from bogging. I suspect it’s this same quality that allows you to maintain your gear through a twisty section of road with slight variations in speed.

Another advantage of singles, I’ve recently discovered in this article in Cycle World, is that they offer a kind of traction control. As Kevin Cameron argues, “no other design produces such forgiving power delivery under conditions of compromised traction without elaborate software.” This is due to the millisecond duration of the exhaust stroke with big-bore engines, when there is relatively little power delivered to the tire, allowing it to regain traction if it begins to break loose. It’s like anti-lock brakes, the theory goes, but in reverse. Compare that to the constant power delivery of multi-cylinder engines, which makes managing power and traction more challenging.

A disadvantage of single-cylinders is the vibration. The Rotax engine is about a smooth as a single comes, I’ve heard, but it can still make your throttle hand go numb, especially if it’s cold, so you might want to invest in a throttle assist or throttle lock. I have the Kaoko and it works great. Unfortunately, the Rox Anti-Vibration Risers don’t fit my particular bike due to the configuration of the triple-clamp, but then I’ve heard those can make the steering mushy, which can be unnerving when riding off road. And it might be my imagination, but it seems that there are less vibrations when using the BMW oil. It certainly seems that the engine runs quieter and smoother, perhaps not surprising given that BMW design and test the oil specifically for their engines. Speaking of oil, the Rotax engines do not burn oil. Ever. Don’t believe me, go ask the inmates at The Chain Gang, a user forum devoted to the BMW 650s.

On the other hand, it’s a major pain in the ass to do an oil change on this bike. Because the engine uses a dry sump system, there’s an oil tank on the left side of the hump where a gas tank normally would be (an airbox is on the right side), so draining the oil involves removing the left body panel and draining that holding tank, plus draining the pan by removing the sump plug at the very bottom of the engine. If you have a bash plate, as I do, you have to remove that too, which, if it’s attached to the crash cage . . . and so on, until you’ve stripped the bike halfway down. Or you can drill a hole in your bash plate as I did, which makes that job a lot easier. You’re still going to get some oil on the plate, and you’re going to get some on the engine when you remove the oil filter due to its recessed placement, so just have plenty of shop towels on hand.

My 2006 650GS does not have rider modes and sophisticated electronics. It doesn’t even have anti-lock brakes. At first I was concerned about this and it was almost a deal-breaker for this newbie. But I spoke to a few experienced riders and they all agreed: better to learn how to control traction and perform emergency braking using proper technique than rely on electronics. Since I’m rather a purist in most things, I understand that. If you learn to emergency brake by grabbing a handful of brake lever and letting ABS do its thing, you aren’t going to develop the feel needed to control sliding in off-road situations. And not having all that sophisticated electronics makes the bike easier to maintain.

The 650GS is fuel-injected so there is an ECU. A 911 diagnostic code reader is available to help you troubleshoot the electronics, but it’s expensive. One advantage of fuel injected bikes is that there is no choke to deal with, and the ECU adjusts the fuel-air mixture according to altitude, meaning you can literally scale any mountain without having to change the jets of a carburetor or risk running your engine hot. The downside is that the throttle can be a little choppy so easy on the roll-off.

Two areas where the 650GS is lacking are the saddle and the windscreen. The saddle is hard and slopes downward, so you always feel like the boys are jammed up against the airbox. If you plan on using your GS for long day trips, you’ll want to upgrade the saddle. There are many aftermarket models available, including BMW’s own Comfort Seat, but I decided to go with Seat Concepts which, for about $250 CAF, they will send you the foam and cover and you reupholster it yourself using your original seat pan. I’ve done a blog on this job so won’t repeat myself here.

One issue with this era GS is the windscreen. The OEM screen is so small it barely covers the instrument dash. There are many aftermarket screens available, but finding the right one is a difficult matter of trial and error. The windscreen issues on this bike are well documented, and if you have sadistic leanings, just search at for aftermarket windscreens, sit back, and enjoy. The reading is almost as entertaining as a good oil thread. In my own experience, the bike came with a 19″ National Cycle touring windscreen, which was a bit high for off roading and was directing loud air buffeting directly onto my helmet. I swapped it for a 15″ but that too was loud, so I added a wind deflector and that solved the buffeting but I thought ruined the bike’s aesthetic, so I ultimately landed on a 12″ sport screen by National Cycle that protects my torso but keeps my helmet in clean air. The problem is the shape of the front cowling that the screen screws into. It angles the screen too much directly toward the rider’s helmet, instead of the recent bikes that have the screen more upright. The quietest screen on the aftermarket is the Madstad screen. It has an adjustable bracket that attaches to the cowling, allowing you to adjust the angle of the screen. It also has that crucial gap at the bottom of the screen, preventing a low pressure area that causes the buffeting developing behind the screen. Unfortunately, it’s a little pricey, but the real deal-breaker for me is that Madstad use acrylic, and acrylic screens don’t stand up to the abuse of off-road riding. National Cycle screens are polycarbonate.

