19 March 2011 – BMW Motorcycles!!!
OK, I’ve teased my readers enough with that last post If you’ve been wondering what bikes I’m looking at, here’s your answer – BMW
When you mention BMW to most people, they think of sports and luxury cars. Some of them will know that BMW also makes some nice motorcycles as well. The ones who know about the motorcycles usually also know about BMW’s enduro bikes. Strangely, few of the people I know ever thought of BMW as an off road motorcycle manufacturer when everything I see online refers to them as one of the best.
As I’ve said before, I want a motorcycle that will work beautifully on the road but will also go down the dirt roads (and other “paths”) I invariably end up on from time to time. Aside from places like the shooting spot down south, there are other places I’d like to go that my HHR would never reach. BMW motorcycles have raced in the Dakar rally and have been used on globe trotting tours like Long Way Round, Long Way Down, and some other insane trips like the BAM Road in Russia. If BMW motorcycles can take all that then I don’t have to worry a bit about most anything I’d put them through
Some people have told me to just get a jeep, but that would miss out on some versatility and the point of making the new vehicle fuel efficient and rather affordable. New Wranglers get 19 MPG highway and prices start at $22,045. Jeeps just don’t work for what I want. It may sound strange, but the BMW is the more versatile and inexpensive option here.
I spent a couple of hours at BMW of Las Vegas today and I had an absolutely wonderful time That good time wasn’t just because I was checking out really cool motorcycles. It was mostly because of the people I met
I had stopped by the dealership for about 10 minutes on Wednesday as it just happens to be on the same side of town as my dentist I met Peter who gave me his “business card” which is actually a poker chip I mentioned that I’d like to come back on Saturday and of course he said to come on down. I sent him an email on Thursday explaining that I’m about two years out from purchasing and asking if I could have a seat on some of the bikes. I also wanted bring my camera and tripod (some places don’t take kindly to those) and Peter said sure thing!
Peter had to leave before I showed up, but everyone else there took the time to make me feel welcome And it wasn’t just the employees! I met a guy named Mark who’s had his BMW enduro for about five months now and was in the shop to pick up a bag to use on his bike. Mike and I chatted about all sorts of things for about an hour. He’s got the G 650 GS and loves it
BMW has three bikes in their lineup that I’m having a tough time deciding between. Thanks to Kurt (one of the great guys there), I was able to get great pictures of all of ’em including the red G 650 GS that was in the window display I also have to thank Mark for taking a couple of pictures of me
How about we get to the bikes ?
The BMW G 650 GS is the lowest priced, lowest powered, and has the lowest seat height of any bike of the group. Its 652 CC, liquid cooled engine is provides 48 BHP at 6,500 RPM and 44 lb/ft of torque at 5,000 RPM. I don’t want to go with any engine that’s not liquid cooled out here – it’s a desert and the daytime temps could prove to make overheating a problem. Mark says his has a bit of vibration at highway speeds, but does just fine with the five speed transmission keeping the engine at about 5K RPM. The fuel injection works great from all accounts and the engine design has been proven from years of racing in the Dakar rally.
The G 650 GS is not underpowered for the road or the dirt from what I’ve heard. Along with having enough power, the Rotax designed engine gets really great gas mileage – Mark says he’s averaging around 60 MPG in town which agrees with the claimed 60 MPG city / 69 MPG highway. True, the fuel tank only holds 3.7 gallons but that works out to about 220 miles per tank and there are ways to carry more gas if needed through after market parts.
That low seat makes it feel either just right or a bit small from my perspective. I can easily touch both feet to the ground while in the saddle and keeping my right foot on the brake with the left on the ground is a real piece of cake.
My concerns about the G 650 GS are that I might want more power down the road (especially while carrying luggage etc.) and that it’s more road oriented than I may like. It looks like a dirt bike compared to a K 1300 S, but it’s more suited to road than the dirt. An example of this would be the cast aluminum wheels and tubeless tires. If I weren’t thinking of going some of the places I’ve been dreaming about, it might not be a problem.
Don’t get me wrong – This bike is still in the running in a big way! It’s got the fuel economy, low price (base price $7,900), and very likely lower insurance cost compared to the other two going for it. It also has a couple of really nice features that are pretty much standard options that its competitors don’t – heated grips and ABS which can be switched off for dirt riding. It’s low enough that I feel really confident just sitting on it and it does have that world renowned engine that’s reliable as anything out there Everyone says it’s nearly the perfect first motorcycle so how bad could it be?
Moving up to the next higher levels of cost, features, and power takes us to the F 650 GS. The bike that’s now the G 650 GS used to wear this name, but BMW decided to standardize their naming convention. All the single cylinder bikes now start with G, parallel twins are F, and boxer (horizontally opposed) twins are R. There are other engines in the lineup with different letter designations, but the only ones I’m looking at are the F and G series.
This F 650 GS has a 798 CC parallel twin engine that’s also liquid cooled. This is the same size engine as on F 800 GS but de-tuned to produce 71 BHP at 7,000 RPM and 55 lb/ft of torque at 4,500 RPM and gets a listed 54 MPG city and 64 MPG highway. It’s definitely got the power and according to Mark (it was nice to have someone who’s ridden all three!), it’s not only quicker – it’s smoother as well.
I could tell the F 650 GS is taller than the G 650 GS when I sat on it – the stats say it’s about 1.25 inches difference at 32.3″ -but it wasn’t objectionable. If that were really an issue, BMW offers a lower seat which brings the height down to 31.3″. It still has the same cast aluminum wheels as the G 650 GS which I can concede is a benefit on the road where I’m probably going to spend the most time. It shares the same 19″ front wheel and 17″ rear wheels with its less expensive stablemate, but it has more suspension travel.
