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Old 4 Dec 2001
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Hi There Just looking for some opinions on the F650 ( good/bad) as I plan to buy one in the new year for trip starting Sept 2002
Thanks trand69
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Old 4 Dec 2001
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No personal experience, but reports on the web seem very favorable. In particular the Dakar model with 21 inch front tire is well suited to world travel. Excellent fuel milage, but limited and diffucult to enlarge fuel capacity, although I am sure someone will be producing a solution soon if not already (anyone heard any news out there?).
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Old 5 Dec 2001
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Think twice. I have Dakar model and after 12000 km riding on/off-road the true is:
Kawasaki KLR is a lot cheaper and keeps up with BMW on the road. Honda XL 650 is simpler but much better for riding off-road and won't drain $$$ for broken plastic parts. KTM Adventure will be my choice even if the price is higher then the Dakar. KTM bike is ready to go anywhere, service is easy. My BMW had problems with fuel injection, leaking front fork, and when serviced at the dealer I always wait long time for the parts. The BMW is like the designer bike - nice to look and ride short distance not far away from the dealer.
The extra tanks are available from Touratech for big $$$$.
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Old 7 Dec 2001
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I agree with Jerzy.... don't go for the later model F650GS - it's just got too much that's vulnerable for a long trip if you're thinking of getting off the beaten track, & the fuel injection can be a problem. It also has a catalytic converter so you'd have to get the exhaust changed if you intended to go to places with dodgy petrol.
However the older F650 is much better & has been proved on longer trips. You can get lots of bits for it too, tanks, panniers etc.

Good luck ..... Hedge!
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Old 8 Dec 2001
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There are problems with the Dakar but its strong point is its reliabilty and comfort for overlanding. You can ride all day on a Dakar without a numb bum.

Plastics are poor and fuel range of bike is not enough, The best I've got is 204 miles from a tank.

Have bought the new front tanks for the bike and will be getting them fitted in Jan (this takes me up to 39 Litres

KTMs are very uncomfortable for doing distance, 100 miles and you get a numb arse and these too can be very tempremetal. Blow seals etc. Serice every 4000 miles as opposed to 6k on the Dakar

The bottom line on what will suit you better will be what type of riding are you expecting to do, if more off road then the KTM is superb, if mostly road and tracks the Dakars is fine. I find mine heavy off road but it does the job

The XTs are also superb overlanding bikes and worth looking at.

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Old 8 Dec 2001
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Just one point re above.

The Dakar is far better for munching miles than a KTM, with regards to the comments on not going far from your dealer is tosh! Have driven mine from London through Eurpoe down to CZech republic and back through europe without and problems.

Have travelled with a freind on a KTM Adventurer who hasd also got a Dakar and his prefernce for Overlanding is his Dakar with the Increased fuel range as he found his KTM very uncomfortable.

Guess who we had to keep stopping for ..

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Old 9 Dec 2001
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It may be possible,that my opinion about F-650 GS Dakar is biased on negative experience. However, the Funduro F-650 ran like Swiss clock, without any problems for over a year. The Honda XL 650 V Transalp, I sold with 65000 km - another bike which ran trouble free. My riding payground, which includes Alberta and British Columbia in Western Canada has area lager then Spain,France,Italy and U.K combined. Now, guess how many BMW dealers are avaiable in case of problems - 5 !!!.
How about riding on the high mountain ranges - in middle of the trail, and discovered that after first service at the dealer I lost a lot of the engine oil due to broken hose clamp between the oil tank and the valve cover. Tkanks for the cellular phone, I had a chance to talk to the service tech and fix the problem .
Vancouver Island is a wonderful riding area, but when the Dakar' engine stalled seven times on the trail when gearing to first it was not fun at all. The bike ran great day before and the day after. Back home at the dealer - another software check and new injector. That problem with bike stalling was experienced by many riders in USA and Canada.
In September bike was deliver for next service and ramain there up to today. Why ?
The seal inside water pump broke, making mess inside the engine.
I my view, what Dakar needs, to be a better dual-purpose bike is following:
- protection on front and rear suspension from dust and rocks
- radiators guards and the return hose protection
- easy access to the air filter maintenance
- real engine guard ( 2.5 kg OEM it's a joke)
- remove 20-30 kg from its weight.
For now, BMW F-650 Dakar ( probably only the tail light is the same as on the rally bike ) is wanderful entry - level street bike with occasional gravel ride ( sort of SUV on two wheels ).
Why not buy a wanderful genuine BMW - 1150 GS which is the BEST model !

