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Old 07-15-2009, 10:08 PM   #1
Compass Exp
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Default BMW 650gs twin - Riding in South America

THE NEW BMW F 650 GS TWIN IN PATAGONIA
Brendan Barbetti, Compass Expeditions
motorcycle ,tours,South America*-*compassexpeditions.com

My first concerns with the use of the new F 650’s for our expeditions was that they just didn’t look robust enough for some of the terrain we cover out on the road, not that the rides are technical its just that there is rough gravel in places and countless miles between BMW servicing centres. My first encounter with the new look F 650 GS was at a motorcycle exhibition, I had a sit on the bike but was not able to ride it at the time.
Once Compass Expeditions decided to go with the new twins for a number of reasons, I was there to pick up the first bike, so I thought I would take it through it’s paces before shipping it off to South America. That is where the first of my surprises and quick change of mind begin. Riding it through the busy streets of Melbourne heading out of the city, the bike handled very well in the slow congested traffic and maneuvered lightly and accelerated rapidly when the chance arrived to scoot past a few cars, great! When I finally hit the highway and some more winding open country roads the bike really came into its own, responsive in the corners with easy handling, good smooth braking and excellent performance even with the added weight of my girlfriend on the back, I barely knew she was there. The bike passed the first test, however before sending them off to Chile we bought a number of accessories to beef the bikes up for the rigors of the expeditions to come. We purchased bark busters, radiator and headlight protectors and a sturdy bash plate to protect that exposed oil filter and cooler. The bikes now looked quite a bit more the robust touring type and I felt a little more at ease.

The second test; Patagonia. On the first tour of the season, non of our passengers had ridden the new model before, but the first morning as they strolled out to the carpark their faces lit up as they saw the sparkling new machines lined up in the stunning summer sunshine. The passengers were certainly not disappointed as all of them rated the bikes highly, with 2 Ex-passengers actually purchasing new F 650 GS twins since returning to their home countries.

One particular day on a Patagonian tour is one which I thought would be a good test for the 650’s, that is the journey from Esquel in Argentina to Perito Moreno, a total distance of 590 kms. The first 460 kms are on reasonable bitumen with a few potholes and only one small section of about 10 kms of roadworks, this ride day heads into quite a remote region of the country. At the end of the bitumen we gathered our energy by having a coffee, snacks and a bit of a rest in the dry, windy town of Rio Mayo on the Patagonian Steppe. Once we left here it was about another 130 kms of quite challenging riding on gravel roads, and in my experience, it is always accompanied by strong winds. To make the ride a little more challenging they are currently doing a lot of roadworks on this section thus making the many rough detour tracks very draining.
But the bikes handled this ride very well, given their responsiveness and relative lightness the riders are much less tired and more at ease on the challenging roads, seats are easier on the backside and the riding position is much more comfortable than riding the older, cramped single cylinder GS 650’s.

I recognize that the older models are good robust bikes, but in comparison to the new 650 twins they are slow and heavy and it seems to me as the changes are so huge that there has been 10 years between the 2 models instead of 1. I would liken the change from the old bike to the new, like going from driving a tractor to a car.

So yes, once beefed up a little in the robust department two thumbs up from me for the new BMW F 650 GS twin, survived Patagonia should be adaptable to anywhere.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:07 AM   #2
Kenneth_Moore
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Interesting write-up. It will be even more interesting to see how they hold up in commercial duty over time. You should write a follow-up in a year.

BTW: how did you come to buy motorcycles intended for Chile in Australia? I realize both places are in the Southern Hemisphere, but that's the only connection I can make!
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:46 PM   #3
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yes it will be interesting Kenneth. We have 7 of the 650 Gs Twins there.
We carry alot of spares with us as bmw dealerships are few and far between.
We bought the bikes in Australia as Compass Expeditions is based in Vicotoria, Australia, thats one reason. the other big one is that with the ownership papers also show Australia, so it makes border crossings that much easier. will certainly keep you all posted how they preform. to date clients have been very happy, some even returning home to buy one for themselves.
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