f650gs twin - africa

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by dajg, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. dajg

    dajg dajg

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    also posted on HUBB

    http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/which-bike/f650gs-twin-africa-50768

    ok so... short version - don't do it. long version - read on.

    the fan fills up with dirt & mud, sand, grit etc. keep it clean to stop the engine, general, and oil warning lights coming on. no big deal.

    the fuel pump failed at 51k. possibly due to running low, or out of fuel. if you want to preserve it - keep a 1/4 tank. not practical for africa where the range is already too short. carry a spare - i am using a pump from a hyundai accent. 60 bucks in khartoum.

    when you flip the bike, you break the mirrors and the front brake fluid container. get it up before you take in air bubbles. the windshield was ok but put pressure on the headlight and shattered the glass. this was the second light i broke - having the metal or plastic headlight guard won't stop this.

    when the bike goes down hard on the left side, you can shear the bottom of the two bolts that hold on the foot peg & side stand assembly. the side stand switch shatters - connect the red & white wires and the bike will run, but the side stand will have the bike leaning way over....

    the hepco and becker alloy bash plate is rubbish. yes - rubbish. dunno about the bmw alloy plate (the after market one) or the touratech one. in any case, put a teeshirt between the bash plate and the sump guard. this is why:

    on rocks, the clearance is too low. you get rocks between the bash plate and the sump guard. the steel bracket (stock) bends. of the four rubber mounts, the back two sheared off and the two countersunk bolts in the centre (of the 4 bolts) pulled through the alloy plate. i punched two holes through the sump - the size you could get 3-4 fingers through.

    the tee shirt should stop you getting rocks in between then when the plate fails you won't puncture the sump. in the bush.... 250km from oil... lets just say the bike wouldn't have liked it much. carrrying 2-3L oil wasn't practical when i already had 40L of fuel for the 1000km trip between gas stations.

    at one point after some gravel / dirt / corrugations the computer got upset. the horn blows intermittently, and the rear light (brake and tail light) failed giving a lamp warning.

    after i flipped the bike the 3 plastic mounts on the display computer were destroyed - it had swivelled nearly 180 degrees. the two mounts holding the sides of the windscreen pulled out. cable ties fixed one side, the fairing on the other side was wrecked.

    when you hit a rock with less than 2.5 bar in the front tyre...

    1. a 2mm stone lodged between the rim and the tyre and broke the bead. no big deal... slime pump compressor and a screwdriver to dig out the stone...

    2. bigger rock and the rim dents irreparably then you need a tube.

    bottom out the rear shock and the top bolt of the two holding the shock will bend. i replaced the top bolt with a non-hardened steel bolt which nearly sheared in half after 400km. lucky i kept the stock bolt.

    when i went down on one side, the handlebars were so strong when they hit the little steel 'stop' on the steering column broke so the bars go too far - this snapped off the right side indicator button against the fairing. also hit the windshield when turning the other way but i'd already ripped the windsheild mount from the fairing so no big deal...

    to sum up.... the bike doesn't have enough clearance. the cast alloy rims are rubbish. the rest is component failure (pump at after 50k) or result of damage off tarmac.

    i would NOT use this bike in africa again. and i am only halfway down the east coast which is much easier than the west....

    happy travels
    d
    #1
  2. replicant

    replicant consummate n00b

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    Gah, tell me about it... Why even build a bike if it can't survive multiple flips?!

    Seriously though, despite BMW's marketing angle, I think we all know these bikes are not built to withstand truly hardcore offroad conditions.

    Good luck on your travels. Look forward to the RR.
    #2
  3. upweekis

    upweekis Long timer

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    OK, which bike SHOULD you have ridden?:ear
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  4. dajg

    dajg dajg

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    umm... my ride buddy has a ktm640 adventure - great bike.

    for me, i reckon a dr650, drz400 or klr650.

    something crashworthy... something with ground clearance.
    #4
  5. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

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    Ground clearance can be a big help!

    And carburated bikes, as in your list above, do have less to break though they are becoming rare.

    Preparation is essential before a trip through the third world, every bike has weak points that can be addressed pre trip.

    Either way though, I have friends that own every bike you have listed above. Everyone of them breaks when you flip them.

    If it would make you feel better about how your bike has done I can post pictures of a 640 with a holed fuel tank from a drop, post pictures of 640 and klr rims destroyed, pictures of klr after a flip, sans windshield and bars bent down and all controls broken, DR650 with goose neck broken.

    I can't think of any pictures of the DRZ400 broken, but I have seen it.

