Saturday, May 08, 2010
F 650 GS Test Ride.
Last night I went to the BMW dealership ‘Open Road ‘in Newmarket, ON to listen to the world traveler Rene Cormier (www.renedian.com), who put aside 5 years of his life to circumnavigate our earth on 2 wheels. He rode an older BMW 650 GSPD to do the job. He loved his bike; the bike never let him down. Rene had some wild stories to tell, it was a good night out. It rained so badly on the way back that, with wipers running at full speed, it was hard to see the 3-lane highway. Luckily, traffic was light; I stared at the white lines to guide me. This rain continued all night long. For this morning, I had plans to take a test ride at the same dealership, Open Road. After hearing Rene, after reading about the new F-650 with the bigger motor for some time now, I was not sure if I wanted to ride in this downpour. When I woke up this morning, the rain had abated and I said “What the heck, I’ve been wet before” and I went for my test ride.
I heard stories about the 650 Model. People love this bike. My daughter Michelle rode an F-650 for some time but I never did find out why she got rid of it. I have to remember to ask her. The new 650 actually has an 800cc motor. Yes, we all know it is stupid to call it a 650 if it has an 800cc motor but then I do not make the BMW policies. With a chain drive, the bike is a departure of what I have been riding so far. I am really looking for a lighter bike. I want a bike that is trouble free, dependable and is comfortable when going long distances. Yamaha has a new model this year the 2010 Ténéré, with a shaft drive and a 1000cc motor. I am also evaluating this Yamaha bike, but for now, it is not for sale in North America. I might be able to see it in Europe when I go next week.
I had made reservations for the first ride out this morning, at 9 AM and that meant getting up at 6 AM. Do I take my bike to ride to the dealership and then take a test bike? Alternatively, do I put all the stuff in the car, and then get dressed in the parking lot to test the F-650-GS? Checking the sky, checking the weather report on line, I choose the car. Well, ok, you might say I chickened out but boy was I lucky. I arrived at Open Road, had a cup of tea and did the usual paper work. All this was no hassle it was easy stuff. Yes, of course, I had to sign a waiver but that is now obligatory when you want to test ride a bike. Open Road had an F-650-GS ready for me and with a group of other people, we went out to see how the new bikes feel, ride, and behave. Please remember I am coming off a 1200 GS Adventure and there sure is a difference in handling. This 650 is quick and agile. I cannot get over how powerful the 800cc engine is. The range of the gears is wide. In first gear you can ride very slowly and without jerking, the motor chugs along whether you go slowly or give it some extra gas. Up-shifting is no effort, the gears fall right into place! Being in 2nd gear is almost enough to ride in heavy traffic. The power band is wide on this new 650. It feels better than on the 1200 Adventure, I ride now. Riding a bit out of town where the speed limit is 80 KM/hour (50MPH) I used third gear. Yes, I did go to fourth gear but I wanted to see if there was enough reserve in the motor. There is plenty of power on the 650, no matter what gear you are using. It was a pleasure riding this bike. Avoiding potholes was just a flick of the handle bar; the bike feels so light it is easy to do. Setting up for curves was a cinch; the ride feels solid and tight. The steering is precise. Leaning, even on wet pavement, from the rain last night, felt secure. Passing cars showed me a good, powerful, fast bike. I felt I was riding a mini version of my present 1200 GS. The 650 is smaller, yes, but at the same time, as good a ride as I could want. We rode on the 404 for some time and getting on to this highway I tried to crank it up. In fourth gear, while getting on, I hit 6000 RPM and then shifted to fifth gear. No jerks, the transition was smooth. Again I forgot the speed for a moment and concentrated on the RPM’s only and just before redline I up shifted to 6th gear. The motor just purred. It settled in to a comfortable sounding tone and when I checked my speed, I was riding along at 120+ KM/hour (80MPH), a bit high for Canadian and even U.S. standards. I eased off and smiled, the 650 is a good bike. I would change the seat if I bought a bike like that because I could feel my backside was a little sore after just one hour of riding. My feet were flat on the ground when stopped, the layout of the switches on the handlebar were logical, the display easy to read, the bike is good. It sure will be a contender when I start to down scale. Best of all, I rode the whole trip without any rain. It rained while going to the dealer ship but stopped once I arrived. It started to pour down on me again, once I was again in my car on the way back. It was a morning, I believe, made just for me, made for a good test ride on the 650 GS. The experience was excellent. Even the weatherman gave me a break, kept the rain at bay, and kept me dry. Now all I have to do is sell my other two bikes so I can entertain buying a new 650 seriously. The bike is ready for me, am I ready for it?
Once back in my car, driving back to Toronto, the sky, again, opened up in full force. I felt sorry for the riders I left behind. It rained so heavily that again, I used the full speed on my windshield wipers. It rained as if you had dumped out buckets! I was dry and comfortable in my car, with my heater on in Temps of 40 degrees F. Yet I had a good ride on a motorcycle this morning as well!