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Old 9 Dec 2001
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Whilst I agree that the bike could do with modifications. There are still many plus points.

The larger GS is too heavy for off roading especially in sand they basically just sink, and are too heavy. As a road based tourer they are without doubt the best bike on the market.

I rode an R100 gs accross Morrocco, which funnily enough has no dealers in the whole country, the bike performed excellent two up by was a pig on gravel tracks, hence why I bought the lighter more manageable Dakar.

Again its all about preference,
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Old 12 Dec 2001
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Hi. While preparing for my Tour d`Vie, I encountered the same questions as you do. Grant himself adviced me to go for a smaller bike rather than the Big Brute (the R1150GS, that is), especially as I`ll be riding solo. I checked out the F650GS, but ditched it in favor of a second-hand F650 Funduro primarily for these reasons:
1)The Funduro has a much simpler engine construction (Mikuni carb as opposed to fuel injection). Hence, it will be easier for the blacksmith somewhere in the world to help me fix a broken part. And it will probably swallow not-so-refined juice in a more gentle way than the injection engine.
2) The Funduro has been produced since 1993. Hence, the "diseases" which all new models seems to suffer from are all cured. (This will probably be the case with the F650GS within a couple of years. But for now, it seems to have too many flaws.)
3) Spare parts and add-ons are far cheaper. Compare prices on larger fuel tanks, for instance.
4) The Funduro has a solid track record RTW, and has proven itself as a reliable companion.
5) It`s small and manageable when venturing off road (however, do not venture TOO far...), but can even be rushed down the Autobahn at a max speed of 160 km/t if necessary (but who wants to do that?)

These were some of my thoughts anyway.

Best of luck

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Old 14 Dec 2001
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I agree with Indu.

I have spent a long time researching the pro's and cons of buying various bikes, and eventually settled on the F650 (Classic) myself.

Every dealer I spoke to of competitive brands actually suggested the Funduro! (Isn't it nice to have honest dealers!)

Having seen Benka Pulko's F650 recently, after it has been most of the way around the world, just reinforced my faith in this incredible product.

Bernard Voges
Cape Town, South Africa
Bernard Voges
Cape Town, South Africa
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Old 16 Dec 2001
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by trand69:
Hi There Just looking for some opinions on the F650 ( good/bad) as I plan to buy one in the new year for trip starting Sept 2002
Thanks trand69

I am currently travelling Canada to Ushia on f650 haven´t had any problems other than it boiling battery dry for about a 6 day period. Bike fully loaded doesn´t handle well in loose sand as I hit when I crossed from Uyuni, Bolivia to Chile. Have had one fairly serious crash and bike came through it as good as I did, fuel range with 27 liter tank has been 500 plus Km as long as I stay under 100 kmp.
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Old 26 Jan 2002
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Speaking of fuel and range for the Dakar...

What are peoples real world experiences with range? I.e. range on tarmac, range on dirt roads and range on rough back-country tracks? I am on the verge of buying a new Dakkar and am wondering if I need to pony up for the super expensive Touratech tank? For those of you with the Touratech, what is your verdict? Is it worth it? What mileage to you get with the larger tank.

Thanks guys.

[This message has been edited by rodskogj (edited 26 January 2002).]
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Old 28 Jan 2002
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<<That problem with bike stalling was experienced by many riders in USA and Canada.>>

I've just ridden a new F650 PD 4800 kms in New Zealand. I have also done many miles on earlier versions.

The Manager Motorcycles at BMW New Zealand asked me if I had experienced the above-mentioned problem. The answer was no. The bike ran perfectly the whole trip without any temprament at all. Mine was a brand new bike. Late 2001 branded.

We were two-up with full panniers and luggage, both people weight about 65Kgs each.
Fuel consumption was amazing, and we did not spare the bike. 25kms per litre was fairly regular.


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Old 29 Jan 2002
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I rode the older F650 Europe to Asia, and am currently in the middle of DC-Alaska-Patagonia on the new F650GS (non Dakar version - although I did test ride the Dakar). This is a bit long - sorry....

