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2010 BMW F650GS Review


by Dustin A. Woods ,

During the journey to pick up any press bike, expectations and preconceived judgments swirl around the brain – they cannot be helped. How will the latest incarnation differ from the old version? Will the brakes really be as good as they say? Will the colour clash with my riding gear? And so on, and so forth.

This GS also moves on paved surfaces, even with a dirt-oriented rider leaning the wrong way. Talk about tolerant! Photo: BMW

Upon picking up the F650GS, I was overwhelmingly curious about how it would compare or differ from the F800GS. After reading that the 650 and 800 both utilize the same 798cc parallel-Twin powerplant, I wondered if perhaps there would be some redundancy within the Beemer line-up. So if it has the same engine as the 800, why call it a 650? BMW allegedly felt it necessary to continue the outgoing F650GS’s nomenclature to carry on its lineage but also to increase the accessibility of a brand known for being somewhat exclusive.

Those who choose the F650GS may do so not only for the smaller proportions, but also the smaller impact on the pocketbook. For all the cost savings gained by purchasing the 650 over the 800 ($2,755), the differences between the two are fairly minimal. Though the street-oriented F650GS does not display as much spring in its step, there wasn’t any need to resort to a different displacement, making it logical to share the same basic engine as the F800GS, and only make a few subtle changes to it.

Although the engine is essentially the same, the 650 has lower horsepower and torque. After switching the cams and de-tuning the electronics, the F650GS pumps out 71 hp and 55.3 ft-lbs of torque where its 800 sibling offers 85 hp and 59.7 ft-lbs of torque.  So what other differences exist besides 14 hp and 4.4 ft-lbs of torque? The 650 also has a slimmer radiator, lower seat height, low wind-screen, conventional telescopic fork, cast rims, 19-inch front wheel, single front disc brake and a lower-spec rear mono shock.

BMW’s vision for the F650GS was as an entry level machine leading to the larger adventure models. This is smart marketing on BMW’s part as not everyone is ready to tackle the power and size of the 1200 from the getgo, and the smaller GSs present a smaller, more manageable platform for newbies, on their way (Or not) to graduating to a larger model. If BMW manages to steal a few potential Suzuki DL650 customers in the process then that wouldn’t hurt their cause either. As I stand over six feet tall, I wondered how I would fit on the mini GS, but with the lower seat swapped in favour of the original standard seat, it proved to be more than adequate. In fact, a number of my vertically challenged friends couldn’t touch their feet to the ground while in the saddle. It appears this mini GS isn’t so mini after all.

A nice compact and light powertrain, like we like them. Note the fille cap for the underseat fuel tanls, where it helps mass centralization. Photo: BMW
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