All Tests – The false binoculars –

The false twins

All Tests - The false binoculars -

With its new F650GS and F800GS, visually quite close and both cubing 798 cc but offering a rather different behavior, BMW is aiming for the same objective: the incentive to travel … Successful bet? Response on the roads and paths of Corsica.

Two real sisters, one big and one little! The latest BMWs are no exception to the brand’s rule: classy and well-designed with their sharp angles, their neat finish and a nice pencil stroke from the Bavarian manufacturer. These harmonious lines are also reminiscent of those of the R1200GS, the eldest of the last two small ones..

"False twins, that’s exactly it !"emphasizes Patrick Lucas, deputy director of communications BMW Motorrad France."The R1200GS is the best-selling motorcycle in our range", he specifies:"it is a highly regarded model in its class which inspired the design of the 650 and 800. Efforts have been made to create these lightweight and versatile versions that are just as travel-friendly as the 1200. The 650 can even be considered a more feminine model, lower, lighter and more manoeuvrable … these two machines are smaller R1200 GS".

Technical side

First surprise when browsing the technical sheets: the exact displacement of the two machines is identical: 798 cc! Typo ? Not at all, the engines of the two machines are indeed of equal displacement. It is in fact a variation of the parallel twin which equips the F800S and ST (read).

As we indicated during their presentation at the Milan Motor Show (read), the main difference with the road mill is in the inclination of the cylinders of the trails: no longer at 30 degrees forward, but only at 8 , 3 degrees. The names 650 and 800 are therefore a pure marketing invention, supposed to differentiate more clearly the "big" from the "small"….

The trails are also different from the road by their transmission: in fact, the belt of the F 800 S and ST gives way to a chain. A process which "eliminates the transmission jerks reproached on the S and ST models", specifies Patrick Lucas.

The other developments (fixing points for an engine guard, reinforcements at the level of the frame fixings at the front right, modified clutch cover freeing up more space at the footrest for a new oil dipstick, modified clutch, water pump housing and hose connections adapted to the new engine mounting position …) are more discreet. Finally, all in all, the engine lost 1 kg compared to that driving the S and ST.

At weighing, the 650 is announced at 199 kg empty and all full and the 800 at 207 kg.

Going into more details, one will note among the differences with the engine of the S and ST a slight modification of the camshafts giving more torque and ease of control..

The injection is controlled by a BMS-KP electronic management with two 46 mm diameter butterflies: "a suitable engine management regulates the injection flow by means of the injection duration and by the pressure supplied by the fuel pump according to the power requested. A fuel flow regulation principle ensuring optimal mixing and reducing energy consumption"says BMW.

The F650GS, aimed more at novice riders, is less powerful than the 800: "it’s a deflated 800"Sums up Patrick Lucas. Displaying 71 hp (against 85 for the 800), it can be clamped in 34 hp. As for its maximum torque, it is lower in speed than that of the 800 (75 Nm at 4500 rpm against 83 Nm at 5750 rpm on the 800).

At the cycle part, a trellis frame in steel tube equips the two machines. Consisting of two sets, the rear part supports the fuel tank with a capacity of 16 liters, which is thus located under the saddle..

The telescopic fork is inverted and 45 mm on the 800 with a travel of 230 mm, and classic 43 mm for the 650 (travel 180 mm).

Both models have a double aluminum swingarm. An articulated combination with shock absorber slaved to the travel (215 mm) equips the 800, and a conventional gas shock absorber with 170 mm of travel is proposed on the 650. Both are adjustable in preload and rebound..

The wheels are also different: sticks on the 650, 19 inches at the front and 17 at the rear, fitted with 110 / 80-19 and 140 / 80-17 tires, while the 800 is shod in 90 / 90-21 front and 150 / 70-17 rear on wire wheels.

As for braking, there is a 300 mm double floating disc at the front mounted with double piston floating calipers on the 800, while the 650 will be satisfied with a single disc of the same diameter. At the rear, both bikes are fitted with a single 265mm disc pinched by a single piston floating caliper.

Finally, the ABS – optional on both models for 710 euros – can be disconnected at the touch of a button: useful for the "land" parts of a trip !

Look side

The 650 is "wiser" than the 800: it is much lower, but has the same family air of "rally raid", accentuated by the bare headlight unit overhung by a nose screen (low on the 650 with a more road vocation) , high on the 800 to more off-road destination).

