I didn't have much to do today and I was curious about the 2008-09 parallel twin version of the F650GS, so I made an appointment at Cal BMW to take a test ride.
- I really loved the engine. The extra horsepower (~70 as opposed to my thumper, which has ~50) is very apparent as I could actually accelerate on the freeway and other crazy stuff like that.
- There are next to no vibrations from the seat or footpegs and only verrrry slightly from the handlebars. Bar end weights would get rid of the bar vibes, no question.
- The transmission is very smooth and shifting is super duper easy. Finding neutral is not the hunt-and-peck that I'm used to on my thumpers.
- Handling is very good — I didn't get to take the bike to any twisties, but I did do a few U-turns and played in a small cul-de-sac.
- Braking is also excellent…or perhaps my standards are just low as I've been riding the XT with its drum brake. 😉
- In non-riding news, a lot of the strange Bulgarian placement of parts seem to have been relocated. The oil goes directly down into the crankcase now (so you don't need to remove the oil cap to take off the fairing), the oil return line is not blocking the clutch cover, the front sprocket nut is accessible, etc.
- The engine is incredibly twitchy. The teeeensiest input to the throttle would either kick in a bunch of torque or engine brake like mad. I'd probably get used to this quickly, but it was really disconcerting on a 30 minute/15 mile test ride. I would also be very wary of this off-road.
- The standard "one turn signal button per hand grip" Beemer indication configuration was clearly designed by someone with longer thumbs than I. Canceling the turn signal required me to shift my hand on the throttle, causing bullet point #1 to appear. It was "fun" to suddenly be lurching while just trying to cancel my blinker.
- The "low seat" is for short giants. The bike I test-rode had the low seat on it and I was on my very tiptoes (like, the fronts of my boots sort of tiptoes). I would definitely need the 30.4" low frame version for an extra $175.
- Speaking of extra, the bike's MSRP is $8995, but there are apparently a lot of non-optional "options". When I told the salesman that I didn't really need $60 white turn indicators (as opposed to the stock amber) or $250 tire pressure monitors, he said that that's what BMW ships, so that's what they sell. Adding up all the non-optional options gives a "total suggested price" of $11,420.
That's all off the top of my head. It was a really fun bike to ride and, if it weren't for the engine twitchiness, I would have probably had a much longer conversation about pricing with the salesman. As it is, though, I have to do more reading up on it and perhaps do a second test ride with the low suspension model sometime.