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2008 BMW F650GS Preview



BMW is launching an all-new F650GS for value-minded consumers. Sure enough, this bike has plenty of attractive features to lure potential buyers into BMW showrooms. The complete redesign is great news for adventure-seeking riders.

The thing that will surprise most people when looking at the spec sheet is the very affordable price, especially for a German product. The base MSRP sounds like an excellent deal, if not a steal, given the list of features and the upgrades over last year's model.

BMW style
That's a BMW alright: a duck beak-shaped front fender and mischievous-looking headlights. The newly stretched body gives the bike a more mature look while offering more room for the rider and passenger. Ergonomics are exemplary; the controls are not overwhelming like some other BMWs.

Unlike its big brother, the F800GS, which targets seasoned off-road enthusiasts, the F650GS is designed for beginners who look for an easy-to-ride adventure-type motorcycle that's comfortable and powerful enough to satisfy the experienced riders they will become. Few bikes can successfully meet both needs; the F650GS is one of them.

Having said that, it's hard to figure out the reasoning behind the name. Why is it called "F650GS" if it's powered by a 798-cc engine? This 8-valve, twin-cylinder unit is indeed derived from the 2007 F800ST touring motorcycle; however, it was slightly de-tuned from 85 to 71 horsepower. Torque was also reduced, although the torque curve is much smoother with the F650GS, according to BMW engineers. Both engines share the same basic configuration; only the delivery system and mapping are responsible for the power gap.

Proven powerplant
Developed by Rotax, the same motorist which supplied engines for the old F650GS and G650X, this new powerplant still benefited from Bavarian expertise: the 4-valve cylinder head of the F650GS is derived from the new-generation K engines. It's fed by an electronic fuel injection system. Vibrations normally produced by inline twin-cylinder engines are reduced thanks to a balancer shaft driven by a tie rod. The constant mesh 6-speed gearbox, integrated into the crankcase, has been specially designed for asphalt/dirt riding. Whereas the road-going F800ST uses a belt-driven final drive, the F650GS relies on a chain.

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