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  #1  
Old 4 Feb 2008
*Touring Ted*'s Avatar
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Just how crap are the BMW650´s

Im currently in South America and bumping into many overlanders, especially at the hotspots...

Well, as you can imagine.. im seeing hundreds of every imaginable travel bike out there in all different forms and disguises..

Well, ill get to my point.....

Im coming back over here in 2-3 years with a buddy who wants me to recommend him a comfortable, fairy low seated and economical bike.. I want to recommend the (new model) BMW F650GS for him as it ticks all the right boxes, BUT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Out of all the bikes I see, the ones which are broken down, failing and falling to bits are the BMW´s, usually the 650´s.

These are new bikes too or well looked after 3-4 year olds with low mileage..

Eg:

Fuel pump disintegrating on a new 650,
Regulator failing on new 650,
Head bearings shagged after 12,000 miles,
Fork seals leaking after only road use,
Ignition electrics dropping contact
ABS failing

The list is pretty endless and peoples trips are being made pretty miserable. Soo many travelers are cursing their 650 Beemers..

Now I know people will say "But theres more BMW´650 on the road than other bikes", but thats just is not true by a long way..

So, is the 650 weak and overly electrically complicated or is it just coninsidence that its just the ones I see ???

Im a qualified moto mechanic but have limited experience on BMW´s, so id appreciate your feedback... Please try and try objective !!

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 4 Feb 2008
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Is BMW 650 a dud?

My wife rides a Bmw650 GS, only 22 000 km so far, (I ride a r100GS pd). I am responsible for maintenance. On the plus side the 650 has remarkable fuel economy 4 to 4.5 litres / 100 km, even fully loaded and 120 km/h. It has a low seat and handles more like a trail bike. It will hold a lot of luggage. It has all the power you need.
On the negative side, they all suffer from the "hesitation" problem. They vibrate more than most, and are a mongrel to work on. The latter would be a big minus if it was breaking down all the time. Hers, almost new, has been reliable. It chucked the chain once. I have a love/hate relationship with it. We plan to ride 20 000km around Australia on our bikes next year. Would I buy one? Perhaps. I think it is a good bike for a woman.
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  #3  
Old 5 Feb 2008
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The F650 is one of the last 650-class bikes I would choose.

Gotta love BMW marketing.....
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  #4  
Old 5 Feb 2008
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F650

splash
"mongrel to work on"?
Yes. maybe, but far easier that than trying to deal with BMW dealers with anything other than a thick wad of high value notes.

It is like trying to swim in treacle.

Actually my secondhand F650 Dakar saw me do 17,000 miles in 4 months across lots of Russia, back to Europe and on to Gib and back. Lots of no surfaced roads (is that off road?). The bike used 2 chain and sprocket sets.
On return it needed new fork staunchions and head races - both done under warranty and i was advised that the chain was worn. Looks and feels OK to me.

I suffered the usual BMW 'run-around' with different dealers telling me different things (which one was telling untruths, and why?) so I could not get the Navigatior II screen repaired (under warranty or not!) and BMW declined the warranty claim for the leaking topbox lid seal for lack of an original invoice to me (it was original equipment on the bike to the first owner!). Needless to say, having paid the dealer for this, the box filled with water in a storm within 15 minutes of leaving the workshops. Initially they tried to get out of it saying the warranty work was not guaranteed because the bike's warranty had expired while in their workshops. BUT I HAD HAD TO PAY FOR THE WORK and do they not warranty their work to cash paying customers? Grrrrr

I met the same attitude in BMW dealers in Moscow, London and Seville. Gleaming, white marble, smoked glass and stainless steel palaces, full of smartly dressed people whose only real talent seems to be ignoring and avoiding eye contact with a mere customer trying to get his bike sorted.
It must be BMW policy as they all showed exactly the same air of arrogance and indifference to a customer. Or at least they all did me. But as a 65 year old member of a well established profession, maybe I don't fit their customer model sufficiently.

Treacle, indeed.
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  #5  
Old 5 Feb 2008
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BMW Dealers Attitudes....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony P View Post
I met the same attitude in BMW dealers in Moscow, London and Seville. Gleaming, white marble, smoked glass and stainless steel palaces, full of smartly dressed people whose only real talent seems to be ignoring and avoiding eye contact with a mere customer trying to get his bike sorted.
It must be BMW policy as they all showed exactly the same air of arrogance and indifference to a customer. Or at least they all did me. But as a 65 year old member of a well established profession, maybe I don't fit their customer model sufficiently.

