2009 F650GS test ride

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. 

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7 Responses to 2009 F650GS test ride

  1. john says:

    Tried only putting one foot on the ground? I doubt you really need a low seat. Two feet on the ground is _totally_ unnecessary and makes the bike feel taller than it really is. Put your right foot on the rear brake instead.
    I hated the F800GS I tested. Am. loving my K1200GT though.
    Your comment about finding the F650 single’s neutral intrigues me. I have zero trouble finding mine. 36000km on the bike. What’s your oil level / oil condition like?

  2. Red says:

    “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.”
    Sweet! That’s up there with the SV!
    I thought my old thumper was unbelievably twitchy too. I figured this was just a characteristic of off-road bikes.
    $11000! Can’t see myself affording that anytime soon. 😐

  3. carolyn says:

    @John: Hee, you do know that I’m 5’1″ with a 27″ inseam, right? 😉 I’ve been riding with just one foot on the ground for 10 years.
    @Red: It’s almost exactly like the SV! The engine felt very similar…even more get-up-and-go, methinks. I do miss that V-twin sometimes.

  4. Colleen says:

    I got the 650 twin and I really love it although I noticed the twitchy throttle for the first thousand miles or so, too. I have gotten used to smoothing out the throttle delivery and it is much better now. The short thumb thing is annoying because I can’t switch off the turn signal without adjusting my right hand either. I just use the clutch to make it smoother.
    I loved my 650 single but I love the power of this new twin for my daily rider. I’m 5-3 with a 29″ inseam and I just one foot the bike at stops. I have the low seat with standard suspension. Try out the lowered suspension and see what you think.
    Good luck.

  5. Alex says:

    I have been researching the F800GS for awhile now. Sadly, none are available for test rides yet, and essentially everyone one of them has already been spoken for. But I have read up about some of the issues with the new models:
    – FI system fails. Bad firmware has left some owners/riders stranded in the middle of nowhere. They end up having to ‘reboot’ their bikes.
    – BMW on board computer, doesn’t compute. (really related to the above bit).
    – The touchy throttle is likely a combination of quick revving, 16-position FI sensors, and the lack of an “earthy” feel that you often get with carbed bikes (at least carbed bikes without a accellerator pump).
    Thanks for the review! I’m all the more excited to find one, and test ride it.

  6. CC says:

    You refer to “Bulgarians” when talking about your Beemer. Are you refering to the State of Bavaria in the country of Germany (where BMW is headquartered)? Or is there some connection to the country of Bulgaria that I’m missing? Or maybe it’s just an inside joke or slam on the Bavarians? Just curious.

  7. Robert Hicks says:

    I got the F800GS a couple of weeks ago and I agree the throttle does take a bit to get used to. My old bike (2002 ZX6E currently for sale) is very forgiving with the throttle. The BMW is not. My first test ride was a little scary. The second test ride (at another dealer) I got on the bike and it felt like normal. I think it’s all just a matter of getting to know the bike and what to expect from it. I love my 800GS and even though I will miss the Kawasaki tremendously I know that the GS is the bike that I have been wanting for a long, long time.

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