    Can DRZ400's really make long trips?
    #5
  6. The Griz

    The Griz Long timer

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    Ground clearance:

    2007< KLR650 = 9.4"
    2008> KLR650 = 8"
    2009 DR650 = 10.4"
    2009> F650GS Twin = ~ 8"
    2009> F800GS = around ~ 10.5"
    2010 990 Adv = 10.28"


    BMW doesn't list ground clearance in the specs for their bikes, so the measurements listed above for the BMW's were reported by measurements from actual inmates found from searching other threads, myself included, averaged.

    Suspension travel:

    2007< KLR650 = 9.1" front / 9.1" rear
    2008> KLR650 = 7.3" front / 7.9" rear
    2010 DR650 = 10.2" front / 10.2" rear
    2009 F650GS = 6.7" front / 7.1" rear
    2009> F800GS = 9.0" front / 8.5" rear
    2010 990 Adv = 8.27" front / 8.27" rear

    IMO, I would not have taken the F650GS2 on the routes you've been riding. I would have taken a Suzuki DR650, KTM 690 Enduro R, Kawasaki 2007 or prior KLR650 (preferably military model:D), or Honda XR650L (would be my pick). With any bike (maybe except the KLR650), you're talking buying an enlarged fuel tank though.
    #6
  7. Simonf8gs

    Simonf8gs Adventurer

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    I'm not sure what the point of your post :scratch You want to share a mistake you've made about the wrong choice of a bike for a purpose?

    You knew it has cast alloy rims, why have you chose that for hardcore "offroad" ridding like you seem to do?

    Can you get on a bike with higher ground clearance and still touch the ground? If so, why didnt you get on that bike?

    hepco and becker bask plate are crap, thanks for letting us know, but it's got nothing to do with the bike itself right?

    You flipped/crashed the bike and are suprised things break? Have you got good and well designed crash bars? it could make a difference vs the crappy one?

    How much weight were you carrying? you said 40L of fuel? Plus camping gear, water, tools, etc ? Kitchen sink?



    I'm not sure I understand, so you need a hardcore dirtbike with super high ground clearance, indestructible excel spoke rims, a bike that can withstand multiples crashes and get you comfortably 1000k to your next fuel stop? :freaky Please let us know if you find that perfect bike that do it all without breaking, I'd also like to get one:ear No offense there i think you must be a very good dirt rider but got the wrong tool.
    #7
  8. dajg

    dajg dajg

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    simon;

    there was no choice of roads - i was on the best of 3. normally i prefer tarmac...

    i am not paying out the bike - i like the bike. it just isn't suited to this continent. actually i think the F800 would have done no better.

    the crash bars are great.

    if you look at the opening line of the post i have a link to the hubb where i posted under the "which bike forum" so yes - there is a reason i share my mistake.

    i was carrying about 40kg gear, add 20 for panniers, racks, guards etc. add 25 for fuel and water. not remotely close to the load limit for the bike.

    i sold my 4wd, car & house before i left on this trip. i already had this bike a year and didn't want to spend money changing it for something i was unfamiliar with. whoops.
    #8
  9. upweekis

    upweekis Long timer

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    I would whole heartedly agree with a DR650 :deal Good Stuff
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  10. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    There's a company called Compass Expeditions who use the F650 Twin as their rent-a-bike fleet for their (admittedly straightforward) off-road South American trips, because they praise its durability in the event of ham-fisted renters pranging it.

    I'm sorry to hear the F650 didn't live up to your expectations, because it is a genuinely-capable RTW bike. But if you're seriously cross-shopping it against DR650s, DRZ-400s and LC4 640s, you've chosen the wrong route for your bike or the wrong bike for your route.

    I can't help but suspect that if you did all this damage to your bike on the "easiest" of the roads you planned to ride, you're either riding it WAAAY to hard or you've failed to take into account the capabilities of your machine when you're picking where to take it.

    A Toyota Highlander won't go where a Jeep Wrangler can - this doesn't mean both vehicles, in their way, aren't excellent examples of an SUV.
    #10
  11. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

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    Great post and too true Raider.

    I might also add that Compas and other outfits prep their bikes for conditions expected and weak spots on their bikes.

    I'm willing to bet the 640 that made this trip had some spots addressed BEFORE this trip as ktm is no stranger to needing a few mods before being round the world reliable.

    This would be a great topic for a full web site. Hmm, maybe I will make one :)

    but at the least, disable all interlocks, carry some fuel treatment for fuel injected bikes to help with shit gas. Carry an extra filter and ideally an extra pump. Don't run a fuel injected bike empty, fuel is also coolant and lubricant for the pump. Stock wheels are not that tough, pick your line and speed well or upgrade wheels and idealy both.

