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Old 05-24-2012, 12:36 PM   #1
DW99 OP
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Joined: Jul 2011
Oddometer: 91
Help me decide, please f650gs or f800gs

Ok so I am sure this has been hashed over and over and i know the technical differences between the f800gs and the f650gs but i am hoping to hear from those that have owned both, or either one for some help.

My statistics:

-male
-38
-5'10", appx 31-32 inch inseam
-200lbs no gear
-New rider, this will actually be my first bike. I rode dirt bikes a bit as a kid but more and more I am interested in adventure touring and have fallen in love the BMW bikes. I have taken two skills courses and will soon take my exam.
- Live in southern alberta and have a plethora of gravel roads, back roads, secondary highways, jeep trails, dirt tracks etc to choose from
- will be wanting to venture out on to some challenging roads but most likely I will be looking at 60% highway/secondary highway paved roads, 30% gravel roads, 10% double track and light jeep trail riding

Now for my issues...i think both bikes look great...however I am more drawn to the stance and the look of the f800gs...just looks a bit tougher to me....especially the front fork. secondly i will most likely be going new and here is a stupid issue, but an issue none the less..I love the black and graphite metallic color scheme...unfortunately this is not available in the f650gs for the 2012 model year and I am not too crazy about the choices for this year to be honest. i know that sounds like a silly issue but it is an issue none the less. another one is the spokes vs. cast wheel...i know the size of the spoked wheel will make off road riding better and the opposite is true with the cast...but what about flats... are either wheel more prone to flats..and is it easier/quicker for a noob to plug a wheel on a cast rim rather than patch a tube on a spoked rim.

lastly limitations. if I go with the f650gs (seat height and price may be the two most contributing factors to that decision) and decide to take it say along the utah back country discovery route...is that bike going to be "in over its head" or will it function just fine and be ok...with the right tires and farkles of course.

thanks everyone for your help....please don't just tell me to get a ktm, klr, drz or whatever else you think...i am just curious about these two bikes and the experiences people may have had with them.
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Old 05-24-2012, 12:56 PM   #2
too old for dirt
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I am 200 lbs., 5'8" with a 29" inseam, and accustomed to being vertically challenged by dirt bikes. That being said, I have found that I never regretted buying the best of anything given financial considerations. I faced the same dilemma as you and I have never looked back after buying the f800. Had I chosen the 650, I would have always wondered if I should have bought the 800.

In regard to patching a tube vs tubeless, I finished a 186 mile ride last weekend only to find a nail in the tire prior to riding 60 miles home. It was not leaking and I remembered that I had added Slime to the tube. I rode it home at 65-70 mph for a hour and as of yesterday, it was still holding air. Tubeless would be better, but Slime helps to minimize the problems with tube tires.

The F800gs is a great bike and will give you all the performance off road, while at the same time be a pleasure to ride on road. That is my 2 cents worth and by the way, I have the graphite color combination that you are looking at.
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:17 PM   #3
GH41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DW99 View Post
Ok so I am sure this has been hashed over and over and i know the technical differences between the f800gs and the f650gs but i am hoping to hear from those that have owned both, or either one for some help.

My statistics:

-male
-38
-5'10", appx 31-32 inch inseam
-200lbs no gear
-New rider, this will actually be my first bike. I rode dirt bikes a bit as a kid but more and more I am interested in adventure touring and have fallen in love the BMW bikes. I have taken two skills courses and will soon take my exam.
- Live in southern alberta and have a plethora of gravel roads, back roads, secondary highways, jeep trails, dirt tracks etc to choose from
- will be wanting to venture out on to some challenging roads but most likely I will be looking at 60% highway/secondary highway paved roads, 30% gravel roads, 10% double track and light jeep trail riding

Now for my issues...i think both bikes look great...however I am more drawn to the stance and the look of the f800gs...just looks a bit tougher to me....especially the front fork. secondly i will most likely be going new and here is a stupid issue, but an issue none the less..I love the black and graphite metallic color scheme...unfortunately this is not available in the f650gs for the 2012 model year and I am not too crazy about the choices for this year to be honest. i know that sounds like a silly issue but it is an issue none the less. another one is the spokes vs. cast wheel...i know the size of the spoked wheel will make off road riding better and the opposite is true with the cast...but what about flats... are either wheel more prone to flats..and is it easier/quicker for a noob to plug a wheel on a cast rim rather than patch a tube on a spoked rim.

