BMW 650 GS Dakar – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice –

11 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on BMW 650 GS Dakar – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice –

BMW 650

GS Dakar (January 2005)

Numerous bikes brag about their ability to go anywhere. This one can actually do it

I was in Cape York a couple of years ago, Fruit Bat Falls actually, one of my favourite places, and while I was there a young Japanese bloke rolled up on a Honda XR250. This brave soul had ridden from Sydney on his little XR and was bound for the still-distant tip of Australia. He carried everything he needed and was obviously content to be on his own.

On another trip to the Cape I met a young Israeli woman on leave from military service. She was riding an utterly inappropriate Kawasaki, and consequently having awful trouble with river crossings, but like the Japanese bloke was absorbed in her experiment with self-reliance in a dangerous country that can kill you quicker than country music if you’re not careful.

Thousands of people, not all of them experienced motorcyclists, discover Australia and the rest of the world on two wheels, thereby comprising what we call the adventure bike market. It’s a niche market, but one worth pursuing for the manufacturers, and that’s why we have bikes like the BMW 650 Dakar. This BMW is one of the most capable as a compromise in what will work on bitumen and dirt.

It’s more dirt oriented than the Honda Transalp, although not as fast, and will certainly take you wherever you want to go if you have the skills to manoeuvre a big bike weighing 193kg – and considerably more with all the stuff you’re likely to take on the long and corrugated yellow brick road to Fruit Bat Falls.


It’s a 652cc, single-cylinder, twin-overhead cam four-stroke and develops 37Kw (50hp) at 6500rpm. Maximum torque is 60Nm at a low 4500rpm so you don’t have to ring its neck to get good pulling power. The engine is fuel injected but throttle response at low revs is a bit ordinary.

Not until you hit 3000rpm does the engine come alive; then it delivers good throttle response through the midrange and into the top end.

The Dakar isn’t what you’d call a quick bike, and the engine isn’t a fast revver like the psycho Husaberg 650 is a fast revver, but it’s as reliable as a Mexican housemaid and hates a drink. Our bitumen-only fuel consumption was 23.3km/l. Our bitumen-plus-gravel consumption was slightly better, because of the lower engine speeds, at 24.3km/l.

BMW says the ‘useable fuel capacity’ is 17.1 litres – including reserve we presume – so you should get around 400 kays before pulling up at Greasy Joe’s for your banana daiquiri and battered sav.

BMW says maximum speed is 170km/h but I saw 160. The gearing favours road use, as it should, but is low enough for rough stuff if you don’t take the notion of conquering virgin territory too far. You won’t be riding up Machu Picchu.

Then again, I took the Dakar along trails and back roads we use to evaluate enduro bikes and it was easy work. This bike will go where the 1200 won’t, because of its superior manoeuvrability, but don’t let this particular 193kg get away from you on snotty stuff or you’ll be looking for your ego in Pethidine Plaza.


It’s road biased but dirt capable. I thought the shock felt stiffer than the fork, and there’s bugger-all adjustability at either end. The 650 handles sharp-edge bumps better than the 1200 does but neither of them does it as well as the KTM950 V-twin.

Still, the Dakar suspension setup has no obvious faults and will get this machine anywhere you want to go – until you run out of tyres.

The test bike had Michelin Sirac dual-purpose tyres, which are okay on dirt or gravel but as useful as a bullbar on a blue-tongue once you go off-road.(When you strike mud, the lower fork brace will also be an impediment to motion.) Keep the Michelins for bitumen or gravel touring, but if you’re planning fair dinkum off-road work switch to Metzler’s Karoo knobby. There are two sizes for the Karoo rear, a 130/80-17 and a 140/80-17. The larger tyre ends to ‘push’ the front end a bit so go for the 130, you’ll like it.


Yep. The BMW has everything you need to travel long distances quickly and comfortably. Was there anything I didn’t like? Yep. The ABS on dirt.

Even BMW hates it and recommends you turn it off when leaving the bitumen. The rear brake constantly cycles between on and off and it’s a pain in the arse. Plus the floating rear guard is noisy on rough terrain.

There’s one other thing I really do like about this bike: it’s great value for money. At $13,800 (plus $1000 if you want ABS, but you don’t) it’s only slightly dearer than any garden variety trail bike, and you can do a bloody sight more on a 650 Dakar than you can on one of those.




Fuel economy


ABS on dirt

Tiny footpegs (the pillion pegs are bigger)

Paper air filter



Type: Single cylinder DOHC four-stroke

Displacement: 652cc

Fuel delivery: Injection

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