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- George Washington

Wednesday 19 September 2012

F650GS - first impressions

I've had the mini-GS almost a month now, so perhaps it is time for a brief review.

First of all, I am happy with it.  The Yamaha was getting to the point where money needed spending on it (tyres knackered if not illegal, chain ditto) so the GS has taken over commuting duties.  It is living exactly where it is in this photo, uncovered, while the Yam has a waterproof overcoat and is quietly relaxing about six feet behind it. (Yesterday we had a brief sunny spell in the afternoon, so I whipped off the cover and took it for a short but athletic blast round the lanes.  It started first press of the button and ran well, so no sulks for being ignored.)

Compared to the Sprint, the GS is ... well, totally different, and no comparison could be very meaningful.  It is the comparison with the XT that I am most interested in.  What I wanted was a kind of super-XT, one that retained the virtues and character of the Yam while addressing some of its shortcomings.  In that, I think it is a success.

It is faster, by a small but useful amount.  Where the XT is happy at 60, strained at 70 and struggling madly at 75, the GS will pull along at 80 quite happily.  I've seen 90 on the clock sitting bolt upright (remember, I have only commuted on it so far) and there was more to come.  Where there is a big difference is in the low-down torque.  The best way to make the Yam go is to launch it fast and short-shift until you are at a cruise.  Big revs get you nowhere - wide throttle openings are the key to rapid progress.  With the GS it is the reverse: let the revs build quickly, keep it over 4,000 rpm, and it lifts its skirts and motors along very nicely.  To be honest, I prefer the instant shove and huge engine braking of the XT, but the GS is so much more civilised that perhaps the trade-off is worth it - certainly for a longer journey.

Comfort, now I have the taller seat, is good, and it's really quite a pleasant ride.  It's quiet, a little inoffensive, and just gets on with the job.  Handling is rather strange compared to the XT, but the built-in luggage is a blessing.

There's more to say here, but I am at work and things are starting to happen around me.  The day team will be here in a minute and I mustn't be found bloggerating.

More in duke horse.


  1. That the bike thrives on revs also surprised me for a single (the Rotax engine not me...).

    You might want to fit the Dakar screen - surprisingly effective for my diminutive height!

  2. Funnily enough it came with a Dakar screen attached and the guy tossed me the original screen and said 'have this if you want'. I didn't like the look of the Dakar screen, so I fitted the original one, which seems to work fine for me. I'll gave the other one a go again, but not keen on it visually.

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  4. I rode the Dakar - nice. Rode your model, just as nice. `Ride the torque not the revs` has always been my chosen path (once I grew up - a few years ago). As for screens? The winter cometh and I think I'll want one, but how to choose the right one?

  5. I am glad you are enjoying the GS. I toyed with the idea of one before purchasing my Gladius.

    Do you find any vibration in the handle bars? It was one thing I was warned of. My hands/fingers go numb quite regularly on my bike - poor circulation doesn't help, and I was told that because of the vibration I probably should consider the GS. Just wondered your thoughts on that.

  6. The one of these I tried I found quite buzzy and 'Not a Beemer'ish. I think I'll stick with the HD because of the rumble and the grunt.

  7. Trobairitz, sorry not to reply sooner. Have sent you an email.

    Robert, I know what you mean, although I have no other Beemer experience to compare with. It's too quiet, and a better exhaust will be on its way before too long, which should promote a nicer sound and feel. Rumble and grunt are good (and a shotgun blast every third lamppost isn't) and if I ever find a Harley I am comfortable on I will buy it.


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