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The BMW F 650 GS Dakar - City runabout, or tough enough to kick up dust in the competitions face ?
Paar Rock Adventure - BMW F650
"The Perfect bike, for beginners & intermediate, Street or Dirt.
As your confidence grows, the bike will keep impressing you."

ABS - on/off !!
Its advisable to disengage the ABS on gravel roads, but it can be annoying to have to switch the ABS on and off, on and off each time you restart the bike. But its a heck of a lot better than taking a spill in a loose 90 degree hairpin at 60km/h cause you cant lock up the back wheel in a controlled slide.
The BMW F650 GS Dakar is one of the most versatile and comfortable road bikes, and it was a pleasure to take out for the day. "It is a fantastic city bike as you would imagine, although the off road test was on fairly tame gravel roads in Paal Nature Reserve, it still gave me a sense of a true adventure bike"
Craig Marshall - Rider
Test Ride Location
The riding location is only 50km outside Cape Town, and 4km off the N1. The Paarl Mountain nature Reserve offers riders a 15 km dirt road along the from of the mountain overlooking the entire Paarl Valley Winelands , inside the Nature Reserve is a round route of 17.5km. But speed is limited to 30km/h.

View Map of Reserve
The point of the route is to observe the nature, not blast around and destroy it. So please if you heading up there, respect the Reserve and ride around at 30km/h if you can.

I must admit, the plan was not for me to ride that day, The demo bike I wanted was not available, so I borrowed the photographers (Tania Coetzee's) Dakar and went along for the photoshoot.
If ever there was a more perfect bike for Newbies, Oldies and Ladies, this is it.
If a couple want to enjoy biking together, its advisable to each have a Dakar 650, than to both saddle up on a huge 1200 GS.
The F650 Dakar has been the bike of choice for many a new comer to the dual sport market. Its light, Powerful and cruises on tar and gravel with equal comfort.
Despite the bikes 177kg dry weight, it handles exceptionally well, and can be muscled around like a bike of half its weight.
BMW F 650 GS Dakar - Specifications
Engine type Water-cooled 652cc, 4v single cylinder four-stroke.
Displacement 652.00 ccm (39.79 cubic inches)
Bore x stroke 100.0 x 83.0 mm (3.9 x 3.3 inches)
Performance 36.2 kW @ 6500 rpm
Max. torque 60.00 Nm @ 4800 rpm
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Starter/Battery Electric
Overall Height 1,265 mm
Fuel System Injection. Electronic intake pipe injection / BMW engine management.
Timing System DOHC
Lubrication Dry sump 
Primary drive Chain 
Cooling Liquid
Clutch Multiple-disc clutch in oil-bath, mechanically operated
Gearbox 5 Speed
Frame Bridge-type steel section frame with bolted-on rear section  
Front suspension Telescopic fork, stanchion diameter 41 mm, fork stabiliser
Rear suspension Spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable
Suspension travel front/rear Front 41 mm - Rear 135 mm
Front brake Double disc with ABS
Rear brake Single disc with ABS 
Tyres, front/rear Front 90/90-S21 Rear 130/80-S17
Top speed 170.0 km/h (105.6 mph) 
Steering head angle 29.2°
Trail 123 mm
Wheel base 1,489 mm  
Seat height 870 mm At lowest setting.
Tank capacity 17.30 litres
Fuel Consumption About 28km/l at 100km/h
Weight (no fuel) 177.2 kg

Fuel Economy:
"Riding conservatively at around 100-120km/h the 17.30 litre tank will give you about 450km easily.

Seat Comfort:
With out a doubt, this city cruiser will be able to keep the blood circulating for many Hundreds of kilometers. The seat is also narrow enough not to be a problem when standing up.

Despite the bikes 177kg dry weight, it handles exceptionally well, and can be muscled around like a bike of half its weight.

The standard fearing is good enough, depending on rider height, if helmet buffeting is a problem, extend the fearing a little.

Like all bikes in its class, there is a noticeable vibration from about 130km/h, but it can be expected from any single cylinder four-stroke. The bike is best cruising at around 110km/h and it does wonders for fuel economy.

Power to Weight:
I did find the bike to be a little underpowered in the higher gears, but from pull off up through the gears, if you keep the bike in the powerband, its good enough to keep the stones roostering and the back end fish tailing.

Off Road Handling:
To be fair, your ability and confidence as a rider off road will dictate a large part of how she handles. If you want to muscle her around, do small jumps, and climb the odd fire break - the bike will be adequate. It does struggle a bit in soft sand, but that's purely a tyres and weight issue. keep the throttle open and she will fly across the soft stuff.
The Question is......
Is the BMW F650 GS Dakar just a city runabout, or is it tough enough to kick up dust in the competitions face ?

Answer: It is a very versatile machine - if you are just a city biker and only venture off road when its hard pack gravel, then its the bike for you. If you have years of experience off road, and ride more aggressively perhaps you would want something more suited to enduro, but this bike will adapt to what ever you put her through. If you want to ride across africa, it will cope no problem, for reliability, comfort, availability of parts, market price, resale value...there is no equal in the dual sport market. Period.

General Opinion:
If you are a new comer, lady, conservative rider and want to get the most for your money and don't have the experience to handle more than 36kw in the dirt -
buy A BMW F650 GS. As your experience and confidence grows, so this bike will adapt and you will be able to enjoy some of the more hard core routes around Southern Africa.

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