lastly limitations. if I go with the f650gs (seat height and price may be the two most contributing factors to that decision) and decide to take it say along the utah back country discovery route...is that bike going to be "in over its head" or will it function just fine and be ok...with the right tires and farkles of course.

thanks everyone for your help....please don't just tell me to get a ktm, klr, drz or whatever else you think...i am just curious about these two bikes and the experiences people may have had with them.
In my opinion you have answered your own question. You are a new rider looking to ride 90% on road. If this is truly the case you will be served well by the F650GS. I wasn't thrilled about the 650 colors until the black and yellow became available. The additional cost of the 800 didn't influence my decision. I ride probably 75% on paved roads and 25% dirt roads. I just didn't need the more dirt capable 800. The farckle cost will be the same for both!! At this point I don't think my 650 gives up much in the looks department to an 800. To each his own. GH
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:17 PM   #4
PatoM
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I had the same doubt before I got my 800GS. I've tried both, and there aren't big differences while riding on road, but when you reach really dirty roads you'll appreciate some differences, mainly on the front fork and spokes rims. (Slime works very well in tubes too)

But, if you're not planning to ride mostly on dirty tracks, go for the f650... then you can always "upgrade" to the f800

This es mine:

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Old 05-24-2012, 02:41 PM   #5
DW99 OP
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HMMm thank you for the replies they have been helpful. keep them coming. The numbers i have given will hopefully change over time with more time spent on the bike i will hopefully be pushing myself to go deeper and on gnarlier roads...but to start off it will be mostly pavement/gravel/dirt roads.

I think at this point it comes down to sitting on both again for a good long time and seeing if I am vastly more comfortable on the 650 rather than the 800
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:56 PM   #6
Gebirgekind
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Go big!

I agree with too old for dirt - go for the 800 and you'll never look back, but with the 650 you'll likely always think "what if." I'm 5'4" and 120 lbs., and still feel great on the 800. There are many more differences aside from what you listed (engine tuning, for one) that I feel make the 800 a much better choice for your type of riding.

As far as tubed vs. tubeless, there are many discussions here about the pros and cons of each. I think you can make a great argument for both - but ultimately I like the tubes on the f800 because you can still fix a flat if you bend a rim or really shear a tire, at least enough to get home. I definitely prefer the spoked wheels, too, even on just gravel roads.

The Utah Backcountry Discovery Route would probably be a stretch on the f650 without a lot of upgrades (of course there's work to do on the f800 suspension, too). Good luck with your choice!

p.s. I've got family up in Magrath outside of Lethbridge - you've got some beautiful country to ride!
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:05 PM   #7
grndzr0
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My wife rides the 650 twin, I have an 800. I have been riding her 650 for about a week while my bike was traveling down to the overland expo and back.

On road, it is a fun bike, it is more stable on the road, a bit more relaxed on the highway, and dives into the turns a bit easier.

Off road, even on gravel, I prefer the F8. The suspension is made to handle more stuff easier. That added to the larger front wheel of the F8 make it noticeably handle better off road. Also, I love the little extra zip of the F8. I ride pretty hard, and I notice the HP difference, it is only in the higher RPM, but once you are up there, it is noticeable. It is no slouch in the twistiest, still drags side/center stand and paniers with offroad tires with ease, but the 650 just does it a bit easier.

Hope that helps

Ryan
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:06 PM   #8
barbatus
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my 2 cents

I had similar issues - I actually did the 650,800 and 1200 to cover all choices - the 800 is a mid weight of the 3 choices. I dont wonder ever after owning the 800gs what the 1200 would be like. If I ever get close to realizing my dream of riding to South America then a 1200GSA would be welcomed. I was not crazy about a black bike honestly- no one sees you. What pushed me over the edge was the trophy (blue and white) and that did me in. It has some upgrades that I needed to do like skid plate and hand guards anyways.I'm 5'9 and 185 lbs. Go big. Good luck.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:10 PM   #9
DW99 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gebirgekind View Post
I agree with too old for dirt - go for the 800 and you'll never look back, but with the 650 you'll likely always think "what if." I'm 5'4" and 120 lbs., and still feel great on the 800. There are many more differences aside from what you listed (engine tuning, for one) that I feel make the 800 a much better choice for your type of riding.

