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dajg 10 Jun 2010 16:19

f650gs twin - africa
 
ok so... short version - don't do it. long version - read on.

the fan fills up with dirt & mud, sand, grit etc. keep it clean to stop the engine, general, and oil warning lights coming on. no big deal.

the fuel pump failed at 51k. possibly due to running low, or out of fuel. if you want to preserve it - keep a 1/4 tank. not practical for africa where the range is already too short. carry a spare - i am using a pump from a hyundai accent. 60 bucks in khartoum.

when you flip the bike, you break the mirrors and the front brake fluid container. get it up before you take in air bubbles. the windshield was ok but put pressure on the headlight and shattered the glass. this was the second light i broke - having the metal or plastic headlight guard won't stop this.

when the bike goes down hard on the left side, you can shear the bottom of the two bolts that hold on the foot peg & side stand assembly. the side stand switch shatters - connect the red & white wires and the bike will run, but the side stand will have the bike leaning way over....

the hepco and becker alloy bash plate is rubbish. yes - rubbish. dunno about the bmw alloy plate (the after market one) or the touratech one. in any case, put a teeshirt between the bash plate and the sump guard. this is why:

on rocks, the clearance is too low. you get rocks between the bash plate and the sump guard. the steel bracket (stock) bends. of the four rubber mounts, the back two sheared off and the two countersunk bolts in the centre (of the 4 bolts) pulled through the alloy plate. i punched two holes through the sump - the size you could get 3-4 fingers through.

the tee shirt should stop you getting rocks in between then when the plate fails you won't puncture the sump. in the bush.... 250km from oil... lets just say the bike wouldn't have liked it much. carrrying 2-3L oil wasn't practical when i already had 40L of fuel for the 1000km trip between gas stations.

at one point after some gravel / dirt / corrugations the computer got upset. the horn blows intermittently, and the rear light (brake and tail light) failed giving a lamp warning.

after i flipped the bike the 3 plastic mounts on the display computer were destroyed - it had swivelled nearly 180 degrees. the two mounts holding the sides of the windscreen pulled out. cable ties fixed one side, the fairing on the other side was wrecked.

when you hit a rock with less than 2.5 bar in the front tyre...

1. a 2mm stone lodged between the rim and the tyre and broke the bead. no big deal... slime pump compressor and a screwdriver to dig out the stone...

2. bigger rock and the rim dents irreparably then you need a tube.

bottom out the rear shock and the top bolt of the two holding the shock will bend. i replaced the top bolt with a non-hardened steel bolt which nearly sheared in half after 400km. lucky i kept the stock bolt.

to sum up.... the bike doesn't have enough clearance. the cast alloy rims are rubbish. the rest is component failure (pump at after 50k) or result of damage off tarmac.

i would NOT use this bike in africa again. and i am only halfway down the east coast which is much easier than the west....

happy travels
d

Tim Cullis 10 Jun 2010 17:50

I bought an F650GS twin in preference to a F800GS. I wasn't convinced the extra bits that you got with the F800GS made financial sense. For example, the upside down forks on the F800GS are still not adjustable. The standard bash plate is plastic. And I was concerned at the difficulty of mending punctures on the F800GS's tubed tyres when riding solo in the wilderness.

What I found was that on reasonably easy pistes the F650GS is fine and well up to the job, however on more difficult stuff the ground clearance isn't enough and my bash plate has the battle scars to show for it.

Also the sharp-turning front which is such good fun on tarmac is a massive disadvantage when you are restarting in the middle of rocks as you can't get up to walking speed before the wheel is diverted from underneath you.

Also suffered from component failures (wheel bearing, chain, top rad hose) and other concerns (overheating).

The F650GS cast wheels might not be up to harsh treatment (mine were OK) but F800GS owners report that the rims on the spoked wheels are made of chocolate. What's needed of the F800GS is more study rims with spokes through the edges so you can run tubeless tyres.

So far (touch wood) the Tenere has been everything I hoped for apart from it's difficult to pick up when dropped.

Hope things are OK with you otherwise and you are in a beer country!

