A friend on the XT225.com boards is considering a F650GS to complement his XT, so he asked me what my thoughts were on its touring and off-road abilities. I figured that I may as well post my response here in case anyone else was considering this awesome bike. 🙂
“Hi (name of person)!
I absolutely love the F650GS. For me, the F/XT combo is perfect. I wouldn’t want to take the XT on any tours longer than about 250 miles/day (and definitely not on the freeway for that), and I wouldn’t want to take the F on the hairy dirt stuff that’s so fun on the XT. 🙂 So…perfect combo!
I’m pretty short (5’1″) so I like the standard F650GS. If you’re tall, you also might want to consider the F650GS Dakar, which has a bit more ground clearance and higher seat height. I understand that otherwise, they’re the exact same bike.
The F650GS is a surprisingly good tourer (in my opinion) after very few modifications.
I added a BMW brand taller windscreen (~$130 USD) after a few day rides, and it really helped on the freeway. I also bought my bike used, and it came with bar risers, which makes it very comfy for my short arms. 😉
A lot of people find the stock seat painful, but I’ve never had a problem with it at all; obviously personal preference there.
My longest day on the F has been just over 500 miles, which was really only tough because it was almost 100% freeway. I find that tiring on *any* bike. If I remember correctly, I averaged about 60 mpg on that trip, which is actually lower than a lot of other F owners report.
Oh, and I’ve done a couple of weekend trips with Tourance tires now, and one weekend trip with Mefo Explorers. The Tourances are definitely more comfortable on the freeway (the Mefos tend to rattle the bike at high speeds even more than the normal thumper vibration), but the Mefos can’t be beat off-road.
Which segues into:
With the caveat that I haven’t done anything truly hairy on the bike, I find it 100% capable of anything I want to do. I’ve done flat dirt, gravel, steep hills, snot-slick mud, and light rocks and the bike is way more capable than I am. 😉
If I were going to an OHV park or someplace very narrow or really rutted, I’d still go for the XT first (if for no other reason than that it’s lighter to pick up 😉 ). But I wouldn’t think twice about hitting fire roads while on a cross country tour, for example (one of the reasons I bought the bike).
If you haven’t already, definitely check out f650.com. The FAQs are astounding, and the bulletin board is full of great people who do some really neat trips on their Fs. One guy in particular, Bill (“NB” on that forum) has a website at f650.us that can suck up your whole day. Great pics, trip reports, maintenance reports, etc.
Blah blah blah. More info than you wanted, probably! I just love this bike and am happy to blather on incessantly about it. :)”