BMW F 650 GS Review
Bike Tested: 2013 BMW F 650 GS (with options)
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 13,50,000/-
The BMW F 650 GS is a very desirable bike with performance and dynamics to match.
Enduro or dual-sport motorcycles aren’t very popular in India although they are the most suited for our road conditions. The reason for the lack of popularity of such type of bikes is simple, few options and those which are available cost an arm or leg to procure. Case in point is BMW Motorrad’s F 650 GS, an enduro bike which is so capable and well suited for Indian roads that one would pick it up without a second thought. Pricing aside, the BMW F 650 GS is already discontinued globally and has been replaced by the F 700 GS, the latter having several changes although both use the same powerplant (the 700 produces 4 HP and 2 Nm more output and also gets a host of additional features). However the F 700 GS will be priced higher than the F 650 GS and there are a few units of the 650 GS up for grabs in India. We hop on to the saddle of BMW Motorrad’s entry level India offering and come out thoroughly pleased.
Motor Quest: BMW launched the F 650 Funduro in India in 1996, in collaboration with Hero, priced at Rs. 5 lakhs. The F 650 GS replaced the Funduro (both single-cylinder engines) in 2000 and in 2008 the current model was launched with a twin-cylinder engine.
Styling – The BMW F 650 GS is a striking motorcycle and the distinct design sure grabs some eye balls. When we were testing the bike on an early morning in Mumbai, quite a few people walked to us and asked us about this machine. BMW’s signature asymmetrical headlights look unique and the bike has generous dimensions which is why the styling has been carried over on the 700 GS as well. GS is written on either side of the body with F650 written on ‘G’ (on the right side G is on the top while on the left side S is on the top, weird). Four BMW logos are present on the bike, one below the handle bar, two on the sides and one at the rear. The F 650 GS is a semi off-roader and thus gets alloy wheels instead of spoke wheels.
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The body flows smoothly and a look at the BMW F 650 GS from the side reveals an S shape starting from the front and going all the way to the rear in a smooth manner. The exhaust has been placed on the left instead of the right, quite unconventional. At the rear you get a wide tyre which is visible as the rear mudguard is small. The brake light gets a multitude of LEDs. Our test bike was fitted with optional extras which cost an additional Rs. 1 lakh. The extras include LED indicators, LED tail lights, higher windshield, anti-theft alarm system, on-board computer and engine guard. The sun yellow/black silk gloss colour scheme looks very good but is a special edition and comes at a Rs. 68,000/- premium, ouch. Other colours include white and blue but the yellow shade is by far the most striking on this attractive motorcycle.
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Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – BMW Motorrad’s unique styling elements continue on the console as well. The key is placed behind the handlebar instead of being near the meters and there is a charging socket right next to it for plugging in your GPS when you go touring. The instrument cluster features twin pods, a large speedometer at the top and a smaller tachometer (with shift light) right below with a rectangular screen on the right and a small display for tell-tale warning lights on the left. The LCD display shows time, odometer, trip meter, current gear along with bars for fuel and engine temperature. You can toggle through the multi-information display using the ‘INFO’ button on the left side of the handlebar, which displays per 100 km mileage, real time mileage, tyre pressure monitoring, temperature and there is a stop watch too!
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The switch gear is a bit confusing but once you get used to it, you are good to go. On the left you have buttons for low and high beam (the bike gets daytime running light), horn, ABS engage/disengage, Info toggle for on-board computer and left side indicator. On the right you have buttons for engine start (you press the button to start and turn it left or right to use the engine kill switch), right side indicator and hazard lights. This layout is typical GS but BMW has modernised the controls in the F 700 GS. The brake master cylinder seems a bit oddly placed but the quality of switchgear is fantastic and there is nothing to fault with the fit and finish of this Beemer.
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Ergonomics – Hop on to the BMW F 650 GS and you will be pleased to find the ergonomics very comfortable. In spite of this being a big bike, it doesn’t feel so when you start riding it. Ergonomics are spot on and tall riders will really appreciate the seating comfort. However for short riders, they might find the F 650 GS a bit difficult at first as the height of the bike makes it difficult for short people to easily touch their feet to the ground. The generous seat height, slightly rear set foot pegs and well padded seats make light work of long distances. Even the pillion seat is comfortable with chunky grab rails to hold.
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Performance and Gearbox – Powering the F 650 GS is a 798cc, water-cooled, parallel-twin engine which was developed by BMW Motorrad in collaboration with Rotax. This is the same engine which powers the F 700 GS and F 800 GS producing 75 HP and 85 HP in them respectively. In the F 650 GS, it produces 71 HP of power and 75 Nm of torque. Now this engine is unlike other parallel-twin engines because it features a third conrod to balance weight and reduce vibrations. The result is the 0.8-litre unit offers very good NVH levels, feeling refined right from idle. But once you whizz past 3000 RPM, the motor sounds loud and throaty, offering very pleasing vocals for the aural senses.
