We ride BMW’s baby GS that’s all raring to attack Indian roads
BMW is readying the F650 GS from its ever popular adventure family for launch in India. The name could lead you to think back to the mid-nineties, when another BMW, the big-single engine powered Funduro, launched here courtesy the Hero group. The F650 GS is however a very different animal as compared to the Funduro, that was a bike ahead of its time. Unlike the Funduro’s big-single, Rotax developed engine, the GS’s trellis frame holds a more potent, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, 798cc parallel twin motor that is shared with the 85bhp F800GS. Power for the F650 GS is although capped at a milder 71bhp.
At idle the F650 GS’s fuel-injected BMW powerplant settles into a smooth rhythm with a muted, bass rich exhaust beat. The saddle of this near 200kg motorcycle is considerably high, enough to make the bike feel a shade daunting at first. But get it off the stand and going, and you find yourself towering above everything else on the road in a really commanding position. This confidence inspiring seating position will work its charm on you fairly quickly, as the light action, cable operated clutch makes it easy for a rider to tap deep into the parallel-twin engine’s smooth and uncomplicated performance.
Our brief test ride proves the GS is a capable work horse, ever willing to trot slowly without kicking up a fuss. The BMW is flexible enough to allow you to pull smoothly forward from a patient 30kph in third gear without any stuttering or fuss. Start using your right wrist with enthusiasm however, and the GS transforms into a stallion, breaking into a thundering gallop in a flash. 71bhp of creamy smooth power and a healthy 7.6kgm of torque prove really rewarding to use, ample whether in the city or gunning the F650 GS out on the highway.
The versatile motorcycle’s wide handlebar and comfy upright riding position makes it easy to ride and maneuver around on our crowded roads. It comes as no surprise the GS’ telescopic front suspension and monoshock rear setup are capable of thundering over the worst surfaces with complete authority. It feels as though the F650 GS barely registers any of India’s commonly found lumpy tarmac or potholes, making this a truly ideal motorcycle for daily use in our demanding conditions. Ride quality remains remarkably flat always, with as much comfort on offer as possible despite such varying road conditions. Another praiseworthy asset to the F650 GS is it maintains all this solid composure despite when riding with a full size adult as pillion.
While BMW’s off-road enthusiasts may bemoan a conventional chain being used for final drive instead of a shaft, and alloy wheels (17 inch front and 19 inch rear wrapped with capable, German Metzeler rubber) the GS is more than capable of handling any terrain you dare to ride over. The ABS brakes felt reassuring, this important safety feature certain to reduce the stress of riding this new motorcycle.
The baby GS is a well rounded motorcycle that can be ridden daily, and everywhere, provided the standard seat height of 820mm doesn’t scare you away. The F650 GS goes on sale in May 2012, backed by the proven after sales and service care provided by Navnit Motor’s, BMW Motorrad’s Mumbai based importer. The ABS equipped F650GS is expected to launch at an attractive Rs 8-10.5 lakh on-road price in Pune.