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Old 17 Dec 2011
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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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2001 F650GS Broken Down in Quito

my wife and I are travelling from our home in Calgary, Canada to Argentina on our BMW F650GSes, and we've been broken down in Quito for 2 weeks.

Our bikes had been running fine, about 6 weeks ago my wife's
2001 F650GS broke down, turns out there was a large rip in the rubber
intake manifold. We replaced that and the bike ran perfectly, until 2
weeks ago when it broke down again, I don't think it is related but it
has been at the local BMW dealer in Quito and and they don't have a
clue what is wrong...

It was running fine, we did a very high and extremely bumpy mountain
road, we came back down and rode on pavement for the rest of the day.
We stopped for lunch and the bike started up fine, they we stopped at
our hotel, and the bike would not run properly and stalled often.
The next day we nursed it to the next town, but it got worse and
worse, in the end it was very difficult to start, would barely run,
and had no power, max speed has 20kmh. We checked everything we
could, cleaned all the sensors we could find, disconnected the battery
and changed the spark plug, nothing helped. Both Sandra and I fueled
up at the same time, and my bike is running fine.

Here in Quito BMW has run the computer diagnostics and the computer
registered no faults, they proceeded to check the same things I did
and could not find anything. They checked the timing and then felt it
could be something to do with the gasket and disassembled the entire
top end of the engine - nothing changed. They are now talking about
replacing the piston rings, however I don't recall it ever blowing
blue smoke.

Any suggestions or ideas you may have would be greatly appreciated,
the dealer said they don't have a clue what's wrong and it feels like
they are just randomly trying things... I'll try to get a detailed
list of everything they've done so far.

Thank you,

Jordan and Sandra Hasselmann
Destination: End of the World
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Old 17 Dec 2011
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Location: Bassett, Nebraska
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Hi Jordan and Sandra,

My condolences. It is no fun having a bike that runs like crap in a foreign country. I checked out your blog. Looks like quite an adventure. I see that you sailed to Colombia on the Stahlratte. I would check the battery ground wire where it attaches to the frame for salt corrosion if you haven't already. Sidestand switch going bad is unlikely but always a possibility. Fuel filter clogged or fuel pump giving out is always a possibility on a 10 year old bike. Fuel tank vent clogged giving a whoosh when you remove the gas cap is always worth checking.

From your blog, it sounds like the bike went down hard a few days ago and the pannier was torn off. It seems more likely to be something simple like a loose something or other that diagnostics isn't picking up. Have you swapped batteries with your Dakar's known good battery to make absolutely positively sure it's not a bad cell in the battery that is failing? Or a clogged charcoal cannister if you haven't given her the cannisterectomy. I don't ride BMWs any more and have never had an F650, so just thinking off the top of my head since nobody has responded to your post. Just some random late night thoughts.

Best wishes, and keep up the good work on your blog. Worst case scenario, change the title to "Two-up to Tierra del Fuego!"
Just kidding of course.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076
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Old 17 Dec 2011
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It is damned hard to make sense of the symptoms for some one who is not there and doesn't know the bike and its' history. As per the earlier post, you can try changing one thing at a time, starting with anything that looks damaged, and test the bike with that single change -- isn't that why you opted to travel with two bikes of the same model?

I see you have posted in the BMW tech section as well. I read that you have already changed the spark plug, but this recent set of symptoms was caused by new spark plugs:-


Hope this helps!!!
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Old 17 Dec 2011
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Why would they mess with the gasket and do that much of a tear down if they didn't do a simple compression test first?
The compression test will tell you how the rings are.
Is the catalytic convertor good?
Is the bike equipped with one of the "fall over" cut out safety sensors?
It is almost as if the computer went into the "limp home" mode if it is equipped with that feature, the new ones have this.
Did you check the headlight connections, this is from a South African's blog:
"If the headlight is disconnected, the engine can’t run properly. In other words, it can’t be disconnected with out knowing what you’re doing."
Long Way Home: BMW F650GS Bikes: Tips and Our Experiences

"Also, somewhere I read, that, after having disconnected, and then having connected again the battery, you should move the throttle to far open position 2 or 3 times, with inginiton switched on, but engine not running. The reason for this should be, that the Motronic calibration will get lost after disconnecting the battery, and that it will re-calibrate itself by moving the throttle. Sounds a bit like an urban legend, eh? I'm not sure, if this will work, but since it won't do harm to the bike, I guess, you could give it a try."


I am sure you have been through this:
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Old 17 Dec 2011
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Baffle in the exhaust will do this if broken loose in a fall (or broken loose for no particular reason while tootling along, as happened to me once). I don't ride an electronic bike, so I don't know if such things show up in computerized scans, but it's a possibility I always consider now.

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Old 18 Dec 2011
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I think you should replace the fuel filter first. That was good advice that John gave about it. Unfortunately the F650 fuel filter is pretty expensive.

I have heard of these fuel filters going bad every 10 years and I would not be surprised if a new one solves your problem with the symptoms that you have been having.
http://www.journeyrider.net Latin America blog (07-8)
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Old 21 Dec 2011
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It's fixed - thank you!

Sandra's bike is fixed, we just picked it up from the BMW dealer in Quito and it's now running better than ever. Although it was a long process and a bit frustrating, in the end it all worked out. We actually went to the shop ready for a fight, since we had sent them an email more that a week ago stating that we thought it was the fuel filter and/or injector, they then proceeded to dismantle the top end of the engine and fitted a new gasket (?).

In the end it turned out to be the fuel filter and the injector. On the positive side they did not charge us for ANY of the other work they did and they gave us a sizable discount for our trouble. We're just happy to have her back up and running!

Thank you very much for all your suggestions and encouragement, it really makes a difference!

See you on the road,

Jordan and Sandra
Destination: End of the World
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Old 21 Dec 2011
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Jordan and Sandra,

I'm so glad you got it sorted out! And thanks so much for reporting back how it worked out. These posts are very helpful for travelers that may search this site in future years when their F650 starts running poorly and bogging down in the middle of nowhere.

Feliz Navidad!
John Downs
South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076
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Old 21 Dec 2011
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Location: Kapellen/Antwerp
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dear Jordan,

I followed this topic with big interest, because we are going to SA with a F650 and a GS 1150. I did not reply because I had no idee how to help you, but I am very glad that you discribed it so well. I case of emergency, we will think about the fuel filter!!
thanks and enjoy your trip!
we will arrive in Buenos Aires at the end of january. Maybe we will meet eachother somewere on the road!

kind regards,
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