03-19-2007, 02:09 PM
Do yourself a favor and test ride the G 650 X Challenge. Nuf said!
From the BMWMOA:
Initial impressions: much lighter than the F650 (350 lbs fueled) -- and it feels it. 2.5 gal. tank (under seat, like F) with reported ~50 mpg mileage. Notably shorter wheelbase, thus more nimble, can be flicked and "body steered". Excellent MX-like, centered body position. No fairing or windscreen in standard configuration -- but oddly little wind buffeting at highway speeds. Feels confident on busy highway though not overpowered. Smooth shifting in 5 gears. Good low end torque. Logical controls. Oddity: there is a multifunction display, very readable, but ... no tach. Comes with mounting bars for aft bag. Accessories coming available include aluminum engine guard, alum chain guard, various versions of hand guards, other aluminum pieces to replace plastic, rear and tank fitted tank bags, fairing (clear or smoked). I've ordered some of these and should be able to post a picture in a week or so. No heated h/g at present. No center stand. Little in-bike storage. Only tires authorized for this version are the Metzeler Tourance (good choice).
Riding impressions: one word: "Fun." Like riding a dart in the canyons. Ok, two words: "Very fun." More to come.
Put about 40 miles in the canyons here in Topanga - including (for those who know) a loop past the Rock Store on Mulholland and back.
Change "two word description" from "Very Fun" to "A Blast". This bike is NOT - repeat - NOT a repackage of the F650 GS. (I should know: I put 5,000+ miles on one in 2006.) This is something different. It is FASTER, not so much in raw power or pt-to-pt acceleration (though it is improved) but in the Speed You Can Carry in the corners. In the canyons, this bike is **** quick - even with just a few miles on the OD and with new tires. The low weight makes all the difference - it can be "flung" as well as "steered" and it responds instantly and accurately.
When I traded my F650 GS for a Ducati ~ 6 mos. ago, I recall that, the first time I rode the Duc through the canyons, I was awed at its superior handling and power. The G650XC handles much more like the Duc than the F 650, and that is saying something. (Power is not comparable, and neither is braking, but that is not the point.) There's enough power, and it is very tractable - I was really impressed with how well this bike navigates at low rpm range (again - not that I can be sure, since there is no tach). Though I didn't wind it up often (owing to some respect for break-in), when I did, I was suprised and gratified with an exhaust note that was definitely more growl-like than the sewing machine noise I associate with the F650. Though this is definitely a faster bike than the F650, in almost any circumstance I can imagine, I felt it was a safer bike because it is so much lighter. All of us know it, but the fact that the G weighs ~20% less than the F affects all aspects of performance -- acceleration, handling and braking. I didn't test them hard, but I was impressed with the brakes.
I haven't tried this in the dirt, yet, but I have no qualms since I know the Tourance tires are a good choice for all but sand and deep mud and the wide torque range will make this bike very tractable. Also, with 8+ inches of travel front and rear, I can't figure I'll run over anything that will traumatize the suspension.
Having read this is a "claw" clutch, I decided to try a few up- and downshifts without using the clutch. No problem. I'll probably use the clutch most of the time, but under serious load or control situations, my impression is that no clutch is needed.
This is a tall bike, though. Even though the seat is narrow, and there is a fair amount of sag built in, a friend who is closer to 5-7 tried to sit on it. No go. Though mine has the standard seat (I'm just under 5-10), this is a bike that may prove too tall for some persons of lesser height.
Thanks for the informative replies. I am concerned about the tank as well. I've done some further reading, and it is possible to get as much as 60 mpg so that there is 150 mi. range with the base tank. I have a Garmin Zumo which I will mount on the G XC and that will allow me to track mpg very accurately.
I look forward to a larger tank and am familiar with Touratech from upgrades I made to the F650 GS I once had. However, I am a bit skeptical because the G tank, like that of the F, is under the seat, and what appears to be the tank is the airbox -- so a larger tank will be fairly complicated. Nevertheless, the market will "demand" one, so it will come. Also, I have heard that BMW and/or Touratech already have panniers and mounting kits in the works. Hopefully, they will not look so much like commuter bags as those BMW sells for the F 650GS.
As soon as I have the factory tail and tank bag, and the aluminum gear -- next week? -- I will post photos. These look good from the photos I saw on the dealer's order guide. The aluminum pieces are likely to be better protection than the plastic on the original, though the plastic is not bad. There are no crash bars yet, but I'm told these are on the way. Interestingly, the rider pegs, which are spring-loaded, are broad of girth (good) and the rubber covers can be easily removed to expose a serrated frame (good). No need for after-market pegs here.
I went back and reviewed the specs and was surprised (!) to learn that the wheelbase of the G XC actually is longer than the F, but not by much, though it feels much shorter. I think this is because the "ergo's" have the rider more forward and (I suspect) because the fork angle is more acute. I'll have to check this.
I mentioned previously that BMW already offers a windscreen -- both smoked and clear. What I did not mention was that the accessories were surprisingly inexpensive. I bought almost everything that was offered and likely to be available soon (except the titanium pipes) and the total was $1,400. This included both fore and aft bag, aft bag mounting kit. aluminum engine guard and chain guard, various other aluminum bits, wind screen, and (as I recall) the "full" hand guards. (The hand guards come in three versions - a protective bar, the bar with a plastic cover, and the bar, plastic cover with a wind deflector. These are successive in the sense that you can go from the first to the last. )
The bike does come with the usual BMW electrical plug.
Also worth note is that the suspension travel is considerably longer than the F650 GS (9.4 fr and 8.3 rr), where the F is 6.7/6.5 and the Dakar is 8.3 each. Seat height is listed at 33.1 but, because the seat is narrow, it is easier to reach the ground than one might think. I am just under 5-10 and don't have a problem with the height. (Were I 5-9 or shorter, however, I might opt for the low seat.) In factory trim, the suspension settings seem very predictable. Though I've only put 30 miles on so far (hardly enough to be sure), I did cover some varied terrain and I experienced no suspension "willowing" as one might anticipate with the long travel.
Braking seems very good. No issues with the ABS, but the bike is too new to be sure.
I did not stress the engine, for obvious reasons, but I could not tell a great deal of difference from the F except that I believe there is torque accessible at lower rpm. I've read that max torque is available at 3000 and stays with you to 5250. Not that you can tell for sure, since there is no tach.
Finally, I was pleasantly suprised by the seat. Though it looks similar to the F seat, it felt more comfortable. There is something of a "reinforced" aft section that you can push your "back" side to, and which is both secure and comfortable. The bike also felt very well balanced when sitting and, as one would hope, extremely well balanced when standing.
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