The BMW G650 GS. If ever there was a marque that typifies the ruling elite, the demonized 1%-ers who ruthlessly crush us poor peasants under their portfolio-fattened boots, it is Bayerische Motoren Werke. “Let them eat exhaust,” you hear them mutter from within their $800 Schuberth helmets, as they snootily blast by brigades of KLR and DR underlings. Rigid, unchanging, uncompromising, these are the traits of the BMW.
When it comes to manufacturing, decades of stability and constant refinement very often produces a dead reliable product. The BMW thumper is such an engine, and the G650 GS is not some $18,000 R1200. The 650GS slots perfectly into this quarter of candidates, with an MSRP just under $8000. A BMW for the masses? Say it ain’t so… except thankfully, it is.
The G650 GS is a jack of all trades, master of none. Let’s see how it stands up to Backpacker Moto’s election cycle criteria:
I don’t know that any adventure bike is particularly attractive. By its nature, its functionality is far more critical than good looks. I think “purposeful” might be a better adjective for the BMW; its not the pretty design that gets the blood flowing, it’s the promise of where the G650 GS can take you. Which is pretty much anywhere, everywhere on the planet, or even around it. This bike speaks to our inner Walter Mitty, rife with dreams of amazing adventures in amazing lands, riding into small towns to the cheers of the local children. Sign me up.
As mentioned, the single cylinder thumper is a tried and true commodity that has delivered many a rider on a round-the-world expedition. No, it’s not overly powerful, but it is powerful enough to provide good low end grunt when off-pavement, and it’s a hoot to ride on secondary roads through the mountains. Given that fuel mileage is one of an ADV rider’s best friends, the BMW rocks an impressive 60-70 MPG.
With the optional “Tall” seat installed, the BMW fits me almost as perfectly as the FZ-09. You feel in command of the world as you sit upon the 650, which fits nicely into our notion of this being a ride suitable for squashing lowly farmers who dare step into your path. More seriously, this is a very comfortable bike for my body type (6’2″ 200 lbs) and, having spent a full day on one, I would look forward to exploring any region of the world while aboard this bike.
Some folks (BMW salesmen, in particular) would immediately try to sell me a F700 or F800 instead, or even a 1200. I’m guessing none of them have been on a solo ride in the remotest corners of Argentina, and have had to lift such behemoths back onto their wheels. Yah, didn’t think so. Light equals might when you’re on your own.
With the aforementioned Tall seat installed, I’m ready to go on the BMW. Maybe someday an aftermarket exhaust will come into play, and a real battery to replace the OEM P.OS. But that’s it. Buy it, ride it.
The G650 GS motorrad is by far the most versatile bike among the four contenders. Interstate cruising is its only real weakness, and I avoid such interstates like the plague. Give me secondary roads, roads through the mountains, unpaved fire roads, dirt roads, gravel roads. The BMW will tackle all of my on-road assignments and all of my off-pavement ones as well (single track not really my thing). If I was searching for One Bike To Do It All, this would likely be the choice.
Up next… The Independent: KTM 690 Enduro