BMW F650GS (2008-2013) Review

Published: 14 August 2009

"Successor to long-lived and popular entry-level F650 single"

BMW F650GS

"Successor to long-lived and popular entry-level F650 single"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

BMW’s successor to long-lived and popular entry-level F650 single is, confusingly, being based on the F800GS, neither a single (it’s a parallel twin) or a 650 (it’s 798cc) – so perhaps not surprisingly it’s miles better than the old one. Just as importantly, though, with a lowered seat, softened delivery and more, it’s every bit as novice or shortie-friendly and still good value, too.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

With more basic, shorter-travel suspension than its F800GS brother and a smaller front wheel the F650GS has both a low, novice-friendly seat height (and an even lower 765mm low seat kit is available as an extra) plus more predictable and secure road-orientated handling. From the saddle, the biggest surprise was how reminiscent of the old F650 the new F650GS is. The view, posture, ergonomics and sheer simplicity it is to ride all remind very much of the old single, as does the idiot-proof flatness of the power delivery.

Engine 4 out of 5

BMW F650GS’s F800 series-derived twin is a sweetie. Softer cams trade off peak power for a more gentle and progressive power delivery (and a learner-friendly 34bhp version is also available at no extra cost). The result is peak power is down from 85bhp to a still more-than-useful 71bhp and with a healthy wodge of more low-down grunt. It’s both flexible and novice-friendly, yet with top end to be truly versatile.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Although BMW quality in recent years has occasionally come under fire, it’s generally still far better than most and there have so far been no specific problems reported with the F650GS either.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Although undeniably less flashy than the F800GS, the F650GS is also £1200 cheaper, is arguably the better road bike and, as such, represents excellent value for money. Find a BMW F650GS for sale.

Insurance group: 8 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

To keep the F650GS’s price (and weight) down it has a more basic spec than its F800GS big brother. So there are alloys in place of wires, steel not alloy handlebars, no bash plate and less bodywork including a lower screen, not to mention the less sophisticated suspension. That said, it’s go everything it needs, its typical BMW quality, bang up to date and a vast range of extras is available. Compare and buy parts for the F650GS in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

6 owners have reviewed their BMW F650GS (2008-2013) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BMW F650GS (2008-2013)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.2 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4.3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.7 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Teutonically efficient transport for the body, if not the soul.