Treacle, indeed.
A blatant Plug for a Good Man..

I met EXACTLY the same high handedness and aloofness from Wo**aston BMW in Northampton. (ONE sales guy did have a friendly attitude but he later went to work for a dealerships in Towcester selling Harley Davidson.) The above company couldn't get your money off you fast enough and gave naff all in the way of service in return....... so i rode 3 or 4 miles to see a chap called Phil Kingston at Euroclassics, WHAT A DIFFERENCE!, Phil owns and runs Welcome to the Euro Classics with his wife Dinah, and if he doesn't know about it or how to fix it, it hasnt occured yet!

Phil is the Man in Northampton! half the price of dealers and 1,000% better service!

Martyn
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  #6  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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Did you see any 06 or 07 Dakars? That's what we'll be bringing in November. I hope that (as with most bikes) the last few years are the best models.

Anyway. The fuel pump and regulator are pretty dodgy. With the head bearings I think if might depend whether or not the owner lubed the bearings himself as the factory put next to no grease on them. The same goes for the swing arm ones.
The fork seals are weak, but did those guys have gaiters on them?
Ignition electrics dropping contact. What do you mean by this?
ABS failing. There have been some problems with the switch. But when you mean failing, do you mean it won't kick in when it should or they can't turn it off? In any case. In most places you'd turn it off anyway I reckon. Unfortunately I didn't have the option of not having ABS, but I wouldn't mind it not working.
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  #7  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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BMW's DO tend to have more than their share of probs based on what
I've seen in person and heard from "experts" at shops and on line.

Last edited by mollydog; 22 Mar 2009 at 00:27.
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  #8  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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We saw the new 650GS at the London Bike show this weekend and I was really impressed with it on the stand - it's gone right up my 'what bike next' list... so very interested in this discussion.... what I can't work out at the moment (because BMW didn't have any literature on the stand about the new bike) is what the difference is between the old F650 and the new 650GS - have they fixed some of the problems or is it just the same bike re-branded?

Here's Stace on the said new bike... you have to admit... very pretty... well the bike is ;-)

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  #9  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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Thumbs up F650s reliability?

I have two, a '95 Funduro ex-rental with 147,00km and a 2001 GS ex-rental with 80,000km on it. The older one I bought with 65,000km and rode the rest up myself, with only a waterpump replacement at 142,000km and about four sets of fork seals. I have had no problems with fork seals since I fitted gaiters. Why BMW didn't do that I will never know.

The newer one has done 15,000km for me without a part being thrown at it. I would say rental bikes would get fairly hard treatment, but you would hope they also get good maintenance too. I'm also sure that a travelers bike would get a harder time. I use them as they are designed for; lots of loaded up touring (two-up and we ain't little people!!), gravel, four wheel drive tracks and even riverbeds. I often don't spare the horses, and the older Funduro is about to be raced in the NZ BEARs (British, European and American racing) class.

Neither use oil, both are still nice to ride. I have three bigger bikes in the shed, which hardly ever turn a wheel now, because I enjoy the GS so much. Are they as reliable as some other bikes? Probably not as reliable as an XT600 Yamaha (but what else is!!) or a DR650, but they are way way more comfortable, especially two-up and more economical on fuel. They have to be more reliable than the BMW twins, from the stories of the many travelers who have stayed here. One lot even sent their GS twin home and bought a Funduro here in NZ to match the other one they were traveling with.

Of course YMMV.

Kind regards

Nigel in NZ
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  #10  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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We sold my wifes F650GS before our Americas trip because of the reasons Ted describes, every trip I went on I met loads of people saying the same thing. When you are about to embark on a 25000 mile trip dealing with all the maintenence and repairs involved, ease of servicing and repair become VERY important!
She got it as her first bike after passing her test and loved it, but if you take a close look at it you wonder who designed and built it? Does not live up to the BMW legend in my opinion.
I'll take two old TTR,DR,XR,XT or the like thank you.
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  #11  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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The problems iv seen have all been on new bikes. By this i mean BRAND new and upto to 5 years old. The old funduros seem to be doing ok (from what few iv seen).

There are a good mix of bikes out here as you can imagine and they are all taking a pounding. Be it, high mileage in the hot sun or days of ripio and bad roads..

The bikes which seem to have no problems are XT´s, KLR650s, Africa Twins, To be honest, anything Japanese ! Dominators and transalps zipping all over the place with no issues.

