Some say that the BMW F650 is the ultimate bike. There is this theory among bike riders that the F series by BMW can really do everything excellently well. We are going to put this to a test and see if the F series legend is true or not. Let´s go through some of the motorcycle´s history, specs and a review of the newest model. Also, I will tell you everything about some great accessories I found and add to my bike. Keep on reading as we unveil all the secrets and tricks of this amazing motorcycle that the BMW F650 is.
The beginning of the story for this motorcycle model goes as far back as 1993. The first model got the name of BMW F650 Strada, and furthermore, by 1994, the BMW F650 came along as an addition to the line. Most people later know this model by funduro. The heart of the machine was that of a real multi-purpose bike. It is your average commuter for medium distances that can handle some serious street traffic. It is an entertaining enduro bike that can give you some long distances, as well as many off-road capabilities. Adding those two characteristics together, we have an appealing bike for most people.
It was the first single-cylinder that BMW manufactured since the 1960s. The public reception for the BMW F650 was critical acclaim. The economic success of the F Series for BMW has been enormous and has gained fans all over the globe. Such was the success that the original designs (F650 and F650 Strada) carried on until 2001 when they were discontinued. The idea remained the same while subtle differences until these days.
The first significant makeover of the BMW F650 came in 2000, and it gave the world one of BMW´s top seller. The BMW F650 sold over 105,000 units between 2000 and 2007. Furthermore, the dual model became a three-piece with the BMW F650 GS, the BMW F650 GS Dakar, and the BMW F650 X. They especially designed these three motorcycles with a potential rider in mind. While the Dakar version of the BMW F650 aimed at an off-road audience, the BMW F650 GS was more amicable. Furthermore, the BMW F650 GS went on to become a favourite commuting every day and have fun on the weekends. The Dakar version had more off-road specs like a thinner 21-inch front wheel and a higher seat due to a higher suspension. Finally, the BMW F650 X had three variants: an off-road, a scrambler and a road-oriented one.
The BMW F650 became a parallel-twin and stopped being a single-cylinder bike. The new version sported a more prominent engine of 798cc but maintained its name of BMW F650 to attract new riders. After some market research, BMW found out that younger riders were not keen to start on a bike that said 800cc. Because of this, although the BMW F650 sported a 798cc, it was still called 650.
In 2009, BMW presented a single-cylinder bike called G650 and later in 2012, the G650 GS Sertão. This later version tried to fill the gap left by the BMW F650 Dakar.
It was a long and bumpy road of success and innovation for the F650 GS that is stronger than ever.
You can imagine the size of my smile when I read the email that I was going to be testing out the BMW F650 GS. I mean, it is an all-riders dream to be on top of one of the most respected bikes in its category. Of course, it has competition, but it is the most remarkable now in the market.
BMW advertises the BMW F650 as an adventure bike, and it looks like one when you see it at a distance. The menacing front side plus the height and the equipment make it a bike you would respect. Obviously, you really feel the desire to start it and take it for a ride because it looks like a lot of fun. Right from the first significant changes it received in 2000, it got the name of BMW F650 Funduro. That is not at all a wrong concept for this bike; the BMW F650 can be a whole lot of fun to ride.
I put on my helmet and sat on the bike, removing the stand and holding it only with my feet. I´m quite tall, taller than most, and I can reach the floor comfortably; it is a relatively low bike. That being said, the seating position for taller people is not so comfortable. The triangle formed by the hip, the knees, and the ankles are a little too tight. But I was going to find out about it in some minutes; it was time to start this bike. The sound of the engine is beautiful; it is such a silent bike that it feels as if it floated on the road. It is also a very light motorcycle that feels manoeuvrable and friendly.
I rolled it gently to the street and started the test, holding my smile at all times. As I moved my wrist and gave the throttle a little turn, the response was excellent. The good thing is, without a doubt, that it wasn’t overwhelming; something ubiquitous in a 798cc engine. It was more of a gentle push that felt nice and smooth. The Brembo brake system pays off in this model, making it easy and powerful. The ABS on/off option is excellent, and I highly recommend it for the city traffic. The smoothness is exceptional, and the ABS works wonders on the pavement, but when you go off-road, it makes absolutely no sense to keep it on.
