VOGE 650DSX (2022 - on) Review
- Dual-purpose adventurer from ‘premium’ Chinese brand
- Bristling with modernity yet still has attractive pricing
- Proven motor was used in very many BMWs
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Back in the mists of adventure-bike time we’d refer to the Voge 650DSX as a ‘giant trailie’. Yet now, in a world of knobbly bikes with 160bhp, this 652cc dual-purpose device is a middleweight. Given that it’s A2 friendly you might even class it as a learner tool. Funny old world.
- Related: How to ride your motorbike off-road
For those unsure, Voge is the ‘premium’ subsidiary brand of Loncin, the Chinese behemoth that churns out millions of two-wheelers a year and screws together engines for various BMWs, including their parallel twins. They’re handled here in Blighty by Lexmoto.
The 650DSX is the largest Voge and uses a liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine in a package with KYB suspension, Nissin brakes, Pirelli rubber, switchable ABS, and a TFT dash with connectivity and tyre pressure monitoring.
It’s even got those stupid sequential indicators. It’s an appealing package, especially as the DSX’s launch price in 2022 is a keen £6399 – and for the first few examples sold it includes the three-piece luggage. This is a significant £1751 less than a Suzuki V-Strom 650 and a whopping £3301 below a Yamaha Ténéré.
There’s lots to like about the Voge. Its ride and finish are convincing, and you won’t find another bike of its size and specification for anything like such a modest asking. It feels like plenty for your cash. I’d find it more tempting if they sacrificed the peripheral bits (connectivity, silly indicators) and gave us stainless fasteners and thicker paint instead, though.
But what really lets the DSX down is the engine. I’m a singles fan, but the unit feels a bit dated and unrefined. It’s nice if you pootle everywhere at 50mph, but if that’s the case buy a Royal Enfield Himalayan and save nearly £2000. Or you can get Honda’s apocalypse-proof CB500X for the same money, which is smoother, classier and won’t depreciate as quickly.
The 650 also has a big problem with its stablemate, the CB-alike Voge 500DSX – it’s nicer to ride, just as well equipped and almost a grand cheaper.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Dry weight is claimed at 192kg. This isn’t particularly porky, and with comparatively narrow tyres, a short wheelbase, wide-bar control and slim build the Voge flicks about breezily. Occasionally the gyroscopic desires of the 19-inch front wheel can be felt, but most of the time the 650 skips like a 250.
Ride quality is perfectly good for a six-grand bike, and though ample wheel travel from trail-ready suspension means quite a bit of dive under heavy braking the DSX stays composed. Shame the Nissin grabbers and twin front discs don’t offer much in the way of meaty bite or power. They’re adequate, but that’s about it.
As with Royal Enfield’s Himalayan the seat isn’t as high as the bike’s looks suggest – in this case a modest 805mm – and gives very much a sat-in feel. Again, not unlike a Himalayan. The perch is firm and yet surprisingly comfortable, the adjustable screen is effective, Honda-esque switchgear feels decent enough and the mirrors reflect things.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Part of the reason the Voge is so affordable is that its engine has been around for yonks. Almost 30 years, in fact.
Designed by Rotax, the 652cc motor first saw service in the BMW F650 Funduro and Strada models in 1994 (bikes were assembled by Aprilia, alongside their Pegaso which used the same unit), and appeared in oodles of F650GS and G650GS variants.
Loncin manufactured the engine for BMW between 2009 and 2011, and now build it for their own models.
When it was first used the engine had 8.8:1 compression and twin Mikuni carburettors, with 42 lb.ft of torque and 46.9bhp at 6500rpm. It evolved gradually over time, and with 11.5:1 compression and fuel injection it was churning out a smidge more by the time it was last used by BMW in their final G650GS (2011-2015).
It’s this spec that appears in the Voge, and despite having to meet Euro5 emission regs it shoves out what the last GS did with 44 pound-feet of torque. Claimed peak power is the same as it’s always been at an A2-legal 46.9bhp, though at a slightly revvier 6750rpm.
