My BMW 650 GS Dakar Review

BMW F650 GS DakarWhen it came to choosing my first motorcycle, I decided on the 2005 BMW 650 GS Dakar over some other comparable single cylinder motorcycles for a couple of simple reasons; looks and performance. Bottom line … I LOVE this bike! Some of the other bikes I looked at were the Kawasaki KLR, BMW 650 CS/GS, and the BMW 1200 GS (a bit much for a first bike), but the 650 Dakar was exactly what I was looking for. And I have no regrets whatsoever!

I wasn’t interested in buying a brand new first bike so I shopped around for a used one. And I shopped. And I shopped. And I shopped some more. Not because I was picky, but because I could not find any used 650 GS/Dakars anywhere. I found a few used bikes but they were all in other states. After looking for 4 months, the BMW dealership in Denver said they had two. I told the sales rep I would be up there on a Saturday to take a look and he said they would be gone by then. I figured it was salesman bull crap and let a couple days pass. I called back and sure enough, one was already sold. So I put a refundable $1000 deposit down just to hold the Dakar for 2 days until I could get up there and take a look. The bike was only 6 months old and they were only knocking about $1500 off what a new one would cost. It had the ABS brakes, heated hand grips, and a transferable warranty. The cost is probably why it didn’t sell as fast. Anyhow … long story short … once someone buys the 650 CC/GS/Dakar, they rarely get rid of them. That’s how well-liked the bikes are.

It won’t break any land speed records but that’s not what the Dakar is meant for. It does have pretty good acceleration for a thumper (single cylinder) and that’s due in part to the 650 cc engine and the twin spark plugs. Potholes and other small road imperfections are almost unnoticeable with it’s long suspension and 21″ front tire. I find that the bike is very stable and comfortable at freeway speeds around 65 mph and even 75 mph. But above this and the bike starts to vibrate a lot and riding becomes a bit uncomfortable over long distances.

I’ve easily gotten her up to 90 mph but it’s not that much fun at those speeds. They say the bike will do 100+ mph and I believe them, but I’m not sure why you would want to go that fast on this bike in the first place. Because the gas tank is located under the seat, the center of gravity is lower which adds to the bikes stability and agility. So in all, around town this bike is awesome!

The BMW 650 GS Dakar is very gas efficient. So far my gas mileage has been better than I was hoping and far better than my Ford Explorer. I financed the bike but the savings in gas almost makes up for the monthly payment. The explorer costs me about $40 to fill up each week while the BMW 650 GS costs me about $10 (4 gallons at $2.50). That’s a $30 savings each week and I can travel the same distance on 4 gallons as I can with 16 gallons in the Ford Explorer (about 260 miles). Below is a table of some of the gas mileage readings I’ve been getting under normal city (non-freeway) driving conditions. The gas mileage is not quite as good as it used to be because I’m riding the bike a little harder than I was when I first bought it. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty impressive.

Date

Miles

Gallons

Miles per gallon

6/5/2006 246.4 3.12 78.97
6/13/2006 232.6 3.31 70.27
7/12/2006 228.0 3.15 72.38
7/22/2006 221.0 3.10 71.29
8/09/2006 226.7 3.20 70.84
9/20/2006 222.6 3.12 71.35
5/15/2007 210.2 3.22 65.28
5/22/2008 244.5 3.51 69.66

Along with the great gas mileage, you can put just as many accessories on the BMW 650GS Dakar that you can on any other bike of the same size. Whether it’s hard top case, saddle bags, tank bags or 12 volt accessories. The alternator is a bit on the small side so don’t think you can plug in a whole bunch of electric warm weather gear, but it can easily handle GPS, extra lights, and intra-bike communications. After all, this bike is meant for off road touring!

It’s pretty much an endurance test riding this bike in very cold weather because there is very little to protect you from the elements. There is no faring and the standard height windshield doesn’t deflect the air all the way over your head. The heated hand grips work to about 45°F, but are pretty ineffective once it gets colder than that. They simply can’t warm enough for the heat to get through the gloves. The hand protectors actually help out quite a bit because it deflects the air and rain from hitting your fingers and knuckles. But when it’s really cold out you really have to bundle up quite a bit because the only thing that is going to keep you warm and dry are your clothes.

I have added the following accessories/options to my 2005 BMW 650 GS Dakar:

  • Heated Hand grips
  • ABS Brakes
  • Lower Front Fender
  • Brake! LED Tail Light
  • Givi v46 Top Case
  • Toura-tech Fork Guards

Although the bike is a bit heavy for its class at 425 lbs wet, the bike stops incredibly well with the ABS option. On one occasion I have had to really bear down on my brakes to avoid a car who didn’t see me while making a left turn across traffic. The first thought I had was pure fear. The second thought was … wow, I’m totally going to stop in time. Without the ABS brakes, I know I would of locked the front wheel which would of ended in bad news. So if you decide upon the BMW 650 CS/GS/Dakar, plan on getting the ABS brake option. It is so worth it.

There is only one thing about the Dakar that has me frustrated. I guess BMW motorcycle transmissions are notoriously noisy/clunky when engaging and disengaging the gears. While I struggled in the beginning with the shifting, I’ve become a lot better to the point where gear shifting is nearly seamless and quiet. First and second still clunks, but I found if you quickly accelerate the engine to about 5500 rpm in first then shift into second, it doesn’t clunk as much. This makes sense because first gear on this bike is a grunt gear. At 5500 rpm you’re only going about 20mph. Second gear is much deeper. So if you are not going fast enough when you shift into second from first, the wheel speed doesn’t match the engine speed and the gears don’t mesh nicely. All the other gears shift nicely between about 4500-5000 rpm range if you gently pre-load the shifter (lift up with your foot and apply a little bit of pressure … the gear almost slips in by itself). As for down-shifting, if you blip the gas and gently depress the shift lever on the down rev after (during the blip if that makes sense) the clunky sound nearly goes away. Speed also makes a difference. At 45mph you can easily go from 5th to 4th with a little blip of the gas. At 35mph you can go from 4th to 3rd. At 25mph you can go from 3rd to second. From 2nd to first you have to be going pretty slow. Otherwise you can get a big clunk and a little jerk as well.

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