Sunday, November 6, 2011

BMW GS650g- Bike Review

It is always difficult to review a bike, any bike for that matter.  Most bike reviews include comparisons of similar models.  In my case that is not possible.  I can only do a review on a bike in the context of why I brought it, and does it do the stuff that I purchased it for in the first place.  Of course when you have spent the money you will always be reluctant to share any negative comments you may have.

With that in mind, I shall do my best to review this bike in the most unbiased way I can.

As many of you will know my 'other" bike is the Triumph Sprint 1050 ST.  For all case and purposes this bike fulfills most of my road riding and touring requirements.  When I decided to look for a second bike, I had some clear goals and direction of what I wanted it to do.

First of all, I had no desire to get a sports bike, or for that matter another bike which is only "road" friendly.  I wanted a bike that would create opportunities for a bit more adventure and test my skills as a rider and  to ride roads that are not sports touring friendly.  It needed to be a competent road bike, but capable on gravel. It need to be light, have a decent fuel range, comfortable enough to get me to some more adventurous places, and most importantly fun to ride.  It also needed to be a bike that I would feel comfortable learning off road stuff on.

So lets start with the engine.  Why a single cylinder 650? Surely that is not going to be enough grunt after the sprint.  I did quite a bit of research on this very topic.  What I discovered was that an awful lot of adventure riders were in fact down sizing, or complementing there bigger 800 twins or 1200 GS with a smaller version.  The main argument being that the extra horse power the bigger twins and triples produce simple cannot be used off road. The 650 giving just 48Hp is all you need.  And this is completely true.  The little GS comes into it 's on off road. Easy to ride with a even and balanced supply of power which is more than sufficient.   What I have discovered is the bike is no slouch on the road.  It can be ridden hard and fast, with cornering speeds which are as qquick as the sprint.  It is extremely nimble and easy to flick through corners.   So in my view the bike is an excellent Duel Purpose bike.

Two not going to happen. I suppose it is capable but the smaller engine, and lack of torque is noticeable when carrying a pillion.  Winding on the throttle mid corner and the bike is struggling, even riding down a gear only results in the bike reving and you can still tell that the little engine is working hard to pull the extra weight.  It is not an uncomfortable ride for the pillion but the size of the seat means it is certainly a cosy fit. As with all singles there is a degree of vibration.  It is not that noticeable to me when riding it on my own, but seems more noticeable when carrying a passenger.  I doubt after the Sprint that Terry would be keen for a long trip on the GS. But then of course I am comparing apples with bananas.

The finish of the bike is excellent.  It had that typical GS look.   I like the overall look and colour scheme of it, and the addition of ABS and heated grips (which work brillantly) and centre stand as standard was a welcome bonus.  Of course you can turn the ABS off once you hit the gravel, which is essential.

The seat is semi comfortable, but not the most comfortable I have ever had.  This model can come with a lowered system which can drop the height about 40mm, but at 5'10" I find it fine.  The riding position is very up right but also comfortable.  Around town it is extremly easy bike to ride.

The 14 litre fuel tank will see you easily managing a 350km ride between fills.  It literally runs on the smell of petrol.  I am averaging around 4 litres per 100kms.

The brakes do there job well, and the ABS is a difinite bonus. 

Overall I am very happy. It is a fun bike to ride, the sound of the lawn mower engine has become addictive, the ergnomics are excellent and for off road adventures it is ideal.  It really is a hoot to ride, and I dont say that lightly. I have had more fun on this bike compared to any other bike I have owned. It is very flickable through the tightest corners, and yet confident inspiring on gravel.  This bike will satisfy the most discerning adventure rider, and is gaurenteed to bring a smile to your face. All in all I have no regrets with buying this bike. 

  • Reliable, high torque, and low consumption single-cylinder engine with 652 cc displacement.
  • Engine power 35 kW (48 hp) at 6500 rpm and maximum torque 60 Nm at 5000 rpm.
  • Tried and tested suspension concept with bridge frame and swinging arm of steel, telescopic forks, and monoshock (spring travel front 170 mm, rear 165 mm).
  • Cast light alloy wheels in new design. Diameter front 19”, rear 17”. Wider rear wheel rim for even better riding stability.
  • Stable brake system with single brake disc at front and rear and OFF/ON BMW Motorrad ABS (optional factory-fitted equipment).
  • Redesigned body scopes incl. windshield with GS moulding and two-tone seat.
  • Lean and ergonomic 14 litre tank.
  • Three different seat heights: standard 780 mm, low slung 750 mm (as optional factory-fitted equipment), high seat (black) 820 mm.
  • Sporty cockpit design with asymmetrical headlamp and instrument panel.
  • Luggage carrier with lockable storage compartment.
  • Smoky grey indicators.
  • New handlebar fittings.
  • Extensive optional factory-fitted equipment: BMW Motorrad ABS (ON/OFF), heated grips, anti-theft alarm system, centre stand, socket, low slung.
  • Extensive optional accessories with the familiarly high BMW Motorrad standards

  • You can read my 10000km review here


    1. Oh, stop it already. You are right in all aspects, and should hubby ever allow a two-bike-policy (and scooters don't count!) I would gladly an without hesitation buy the G650GS with exactly the same colour scheme out of the same reasons that you ride one now... to go where your 'normal' bike can't go.

