G-D stands for Granada-Dakar, the famous, gruelling
desert rally which tests machine and rider to the limit. BMW has long been
associated with this competition, and the F650GS G-D is a tribute its
efforts. The engine and chassis are similar to the F650GS, with some
off-road biased modifications. The G-D wears a larger 53cm (21in) front
wheel, which tackles bumps and ruts more easily, while trail-type knobbly
tyres cope better with mud and soft ground. The high front mudguard will not
clog with mud, and the Dakar has a distinctively designed paint scheme and
taller seat height. The fuel-injected F650GS engine drives through slightly
lower gearing, and provides the torquey, low-down drive essential for
Inspired by some of the worldís
Famous for its achievements in the gruelling Paris-Dakar rally, the F 650 GS
Dakar model takes adventure riding to its extreme. Featuring BMWís new 2
SPARK ignition system and an improved on-board engine management system, the
F 650 GS lowers emissions while increasing fuel efficiency meaning youíll
get more desert, river bed and mountain top to the gallon.
The Dakar model also features important standard features for off road
adventure including a tall windscreen and hand protection as well as an
accessory power socket, jump start points, newly designed luggage rack and a
3-position clutch lever.
Whether youíre heading to the Arctic Circle or the Amazon, the F 650 GS
Dakar can be customized with a range of optional features and accessories
including switchable ABS, heated hand grips, a low seat, tank bag, large
engine guard, the BMW Navigator, and more.
Redesigned for improved wind and weather protection, the new windshield
reduces helmet noise, even for tall riders. Tinted, the windshield can be
removed for off-road riding. The new headlight provides more uniform
illumination while stylistically contributing to the bikeís assertive
The adjustable clutch lever makes for more comfortable riding regardless
of your hand size.
Once you get into this saddle, the only time youíll want to get off is to
refill the tank. Completely redesigned, the luggage rack system now makes
attaching the top case easier (no intermediate plate needed) and tensioning
straps can now be attached via attach points in the rack itself. Single seat
Rugged and functional, the Soft Case System fits both the GS and Dakar
models and attaches to motorcycle via zipper/buckle system. This system
offers up to 62 Litres of storage. Water resistant with built-in pack straps
and attachment loops. Each piece is sold separately. Item available as an
For added storage and carrying capacity. The topcase is reinforced with an
aluminum edge on both top and bottom lids to help secure your gear and
protect it from the elements. Made of hard black waterproof PVC plastic.
Requires mounting bracket kit. Available as an ACCESSORY.
Adds additional storage or carrying capacity. Comes with a waterproof
rain cover, a clear map holder window and a rear zipper-lock pouch. All
necessary hardware and parts for installation are included. Available as an
BMWís all new F650 on/off-roader is available in
street or enduro style, with the Dakar version created as a tribute to those
brave riders who manage to complete the arduous Paris-Dakar rally, and to
celebrate a BMW win in the 1999 event.
With a Rotax derived four stroke, single
cylinder, fuel injected, water cooled engine, all new weight distribution and
chassis, the Berlin built F650 is a great novice machine, road or trail. The
Dakar rep has a slightly more hardcore image, yet remains a genuinely easygoing
all-rounder underneath the knobblies.
Fancy doing some off-road motorcycling but donít want to buy a bike just for
The answer could be choosing a machine like the
BMW F650, which is available in stock road kit, or the slightly more adventure
orientated Dakar version. The decision could be helped by sampling a few of the
excellent off-road schools and adventure trail rides in the more scenic parts of
the UK - as Insidebikes.com did, courtesy of BMW GB.
Dakar desert riding Brit hero John Deacon rides
for the BMW factory in both that annual gruelling rally event, as well as
running a gentler off-road experience near his dealership in Saltash, Cornwall.
The lanes arenít too taxing - depending on the weather of course - but itís
handy if you have had some green lane riding under your belt before you try a
day or two on the rutted farm tracks of Devon and Cornwall.
The F650 Dakar variant has few differences from
the more familiar road based bike, with the 21 inch diameter front wheel size
giving a taller riding position. You also get chunkier enduro type tyres, a
taller screen, handlebar guards and longer suspension - 40mm more in the forks
and 45mm in the rear monoshock. The ABS braking also gets the old heave-ho.
The Dakar feels much taller in the saddle and a
5foot, 9 ins bloke like myself had to dip to the left slightly in town to make
sure my boot touched tarmac at the lights. That said, the Dakar is nowhere near
as high in the saddle as rivals like the CCM 604 Enduro, or KTM LC640 for
example, which betray their pure off-road roots the moment you attempt to
pole-vault onto the seat...
The F650 isnít the lightest Rotax powered
trailbsike on the market and the Beemer soon proved a bit lardy to handle if the
going got seriously slippy, with those fiendish rutted tracks nearly causing me
to eat cowcrap and ICIís finest agri-chemical cocktail as per usual. As you
might have guessed, Iím not really too brilliant off-road, having tried it twice
in the last 25 years since getting my bike test passed, yet mostly, the F650
remained generally easy to handle off-road, even for me.
The reasons are like the bike itself; simple. The
Beemer carries its 192kgs (with full tank of fuel) exceptionally well, plus the
gentle, torquey 50bhp from the motor is developed in a predictable, steady sort
of way. There are no jerky surprises in the power curve, making throttle control
in tricky, tree-stump lined trails less critical than on something more enduro
biased. I felt like I had learned a few things, even in the space of a morning
on the rough stuff, rather than just be intimidated by the ragged poke of the
thing, which is how proper dirt bikes make me feel...
For sure, a Husqvarna, KTM or Kawasaki MX 125 two
stroke would utterly see off the F650 on properly churned up terrain (assuming
the rider was any good) but the BMW has the benefit of being able to hold a
steady 80mph along the by-pass all the way home after your off-road excursion.
The dual purpose bike is always a compromise of
course, and thereís no doubt in my mind that once I manage to get the hang of
riding faster than 40mph off-road, Iíll want the sheer agility and raw power of
a 250cc sized two stroke. But the build quality of the BMW F650 Dakar makes it a
tempting alternative for me nevertheless. It looks classy and able to take some
serious knocks if things go pear-shaped in the hills.
Fact is, if I lived somewhere remote where land
access wasnít a big problem and needed a bike to commute on in the summer, the
F650 would be pretty close to perfect.
THE JOHN DEACON BMW OFF-ROAD EXPERIENCE.
The mix of green lanes, old droverís roads etc
dotted around the Liskeard area of Cornwall proved perfect for a day of freedom,
and tuition, in the countryside, with light local traffic on the tarmac sections
keeping speeds sensible. Dakar ace John Deacon was on hand to give valuable tips
and advice and the day long package includes one nightís hotel accommodation,
use of F650 BMW, fuel and insurance, all for £195. You do need your own off-road
biking kit however.
No off-road section was longer than a handful of
miles, with desert-racer levels of fitness definitely not required. The accent
is big on fun and taking things at your own pace. The groups can be split ad
hoc, according to everyoneís ability on the day. The pub grub was absolutely
fan-bloody-tastic too by the way.
Plus points: Great novice-intermediate level
off-road sampler course; fantastic scenery; good winter activity if you store
your road bike.
Minus Points: BMW F650 is a little heavy, plus
road based gear ratios leave big gap between 1st and 2nd gears - OK, I admit I
kept stalling it...