I swerved through the close-to-rush-hour traffic with no problem, and the BMW F650 behaved perfectly. This bike´s comfort zone is asphalt. It is the perfect bike to commute small distances very often. You´ll be just as comfortable in the small spaces of the city, as in the larger areas of the road. I wouldn´t recommend long distances, though, because the sitting position is not entirely comfortable.
Speaking of long distances, I decided to test the bike going to a faster lane. The gearbox has six speeds and transmission is seamless; almost silky. As I was going up the gears to reach the speed limit of the road I was going through, it gained speed seamlessly. The BMW F650 is silk on two wheels until you reach the 100 km/h. At this point, the first and most prominent flaw of this amazing motorbike came to us: suspension. Sadly, the front fork is non-adjustable, and it has a lousy balance that makes you unsure about the bike. Furthermore, as I sped up to 120 km/h, the feeling made itself more present and, for the price tag, it was a little too much.
Other than that, the power at hand is more than enough, and surprisingly enough, it is perfectly balanced. Just like the weight of the bike that is correctly distributed between back and forward, power is balanced in low, mid and high. This means that the BMW F650 performs very well at any given speed. Definitely, the comfort zone of this motorcycle is the asphalt. Since BMW tells it is an adventure bike, I took a little detour.
My second part of the test was to put this legend through some off-road testing and see how it behaved. The first thing I did was to turn off the ABS control via a command that is right at the handlebar. This bike has a great, easy to use, an intuitive and informative panel that will never let you wondering anything. It is excellent that BMW uses an old-school speedometer and tachometer. This selection allows you to use them at a glance without having to worry about reading a complicated screen.
I started with some gravel and also some dirt until I got into a little stone-made little road. The same thing I felt on the highway was present here, although in a less-moderate way. If the BMW F650 is to be an adventure bike, BMW must invest in better suspension. This statement is mostly applied to the front wheel, which is the stiffer one. I was pushing this motorcycle far away from the comfort zone, and it could cope with it, not excel. The BMW F650 is a remarkable motorcycle but is by no means a dirt bike. If you are a commuter who wants to do some dirt from time to time is ok, but for heavy-duty dirt, I wouldn´t recommend it.
When I finally returned the bike and said goodbye, it was a beautiful sight under the lights of dusk. The BMW F650 is a terrific motorcycle, and I had a lot of fun riding it; it really is a funduro bike.
Navigator VI – This accessory by BMW for your motorcycle is the best way to be sure you are going in the right direction all the time. It is easy to use and to update. The screen features CPOL technology that minimises reflections and makes everything clearer. One of the best specs in this accessory, for my taste, is to be able to connect it to a smartphone. With this connection, you can keep it always up to date with traffic information.
SBM – This accessory is something I discovered recently and of which I became an absolute fan. What this easy-to-install and practical addition does is engage your braking light whenever you lose speed. The term SBM stands for Smart Brake Module, and it really is smart. If you are like me, you like to make transitions with your bike elegant and slow down with your gearbox. Loosing up the throttle is another excellent way of doing it. The bad thing about that (until now) is that you didn´t inform other vehicles of your manoeuvre. This could cause accidents, but thanks to the SBM, you will be safe and sound. I added it to every bike I own.
STS – The invention of the STS which stands for Smart Turn System must be one of the work of someone who drives a car and a bike. What it does is very simple, but revolutionary: it disengages your turning lights. Very much like it happens in cars when you have completed the turn. It works wonders in motorcycles not only on the road but also on the streets. It is easy for those of us who drive and ride to forget them on and give wrong info to other vehicles. The Smart Turn System can save lives, and it is effortless to install.
Vigo Smart Track – This is the perfect riding buddy, which will have your back on every curve. Imagine you’re riding solo, with no one around. An accident happens, and you crash. Vigo will sense the crash and automatically activate the SOS notification and call for help. With that, your life can be saved. Besides this essential function, Vigo will also record every ride and provide anti-theft protection of your two-wheeled beauty.
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The BMW F650 is not the perfect bike but gets close. It is a balanced bike that is a dream to ride in almost any situation. It has plenty of power at reach and the applied technology by BMW works wonderfully well. However, if they invest a little more on the suspension department, the verdict would be a different one. That being said, this bike is the perfect commuter, funduro, street, and daily ride. It is also ideal for those who are at an entry-level moment and want an all-in-one package. Just don´t push it too far away from its comfort zone or you´ll be out of yours also.
Did you like my experience with the BMW F650 GS? Do you have anything to add? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment and share this post with fellow riders.