BMW F650GS (2008 - 2013) Review
- Impressive off-road middleweight
- Low seat height, smooth engine
- Popular bike with owners
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£150|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The BMW F650GS isn’t actually a 650cc bike. Oh no, it’s a 798cc parallel twin in much the same way that BMW’s all-new 2018 F750GS isn’t a 750 either, it’s 853cc. Confused? This innumeracy is simply BMW’s way of distinguishing the road-targeted model from the more aggressive off-road middleweight GS. So why should consider this F650GS?
Initially launched in 2008, the F650GS took over from the, err, F650GS, as BMW’s new-rider targeted middleweight GS. Where the outgoing F650GS was a single, the new F650GS brought with it an all-new parallel twin motor that upped both power and torque as well as electronic assists. But crucially, the F650GS gained a 19-inch front wheel where the F800GS came with an off-road style 21-inch item. And that fact makes it a better road bike.
Easy-going and blessed with a lovely low 790mm seat height and 71bhp motor, the F650GS is a cracking tool for those new to riding or who just want a friendly commuter. Being a BMW you can spec it up with loads of optional extras, including a lower seat, heated grips and panniers (this bike has some hard luggage fitted) and it’s less than half the price of the new F750GS. Well worth a second look.
The F650GS was replaced by the BMW F700GS in 2013. It retained the same parallel twin engine, though.
There's an online forum for this bike at BMW F650.co.uk.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
With more basic, shorter-travel suspension than its F800GS brother and a smaller front wheel the F650 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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Our BMW F650GS owners' reviews show positive remarks, with the only negative aspects involving high running costs and a hard seat.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Although undeniably less flashy than the F800GS, this F650 is also £1200 cheaper, is arguably the better road bike and, as such, represents excellent value for money.
Watch: BMW F650GS vs Kawasaki Versys 650 vs Suzuki DL650 V-Strom
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.
|Engine type||8v parallel twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Tubular steel frame|
|Fuel capacity||16 litres|
|Rear suspension||Preload only|
|Front brake||300mm disc|
|Front tyre size||110/80 x 19|
|Rear tyre size||140/80 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||53 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£150|
|Used price||£4,000 - £4,500|
8 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||71 bhp|
|Max torque||55 ft-lb|
|Top speed||120 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||223 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2008: Model launched replacing old single-cylinder F650GS.
- 2013: Replaced by BMW F700GS.
- BMW F800GS - An adventure bike version featuring the same engine, but with 85bhp.
Owners' reviews for the BMW F650GS (2008 - 2013)
15 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£150|
The best features are its all round capability, it has great handling, economical, light enough to easy move around, fast enough to keep up with most other adventure bikes. Reliable, torquey motor at low revs. Worst feature is the gearbox is a little notchy, it doesn't have that light super smooth shift like a Suzuki. Some complain about a hard seat, I cannot agree, I have just spent seven hours continuous on the bike, no problems with seat at all. These complainers need to ride a DR650 for 7 hours to get some comparison. I also own a 1200GS so I can compare fairly.
The brakes are fine, no issues. The ride is great, suspension maybe a little budget but I have no issues with it. I find the seat comfortable. Ergonomics are great, upright riding position. You can stand easily if required. Gearbox a little notchy but I live with it. Low seat , I am 5 10 and can easily flat foot. Heated handgrips work fine.
What can I say, 100,000 kms and still going fine. Motor is very torquey, and at 100km/hr is doing 3500rpm and you can open the throttle and accelerate easily without needing to change down.
My F650GS- 2011 bike has done over 100,000kms, it is still running just fine, burns no oil, and runs tight as ever, engine sounds fine , but has a little cam chain rattle for about 1 second at start up. It has a few surface rusted engine bolts. It has needed a new rear shock absorber, and front disc rotors.
I do most of my own maintenance, very simple to do oil changes all parts are easy to get at. I do not ride the bike hard at all and at about 100-110km /hr have recently got 23-24 kms/L, or over 80 mpg, but in doing so can easily keep up with my mates on much bigger bikes.
It has most of the good stuff you require, gear selection indicator. ABS, temp, kms/L, heated grips, etc too much info for my liking. I am not one for all the fancy electronic gear, In fact I wish BMW would make their bikes with less fancy electronic aids. Yamaha 700 Tenere have found success with simplicilty and lower purchase price. BMW take note.
Annual servicing cost: £200
Not the most comfortable bike.
Seat not that comfortable. Brakes not bad but could be more reassuring.
Some parts are not of the best quality. Head bearings a real issue.
Basic service cost around £200, butwill jump rapidly if anything else needs doing. 24000 mile service v expensive.
You get what you pay for with bmw
Annual servicing cost: £140
Fantastic to ride as its so easy and flickable with its low down weight and as i've added the taller screen its even more motorway friendly and i can get off after a long ride with very little to no fatigue due to the neutral riding position. But I did add a comfort seat as the stock seat is awful on a long ride.
Stops fine with the single disc its very adequate but the back break could do with more bite!
Superb! Lovely lot of grunt! Smooth quiet and superb on the motorway cruising in 6th gear and the engine has a great sound!
So far it has been fautless! I did replace the battery shortly after taking delivery but it is a used machine so that is a must for me.
I find it very cheap to run and useally get around 65 to 70mpg on a run. I only use it for pleasure riding which includes the odd weeks tour and it certainly suprises how frugal it can be.
Everything you need including a gear indicator!
Buying experience: From a bmw specialist.
Annual servicing cost: £100
Excellent reliable and well made bike 3 years of work commuting all seasons. Still looks like new just the odd bolt head with corrosion and abs sensor ring. Great in traffic lively riding position. Replaced original seat with Sargent seat original very uncomfortable after 30 miles.