10 July 2015 by Rogerborg

This is an efficient bike that does pretty much everything very well. It's low but roomy, frugal, easy to ride, has a very flexible engine that makes it a great commuter or tourer and it can even be thrown around a bit. It has no foibles, no... Read more weaknesses, no flaws. However, it's as fun as a staring competition with a nun. I can't find anything to hate about it, but I can't love it either. It's the ultimate in German efficiency. You'll be glad that you have it, just not ecstatic.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
This is an astonishingly easy bike to ride. It's not light, but all the weight is low down so it feels remarkably stable. I sat on it and immediately pulled away into a feet up U-turn, no trouble at all. You can hustle it through turns, although you need to remember that it's not a featherweight. Comfort is excellent for me. Some owners bawww about the seats, I find mine all day comfortable, helped by the totally neutral riding position. Glasgow to South Wales in a day was no trouble at all, no aches or twinges anywhere. I felt like I could have jumped back on and done it again. Yes, there's "only" one front rotor, but unless you're doing triple figures then hauling and stamping hard on the brakes will almost immediately trigger the ABS, showing that the tyres are the limiting factor. On that, the stock Battle Wings are mince. Fine in a straight line or dry bends, but hit a typical wet, diesel soaked roundabout and you'll be hanging off to try and keep the bike as upright as possible, or experiencing arse-clenching wobbles. They're also useless off-road, the "chunky" pattern being for appearance only. I've replaced the Battle Wings like-for-like once, but I won't be doing so again. The "650" is a lowered version of the F800GS and mine is (I believe) the lowered version of the 650. It really is astonishingly low: with 28" inside legs I can comfortably flat foot it both sides. This is hugely confidence inspiring and it doesn't seem to suffer from it - I've never managed to ground anything out. If you think you can't ride a "big" bike, try one of these, it will surprise you.
Engine
4 out of 5
In its detuned form, the engine will pull from 2000 rpm all the way up to the 10K (or thereabouts) limiter. You can ride it like a car, short shifting and riding the easy torque, or hammer lumps out of it and it'll happily take either. Fuelling is superb, with no hunting, surging or flat sports: it really is a great unit. I don't get the vibes that other owners report, even though I've replaced my stock bars with narrower, lighter ones for filtering fun. The one issue is that in stock form, the gearing on the "650" variant is too long, with an annoying gap between 1st and 2nd. Fitting an F800GS front sprocket (one tooth fewer) for a few pounds sorts it all out and makes the bike feel much livelier, at the cost of a few mpg if you do a lot of 6th gear motorway runs.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Very little to fault it on. The coating on the underside of the engine is a weak point, and may need a dab of Hammerite if you ride through winter. Other than that, nothing has so much as dulled and it just keep going and going and going. This is one of the very few modern BMWs that hasn't had any recalls or any common problems. Some owners report issues with headstock bearings - mine have been fine.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Forget the MCN mpg figures, that's them ragging it in 2nd gear. Real world, you'll get 65mpg or more. Even BMW servicing is surprisingly affordable, with a 'major' service running to not much over £200 (you can get rinsed for twice that at Suzuki). Not that I'd trust the local Motorrad to change the month on a calendar, let alone valve shims. This is an easy enough bike to home service - even the ABS brakes can be bled without any of BMW's notorious servo nonsense. It sips fuel and the consumables - tyres, chain and sprockets, oil, filters - nothing really runs expensive. No £250 belts, no shaft drives that cost nothing until they cost some unlucky owner thousands, it's just a decent, honest, straightforward bike.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Mine came with the "computer" (don't they all?) with - almost - everything you'd want to know. Gear, fuel, two trip meters, average/instant mpg readouts, temperature. The only thing lacking is a range counter, although there's a pointless "miles since the fuel light came on" number. The two-temperature heated grips work OK, although the £9 Chinese specials on my Enfield heat up faster. There's a fairly high draw power socket built in, although it's some Euro-trash rather than the standard fag-lighter socket that Baby Jesus would have used. Adaptors are readily and cheaply available though. At the rear there are two decent grab handles which also form part of the four solid mounting points for a top box, built right into the bike. Why don't all bikes do this? I have a huge 2-helmet top box mounted there, solid as a rock, with the weight over rather than behind the axle. None of your silly "bag of feathers" weight limits, I've had upwards of 25kg of locks and chains and beers in there without any drama. I have what I think is an F800GS screen which does a fair job of wind deflection. Although there's no fairing, the shape of the bike does deflect a little of the weather away from your knees and body. I've commuted, toured and (sort of) scratched on this bike and never found it wanting for features.
Buying experience

I bought from a BMW dealer. The buying experience was excellent. The bike was ex-BMW fleet, a test ride was no problem at all, the information was to hand and the price was right: £5K at 14 months old and 9000 miles, with the right extras. They even threw in a year's VED and a new rear tyre that I hadn't haggled for, all smiles and handshakes and nothing was too much trouble. I've never experienced anything like it at any other bike dealer. And then I rode it home and had a look at it. One fork seal was pissing oil. It was fine when I examined it before and after the test ride. So either it popped on the 3 mile trip home, or some spanner monkey had been getting his wheelies in on my deposit-paid bike. I know what my money's on. Asking around, it transpired that dealer has a reputation for never having a bike in that didn't "need" extra work doing to it, or at least billing for. Needless to say, they'll never see another penny of my hard-earned.

5 out of 5

Crackin' bike!

19 October 2011 by BlindLemonAde

I've had mine for two years, nothing has gone wrong, and even the servicing is cheap! I get 200 miles from a tankful, and it'll cope with two-up touring (plus Stahlkoffer panniers) no problem. Part of the fun is adding accessories - I've tried to... Read more make mine crash-resistant with engine bars, pannier frame and handguards, plus a taller screen and a modified seat - yes, the original is a bit firm(!). If you're short of cash for a bigger BMW, and short of leg, this'un will do the job. Those who have ridden both, also say the 650 is sweeter than the 800...