Aesthetics: I love the aesthetics of this bike! Even ugly babies are adored by their parents, but sometimes I’ll look at a more modern luxury touring bike with the engine completely covered in plastic and I’m glad my bike has its guts hanging out like a proper bike. And I like that it has spoked wheels, which are stronger for off roading and have a more traditional look. Someone once said to me, “I love your old-fashioned bike.” Hmm . . . I hadn’t thought of it as old-fashioned but didn’t mind the comment. There definitely is a raw, real motorcycle quality to the bike, yet has refinements like heated grips and the quality control and reliability you’d expect from BMW. It is the ultimate hybrid dual-sport: part dirt bike, part luxury tourer.

In conclusion: The f650GS is a confidence-inspiring little bike that is perfect for not only beginners but also anyone who prefers a smaller, lighter bike. There’s a movement these days toward smaller bikes, with many people looking at the big adventure bikes with derision for their impracticality off road. I say it really depends on the type of riding you want to do and where you plan to take the bike. Due to its size and weight, the 650GS can go some places that the larger bikes can’t, but the cost is in vibration and rpms at speed on a highway. If you’ve got large areas to traverse but want the capacity to go on dirt roads when needed, then yeah, go for the big 1200GS that is so popular. But if you’ve got time and want to explore deeper into those remote areas, then the 650GS is an excellent choice. I plan on keeping mine as long as possible.

* * *


Ergonomics for dirt and touring; smooth suspension; very well balanced; reliable Rotax engine; sufficient hp and torque for light off-roading; fuel injected intake has automatic temperature and altitude adjustment; classic aesthetics


Cost (upfront and maintenance; even parts are expensive for DIYs); saddle is hard and uncomfortable; windscreen is useless, hard to find a good aftermarket replacement; engine can be vibey; only 5 gears


If you’d like to see the modifications I’ve done on the bike to make it more dirt-ready, follow the link below.

Dirt Walkaround

If you’d like to see the modifications I’ve done to return it to street riding, click below.

Street Walkaround

How’d I do with my first review? Please comment and click the Follow button if you liked this post.

33 thoughts on “The BMW f650GS. It’s not just a starter bike.

    • Great review that, I think, sums up the bike properly. I have the G650GS and appreciate the light weight, balance, and great dirt road ability.


  1. Have my 2004 F650gs about a year..put around 10000k on the clock and it has cost me a penny or two in mechanics,as I’m a noob..but I am learning to try maintenance and repairs myself first…
    I love this little bike,but would love it more with another 25 hp.
    This bike is more than capable on the motorway,so long as you’re happy to stay within the 70mp to 80 mph range….having said that,I’m a noob, more experienced rider might milk more from her,but I personally don’t like to rev her too high…
    I think that the bike is just too low and heavy for much use offroad,but perhaps that is subjective,
    I like her looks….and I love the sitting position….feels like a tourer or custom….comfy.
    I found the seat to be fine..But I am used to sitting on my ass,so again,subjective..
    Great review.>I think I might just hold on to her….. would like to milk a few ore horses out of her and maybe throw a few mph on the top end.>Any suggestions?


    • Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for the comment and welcome to the Rotax fan club!

      I hear you regarding the HP. Sometimes I yearn for a few more ponies or a 6th gear but it’s always a trade-off: the more power, the heavier the bike. Because I do some off-roading, I like that this bike is light enough that I can lift it by myself. Those boys with the 1200s are going to have a harder time–not impossible but you will get tired very quickly.

      A few things you could try:

      The manual calls for regular (i.e. non-synthetic) oil, and while BMW have revised that and now say you can use semi-synthetic, I’ve found I get a little more pull from a good quality regular oil. I think it’s due to clutch slippage with the synthetic, which is more slippery. This will also prolong the life of your clutch.

