The BMW F650GS undoubtedly has off-road written all over it. And If you’re wanting an all round fun go anywhere motorcycle ready to tackle a diverse riding world- our BMW F650GS review we’ll convince you its the one!
The F650GS has a long credible family background including a series of variations to its history. But this 2008 F650GS was by no means your typical 650 displacement –it’s really an 800cc displacement so why the trickery? It didn’t make much sense to me—at first anyhow. Well, BMW’s engineers appear to have known precisely what they intended–research shows that new riders are often put off by bigger capacity bikes. With the aim to attract younger and newer riders to their brand—with an additional focus on women BMW brought out this bike to get us all around the mindset. Imagine all the handling benefits of a 650cc with the performance gusto of a larger engine-ideal!The fitting of reputed Brembo brake system double piston calliper grips the single 300 mm front disc resulting in perfect braking efficacy. This will provide more braking ability than most riders will ever need.
Both the enduro models F650GS and F800GS are closely linked. The F650GS’s 800cc engine is pretty much the same as the liquid cooled F800’s twin-cylinder, but tuned to produce 71bhp versus the 800’s 84bhp giving the F650GS a GENTLER OUTPUT again for less aggressive or new riders or to handle. The bike is also meant as the successor to the old F650GS, a single cylinder 652cc capacity which was positioned as an entry level machine in the BMW line—also hugely successful.
BMW is one of the very few manufacturers that have tackled our [shorter] “LADY-LIKE” INSEAM by smartly offering optional seat heights (on most their models) as is the case with the F650GS. Produced with a standard seat height is 820 mm / 32.3 inches, the lower seat is 790 mm / 31.1 inches.
But that’s not the end of it; you can add the lowered suspension kit which reduces seat height to 765 mm/30.1 inches. The lower seat and lowered suspension are available at no extra charge although the suspension alteration means no centre stand.
It’s not a “GUTSY, AGGRESSIVE “RACE-BIKE-FEEL” motorcycle, the F650GS riding experience is smooth, chic, silent—a calm running engine. You might compare it to “yoga on wheels” like sensation. It’s an amazing confidence builder through its ease of manoeuvrability which I’m certain is a joint result of its light 179 kilos weight (calculated at full gas tank/fluids)
On the topic of fluids, the expected fuel consumption claim on for the F650GS is 5.2 litres per 100 km at a constant 120 km/h, dropping to 3.7 litres at 90 km/h. With a 16-litre tank you’ll get an estimated range of around 300 km per tank. Using non aggressive throttle application along with my rather light female weight range, under similar circumstances you can expect to gain 10% more mileage on that factor.
The F650GS gas tank is ingeniously located under the seat (fill up at the rear of the bike)! This indeed changes the weight/balance operation adding to the easy-feel as you might imagine. Weight has been distributed through the top centre of the bike (rather than usual tank and weight in front of you!) indeed giving a terrifically balanced feeling requiring less steering input (unlike the top-heavy complaint of other motorcycle designs)—you’ll balance the bike easily at slow speeds.
Okay, so it surpasses inner city manoeuvrability needs, what about on the highway? I decided to visit my Uncle a few hours west of the city – so on to some of Toronto’s finest free-ways. Getting up to highway speed, 100 km/h (a potential top speed of 185 km/h) just proved stable and told me no new tales in handling than at slower speeds. It was smooth, responsive and comfortable. Its discrete windscreen didn’t seem to buck away all the wind pressure at higher speed, so you’ll probably be wise to get the taller windscreen if you intend to enjoy long distance tours.
The fitting of reputed Brembo brake system double piston calliper grips the single 300 mm front disc resulting in perfect braking efficacy. This will provide more braking ability than most riders will ever need.
Though our speed limits are much less than those I’m accustomed to in Europe, I could not resist exploring the bike at higher speeds. I managed to find an isolated safe stretch of off free-way road and easily got the bike up to 140 km/h. No disappointment here! The pace came quickly and effortlessly. It’s not a 650 cc. The output/push of power seemed to be obvious from about 6,500 through to around 7,000 rpm. I also opted for a few countryside grass/gravel combined roads where here too, the bike reacted straight away to changes of power or brake applications regardless of the Bridgestone’s mono-spiral tread pattern. Truly a smart choice of high-grip compound intended for 90% road and 10% off road travel.
The fitting of reputed Brembo brake system double piston calliper, grips the single 300 mm front disc resulting in perfect braking efficacy. This will provide MORE BRAKING ABILITY than most riders will ever need.
The F650GS has adjustable rear shock which is pretty much standard on motorcycles. Unlike a car we have to make adjustments to ‘load’ variations for situations of carrying a passenger or cargo.
I did test the suspension management by, riding over a few pot-holes, sadly characteristic of our Ontario highways and roads! In most cases the F650GS kept them a secret from me—minimal feedback through to my seat.
The F650GS has 41 mm forks which are not adjustable —personally not my preference. I need to make set-up fittings but that’s simply the level my skills are accustom to. This choice however, does make sense for the average rider where many seldom get into managing suspension set ups. Easy!
It might be that as accustomed as I am still to the higher European highway speed limits, I might be same the same to European pricing- totally amazed at the F650GS’s reasonable price tag! A mere CAD9,490. But that’s the “suggested” retail price. You’re likely to find it for less.
Plus there’s a bunch of neat extras included in the purchase package such as:
- Heated hand grips–every gal’s dream!
- Adjustable levers
- Closed-lLoop 3-way catalytic converter (a device used to reduce the toxicity of emissions from an internal combustion engine)
- Hazard warning flashers.
- Accessory outlet to charge your Blackberry/mobile phone or travel hair-styler.
- Three-year unlimited mileage warranty.
- BMW’s roadside assistance package.
- Lowering kit and/or lower seat.
These options are available but will cost you a few extra dollars:
- ABS braking system (you can opt to ride with it on or off).
- Centre stand (if you don’t get the lowering kit),
- Tyre pressure control,
- On board computer,
- White turn indicators.
- Anti-theft alarm system.
Plus what would we do without the ability to accessorize?
- Expanding hard luggage.
- Tank bag.
- Taller screen.
- Hand guards.
- Engine guards.
- Skid plate (steel plate added to underside to protect prevent damage to the undercarriage i.e. when off road riding).
Don’t forget the great range of BMW brand clothing for the total look!
CONCLUSION: In “Iceberg Silver Metallic”, “Plain Flame Red”, or “Azure Blue Metallic” the F650GS will take you uptown, down town, out of town and around gravel roads with confidence! If road diversity is on your list of criteria, you’ll be riding with independence ready to go anywhere on this bike! And lets not forget the prestige which accompanies you owning a “status” brand motorcycle.
Fun, easy to handle, an all round great bike!
IMPRESSED ME MUCH: Smoothness, ease of handling (lightness), comfy narrow seat, display panel/info, heated hand grips, style/status, mirror shape/design, price.
DON’T IMPRESS ME MUCH: Windscreen, non-adjustable front forks, signal indicator button operation.
*Note the above is a test of the 2008 F650GS; I’ve been informed by BMW Motorrad Canada that there are slight if any changes to details and features you see above, for 2009—including price!
MOTORESS director, Vicki Gray is a basic and advanced motorcycle instructor – certified for over 25 years. She is a motorcycle licensing examiner and has instructed, examined and licensed riders for European and North American road racing schools.