    2. Sonja: Was thinking of you as I wrote this, seems ronic you are the first to reply. Keep working on hubby , u just never know what migh happen.

    3. Roger mate - that's an absolute cracker of a report on a number of levels.

      Firstly, it shows just what a beauty of a bike the 650 is, both for sealed roads and adventure riding, It genuinely does extend your riding pleasure and places to see. And that range on a tankful.... simply amazing.

      Your other telling comment is one about downsizing. I guess the main inhibitor for stupid males is testosterone but from personal experience with the Street Triple compared with my Blackbird, the advantages in most situations of a lighter bike are pretty compelling.

      A truly excellent post pal!

    4. Geoff: Thanks for your comments mate. It is indeed a fun bike to ride and I can understand clearly your passion for the "street'. Went for a ride yesterday with Ricahard (GS1200) and Bruce (VFR800) from IAM. I lead through Woodcoks road, both were adamant they were riding at the top of there ability to keep up. Interesting. I did scapre the foot pegs a bit though.....

    5. Yes, adventure bikes rock! They really do eat the twisties and love the bumpy stuff. Ground my right hand foot-peg quite quite hard on Saturday too...

      Oh, and then you can take off onto the gravel and really wave good-bye to the Roadies!

    6. Some how Andrew I knew u would be with me on this one. A whole new world is opening up for me and it is great fun that is for sure.

    7. Great write up Roger. They are great motorcycles and I know a lass who has ridden an older model of this bike literally all around the world, including some pretty challenging Middle Eastern countries.

      Interesting comment re the horse power. Few people realize that a typical CB750 Honda of the 1970's really only put about 40 hp to the rear wheel, nowhere near the 67 hp claimed. So power to weight you are most likely doing better than a 1970's "superbike"!

      All the best for many happy kilometers on this machine Roger.

      Cheers Jules.

    8. Glad you like it Rog - I enjoy riding Mrs N's 2002 model! NB They have just announced an off-road version the Sertao, that looks like the old Dakar model with increased suspension travel.

    9. It is great that you are enjoying the GS so much. I still drool over the paint scheme. I have heard mixed reviews on the bike but I think more on the positive side.

      Thanks for the great review.

    10. Jules: I have no doubt these bikes can rack up the miles. Hp is over rated by the way......umm....mind you you dont have that problem!

    11. Nikos: looking forward to seeing this model you mention.

    12. Trobaritz. Yep I like the paint job, how the bike holds up under extreme conditions only time will tell.

    13. The Sertao:

      Looks fun!

    14. This is a bike I've looked at. I was delighted when you announced you had one. I'm pleased to not be surprised by how much you like the bike. I look forward to finding out, ". . . how the bike holds up under extreme conditions." Heaven knows if I owned one I'd never find out.

    15. Excellent review. I'm glad you pointed out about all the extra HP you can't use off road. I learned something on that.

      On road one could also probably add and I'm guessing, excellent gas mileage?

    16. I have often been tempted to replace my ageing BMW R100RT with a 650GS but always had concerns about the ability of the 650 mill to cope with longer distance two-up riding. Your review has helped me make my mind up - well - not that it needed making up. I recently rode the 800cc parallel twin version of one of these around Europe - two-up and fully loaded - and loved every minute on the bike.
      But! Although a lighter bike than my trusty R100RT it carried its weight higher - especially with fully loaded panniers and top box - and with a slightly higher seat I found it a bit of a handful when stopped. On the move it was fantastic - I believe well worth a look for a rider who is not vertically challenged like myself. I'd love one, but - too top heavy - I'm afraid I'd drop it while standing still.
      Great review.
      Cheers, Rick

    17. Rick: Thanks for stopping buy, your comments are bang on, the 650 is great as a alone bike...I doubt it's two up capability. Just read some of your blog on your trip. Awesome stuff mate, and thanks for contributing , it helps othesrs make up there mind.

      Keith: I think you would love this bike. It is well behaved and not scary. Still ideal commuter.

      Noroadrat: Yep fuel economy is unbelivable.

    18. Beautiful bike, congratulations. I wish you had posted a bigger picture, when I clicked on it (I always do so I can see a bigger version) I was disappointed it was so small :-(
      You know Google gives you unlimited storage for photos don't you? ;-)
      Wishing you lots of adventures.

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    20. I'm not a travel expert, and I want to buy a bike, I just want to know if the G650GS is good for a trip from Connecticut to California
      from already thank you very much for the answer