My XT has taken an obsoute pounding with crashes without complaint. My only issue is the fuel consumption and poor quality suspension.

BMW marketing is obviously fantastic with the LWR etc and their bed mates at Touratech helping out a great deal. Many first time travellers here come with the BMW´s just because they thought it was the only or best option as thats what everyone seems to be buying and using.

Fork seals and bearing go on all bikes of course but everything with BMW, the frequency seems to be more than just coninsidence. Also, even basic maintanece is overly complicated. Removing half the bike to change plugs, more to do the valve clearances and having to remove half the front fairing to check and top up your water is simply... REDICULOUS !!

As to answer the question about ignition and ABS, one bike would simply cut out because the contacts somewhere the ignition circuit would "on/off". And the ABS problem i discribed was contant warning light or it just not working.

As I can detremine from other travellers, parts are very hard to come by or LUDERCROUSLY expensive when they can and customer service !!!!..... I need to say no more on that issue here.

Take into consideration that im talking OVERLANDING here.. Many a GS will never see a dusty track in its life and there are many shining well maintained examples on the tarmaced streets and central heated garages of the west. This is what keeps the statistics looking rosey in the reliablity stakes. (In my opinion of course)

By all means, many run forever with no problems and i EVERY bike has its weekness but in my eyes, the BMW650 has too many issues. Maybe the new F800GS has addressed all these issues ?? We shall see.

If I were chosing my bike again, id probably go for a DR650, Africa twin (although heavy) or an older transalp.. Im also considering the new tenere or KTM 690 adventure but only time will tell on those. My XT is bullet proof but I am not getting great economy from it and i prefer something a little smoother at speed.
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  #12  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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The XT is a good bike, if I should have bought a single-cylinder bike I would probably have ended up with an XT.
The XT also have issues (like the fifth gear, suspension, lack of power ++), but it’s a great bike.

A friend of mine has a 650 with 140kkm on the clock, it has been used daily all the year (and we do have pretty hard winters up here) and he have changed a top-gasket and a waterpump (or was it a seal?).
Another friend of mine has a Funduro, no problems except the “puking petrol syndrome”, I guess the bike is 12 years by now.
The funduro is a nightmare to work on (compared with a boxer), but not worse then my old Honda.

Personally I don’t think the new 650 looks like a traveler bike, but the 800 looks fine. Time will show if it works…
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Old 6 Feb 2008
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AliBaba
"Personally I don’t think the new 650 looks like a traveler bike, but the 800 looks fine. Time will show if it works… "


Isn't the new F650GS and the new F800GS exactly the same sans the size of the pots? V-twin same modified/new frame etc??
If so why would the 800 be better than the 650?? According to the BMW specs at the bike show last weekend the 650 had 70 ish BHP with the 800 it was something like 85 BHP. Weight; again the was little between them of the top of my head 10-12 kgs.......
??
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  #14  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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I left the US in September 2005. I am still riding. My bike is a 2002 F650 Dakar. I bought it used. I have now ridden around the world with this bike. I had new pump seals installed at Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires as a precaution. My after-market Ohlins was broken in the Sudan and was repaired in Germany at a cost of 411 Euros. The bike has seen me through an RTW of more than 45,000 miles with no other problems (OK, 3 punctures!). BMW does not finance me in any way. Just one riders experience. From where I sit the Dakar is a solid mount, the standard 650 feels less so. Good luck to all of you who actually take the ride! Ted, kudos to you for meeting hundreds of riders, I only met 6 riders during my year riding in the Americas- excepting the boys/girls at Dakar Motos. Ride safe. Hook.
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Last edited by hook; 7 Feb 2008 at 19:15.
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  #15  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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Hook,
Your experience is on the old 650(2002) and those
are champs. The newer stuff, everything in the last 5 years from BMW including their clothing, is becoming more suspect.

BMW nowadays is more interested in selling the roundel...


MollyDog,
I think your criticism's are valid about their dealer network. I can say I interacted multiple times with about 15 BMW dealers globally and 25 dealers overall...for the sake of interaction, not out of necessity for parts, etc. Having a pleasant experience with a BMW dealer was more an exception to the rule; but the converse was true of Honda dealers...nicest guys on the planet!

There are good BMW dealers out there but they are slowly fading into the sunset...which is fine by me as the quality/durability of their products started fading a long time ago.
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