As far as tubed vs. tubeless, there are many discussions here about the pros and cons of each. I think you can make a great argument for both - but ultimately I like the tubes on the f800 because you can still fix a flat if you bend a rim or really shear a tire, at least enough to get home. I definitely prefer the spoked wheels, too, even on just gravel roads.

The Utah Backcountry Discovery Route would probably be a stretch on the f650 without a lot of upgrades (of course there's work to do on the f800 suspension, too). Good luck with your choice!

p.s. I've got family up in Magrath outside of Lethbridge - you've got some beautiful country to ride!

hmmm guess where I live lol
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:13 PM   #10
DW99 OP
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Originally Posted by barbatus View Post
I had similar issues - I actually did the 650,800 and 1200 to cover all choices - the 800 is a mid weight of the 3 choices. I dont wonder ever after owning the 800gs what the 1200 would be like. If I ever get close to realizing my dream of riding to South America then a 1200GSA would be welcomed. I was not crazy about a black bike honestly- no one sees you. What pushed me over the edge was the trophy (blue and white) and that did me in. It has some upgrades that I needed to do like skid plate and hand guards anyways.I'm 5'9 and 185 lbs. Go big. Good luck.

I do like the trophy as well...if my dealer has that available that just might swing the vote lol.

All the farkles i would be doing to f8 i would also do to the f650....I just worry about height more than anything really...being a new rider I don't wanna feel too uncomfortable. but to be honest i haven't sat on either of them for a few months..so i may be just fine now that I have had some riding experience.

I just sat on my buddies husaberg fe390 and that is waaay too high for me lol. beautiful bike though
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:23 PM   #11
barbatus
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seat height

Quote:
Originally Posted by DW99 View Post
I do like the trophy as well...if my dealer has that available that just might swing the vote lol.

All the farkles i would be doing to f8 i would also do to the f650....I just worry about height more than anything really...being a new rider I don't wanna feel too uncomfortable. but to be honest i haven't sat on either of them for a few months..so i may be just fine now that I have had some riding experience.

I just sat on my buddies husaberg fe390 and that is waaay too high for me lol. beautiful bike though

I got the dealer to swap out the seat for the low seat option- bob's your uncle ! The last thing I wanted was to pull over at the lights like a bad ass in my new bike and lay it down cos I couldn't hold it up. I'm shorter than you and here is what I do: scoot a tad forward when stooping, use the rear brake to complete the stop and maintain right leg on peg covering the rear brake. (i'm in 1st gear here mind you, clutch in) I can scoot a tad to the left and get my entire foot very solidly on the ground. That way I don't look like a complete twat tippy toeing on both legs. Now if I decide to stop in neutral then I reverse the posture described so I can kick it into first gear and am holding the front brake so the bike doesn't roll. Others might have other techniques but this works perfectly and I dont even think about it anymore. To get on or off- I use the side stand if I've got bags on or I have developed a leg over technique which is not hard after watching smaller guys than me get on their GSA's and realize that I'm a pansy. Best of luck !
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:28 PM   #12
Gebirgekind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DW99 View Post
hmmm guess where I live lol
Ha! Small world, right?

That's a valid concern about the height...it seems like with your inseam you wouldn't have any issues getting a good portion of your feet down. You could also start with a low seat as you build confidence and upgrade to a better saddle later - that would be a lot less expensive an upgrade than from a f650 to a f800.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:35 PM   #13
DW99 OP
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agreed, I am fairly certain that if i do go with the f800gs it will be with the low seat option...which as you mentioned can always be changed later one etc.

who is your family up here?
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:37 PM   #14
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The low seat is more comfortable than the standard. Also, is worth more on the used market.

Once you get either one you will love ADV part of riding these bikes. There are a few accounts on the site of guys getting the F658 and using the savings to get Woody's Wheels, real suspension, a seat rework, etc...

I have a F800GS and love it. That said, I have 36" inseam. Raised the seat when sent to XPC Racing.

Visit your neighbouring MOD site for all the best accessories.

Enjoy your ride - welcome to the ADV.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:43 PM   #15
Gebirgekind
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Sending pm

There's a chance I'll be riding the Great Divide Route up that way to Banff this summer if you're up for some adventure then!
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