      Some people have reported a bump in performance when they switched to a K&N (reusable) air filter. They are a bit expensive but you only need to buy it once. I can’t say myself as I’ve just heard about this and am living out the life of my current paper filter before I make that switch.

      Probably the most noticeable difference will come from changing your gearing. The bike comes stock with a 16-tooth front sprocket and 47 on the rear. One popular mod is to go 15/47. That will give more torque in the lower gears but take a bit off the top end. This is what I did because I wanted the torque and higher revs in 2nd for off-roading. But if you’re looking for more top end, you could try a smaller gear on the rear. You could try 16/45. Note, however, that you’ll have less torque in the lower gears. Again, it’s a trade-off.

      If you head on over to (The Chain Gang) you will find a wealth of information about this bike, including a lot on modifying the gearing. There is an incredible FAQ there.

      Perhaps I’ll see you there. I go by the avatar SoccerNerd.


  2. Great review Joseph, I cut my teeth at riding motorcycle at 13 .I have lost count of the bikes I’ve owned ,last count was 52 I ridden owned some of the biggest muscles bikes produced and have come back to this humble 650 as it given me the most enjoyable moments. Great article keep it up


  3. I purchased a 1999 f650 funduro almost a year ago. When purchased it had 48,000 miles on the odo, and now has 51,5 00. Still runs and rides great.
    I think you nailed it in your review, and if I had to choose between the 2 bikes I own (other is R1150R) I would keep the f650.


  4. Your review was spot on, particularly on the pros and cons summary (although cost of maintenance can be mitigated some depending on where you buy your duct tape). I have owned an ’03 650GS for about 8 years. The bike is versatile, comfortable (once you get the windshield and seat sorted out – I’m still working on that) and reliable. When seated, you feel like you are in and part of the machine (vs the F800GS where you feel like you are sitting on top of the machine). It can carry a full load of luggage at 80mph all day long and still get 56mpg. It will tear up gravel and dirt roads, and can even handle a bit of single track if you pick your lines carefully and don’t mind working at it. I recently completed a 7k ride from NY to California and back with stops in Colorado to ride fire roads and trails near Ouray and Telluride. The bike was a blast to ride on the two lane mountain roads in Colorado and Utah. The only issues with the bike were operator created (loose battery wires causes some lighting issues, 50/50 tread rear tire was running hot under luggage load), or wear and tear (Air Hawk seat pad sprung a leak, low beam bulb failed). The bike ran equally well in 52°F air temp at 9,000 foot altitude in Colorado and 115°F air temp below sea level near Yuma, AZ. It is just a good, all purpose, fun bike. I will probably keep this one for a long time.


    • Wow. Thanks for this, Martin. I plan to take this bike on longer rides and it’s good to know it can handle it. I have since swapped out the halogen headlamp for a Cyclops LED. Best upgrade I’ve made, maybe next to the Seat Concepts seat. Next up is the suspension. I just received Ricor Intiminators for the front forks and will be upgrading the rear shock next spring. That should be the final piece of the puzzle to turn this bike into a BDR-ready machine. I agree with your comment about sitting in the bike vs on. I recently rode some other bikes this summer and that is the sense. Yes, it’s a keeper.


  5. I’ve owned a 2002 F650gs for past 12 years. I ride it primarily on adventure touring trips out West (Colorado, Utah and New Mexico). It’s great on road and a good off road bike – a little heavy to pick up after dropping it on rough trails.
    The review is accurate in my experience.
    I replaced the seat with a saddleman adventure seat which is a great upgrade.
    The original lighting is very weak – could hardly see the winding roads in Canyonlands Park at nighttime in Utah. – – Even with upgraded LED bulb
    I want to add some auxiliary lighting. I changed front sprocket to improve power in first gear for better torque going uphill.
    Overall it’s a great first bike for me and one I plan to keep for a long time!


  6. I love the 15/47 gearing I have now. It makes this fun bike more fun in the city and off road. Yes, I’m looking in to Denali D4s. I know they are expensive but I like that they are dimmable, so you can synchronize them with your high beams. I think I’m going to go with a Stadium rear shock next spring. They are a company here just south of Montreal, where I live, and give great personalized service. They also re-use the OEM hydraulic pre-load, so it should fit in nicely. They have three models and I’ll probably go with the second level shock at about $1,000 CAF. Then I will probably finally buy that sticker that will allow me to go on ATV trails here in Quebec.

    I’m glad that everyone is enjoying this “little” bike.