I ran a Funduro as a winter hack a few years ago and the 650DSX feels the same. It doesn’t punch like traditional big singles such as Honda’s rugged XR, being happiest milling around in the middle of the revs where its smooth fuelling releases adequate thrust.
There’s nothing wrong with the engine, but we’ve been spoilt by modern singles like KTM’s powerful, smooth, frugal 690. And so the Voge feels a bit dated. It copes with 30mph in top (fifth) gear though expresses displeasure by sounding like it’s going to snap the crank, and the DSX passes vibrations through the seat and controls when venturing towards the 7000rpm redline.
It’ll rattle along at 75mph on a motorway easily enough, so long as you don’t mind double vision and 35mpg. It’s much happier trundling at legal speeds on minor roads, where economy edges into the 40s.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Importantly for a Chinese bike, Voge’s build quality and finish appear very good for a machine that’s a sniff over six grand, and it wears parts with known names (KYB, Nissin, Pirelli, Bosch). If it carried a Kawasaki or Suzuki sticker, you’d believe it.
Only under nerdy examination do you spot fasteners with flimsy plating and a worrying orangey tinge in a few nooks and crannies. And this is due to the problem facing Chinese brands.
Sure, they can use big-name components and ramp-up the finish, but they still need to scrimp and save in order to maintain their low-price appeal. Build a bike to the same overall quality as an established Japanese or European firm, and it’d cost the same.
If you were presented with two bikes with identical quality, spec, performance and price, one from Voge and the other from Honda, which would you buy? Exactly...
Voge give a two-year warranty. It’s a more than proven engine design, but servicing is frequent: the 652cc thumper needs fresh oil, an oil filter and a valve check every 5000km – that’s just 3125 miles, and twice as frequent as when Rotax/BMW made the motor.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
No reason to be snooty over the Voge being Chinese because it’s really an international affair. It uses an Austrian engine, Italian rubber, German electronics, and Japanese suspension and brakes.
Quite fitting really: when BMW launched the F650 Funduro with this engine, the bike was designed by a Brit, used an Austrian engine and Japanese suspension, and was assembled in Italy.
There’s no like-for-like rival for the 650DSX. The only other middleweight single-cylinder adventure offerings with genuine dual-purpose potential are from KTM and Husqvarna, but they’re proper enduro bikes costing half as much again.
The Voge sits midway on both price and performance between smaller A2 machines like the Royal Enfield Himalayan, and longer-legged twin-cylinder adventure-tourers like the Suzuki V-Strom 650. It outshines cheaper rivals on equipment but not really performance, and the only really benefit over pricier alternatives is the price.
Factor in potential depreciation from Voge’s lesser-known status, and it’s got its work cut out against both the higher and lower-priced rivals. For road-only riding it’s also got to fight off another Chinese competitor in CFMOTO’s cheaper and more powerful 650MT.
Under six-and-a-half grand, y’say? You’d never tell from the standard-fit goodies. The 650DSX has a TFT display, tyre pressure monitoring, Bluetooth connectivity, USB charging and sweepy indicators.
For fans of traditional usefulness there’s a centrestand, rack, crash bars, stainless steel exhaust, alloy ’bars and a decent bash plate. And the first few examples get the £800 accessory luggage thrown in for free.
Voge’s (well, Loncin’s) connections to BMW are obvious when you turn the ignition on. During start-up the TFT display does a graphical dance that’s remarkably like the latest Beemers. It’s an easy enough dash to read on the move and has lots of features, but it’s a shame there’s only one trip and limited fuel data.
|Engine type||Four-valve liquid-cooled single|
|Frame type||Steel tube|
|Fuel capacity||18 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm USD fork, no adjustment|
|Rear suspension||Monoshock, adjustable preload|
|Front brake||2 x 280mm discs with two-piston calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||250mm disc, one-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||110/80-19|
|Rear tyre size||150/70-17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||38 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£101|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||47 bhp|
|Max torque||44 ft-lb|
|Top speed||100 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||150 miles|
Model history & versions
2022: Voge 650DSX launched. New model.
Owners' reviews for the VOGE 650DSX (2022 - on)
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