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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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Old 23 Apr 2012
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BMW F650 twin tested in Morocco

I recently got lent a new F650GS SE to take Morocco to update my Morocco guidebook. I asked for the 650 twin in particular as I believe it's a better all-round overlander than the 800 or the Sertao: lower and lighter than the 800, tubeless, 19" front, less revvy.
On the way back I had a quick spin on a Triumph Tiger (non XC) - fantastic engine but I'd rather have been on the BM in the desert.

The SE has nothing more than a new 800-like paint job AFAICT, plus a long list of options: main stand, ABS, computer, heated grips. The loan bike I got had all that + BM bash plate, engine crash bars, hand guards + Metal Mule rack, tall screen and rad guard. And best of all - Heidenau K60 tyres.

The '650 'didn't miss a beat in 4000 miles from new - the worst I can say was some surging when the thing got hot while going slow in sand or over rocks with a back wind. Once the track eased up that went away. Don't know if that's normal.

The other problem was the high, road-oriented gearing - in that respect I believe the 800 is better. I expected this and dropped the front cog by one tooth to 16 but it was nowhere near enough to make a difference. On the piste I never got beyond second, but the clutch managed fine and I never needed to adjust it.

Worst thing on this bike is the seat which became so bad I had to buy some foam to get me home from Morocco. After that, an 800-km day was easy. I'm tall enough, but still liked the low seat height for off road paddling and just plain getting on. The MM screen was a couple of inches too low for me, but I'm sure glad I had it.

Average mpg was 68.2, about 5% worse than the XT660Z Tenere I used for a similar trip 3 years ago, but of course I had a much smoother engine this time. I met up with a mate on a bored-out TT250R out there and one day I was even 10% better than him on fuel. All with lower gearing and baggage as wide as a cart. Worst mpg was 51 spinning and pushing through soft sand at road pressures north of Erg Chebbi and the best was 80 coming off the Middle Atlas in the rain.
Full mpg data is here

Once they wore in those K60s were brilliant on everything from wet roads to dry tracks, even thick bull dust. And at the rate they wear (a third down on my trip) I won't be buying TKCs again.

All things considered the bike was easy to handle on the non-technical, mostly dry dirt you get in Mk. The 19 inch front tyre no problem on the dirt that I could tell and the bash plate hardly got a beating, so it shows you can manage without the 800’s extra height. Partly that’s because the suspension is firm which paid off on the dirt and the road. Only turning on mountain dirt hairpins was difficult - again maybe the tall gearing exacerbated that, or just that even despite the tyres, I was reluctant to turn the 200+ kilo bike like DR350. There’s a full review of the BM plus some of the gear I used on my website.

Chris S
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Last edited by Chris Scott; 27 Apr 2012 at 23:08.
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Old 27 Apr 2012
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Great write up chris....

You say you took a xt660z before how did it compare to the beemer. also did you do alot of tarmac in this trip and if you did how was the beemer on the faster tarmac roads?

I notice you have soft panniers in the pic, are they the ortilieb ones?

sorry for the barrage of questions, im planning the same trip and chopping in my zx6r for something to do the job so hunting for ideas really....

like i said great write up
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Old 27 Apr 2012
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sorry just found your complete write up! pretty much answers my questions. In any case do you know anyone thats used the clip on panniers that ortlieb are making? Ive used the ql ones cycle touring and their great but i just cant imagine that system holding up on a motorbike over rough terrain, let alone sliding downt the road with a bike on top!
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Old 27 Apr 2012
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Hi BB, the pans are Enduristan Monsoons, also reviewed on my www.
Throwovers over a rack, not clip-ons, but bigger than Orts.
I'm also a fan of Ort clips-ons but like you wonder if they are up to it.
Don't know anyone that's used them myself.
They only clip on 16mm max ø tubes too, maybe deliberately to avoid having to contend with most 18mm overland racks.
As you may know Kriega are bringing out a clamp-on system pannier called Overlander: 2 x 15L per side on a mounting plate using pushbike QD skewers, but its not half as effortless as Ort QL2 which I've also loved on a pushbike and which come with spacers for various rack ø (all thin of course).
I'd be tempted to make my own spring mount like that but on a decent volume pan - or with less effort, just make plain pans to sit on a platform rack.

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Old 28 Apr 2012
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hi chris, interesting review. how did the cast wheels stand up to the off road sections, do you think they would be ok long term?
cheers ben
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Old 28 Apr 2012
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Hi Ben, I was warned they were 'made of butter' but had no probs. It's a heavy bike off road so I rode appropriately.

I suppose hitting a big pothole fast on the highway is a more likely way to ding them (or any wheel) and lose the tubeless seal, but I never rode a road like that. The K60 tyres (stiff sidewall I am told, did not fit them myself) may have helped here.

I'd happily risk a long trip on casts to gain the benefits of tubeless - though on my own spoke-wheeled project bike I plan to try Tubliss liners.

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Old 5 May 2012
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F650 Twin

I use one of these bikes on my RTW. I hit a rather large pothole just outside Nairobi, and it did do a small amount of damage & indeed broke the tubeless seal. Chris @ Jungle Junction got it all back to shape, and has not been a problem since. As for the bike in general it has been flawless, I agree about the seat ! I had a corbin put on mine before I left OZ and I can ride all day with no Probs. In Kenya the thermostat got stuck & we had to pull it out, It was fine till the new one arrived from OZ and that to, has given no more problems. I don't understand why more people don't ride them ? Maybe image !!!! the F800 certainly looks good, but I test rode both before buying mine & I felt this bike left the 800 for dead (for me anyway) I have ridden in heavy sand, rocks, mud & water crossings on our way down from Egypt & the bike was brillant. I must say tho my wife's ride an XT 250 was equally impressive tho, I know there sml bikes but for a sml guy or a women I would not go past one of those either. But I personally am very very happy with my BMW 650gs twin !!!

Oh one more thing I think the height in general is fine but I did have me bashplate ripped off on the Moyale-Marsibit road !!!!

Happy Riding
....rather Die Living.....than Live Dying !
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Old 9 May 2012
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Maybe image !!!!
I think you're right Paul - which is maybe why the 2012 SE looks a bit snazzier.
Glad to hear there is a solution in a Corbin. Hard to actually see what the problem is with the OE seat, looks no worse then other similar seats.

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