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The power output might look modest for a bike of this price and engine displacement but out on the road, the F 650 GS impresses with instant on the go performance. Power delivery is smooth and the fuelling is spot-on with the mill feeling relaxed and composed even at low speeds. It has enough pep for city duties and you can amble around town in third gear doing just 25 km/hr, no sweat from the motor. Open the throttle and you will be pleasantly surprised with the urgency of this powerplant which pulls strongly to its 8500 RPM redline. It isn’t livid per se but has the gas to get going throughout the rev band with a bit of coarseness setting-in post 6000 RPM.
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What is even more impressive is the in-gear acceleration offered by the parallel-twin unit, you can simply slot the bike in higher gears and twist your right wrist to see blurred scenery. First gear is abnormally tall, in typical GS fashion, reaching almost 100 km/hr. Second onwards the gearing is shorter with the redline kicking in at around 135 km/hr in second gear. Cruising in 6th gear at 100 km/hr sees the RPM needle tick at around 3200 RPM, so there is plenty of reserve for quick overtakes. The gearbox is refined and offers smooth shifts while the clutch is well weighed. Mileage offered by the F 650 GS is between 16-22 km/l which is impressive considering the performance on tap. BMW claims at a constant 90 km/hr, the F 650 GS will return a mileage of 27 km/l.
Riding Dynamics – BMW Motorrad has done a fantastic job of making its entry level offering an easy machine for even newbies to pilot. The bike feels easy to ride and you feel at home in no time at all. The light handlebar makes steering through crowded traffic a breeze while the grip from the Metzeler tyres amplifies your confidence, the bike remains composed around turns. Mind you this is no sport bike and isn’t the machine you will see yourself doing track days but for street riding it has good handling and remains surefooted for the most part. Stability at speed is good and the brakes offer terrific stopping power with just the right feel at the levers. The ABS works well and can be turned off too.
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The BMW F 650 GS isn’t a hardcore off-roader but is rather a semi off-roader which can do minor off-road excursions. The bike comes with cast aluminium wheels (19-inch up front) which are more rigid and expensive to repair/replace than wire spoke wheels. For hardcore off-roading BMW offers bikes with the Adventure moniker. Armed with telescopic front forks and adjustable rear monoshock, ride quality from the 650 is splendid, even though it’s slightly on the stiffer side, the F 650 GS simply absorbs all that our monsoon soaked roads have to throw at it. It is thus very well suited for our roads, offering neutral handling, excellent ride quality and good stopping power.
Miscellaneous – The BMW F 650 GS comes with a nice loud horn which is quite a necessity on Indian roads. The vehicle also gets a tool kit set (with screw drivers, spanners, pliers, etc) under the seat. The fuel lid is placed on the rear right, in line with the pillion foot rest. The mirrors are big and offer good view of what’s behind even when a well built rider is on the saddle. The 650 GS’ main stand is very easy to use, you simply get off the bike, push the stand to the ground and the bike balances itself, it’s then you simply pull it back to put it on the main stand, neat. Lights offer a very good throw and overall quality of the bike is top notch, not surprising considering it’s a BMW product.
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Verdict – The BMW F 650 GS is no doubt a fantastic bike which offers good new rider friendly performance, neutral dynamics, excellent brakes, good ride quality and very attractive styling. Sure it does have its flaws like the awkward switch gear and high seat height for short riders but these are things you can get used to with time. The biggest flaw is the pricing but BMW Motorrad can’t really be blamed. With the F 650 GS being a CBU and requiring homologation (an expensive affair), the prices do end up on the higher side (had the engine been 2cc more, the F 650 GS wouldn’t need homologation). With the F 700 GS coming next month, the F 650 GS might not make sense as the latest entry-level bike from BMW sees an improvement in several areas over the model it replaces. However when you factor in the higher price for the F 700 GS (to the tune of Rs. 2 lakhs), you realise the 650 GS makes as much sense as it offers almost everything you would need from a bike of this class. With limited units remaining with Navnit Motors, if you want a friendly street motorcycle for long distance journeys, the BMW F 650 GS is worth considering.
The BMW F 650 GS is a terrific motorcycle for Indian roads, only let down by the pricing. For those who want a unique motorcycle for touring and are ready to cough up the dough, the F 650 GS comes across as a splendid alternative.
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* Ride quality
* Appeal and desirability
What’s Not So Cool
* Confusing switch gear
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2013 BMW F 650 GS Specifications
* Engine: 798cc, water-cooled, parallel-twin, 8-valve, DOHC
* Power: 71 HP @ 7000 RPM
* Torque: 75 Nm @ 4500 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed
* 0 – 100 km/hr: 5.3 seconds
* Top Speed: 185 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 16-22 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Tubular steel space frame
* Suspension: Telescopic forks (Front), Monoshock (Rear)
* Tyres: 110/80/19 (Front), 140/80/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm disc (Front), 265 mm disc (Rear), ABS
2013 BMW F 650 GS Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 2280 mm x 890 mm x 1240 mm
* Wheelbase: 1575 mm
* Ground Clearance: 220 mm
* Seat Height: 820 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 16-litres
* Kerb weight: 199 kgs