Mickey D 10 Jun 2010 18:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by dajg (Post 292414)
i would NOT use this bike in africa again. and i am only halfway down the east coast which is much easier than the west....
happy travels
d

Hey Man! Hope things are looking up! After reading your fuel pump thread I guess by now you know this bike very well. Everyone should check this out ... good example how the HUBB community comes together to share knowledge to help a fellow traveler. :thumbup1:

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...6-4#post289236
I don't think BMW street bikes like to be "flipped" to often! :taz: I am not surprised by the problems you are having. Such harsh use is not in the design brief of the F650GS twin. $1000 usd gauge clusters are not made to off road use.

I think in such seriously rough off road conditions ridden at speed, many street based twins would have the similar problems as your bike has had. Crashing is very hard on highly technical, modern street bikes. My guess is since you know your bike so well you probably won't have anymore problems that you cannot solve.

I rode V-Stroms through the US, Canada, Mexico and a bit of Cent. America. Quite a bit of off road too ... but I knew where to draw the line.

I have since gone back to simple, air cooled singles. Frickin' tough and bullet proof. My DR650 crashes extremely well ... little damage ...
but I haven't flipped it YET! :blushing:

In the end the important thing is that YOU are still in one piece! Bikes are very cheap compared to body parts! Take care out there ...

I go slow now and stay at the back, I let the fast boys go ahead and take my time to take pics and enjoy the beauty!

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_pXs6Z_85Tj8/TB..._3760.JPG.jpeg
This is where the fast boys end up ... run off the road by oncoming pick up truck on slippery, muddy roads. Two bikes off ... no injuries to bikes or riders. Bring rope and friends!
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_pXs6Z_85Tj8/TB..._3831.JPG.jpeg
The fast guys ... they still wait up for me, I am enjoying the Redwood forests.

dajg 10 Jun 2010 19:09

the bike was still running in gear when upside down... hahaha.

i broke the "stop" on the steering column so the bars turn too far and broke the indicator switch. didn't matter that the barkbuster hits the windshield coz i already ripped it out of the mount.

the hepco and becker crashbars are sensational as are the australian made barkbusters. i ripped a 125 honda apart with the crash bars when i hit at about 100kmh in iran and the bmw sustained only a smashed headlight from the other bikes handlebars, and badly dented panniers...

i cut up my spare tourance front that had 10k on it because i needed the rubber to replace the mounts between the bash plate and sump guard (i wired the plate back on) and filled up with 10W-40 diesel engine oil after running on 1L for 70km, to make the remaining 700km to nairobi. probably could have got petrol engine oil in marsabit but after 70km on 1L and 190km on diesel oil i figured she'd be right!

incidently i was avoiding the rear-shock killing moyale-marsabit road by doing the sandy eastern route around lake turkana between addis abeba and nairobi. i had already bent the rear shock top bolt before addis. the new bolts i had machined in addis - no good. one failed in shear 3mm after 400km tarmac (bitch to remove). reverted to the bent stock bolt.

motoreiter 11 Jun 2010 05:01

These 650s seem to come in for quite a bit of criticism, but people seem to like the 800--isn't it the same bike, with a detuned engine? For instance, the 800 doesn't have any more ground clearance, does it?

There is a pretty impressive ride report on ADVRider ("Zambian Joyride") where an 800 seemed to do pretty well under very challenging conditions.

AliBaba 11 Jun 2010 07:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by motoreiter (Post 292491)
These 650s seem to come in for quite a bit of criticism, but people seem to like the 800--isn't it the same bike, with a detuned engine? For instance, the 800 doesn't have any more ground clearance, does it?

The F800GS has better groundclearance then the F650GS due to longer suspension.travel and bigger front-wheel. IMHO the F800GS also has a better riding-position and it feels more solid, it also has better brakes and better rims.
For me it would have been very easy to choose between the two bikes.
The important problems we have seen so far is basically the fuel-pump and some bearings, the same problems we have seen on AT/TA for decades.

The F650GS is a entry-level bike, it's not build for extensive touring.

Quote:

Originally Posted by motoreiter (Post 292491)
There is a pretty impressive ride report on ADVRider ("Zambian Joyride") where an 800 seemed to do pretty well under very challenging conditions.

Yes, the bike can do anything, it has been proved numerous times, It's all up to the rider.
The bike has some weak points, but I'm not sure if you find a better "small" twin suited for offroad.

Tim Cullis 12 Jun 2010 02:08

Well, actually the riding position on the F800GS is identical to that of the F650GS in terms of the footpeg/seat/handlebar dimensions. No difference in 'solidity' that I can think of.