Great riding position made better with risers. Brakes ok. Original seat is numbingly low on padding. Sergeant seat is better.
Never understand why the people bigness wasn’t mapped the same as F800gs. Same engine and f650gs is the better road bike
Odd engine bolt corroded slightly and abs rotor. Handling surprising given the bikes age and winter commuting.
I service it
Mine came with heated grips (essential) Also came with higher screen.
Buying experience: Purchased from BMW dealer good experience.
Annual servicing cost: £100
Outstanding mpg for its size, 75mpg+ at it's best, and around 40mpg giving it some stick, i love everything about the bike But the seat is a real let down (uncomfortable) but I'm going to change that.
Traffic what traffic, and its ideal for filtering, it's very agile, even when it fully loaded, with (panniers) quick enough for any situation, corners nice, ether knee down, or mx style, depending on the corner.
BMW havent over done the out put, in the same instance they havent under done it, its also a smooth powere delivery, I couldn't complain at all, its everything I wanted.
Extremely well engineered, the only thing that failed on it was the heat exchanger, and that was because of winter use, and the salt the council lays down, I used to use it in the winter, not any more!
Oil and filter that's just about it, I have fitted a k&n air filter, that's better than the paper rubbish.
An option I went for was the abs, and heated grips, both well worth it.
Buying experience: I was lucky, I bought it new from a main dealership when the interest rates were in our favour, £6,300.00 all in, (bargin)
Version: 800cc twin
Annual servicing cost: £200
Since 2013, over 20k miles, including UK - Italy return annually. Pulls in 4th from 1500rpm and 70mph low vibe cruising, with a margin for brisk overtaking. All day comfort, takes rubbish roads in its stride, plus viceless touring handling and decent ABS brakes. Utterly reliable and just light/low enough for oldies like me. If only it had shaft drive, but excellent vfm for £4000 from careful first owner.
Best at long haul, on imperfect B roads, at around 60mph, one up with a bit of luggage. 10 hours a day in comfort with essential BMW Comfort seat. Commuting fine, aided by lowish riding position, good balance and engine that pulls from low revs. Stable on motorways even overtaking HGVs at 80mph abroad . Brakes OK, though need firm pull, loaded at speed. ABS a godsend in the wet. Copes well with gravel/broken roads .
Strong, linear power delivery from low revs perfect for lazy motorcyclists. Despite high gearing for relaxed, reasonably vibe free cruising,no need to drop a gear to overtake fast between 2000-6000rpm, or potter in town. Disadvantage is that first is a bit high for climbing steep mountain passes without a little clutch.
Looks as good today as when bought. No rattles, rust, flaking. Most miles in S Europe and garaged, without much urban grind, helps. Weeping left side rocker box gasket (commonplace) the only minor failure.
3 sets of tyres, 1 chain and set of wheel bearings, and recent battery in 10 years/ 27,000 miles. Excellently serviced by BMW independent, Mark Holden, Bromley. Fuel consumption 55+ mpg and no oil between services.
Came with hand guards, heated grips - essential in cold weather - excellent Vario top box, big enough for helmet when expanded. BMW Comfort seat vital for touring. Adjustable Madstad fairing removes buffeting and reduces wind roar. Ricor front fork inserts reduce dive and eradicate pattering. Dunlop Trailsmart tyres deliver in the wet, when it matters, more than Bridgestone originals
Great commuter still looks quite new great build quality a little underpowered
Seat is too hard
Could do with moe hp not sure why retuned as this is more of a roadbike than f800gs
Heated grips come with the bike brilliant
Buying experience: Dealer thunder rd Bridgend very good
Not necessarily a bike that would be on posters adorning young boys bedrooms, but its looks have grown on me over the 12 months I have owned mine. But, it is utterly brilliant at everything it does. Comfortable (if you replace the standard seat with BMW comfort seat), handles fantastically, 65+mpg with ease, impeccable low speed manners, will boon around with the best of them if you want it to, excellent built quality. I have been riding for over 40 years, I've had sports bikes, retros, tourers etc, this is by far the most complete package of a bike I have ever owned, can't ever see me wanting anything else except perhaps the F700GS, I tried the new F750GS & didn't like it. I use mine for commuting all year round & rides around the dales on my days off, like I said, it's brilliant at everything.
Buying experience: Excellent service from Steve & Simon at Allan Jefferies, Shipley.
Annual servicing cost: £180
The F650GS is my second BMW, I traded in an R1200RT for it 12 months ago, as 80% of my riding is commuting into the centre of Leeds, the RT was just too cumbersome. From the first minute of the test ride on the F650 I was hooked. The 800cc twin from Rotax is a delight, smooth, quiet & docile when ridden gently, but can also behave like a bit of a holligan when pushed to its limits. It's very comfortable if you disregard the standard seat & add the BMW comfort seat, I've also put 20mm handlebar risers on mine which helps due to the comfort seat being a little taller than the standard one, I have also added a taller screen which is infinitely better than the original. I'm 5'9 & can just get my feet flat on the ground, something I couldn't do with the RT even with the optional lowered seat fitted. The handling is sublime for an 'adventure' bike with semi off-road tyres, in fact it's sublime full stop. I've owned older CBR600's, Sprint ST's etc, & this this out handles all of them. I average 66mpg while commuting & regularly see 72+ on longer runs. Build quality seems excellent, I ride mine all year round & although it gets washed regularly, it seems to be made of very good quality materials. If you haven't tried an F650 you really should, you would be surprised.
Perfect for commuting & honing
Never had a issue.
Mine came with tyre pressure monitors, heated grips, computer etc.
Buying experience: Bought from Allan Jefferies, Shipley, cannot recommend them enough. Salesman Steve & manager Simon are genuine good guys.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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...
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 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.
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 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!
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 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.
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 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.