BMW F650GS First ride

Jon Urry finds there's more to BMW's new 650 than meets the eye



Urry was told to stay away from the local cannabis plantation

BIZARRE BUT TRUE. The F650GS is not a 650, it has the same engine as the F800GS (although it has a different cam and fuel-injection changes to make it smoother). So what are BMW playing at?

The reason they have chosen to call it a 650 is simply to cash in on its already super-popular F650GS single, which has now been killed-off. The new bike's aimed at capturing the ever-increasing new rider market, so BMW have detuned the F800's engine by 14bhp, making the 650 feel less peppy than the F800GS.

'Detuned for novices' always makes you think a bike's going to be a bit of a lame duck but I’ve got to say the F650GS surprised me. The engine's ultra smooth, with enough power to keep most sensible riders happy for most of the time. Anyone that's covered any distance on a single-cylinder machine will know just how draining the experience can be, but the new bike's parallel-twin engine makes long stints in the saddle so much more enjoyable.

The 650's handling is beautifully sweet, too. The bike has a smaller diameter front wheel than the F800GS, which makes the handling more direct. What the 650 lacks in power against the F800 it makes up for around the corners.

So what's the verdict? The new F650GS is a belter of a bike for novices and experienced riders. It's dimensionally not much bigger than the outgoing 650GS, which makes it a great choice for smaller riders, especially with BMW's height-adjustable seat.

Those wanting a more rugged machine would be better opting for the bigger 800. But if you're mainly covering road miles, and aren't too bothered about the extra performance then the F650GS is well worth a look.

The F650GS and F800GS retail at £5,495 and £6,695 (OTR) respectively.

Read more on both bikes in next month's issue of TWO magazine.