Better brakes--yes two discs instead of one. Different rims rather than better.

Despite the failings of the F650/800GS it's still an attractive proposition. Pity that the penny pinchers put the close ratio box from the F800S/ST in the GS models. A wide ratio 6-speed box would have been lovely, but as it stands top is too low on the F800GS and first is too high on both bikes.

dave ett 12 Jun 2010 10:07

I wonder when / if someone will manufacture different cogs for the F bikes, so we can have a lower first and higher top gear?

Higher top would also extend the range on tarmac. :)

AliBaba 12 Jun 2010 15:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim Cullis (Post 292617)
Well, actually the riding position on the F800GS is identical to that of the F650GS in terms of the footpeg/seat/handlebar dimensions.

The handlebars are different. F800GS is slightly wider and I think sweep and rise also is different (Part# 32717711767 for 800 and 32717711766 for 650). Upper trippleclamp and clamping support is also different.
The seat-height is different.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim Cullis (Post 292617)
Different rims rather than better.

For offroad I always prefer spoked wheels, and I think most people do?

dave ett 12 Jun 2010 20:37

The problem is the rims which are made of soft alloy. Big rocks bend them in no time. I think I'd have mine re-rimmed with something in steel before setting off round the world. At least you can hammer them back in shape without the metal cracking, and locals anywhere in the world can weld steel.

AliBaba 12 Jun 2010 22:20

Quote:

Originally Posted by dave ett (Post 292680)
The problem is the rims which are made of soft alloy. Big rocks bend them in no time. I think I'd have mine re-rimmed with something in steel before setting off round the world. At least you can hammer them back in shape without the metal cracking, and locals anywhere in the world can weld steel.

I'm not sure if I had used steel.
The F800GS-rims have 36 spokes so it's easy to find a suitable ring. It's a shame it's not done right from the factory.

LukasM 12 Jun 2010 22:30

Steel rims, are we back in the 80ies? :confused1:


The big problem besides the inferior alloy is that the stock rims are simply too wide, on both the 650 and 800. If you want the best solution for off road riding, you should use a 1.6" front and a 2.5" rear. Excel A60 on the front, Excel double label or DID Dirt Star on the rear. X3 lace pattern with oversized spokes (Woody calls it "superlace"). It's not going to handle quite as well on the road, but it sure beats getting stuck in Africa with a busted rim.

Other than the wheels - which would also have sucked on the 800 - the major problem seems to be ground clearance. Colebatch reported that both of the 800s he was riding with on his Russian trip also hit the ground a lot, and I think they already had stiffer springs. If you are tall enough, I would be nice to raise it another inch or so. How much gain do you drop with the low seat?

Fuel injection is going to be sensitive to bad gas on most bikes, so carrying a spare pump and filter might not be a bad idea. Luckily neither is big nor heavy.

Mike.C 12 Jun 2010 23:45

An F658 is IMO a very good starting platform for an overland machine, but as with all bike designs it is a compromise that will only become truly capable for the rigors that are likely to be encountered, after some thoughtful and well implemented preparation. Proper preparation prevents Pxxx Poor Performance!

Dajg's comments on what failed for him and his observations are fantastic "on the ground" information for doing the required preparation, which being from "on the road" experience IMO carry some weight.

The list of items on our F658's requiring modifiction or preparation before setting off on our journey is extensive and was added to as a direct result of his post - Thanks Dajg!

m0ng00se 19 Jun 2010 01:08

Quote:

Originally Posted by dajg (Post 292414)
. carrrying 2-3L oil wasn't practical when i already had 40L of fuel for the 1000km trip between gas stations.
d

Hi Dajg,

We are travelling down the East Coast of Africa towards Cape Town on 2 F800GSs later this year. One thing I was concerned about, is the rear shocks on these bikes, but now I am also concerned about the 1000km between gas stations, where is that ??? :confused1:

I only have room for around 8L of extra fuel. Looks like I need to re-think that plan .... dammit !

blacktiger 19 Jun 2010 21:30

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mickey D (Post 292432)
I don't think BMW street bikes like to be "flipped" to often! :taz: I am not surprised by the problems you are having. Such harsh use is not in the design brief of the F650GS twin. $1000 usd gauge clusters are not made to off road use.

It's a GS and therefore should be capable of dirt road use without falling to bits. That said, I seem to be reading a lot about modern BMWs falling to bits.


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