Ride Report: 2003 BMW F650CS Scarver - Motorcycle.com
Italy, 09 August 2002 --
Ever heard of David Robb? Well, now you have. This bespectacled chap stands behind all of the controversial two-wheeled stuff that's been coming out of Munich lately, prompting the established Beemer fraternity to wonder where it's all going to end. Before you rule him out as just another sophisticated European designer, the guy's an American, a bachelor of the famous Pasadena Art Center Automotive Design department. His team's latest creation, the F650CS, has left many a journo a bit perplexed to say the least. What the hell IS that? I mean, previous incarnations of the F650 family could still be somehow related to street-oriented dual-purpose mounts--"Funduros" in BMW's terms.
For instance, one look at the available color range for the CS (with mix'n match panels) will convince you that some fashion designer had a hand in the choice, surely not the sort of stuff that'll attract the hardcore black leather crowd. But that's entirely OK with BMW, the F650CS is clearly targeted at a non-traditional, new riding crowd. Snowboarding youngsters that haven't grown up on Triumphs, maybe girls who want their scoot to look as cool and up to date as the transparent faceplate they just fitted to their Nokia cell-phone. Rule yourself out if you are over 30 or have grease under your fingernails--and check out Robb's interview on the CS.
The cool and fashionable theme is apparent in endless details. Satin finished transparent plastic parts abound and are not limited just to little details. Major parts like the whole rear luggage rack, tank handles and front screen mounts remind you of current computer peripherals such as HP ScanJet printers. It's nice to see, though, that some serious thinking went also into making the life of those young urban professionals much easier and not just cooler looking. A multi purpose cargo area is carved into the fake gas tanks (real one is under the seat) and the mentioned handles allow for easy strapping of a backpack, helmet, optional hard case or even a dedicated stereo into said cavity.
It's hard not to acknowledge the audacity of BMW in taking such a big step into uncharted territory
Mechanically, it's a totally new model, with only the engine being carried over rom the GS. While leaving its off-road origins behind, the CS got rid of its spoke wheels, which are replaced by cast 17" items shod with street tires. A belt final drive replaces the old chain and is mated to a single-sided rear swing arm. The novel combination of these elements, especially the bold rear belt wheel, gives the rear end peculiar and powerful looks while requiring near zero maintenance or cleaning. The frame, although similar to the one on the GS, has larger section tubes which serve as the oil tank for the dry sump engine. Those strangely decorated panels on the flanks are there to prevent any fashionable baggy nylon trousers from melting on the hot frame tubes.
We could start here our own little debate about the F650CS's design but since I am almost sure that I don't belong to BMW's target market population, I'll keep my mouth almost shut on this one. Buck Rogers design or not, the CS turns out to be a pleasant road machine, even surprising in some aspects. After swinging a leg over it, I am rewarded with a really low and comfy seat and my hands fall naturally on the bars. A serious complaint with the 650GS was the proximity of the handlebars to the rider and this has been remedied in the CS with a lot more arm room. The black plastic lined "tank" cavity in front of me almost begs for some stuff to be stowed in. I haven't got hold of BMW's dedicated backpack so I gingerly throw in my regular courier bag, which seems happy to sit there even without strapping.
And now for an interesting trick, cover with your hand the body work of the CS in a side view picture and you'll notice that under the swoopy covers, all the basics of a good supermoto are right there. BMW might want us to believe that the CS is just a Yuppie tool, but with that 160-section rear tire, sticky Bridgestone Battlaxes and stiff frame, the F650CS excels in slow twisties. The CS loves being thrown with abandon into hairpins and other mountainous stuff, while the suspension keeps things in check remarkably well considering they were calibrated for quieter action. It's the kind of bike on which it's easy to search for your limits. Eventually the pegs drag, but that's only when you are already using the last few millimeters of untouched tread. OK, its no real competition for a KTM Supermoto; for that it'd have to weigh a good 80 pounds less and have stiffer suspension, but as an entertaining tool for the occasional canyon jaunt, the little CS is more than impressive. The ABS brakes fall in line with BMW's policy of keeping you from hurting yourself, but for sporting use I'd rather have the normal (and available) setup. The front is a bit tough to modulate, and I think I felt a little fork flex now and again, or was it my courier bag shifting?
Maybe times have changed? Judging from the success of past David Robb creations, such as the R1200C, maybe the man knows what he's doing. Just don't tell the upwardly mobile young professionals that besides being a contemporary design showcase, the CS is also a fun curvy road tool.
BMW F650CSPrice9090 with ABSEngine:652cc DOHC liquid-cooled four-stroke single; 4v/cyl.Bore x stroke: 100 x 83 mmFuel delivery: EFI Bosch-BMWTransmission: 5-speedClaimed power: 50 hp at 6.800 rpmClaimed torque: 46 ft-lbs at 5.500 rpm (6,2 kgm at 5.500 rpm)Tires: 120/70ZR17; 160/60ZR17Fuel Capacity: 4 US gallons (15 L)SuspensionTelescopic fork, 125 mm travelSingle sided swingarm with progressive single shock linkage,120 mm travelClaimed wet Weight: 417 lb. (189kg)
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