Identical on both bikes, the single cylindrical silencer is a bit simplistic and denotes the very tapered rear part of the bike…

In terms of equipment, the inverted fork with large travel of the 800 confirms its trend "track and all roads": associated with the 21-inch wheel, it gives the machine a saddle height and more ground clearance than on the 650, which translates into a more "leggy" appearance.

In the options section (many for both models), a very complete on-board computer (150 euros) (indication of the gear engaged, trips masters, remaining autonomy, etc.) equips the dashboard of the machines tested and is very convenient.

Low saddles (free option) are also offered on these machines while a lowering kit exists for the 650, which allows it to really appeal to everyone. !

Although shaped the same, the fairings are not designed exactly the same on the small and the large. As for the radiator, it is wider on the 800.

In terms of colors, the metallic azure blue of our F650GS test suits it and accentuates its "road" side. It is also available in Iceberg Silver and Flame Red. The yellow and black of the 800 is also very prominent, giving it a tad "racing" air. But it also exists in a more discreet mat gray.

In the saddle !

At the controls of the F650GS, you immediately feel on an easy bike. The saddle height is more than modest (our test model is equipped with a low saddle reducing the height from 820 to 790 mm, but there is still a way to reduce this value with the combined spring / shock absorber lowering kit shorter, lowering the saddle to 765 mm).

The handlebars seem a bit high (the other side of the coin of a low saddle!), But the position is natural. The controls are welcoming and flexible and the dashboard (equipped with the on-board computer, remember) is very complete.

Contact, it’s running! The noise is muffled and silent. The modest purr fits the beast’s "650" appellation. From the first turns of the wheels, we are initially a little surprised by the extension of the first report. But the ease felt from the first seconds in the saddle is confirmed: the machine is super manoeuvrable and lively, a real toy !

In addition, the bike is very torquey and remarkably flexible for its "so-called displacement". The parallel twin is not reluctant to pick up from very low: at 40 km / h in 5th gear (ie at 2000 rpm), it starts again without batting an eyelid! What to do for a cushy ride on small winding roads, without tormenting the selector…

The acceleration is honest and regular: a guarantee of confidence when overtaking! As for the braking, it is not particularly virulent: the control is comfortable and progressive, but the whole thing lacks a bit of bite … In an emergency, you can "crash" without hesitation: the ABS fills its function perfectly and manages the slowing down brilliantly, even with poor grip.

The ease of driving of the F650GS quickly makes you want to "put" a little more … and that’s good because the machine allows it! Stability, precision and road holding: all the ingredients are there to have fun !

True all-rounder, the "little" behemoth can even afford to escape off the roads: its light handling is welcome on unpaved tracks. The amplitude of the off-road play is just limited by a type of tire poorly suited to off-road, and low-travel suspensions. But the motor offers a wide range of fantasies thanks to its phenomenal torque !

The F800GS, more designed for this type of exercise, allows you to push the limits of pleasure even further! The noise of the engine, as quiet as on the 650, has all the same on the 800 a noticeably more hoarse sound. The 14 hp difference is there and it is easier to understand where these names come from, which could seem arbitrary between "650" and "800"…

On a large rolling track, the F800GS can afford to drive at high speeds without being destabilized. The rigidity of the inverted fork allows more lively changes of trajectory and its large travel are more able to withstand unevenness.

On the road, the "big" will wait for the small departmental stoned to express itself serenely … The F800GS can also be equipped with a low saddle but it does not have a lowering kit (it displays 880 mm at the saddle and 850 mm with low saddle).

The 800 needs to be handled in a more manly way than the 650 and lets appear, on main roads, a certain inertia when changing angles and braking when entering a curve. Braking which turns out to be a little more "beefy" than on the 650, because of the double front disc.

When accelerating, the F800GS is again the "big" sister of the 650: it grows hairier, while being as regular as the small one! The maximum torque is at a higher notch operating speed, but nothing annoying: the whole is very torquey and super pleasant !

"The incentive to travel", suggested BMW: objective achieved! The two new machines really make you want to get away from it all, solo or in duo: the passenger’s position is very comfortable, his legs are normally folded for a natural position on the footrests, the seat is raised in relation to the pilot and the grab handles fall clearly under the hands thanks to a slightly back position.

On the road or on the tracks, the F650 or 800GS – announced respectively at 8,200 and 9,950 euros – are really in their element and should allow you to push the plug a little further !

Marcus HIMSELF – Photos Alberto MARTINEZ

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