Driving report BMW F 650 rally


Driving report BMW F 650 rally


Last year the BMW team returned defeated from the Paris-Dakar rally. In the current edition, Bayern landed the overall victory. Better technology, new team or just more luck? MOTORRAD drove Richard Sainct’s winning machine.

Yeah, that’s exactly how she wants to be driven. Nice while standing, the slightly bent knees pressed into the tank recess, the upper body slightly bent forward and – Gaaas. Exactly, because only then will the BMW do what you want. Exactly as she did for the first three weeks of January. When she simply left the assembled rally celebrities of this world behind on the 9022 kilometer route from Granada to Dakar. Overall victory by Richard for Richard. By Richard Sainct, the 28-year-old enduro and rally professional from the south of France, for Richard Schalber, the team principal and builder of the BMW F 650 rally.

But Richard, the scarf, was also the one who had to listen to the allegations after the debacle of last year, when at the Dakar premiere of BMW on the single-cylinder motorcycle, three out of four factory riders were canceled, as did number four, the French Jean Brucy, only chugged to the finish in 35th place. But Richard, again the Schalber, remained stubborn and improved what he still thought was good where everything was created: together with four technicians in his workshop in Hindelang in the Allgau.

The bridge frame, which was specially designed for rally use a year ago (the series F 650 is satisfied with a single-loop frame) and the 675 cc four-valve single from Rotax, revised by the renowned single-cylinder tuner Pami, remained untouched. He prescribed the pound diet for the rest of the desert runner. The complete exhaust system, the footrests, the brackets for the two tank halves, the engine mount, almost all screws and the side stand were made by the Italian titanium specialist Poggipolini from the feather-light, but sinfully expensive material. Since then, the F 650 has weighed ten kilograms less – and yet still 168 kilograms. Without fuel, mind you. Its housing in particular gave the design team a headache from the start. With a total of 47 liters of tank volume, the desert ship bunkers an additional 37 kilograms before its rally day’s work. And so far they have sloshed in the two front tank halves screwed to the outside of the frame and in the rear frame designed as a monocoque. Far outside and high up, especially where no rally driver wants additional weight. No wonder that the Schalber troop extended the two front tanks, each with a capacity of 13.5 liters, by a few centimeters and threw the previous concept completely over the back. Instead of the monocoque, the Allgau constructed a conventional rear frame made of titanium tubing, on which each side – as far down as possible – hugs ten-liter rear tanks.

It can’t hurt that there are barely ten liters in the four giant barrels for our joyride on the F 650. They are enough and ultimately make almost 180 kilograms of ready-to-drive mass. Oh yes, gas said Richard Sainct. Always just gas. Lean forward and accelerate. I do in our bonsai Sahara in the south of France. If only it were that easy. Like starting, for example. Kickstarter? Nothing. A push of the button was enough and the single started shooting. Unmistakable. Because in racing, saving weight must not stop with damper wool.

It started with little more than idle speed. No swallowing, no jerking. Already good. Especially the pressure. 75 PS push forward properly. And so clean. No sudden awakening from mid-revs, no performance drop, just always strong, well-controlled thrust – the rev limiter warned to upshift at 8500 rpm at the latest. It is just as well when the rear wheel creates a little space at the top of the dune. Doesn’t matter, just shift up. It does require a strong gearshift under load, but when it is in, the next higher gear, then it is also right in it.

After a short downhill section, there is a 90-degree curve. Sit down, put your legs out, step on the gas shortly before the middle of the curve, that’s what the Moto Crosser in me speaks – and is about to learn better. The front wheel unwillingly pushes stately mountains of sand in front of it. To change direction, all you have to do is hopscotch with the support leg. Embarrassing, Mr. Wannabe-Sainct. How was that Richard? Stand, lean forward, accelerate and steer with the drifting rear wheel. All right, next try. Both feet on the rests, the upper body forward, gas – it works. With a lot of effort, but it works. The rear wheel throws up meter-high sand fountains, the engine cheers in the highest speed regions, we draw a sparkling clean curve radius. Knew how.

The F 650 picks up speed. The faster you go, the harder the sand seems to get. A few bumps disturb less the chassis than the instinct of self-preservation. Like a guillotine, the sharp-edged cockpit tower made of road book holder, trip master and GPS system hacks at my head when the fork rebounds. Richard later says nothing has ever happened.

Speaking of fork. After using conventional Showa forks last year, BMW desert riders are now using stiffer upside-down forks from White Power. Monsieur Sainct likes it, me too. Because the terrain has turned into bumpy gravel, the holes of which the wonderfully appealing fork simply ignores. At the rear, a little more tolerance is called for. Whether at full speed or at a moderate speed, the progressively working damper from White Power, which is attached without deflection, shows sporty toughness. He should too. Because with full tanks and at top speed – the F 650 manages almost 180 kilometers per hour on hard terrain – the damper still has to guarantee spring travel reserves.

A good hundred are enough for me to have to brake properly in front of a lateral groove. When it came to the front brake, Richard insisted on a combination of Nissin brake armature, steel braided hose and Brembo brake caliper. Understandable with the result. One finger on the brake lever is enough to easily bring the car to a standstill.

A.On the way back, one more attempt to circle tight curves while sitting, at least on gravel. Again only works moderately. The front wheel keeps pushing outwards. Stand up, upper body forward, dosed gas, around the corner, works. You have to be a rally driver.

Interview Richard Schalber (Team Principal) – Ten semi-factory machines are planned

Team boss Richard Schalber on BMW’s plans for rallying

? It is probably superfluous to ask whether you and your BMW team were under great pressure to succeed after the debacle of last year, as you can imagine. However, BMW’s continued involvement in the rally did not depend on an overall victory for better or worse. We just had to prove that our concept was victorious. Victories on individual stages would have been enough for that.? What’s next? From a sporting point of view, we’re planning to compete in the Tunisia Rally in April, then the Dubai Rally in November and then of course the Dakar again. From a technical point of view, we intend to produce a small series of our rally machines. In addition to our official motorcycles, around ten semi-factory machines are to be built that are to be sold or rented to customer teams. Rumors circulate again and again that BMW wants to compete with the company’s trademark, the two-cylinder boxer engine. Is there any truth in this? There is actually deliberation going on. From a marketing perspective, this would certainly also make sense. Against this, however, is the fact that the route of the Dakar is now tailored to the weaker, but lighter and more manageable single-cylinder machines. Our drivers were very clear in favor of the single cylinder. In any case, my company has not yet received an order from BMW to develop a two-cylinder project. ? Nevertheless, with BMW and KTM as the only two officially committed manufacturers, rallying could well need a little more interest from the industry. That’s right, but we can’t change that. At this year’s Dakar, voices were loud that Honda and Yamaha wanted to compete with single-cylinder machines next year.

Backing – service in the BMW works team

In no other motorcycle sport does a rider’s success depend to the same extent on perfect work in the background as in rallying. In order to have personnel and material available at the right place at the right time, an astonishing effort has to be made. What does the BMW team like carting through the desert? 1 truck with three people (generator, welding machine, around 140 spare wheels with tires, spare motors) May start about three hours after the motorcycles. 1 Unimog with two people (tents, clothing, spare parts) May start about two hours after the motorcycles. 2 Land Rover with two mechanics each (spare parts, tools). May start about an hour after the motorcycles , Press officer, masseur, spare parts logistics specialist, four mechanics)

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