    But regardless of the bike, break downs are pretty common on serious trips in the wild or 3rd world. Having the skill enginuity, parts and tools to fix such is part of the adventure.

    I have been the drafted into being the defacto ktm, klr, BMW and Suzuki mechanic on many trips cause they all break or they wouldn't all need technicians like me and I'd have to find a new line of work :(
    #11
  12. gpracer171

    gpracer171 Kodak Courage

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    You should have been on a dirt worthy bike. the F650GS is a street bike, hence the alloy, tubless tire wheels. I am sure if you tooka Vstrom or something else in that class you would likely have had similar problem. As I alway say, "you have to have the right tool for the job, dude"
    #12
  13. Mike.C

    Mike.C Stelvio Dreamer!

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    and there in lies the answer. An F658 is IMO a very good starting platform for an overland machine, but as with all bike designs are a compromise that will only become truly capable for the rigors that are likely to be encountered, after some thoughtful and well implemented preparation. Proper preparation prevents Pxxx Poor Performance!

    Dajg's comments on what failed for him and his observations are fantastic "on the ground" information for doing the required preparation, which being from "on the road" experience IMO carry some weight.

    The list of items on our F658's requiring modifiction or preparation before setting off on our journey is extensive and was added to as a direct result of his post - Thanks Dajg!
    #13
  14. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    Yes, that's a fair point. I hope we, collectively, don't come across as being critical of dajg's info, because he's out there riding it and I'm in my study with a hot tea.

    I take my hat off to the guy for an adventurous spirit, great attitude, and fine taste in motorcycles.

    Thanks, dajg, for your feedback which will help others help make their own preparation decisions in the future. I guess you got a little bit of a thorny response because, well, this is the 800 twin forum, and we all got a little defensive about our choice of ride.

    I hope the rest of your trip comes together without a drama. Take my advice above, though, and match the ability of your bike with the difficulty of your route and you'll enjoy your trip a bit more. I finally gave up trying to cross deserts on my Wee, and loved the bike so much more when I did. (Then I bought an 800GS, because I like crossing deserts more than I like Wee ownership.)
    #14
  15. Bucko

    Bucko In a parallel world

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    Much as you may want to believe that, it ain't what the sticky says:deal Parallel twins is bofus.
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  16. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    I don't know what that means...
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  17. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

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    Since no one asked, I guess I will. How much prep did you do to this bike?, what type of roads are we talking here? and what is your experience?

    Wether your load meets the weight capacity or not, 60kg, plus what sounds like an extra 5 gal of gas is a lot of weight down any kind of rough road.

    Personally I think the F650 could be a good base for an adventure touring bike, but improved suspension might have helped with some of your other issues.

    I saw your plea for help on the fuel pump issue and it brings up a question that at least worries me.

    As these bikes get smarter than me, with electronics that control everything (on a BMW) just what can be done to ensure you getting out of far a way places? or is this just something I need not worry about?

    BTW Daig, good find on the fuel pump. In the USA, it would have been what year, make and model. No you will have to go BMW.:deal
    #17
  18. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    We see this a lot on here; the truth is that, by and large, tech improvements have improved, not reduced, reliability. Sure, you can rebuild a carb by yourself if you have the skill, but truth be told, on an RTW trip you'd probably have to. I know my "rugged and reliable" DR650 needed two new fuel petcocks in its time (the DR650 uses an engine vacuum-driven petcock), whereas none of my fuel-injected bikes (or cars) have ever had a fuel-related failure.

    Fuel injectors, appropriately-designed, are far less user-serviceable but essentially maintenance-free. Of course, they do need to be designed to cope with poor fuel quality - so they need appropriate filtration, control software that can adapt to imperfect injection, and so on.

    My grandfather had a Scott from the 1920s that had a little hatch in the crankcase so you could replace the big-end bearings by the roadside. The lack of this feature on my 800 does not mean my big-end bearings are inherently less reliable than the Scott's; indeed, it suggests the opposite!

    Like any bike, you need to be comfortable with the maintenance actions you will need to perform on a big trip. On the new-gen F-bikes, that means you need a knowledge of how the computers work, what the error codes mean, and a GS-911 tool. On (say) an XR650, it means a knowledge of jetting, needle valves and checking the float height. The F-bikes also tend to be more "plug and play" than "repair on site" with their componentry, so your spares bucket is more likely to contain a DHL shipping account and a few bucks to drop at an internet cafe than it is to contain piston rings and spare points.

    Not impossible stuff, just different. