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  #1  
Old 12 May 2010
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F650 GS: water/overheating problem –

Hi,

On a rtw at the moment, F650 GS Dakar. Bike has done 100000km in total. Had a bad breakdown yesterday night near Sucre/Bolivia. Coolant warning light went on, coolant is spilling out of the reservoir...

Background:
Last coolant/oil change was done about 4000km ago in Buenos Aires. I noticed some coolant leaking between waterpump cover and clutch cover, but it was literally just a few drops – maybe 50ml over the course of 2000km. So I ignored it. (I have two fellow round-the-world riders coming down from BMW Colombia who're gonna bring a new waterpump cover seal and new waterpump seals).
I also notice a little build up of dirt/grease around the "coolant hole" near the waterpump. But didn't notice any oil or water leakage apart from the miniscure few drops of water as described above.
For the past 3000km, I've been riding with the water level above "max", so I could check the water level by poking my finger into the reservoir. (Is too much water in the reservoir a problem? Maybe in high altitudes)? anyway....

Today:
Last big ride was from La Paz (4200m) to Sucre (2500m). No problems whatsoever. Then I stayed in Sucre for 3 weeks for a break, where I used the bike only twice for 5km each time.
Today I wanted to go for a 200km ride, but after 30km all at once my water warning light came on. I stopped straight-away and had water spilling out of the overflow water reservoir.

Took off the radiator cap – water in the radiator was good level / no air.
Water in the reservoir looked clean (luke-warm water, but no traces of swimming oil).
Checked the bleeding screw on right-hand-side of engine. Just the tiniest(!) amount of air coming out of there – literally nothing worth mentioning I think.
Checked the oil level – quite a bit less than expected (the bike's never lost any oil in-between oil changes). Still, the oil reservoir was NOT empty, maybe 1/2cm below minimum.
Started up the engine with the radiator-cap off. No bubbles coming up, so (I was told) the water pump should be OK (?)
Put radiator-cap back on and heated the engine up until the fan came on. All good – no warning light.
Topped-up the oil as good as I could (bike being on a slight slope).
Rode another 2-3 km (uphill). Boom.... again, the warning light came on and I was loosing water, which again was coming out of the reservoir. I had the impression that the oil went from "max" to "min". But then again, I was on a downhill slope when I topped it up, and now on an uphill-slope. So I really am not sure. But anyway – even in the worst case, the engine wouldn't eat 100-200ml of oil on 2km, no? (Also, I had someone following me and they didn't notice any smoke from the exhaust they said).

So we waited for a truck who gave me a lift mack into Sucre (not a bad place for mechanics an parts, at least for Bolivian standards).

On both incidents, the water in the reservoir was luke-warm, and it had no sign of oil. And the radiator came on. Still, I have the impression I might be loosing oil. Or it could be a "block" in the coolant system somewhere... I don't know.

I'll consult a mechanic tomorrow – but to be honest: in this country, even a dedicated tire-changing place can potentially **** up a simple tire-change. And I've never seen an F650 here either – that's why I'm hoping for some pointers/ideas from the forum...
Anyone got any ideas or had a similar experience? Headgasket? Water-pump seals? Blockage in the coolant system? Thermostat?
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Old 12 May 2010
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Possibly an airlock in the system. Try bleeding all the hose connections while the bike is running. Losen the pipes until only water comes out. It might just shift any air.

Could also be your thermostat. Maybe its not opening as intended. Same goes for the pressure cap on the radiator.

Has the F650 got bleed screws on top of the rads too ????


Give this a read too. Dan's Motorcycle "Water Cooling"

It has some checks that you can do.
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Old 12 May 2010
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Result. It's the thermostat housing that's broken! The plastic rim broke off and the spring inside the thermostat housing is bent, just like in this picture here:
http://faq.f650.com/FAQs/Photos/Cool...singOnly01.JPG

I don't think I can get a replacement until Argentina, which is 1500km away.

Question now: If I clean the housing from the broken plastic bits, can I ride without the thermostat for 1000-1500km without damaging the engine? (I obviously don't want any further trouble coming from this, as I've still got enough miles ahead of me the next few months)
Travel to Argentina would be mainly offroad (gravel / corrugations / sand), which I guess is a good thing to keep the temperatures up. Altitude between 3000 and 4500m above sea-level, ambient temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees celcius (59 and 77 Fahrenheit). I normally do long days without too many stops, so engine temperature would hopefully be relatively consistant.
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Old 12 May 2010
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You would be best bypassing the thermostat, in effect leaving it open permanently. Anyway to jam it open ????

That way, the engine would be permanently cooled with water, instead of being starved of any cooling.

Just allow the bike to really warm up well before riding off to prevent any cold seizures (unlikely but why risk it).

I wouldnt like my engine uncooled in the heat of South America. It's not meant to be run without water cooling and you could do some real permanent and expensive engine damage.

I've never heard of thermostat housing cracking before, but as its a BMW F650, I'm really not surprised !!
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Old 12 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
You would be best bypassing the thermostat, in effect leaving it open permanently. Anyway to jam it open ????

That way, the engine would be permanently cooled with water, instead of being starved of any cooling.
...
+1 take/leave the thermostat out.
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Old 12 May 2010
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+2

It'll take longer to warm up and consequently wear faster, but at your milage, who cares?
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Old 13 May 2010
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I don't really understand that F650 comment... (maybe it's because I don't like bike-bashing anyway, as I'm sure a lot of people have a lot of good reasons for choosing a certain bike – and every bike has its strong and weak points).
In 2 years & 70000 km, this is the first time that I couldn't move on and had to put the bike on a truck. Apart from that, I just found out that the thermostat housing that cracked is EXACTLY the same part as Audi uses in their A2, and VW uses in their Golfs and Polos since 20 years.
In other words: it's got nothing to do with an "F650" as such – and as a bonus, the part should be easy to source.

@Dave Ett:
I guess BECAUSE of my mileage (and because I intend to ride on a bit more with this bike on this trip), faster wear does actually matter more than if I was back home.

I'll try to source the part here – but if it's a matter of weeks I might continue to Argentina and try to get a replacement part.

Thanks a bunch for your help!!
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Last edited by Bjorn; 13 May 2010 at 03:00. Reason: post wasn't complete
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Old 13 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjorn View Post
I don't really understand that F650 comment... (maybe it's because I don't like bike-bashing anyway, as I'm sure a lot of people have a lot of good reasons for choosing a certain bike – and every bike has its strong and weak points).
In 2 years & 70000 km, this is the first time that I couldn't move on and had to put the bike on a truck. Apart from that, I just found out that the thermostat housing that cracked is EXACTLY the same part as Audi uses in their A2, and VW uses in their Golfs and Polos since 20 years.
In other words: it's got nothing to do with an "F650" as such – and as a bonus, the part should be easy to source.

@Dave Ett:
I guess BECAUSE of my mileage (and because I intend to ride on a bit more with this bike on this trip), faster wear does actually matter more than if I was back home.

I'll try to source the part here – but if it's a matter of weeks I might continue to Argentina and try to get a replacement part.

Thanks a bunch for your help!!
They're are just notoriously unreliable. It's not bike bashing mate, it's just fact !!

You're dead right, all bikes have there weakness. The f650's just have more than most. Do a search on the hubb and you can read all tale after tale from many a frustrated owner.

Sorry to have a dig at your bike.. I know how attached people can come to their trusty steeds ! Yours is obviously doing you a fine service and may it continue after this small glitch !!
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Old 13 May 2010
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People usually post on forums when they have problems. Do a search on other bike forums on the webb and you'll find plenty of other bikes with problems.

I personally (not just "hear-say") know 10 other overlanders with F650s, all with 70-130000 km on their trip clock. Within that range, only one of them had problems so he couldn't continue (head gasket) – not a bad ratio if you ask me. But maybe the other 9 were just lucky and defied the "fact" of a notorious unreliability.

Rear shock is the only common problem I would agree on, which according to WP suspension (my replacement shock manufacturer) has to do with the bad design of the triple linkage.

Over & out – the thread's off-topic enough by now. Just wanted to throw out a second opinion on Ted's so-called "facts".
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Old 13 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjorn View Post
People usually post on forums when they have problems. Do a search on other bike forums on the webb and you'll find plenty of other bikes with problems.

I personally (not just "hear-say") know 10 other overlanders with F650s, all with 70-130000 km on their trip clock. Within that range, only one of them had problems so he couldn't continue (head gasket) – not a bad ratio if you ask me. But maybe the other 9 were just lucky and defied the "fact" of a notorious unreliability.

Rear shock is the only common problem I would agree on, which according to WP suspension (my replacement shock manufacturer) has to do with the bad design of the triple linkage.

Over & out – the thread's off-topic enough by now. Just wanted to throw out a second opinion on Ted's so-called "facts".
Sorry I polluted your thread !! I gave you the information you asked for, and just cheekily made a little gag on the F650 too.. Sorry I bothered.

When I was in South America. Not ONE F650 I came accross was problem free. Ask Javier in Dakar Motos. He's always putting them back together while the XT's , Africa twins, KLR's etc just keep on chugging away.

Ask Maria Robinson whos F650 was a constant pain on her whole journey. Susan Homer was stranded in Ushuaia by her reg/ rectifier.. Then theres Margaret who's waterpump left her stranded in no-mans land Tierra del fuego.

Quasadog on here had his waterpump go too and had to carry a spare rec/rect.

So, on the road its was almost 90% of people I met who were let down by there F650GS's.

Hows your ABS doing ?? Most stop working within 30,000 miles. How about the rear fender and plastics ?? Still on or have they snapped off yet ?? Then theres the case of the forks snapping on a few (read on ADV rider, quite a few cases). You know yourself the shock is junk and thermostats failing is almost never heard of in bike mechanics. They gunge up now and then, not break !


I used to work in a motorcycle dealership. I bought, sold and repaired plenty of them. I'm a trained motorcycle technician.. I'm not just reading out the Haynes manual !!
They always had problems. I'm not BMW bashing, I know through extended first hand experience !!

Sorry if you think im being an arse, but I was trying to help you with your problem and you've obviously taken offence where non was needed. I'll keep my "facts" to myself in the future.

I hope you get your thermostat fixed soon and get going again soon ! Safe riding.
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Old 13 May 2010
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Over & out – the thread's off-topic enough by now. Just wanted to throw out a second opinion on Ted's so-called "facts".
Don't worry, he has a problem with BMWs and aluboxes and loves to repeat himself, it's nothing personal.
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Old 13 May 2010
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Don't worry, he has a problem with BMWs and aluboxes and loves to repeat himself, it's nothing personal.

Sorry, I won't bite ! Jog on.
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Old 13 May 2010
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Groan...........
I can understand why you edited that post
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Old 13 May 2010
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I can understand why you edited that post
yeah ! You're baiting as usual ! I nearly fell for it too.
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Old 13 May 2010
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Ted - I think I've got to apologize. I didn't mean to come across as cycnical. The reason why I put the word "fact" into quotation marks is that I find it a fairly strong word to use – particularly as I know so many people with the exact opposite experience on that model.

With the following, I'm not trying to say "you're wrong and I'm right", so I hope you'll read it the right way:
The water-pump is a known problem – hence most people carry a waterpump replacement kit. Stock steering head bearings are another known problem, so I changed them prior to departure and they lasted all the way from the UK to Oz. I had a broken rectifier on the way to work in London – but that was on my Kawasaki ER5 after just 15000km on the clock. (Still, I'd recommend the ER5 as a reliable commuter bike).

What I'm trying to say is: yes, things go wrong – on all bikes. That's why there's bike-mechanics. And on known issues / small-sized items like the water-pump, I can live with it as I'll be carrying a spare with me.
As long as it's not gear-box, engine, head-gasket, etc... I wouldn't worry too much about it.
If someone asked me if they should buy a KTM LC8, I'd probably tell them I've seen a few with engine problems – but as KTM has tightened up, the later models are much better and I'd probably mention the "early-model-problems" and still recommend them for someone who wants such a big bike...

Met a very nice guy here in S-America, travelling on a Harley from the late 1940s. It was his road bike back home in Holland, and he decided to go on a road-trip in S-America. "And when you go on a road-trip, you take the bike you have, no?" – I could really sympathize with that comment.

Would I take the F650 again? Maybe. Maybe not. For weight-reasons and more freedom, I'd probably go for a DR350 with soft-luggage. But that's not because I'm unhappy with the F650. And I'm sure I'll have something go wrong with the DR350 at some point, but that's all part of it...
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