    • I have a 98 Funduro and want to upgrade the shock and am in Canada. Did you do this upgrade with the local guys? Curious how it turned out and if this is a good option for me.


  7. Hi Joseph, I am 37 years old, I am Spanish and I live in Mexico, I have motorcycles in my veins, my aunt worked in the motorcycle magazine and brought them home at 10 years old. Congratulations, I have enjoyed your fresh review as the first ones I read. I have a 650 for 5 years that I use daily (salvage, sixth owner, all black like yours with all the extras of the dakar) beautiful, and I have to say that this bike really awakens my most sincere compassion, admiration and respect … has been abused by an American boy front California, several Mexicans from Tijuana to Mexico City, a Colombian and a Spaniard who has thrown her to the ground at least 4 times in the city and once by a ravine … it is incredible, but there it remains as the first day!

    I bought it cheap without ABS and then won one at an eBay auction for $ 30 and installed it. I love motorcycles, before the GS I had an XT 600 ’93, a piece of heavy and noble iron with which I taught to drive several friends and they have continued selling it to each other years later, I also had the opportunity to have a KTM 525 EXC high and wild, and an F800S with which I traveled to the Caribbean happy but with the neck subjected to suffering that I would not endure again.

    At some point I had all the bikes at once, and they all left little by little, but the GS is still there … Today, poor motorcycle, has worn discs, broken seat, sunburned buttons (some broken!), Broken plastics, sliced ​​with paste and broken again, even half of the chassis anchor to which the whole headlamp head, gauges, etc. is broken…

    So I’ve been thinking about what type of motorcycle I want, what kind I’m a man / rider now, I thought first of a Monster 796, but we have bad asphalt and here they are stolen red sporty bikes with a gun, then I thought of an F700GS, more modern and technological but honestly… a little bit ugly for my taste and is this concept of “on the bike and not in the bike” that bothers me, then I thought better of a 800GT similar to my 800S but more mature…

    I always kept the first idea in mind to sell mine and buy an equal but with fewer kilometers and a history of less intrafamily abuse, I searched the web about benefits, and I came across your very sincere review that in this world of crazy consumerism and technological career towards who knows where, it gave me peace.

    And I already found a 2007 copy, with 11,700km, complete original suitcases and 3 months warranty that I hope is available Within a few hours when you open the dealership!

    Thanks again for the useful info and it’s nice to totally agree in all points, greetings from Mexico, my wife and me, both love Canada, maybe one day we will go in the new F650GS!


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  9. Rotax! Rated for 10,000 hours. –> I’d say it’s good for 200,000 km with proper maintenance.

    +1 on Seat Concepts. 100% improvement.

    Loving this this bike since 2016. Running 16/49 since I swapped out chain. Fine for this country (only OECD to prohibit hwy travel, Korea). ~63,000 km and running very strong.


    • Hi Eric,

      That 10,000 hour rating, where did you hear that? Is that the predicted life of the engine? Just curious. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the Rotax was engineered for aviation with a very long service maintenance interval.

      92,000 kilometres so far here and no signs of wear. I developed a slow oil leak from the starter motor O-ring but nothing a little gasket maker can’t fix. (The underside of the motor is pitted so even a new ring isn’t sealing completely at high revs.) No other issues. I’ve just upgraded the suspension with Ricor valves in the front and a new rear shock. The OEM was still working fine but was under sprung for my camping gear and needed service. I ended up going with the Cyclops Long Range auxiliary lights instead of Denalis, but they are comparable. Look for a review of those and the new suspension once I get some mileage on them.

      There are some great mid weight ADV bikes now on the market but I’m staying with the 650GS for as long as it lasts.


      • I read that a few years ago. I remember you from, and I think that’s where I read it. This morning wasn’t fruitful at all in my search for that 10k hours rating, but I’m 100% sure about this. When I first picked the bike up, I read incessantly. That’s when I happened across this number. I’ll keep looking.

        In the meantime, check out this link. I’m sure you’ve been on it before, but it’s very cool to read again!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. They’ve been making F650s since 1993… Might be a good idea to let your audience know what year yours is at the beginning of the review, there have been a lot of changes over two decades so knowing what year yours is from will help others know how it might compare to theirs.