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Good Bike

22 April 2010 by jeffers

This is a surprisingly good bike. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it is to ride. It won't win any drag races, but it's got plenty of get up and go up to about 80mph. It's light, easy to handle and would make a great commuter or beginner's... Read more bike. Having just covered 25 miles to work (I have one as a courtesy bike), I wouldn't fancy going much further, as my rear end was already starting to get numb. This may be a personal thing, as I find forward biased bikes more comfortable, generally.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
3 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

I love this bike

18 August 2009 by Malcolmlk

Had the bike about 6 months and I'm doing about 400 miles a month on it. Some people have commented on the saddle. Well I did 1200 miles over three days on it and it was fine. I tried an airhawk inflatable seat when I got the bike but found I didn't... Read more need it. Either the seat has moulded to my backside or possibly the other way around! The guy I bought the bike off had ridden it from London to Turkey and back. Handling is good. I am doing my Advanced Motorcycle training at the moment and I was able to follow my instructor through some very twisty bends at high speed, despite having knobbly TKC80 tyres fitted. My instructor said it was 'exceptional'. There have been one or two issues with the accuracy of fuel guages on this model but BMW dealers will sort this out for free if you have a problem. Similarly there was a recall on one of the radiator hoses, so if your buying, check that it has been replaced. BMW will do it for free. Otherwise I have added a new Wunderlich Ergo tall screen, Adenture Spec crash bars and a metal bash plate for off roading. The mileage is up to 15,000 now and love this bike!

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Re: Overpiced and has negatives

16 August 2009 by ariesfour

It have to disagree with a few of "Anonymous's" points, I have had my 2008 650GS for just under 12 months now and it is a great bike. I ride up to Edinburgh from London regularly and the seat is quite comfortable for 7hours of straight riding, the... Read more engine is more than capable for cruising at 70-80mph whilst returning over 60mpg. That's over 200miles from a 16 litre tank! As for the Indicators, well this is an age old topic, but I for one think BMW's indicator setup is much better than that on other bikes. (Left button for Left, Right button for Right, what's so hard about that?) Yes it takes a little getting used too but after a few miles it becomes second nature to use. It's such a shame to see BMW cave and remove it from their new K-series range. Yes the fuel gauge costs extra, but it's only £100 and that includes a gear indicator and all manner of other digital info. It is expensive to fully pimp the bike out yes, but for me even the standard bike had a higher quality feel to it, even down to the handle-bar rubber and plastics used on the switches. All in all a fantastic commuter/mini touring bike for newer riders and to keep for a good while after. A solid 4 stars.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
3 out of 5

Overpriced and has negatives

16 August 2009 by Anonymous

The new 650GS is indeed easy to ride and it has plenty of oomph. Clever design makes it look smaller and lighter than it actually is. It does have braided brake cables, which is nice, but only one brake rotor on the front where all the competitors in... Read more that power class have two. I am not saying this is a bad bike,9000 but it is overpriced and has some negatives. The three biggest: 1) The separated left and right turn signal controls are a safety hazard. If you've ridden almost any other bike, you will be confused hunting for the correct switch and for the cancel button. 2) Considering most people will use this as an on-road bike, the seat is too narrow and uncomfortable for anything but short trips. 3) The worst thing about this bike is that too many things are costly extras. You want a gas gauge instead of a warning light (at this price! even the cheapest stepthroughs and scooters have gas gauges)? You have to buy the dash computer. You want a decently tall windscreen instead of that stock joke piece of plastic? Fork over more dough. Center stand? skid plate? Pay up. What starts out as a slightly overpriced bike for what you get at 7900€ quickly ends up as a 9000-plus € bike. And then there's the price of BMW service.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
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Read all 6 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2008
Year discontinued 2013
Original price £6,650
Used price £3,900 to £6,000
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 8 of 17
Annual road tax £59
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 71 bhp
Max torque 55 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 53 mpg
Tank range 223 miles
Specification
Engine size 798cc
Engine type 8v parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame type Tubular steel frame
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 820mm
Bike weight 179kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload only
Front brake 300mm disc
Rear brake Disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 19
Rear tyre size 140/80 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2008: Model launched replacing old single-cylinder F650GS.

Other versions

BMW F800GS - An adventure bike version featuring the same engine, but with 85bhp.

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