There’s a lot to like on the F 650 GS, but there’s also a few things I’m not entirely thrilled about as well. Those cast aluminum rims are one of them. Another is the 4.2 gallon tank which gives between 226 and 269 miles. That may sound like quite a ways, but my HHR can do somewhere over 500 miles on a tank.
It’s easier to list the things I like about this bike than to detail those that I don’t. While the blue on the example available to me didn’t really suit my tastes, they do come in orange Seriously, color aside I do like the size and feel of the F 650 GS. It feels right. The seat isn’t too high for me, the handlebars are within easy reach, and the foot pegs are a bit wider than the smaller bike’s. It’s still very good on gas and with a base price of $9,255 it’s still not all that expensive
It could be the color, but maybe it’s the looks with that fairing and all its angles. Maybe it’s the spoked 21″ front and 17″ rear wheels with their dual disk brakes. Whatever it is, I should probably wear a bib to keep from drooling all over the F 800 GS
While F 800 GS shares the same basic engine with the F 650 GS, it makes more power. This 798 CC parallel twin makes 85 BHP at 7,500 RPM and 62 lb/ft of torque at 5,750 RPM. Fuel is specified as premium unleaded, but I’ve heard it will run just fine on regular if you don’t mind slightly lower power. I forgot to check that out yesterday, but I’ll check the next time I head down that way. Fuel economy is surprisingly good compared to the other motorcycles I’m looking with 54 MPG city and 62 MPG highway. I don’t mind the extra power if I’m only giving up that few miles per gallon
I was really worried about whether or not I’d fit on the F 800 GS. This is the tallest of the three GS bikes I’m looking at with a seat height of 34.6″ – 2.25″ higher than the F 650 GS and 3.5″ taller than the G 650 GS. I won’t lie – it was a bit tough getting my leg up and over the seat as I’m only 5’8″ tall with a 30″ inseam. I can reach my toes to the floor on both sides, but only barely. Remember that part above where I talked about putting your left foot on the ground with your right foot on the brake pedal? I heard someone call that the “Captain Morgan” stance and I laughed, but it’s the only way I’d be able to ride this beast and it’s strangely appropriate for a Parrothead Thankfully there is a lower seat available from the factory which brings the height down to 33.5 which is entirely doable.
As far as things I don’t like immediately, well there are actually a couple. The fuel tank holds 4.2 gallons which gives a range of between 227 and260 miles on a full tank and I’d like more than that. As I mentioned, the seat is a bit high, but can be overcome. Being the most powerful bike in this line up, something tells me insurance would be a bit higher as well.
As far as the things I like, well that would be a very long paragraph indeed! A few of those items would be the power of that parallel twin engine, liquid cooling on the engine, phenomenal fuel economy for the performance given, it’s the most off road ready motorcycle in the BMW enduro line, and it’s darn near as good looking as some of the surfer girls down at Mission Beach in San Diego The base price is only $11,455 which isn’t that much more than the G 650 GS when you look at monthly payments with a decent amount down.
Yes, I really like the F 800 GS If I had unlimited funds, I’d buy one or several in a heartbeat – gotta have cool rides for your friends, right ?
But then again it all comes down to compromises. Price vs. capability, power and cool factor vs. insurance costs, etc. I really can’t make up my mind! I know that’s normal for me, but at least I’ve got a couple of years to take this decision and bash it about until I can (hopefully) come to some sort of conclusion.
What I think it will really come down to is a test ride. I’m going to get my motorcycle license before too long (probably in the next six to nine months) and then I can go rent a couple of these bikes from this same bunch of guys
The two bikes above aren’t actually on my list, but they’re really rather cool BMW’s R 1200 GS is their top of the line enduro bike. The basic version you see here isn’t much different from their Adventure version. The R 1200 GS has a 1,170 CC oil and air cooled flat twin engine that produces 110 BHP at 7,750 RPM and 88 lb/ft of torque at 6000 RPM. It’s not as tall in the seat as the F 800 GS (33.5″), but it’s a heavy bike at 504 pounds ready to roll without the rider. The base price is $14,990 with the Adventure’s base price being $17,250. It’s not that I don’t think the R 1200 GS is worth the money – I know it is from seeing them cross continents in the hands of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. It’s just that it’s a bit too expensive and a bit big for what I want out of a bike.
Both of these bikes belong to employees at the BMW dealership. I apologize for not getting the name of the owner of that 30 Years GS limited edition, but I did get the name of the other owner. Kurt was the guy who helped me by moving the G 650 GS out of the window display as well as giving me suggestions and pointers Kurt’s bike has several things I really like that he’s added. First are the Gadsden flag decals on his panniers Second is the insanely cool Dakar rally logo decal on his wind screen which in normal light looks like black on black and is very understated. When you hit it with light, it’s reflective like a road sign as you see in the last pic! Last, but not least are two very functional lighting modifications. You can see the fog/driving lights below the turn signals (right at the bottom of the last pic) which are actually super bright white LED lights that will never burn out and don’t use much power. The other light mod is a set of HID headlights like you see in premium sports and luxury cars
Folks, I have to cut it a bit short here so I can get some sleep before work tomorrow, but I can’t do that without again extending a bit of gratitude To Kurt, Peter, all the employees at BMW of Las Vegas as well as that unbelievably helpful customer Mark, I say THANK YOU !!! I thought it would be cool to have a multipurpose machine to take me places while going easy on the gasoline, but now I really want to get my GS ASAP so I can meet more people just like you Folks, if you’re at all interested in purchasing a BMW motorcycle in the desert southwest, go ahead and email Peter or Kurt by clicking their names above
That’s it for tonight, but there will probably be more from the BMW dealership soon – I just love lookin’ at the bikes Have a great day
7 comments to 19 March 2011 – BMW Motorcycles!!!
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