The range on the old bike with the 27 litre Acerbis tank was (as egreen said) fantastic - 500+ km/300+ miles. The new F650GS range is around 320 km/200 miles fully loaded and going fast (130 km/80 mph+). Reserve kicks in around 160 -180 miles. On the other hand I got around 400 km/250 miles range going slow speeds on easy dirt. But tougher off-road trails got closer to the 200 miles range.

Fuel Injection/surging/stalling
Fuel injection on the new GS is fantastic on the road - very smooth and fuel efficient. The teething problems with surging and stalling have gone away on my May 2001 (frame date) bike. New software is continuously released and gets updated whenever you service the bike.

I used all sorts of gasoline in the older F650 - never a problem - but it did lose power in the higher mountains. I had an inline disposable filter - something which is harder to put on the new GS/Dakar (presurized fuel system). The new GS is great in the mointains - automatically adapting to the changes in air pressure so no real power loss and actually a fuel economy gain. Have not yet tried the really dodgy petrol out of 40 gallon drums but it runs great on all octanes so far.

The cat-converter exhaust can be 1: replaced by a regular exhaust (Staintune), 2: the cat insert can be removed (but you will need a TIG welder) from the exhaust or 3: a senior BMW guy told me that you can just leave it in there and it will just run hotter on leaded gasoline. (have not tried that yet)

The new stock GS is better than the old 650 for me off road, and the Dakar with the 21 inch front tire is better still. A fully loaded water cooled BMW is never going to be the lightest thing off-road, but they are manageable nonetheless. (It's my belief that off-roading is much more about the rider than the bike - witness the guys with loads of experience doing the haul road to the top of Alaska in harleys and goldwings.) These 650 bikes will help you a lot when you go off road, but its still all about experience (which I am still getting...). I went part way on this trip with a novice off-roader (on another 650GS) and she was able to pick it up very quickly (albeit with a couple of minor spills).

Speaking of spills, the lower center of gravity on the new GS makes picking up a fully laden bike no problem.

On road in the twisties these bikes can keep up with most road bikes. And they are unbeatable around town. The dakar has noticeably less braking power on road (that 21 inch front) than the standard GS and the older 650 - if you are a faster on-road rider and/or heavily laden then this could be an issue.

The ABS system has improved tremendously over the years - it seems very mechanically simple now and is integrated into the wheels whether you like it or not - indeed the speedo seems to run off the rear ABS system. I've had no problems with ANBS so far on the new GS. (and it has also come in handy a lot on the road) You can turn it off for the really loose stuff. The 2002 Dakar now has ABS as an option - well worth the extra $500.

Both of these bikes hold together well - they don't require the same amount of constant tightening of nuts and bolts as the XT or KLR say. They are also very smooth to ride all day.

I get mine serviced at BMW dealers (they are everywhere but expensive - aim for the countries where labour is cheap) and really don't carry any spares - you can always get them sent or machined locally.

Make sure you put fork boots on the front (they are cheaper than replacing broken fork seals)

The heated grips are a "necessary luxury" but unreliable as anything - all mine have failed.

I've dropped both bikes (off road only) and they bounce back ok - no expensive damage. (The happy trails aluminium case system works particularly well - they pivot in a drop)

F650.com is a huge source of information.

My older F650 also had battery issues. You may be able to get a Hawker battery (Touratech were trying to source it for the states). No problem with the GS battery yet - and 24000+ miles/38000 km on the clock on this trip so far. It is buried under the fake tank so I don't check it as often as I should.

I've been riding solo but also had 3 weeks two up - The bike was great 2-up as long as the speed and weight were low - which is the point... Enjoyable ride on and off road.

see you on the road....

Lance www.elevatorfactoids.com
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Old 3 Feb 2002
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Having ridden an old F650 in Libya and ridden the new GS on the UK a bit and with one in Algeria recently (slideshow on my website), I'd go for the new one any day. Not all new technology is bad and FI is the way to go for economy and efficiency. (no probs with the 1100 BMs are there) Someione once described a carb as a brick with holes in it - it sure felt like it on the old 650 I had.
In the desert the carb model was horrible and used much fuel because the lack of low end power caused spin (these were quite extreme conditions - see the book p.225), but the injected one had no worries on any old fuel and was 10% better than the best other bikes: Domi, Tenere, and 20% better than the Adventures - so that 17L tank can = almost a 20L.
I'm taking some pics and maybe a ride on the new 'TT39' model with 45 litres ($7000 at Bracken) next week and will make a report on my website.


Author of Sahara Overland and the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, among other things


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