  11. Good review, and describes the bike well. I’ve had “Ethel” (F650GS Dakar 2003, SS) since 2009, she’s done 125,000 miles, been to Istanbul from Aberdeen etc, great on snow and ice. My one point regarding the longevity of the Rotax engine is that at 93,000 miles one of the counterbalance shaft ball bearings lost its hardened surface, which gouged the oil pumps and short circuited the generator coils. With hindsight, a few shiny shavings in the oil change should have had more notice taken of them! The bearings are also literally the last thing out after splitting the engine.
    I’ve had all sorts of bikes but Ethel will always have garage space.


  12. I enjoyed your review. It’s a great bike.
    I have a 2004 f650gs. Had it for 4 years. Bought it with 25k in the clock.
    3 previous owners – all Sunday drivers.
    I put 17k on the clock so far.
    I’m about to do a 2400km mostly coastal journey.

    Easy to service. You can download the full workshop manual for free. There are videos of all the maintenance jobs you would need to do.
    For me it’s a heavy bike having had a jamaha xt500 for 20 years.
    The bmw is as you say well balanced.
    I find it revs a bit high at 120 so have considered dropping 1 tooth on the back sprocket but have not done it.
    It’s not very gutsy but it’s adequate.
    I’m 6ft1 and find the low seating adequate as I can sit with my feet flat on the ground and low compared to the tank.
    I’m over wheeling and driving like a maniac. I don’t believe the seat is hard, in fact I find it very comfortable seating for long distance.
    Great bike. Love the engine.


    • Thanks for the comment. I’ve just rolled 122K during a cross-country tour. No issues except for the battery, which I’ll talk about in a later post. I’m so impressed with the reliability. I wouldn’t take a 16 year-old car up the Dempster but I did this old bike. I’ll be adding some videos about the mods I’ve made to the bike.


  13. Good F650GS review. I ride mine “off road” and highway. One issue is lower clearance between the bash plate and ground. It hits high rocks now and then. The OEM bash plate with OEM crash bars function fine. I bent the rear dog bone bolt, but added a bash plate to the center stand for protection. I have a Lynx dualsport fairing on mine, along with some home made wind deflectors, which totally solved the wind buffeting issue. A KLR in “not a tractor” version. Not a beginner bike at all!


    • Yeah, the poor clearance is definitely the liability of this bike off-road. That and the front suspension. But then the same clearance is an asset on road. The bike turns in easy and is well balanced. It’s a good all-round bike for adventure touring.


  14. No ABS? I get being a purist, but let me counterpoint that.

    I put a lot of time and work into learning to ride well back in the late 80s. I started on an ’82 Suzuki twin (GS450T), and soon upgraded to a GS750, then a Ninja 600. None had ABS – even BMW didn’t offer it quite yet. So I worked hard and practiced, and learned to brake well. I ran up maybe 60k miles over the next couple of years, with thousands of perfect (or at least good enough) stops.

    In 1991, though, I screwed up one stop . I got on the front brake just a little too quickly, right where there were a few small pieces of gravel. I hit the ground faster than I could possibly react, and slid 300 feet down chip-sealed asphalt that might as well have been a cheese grater for all the good my leather jacket and jeans did for me. I spent three days in the hospital, then weeks afterwards going in for daily appointments to soak the bandages off in a big whirlpool tub. I was left with lots of spectacular scars (along with a newfound appreciation for top-quality gear).

    The whole experience cost me over $50k in 1991 dollars. $2k of that was piecing my poor Ninja back together; the rest was medical bills.

    My current ride is an ’04 K1200GT, with the infamous but spectacularly powerful “whizzy brakes” servo ABS system. I still practice, I still ride with good technique, but I’ve got my little servo-operated parachute for that one time I fail. I ride 30k-40k miles a year, and I don’t know if my ABS has saved me even once – but if it ever does save me even once, it’ll be worth it.

    I’ve been looking for a smaller dual sport bike to let me explore some of the hundreds of miles of dirt roads in New Mexico, which just isn’t fun on the 650-pound GT. Whatever I get, I’ll practice with it until I can brake perfectly – but it will still have ABS, because I need to get home at the end of the ride more than I need more scars.


    • Ouch! That sounds painful, bodily and economically. Just to be clear, I endorse ABS. It just wasn’t on this particular pre-owned bike, and I liked the bike so much I decided to buy it anyway.


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  18. I hit a kangaroo on mine, second tank of juice since I bought it….

    …..hardly even shook the bike, and shrugged the kangaroo off like an MMA fighter parrying a marshmallow


  19. Pingback: BMW f650 GS and Triumph Tiger 800 XC Head to Head | 650thumper

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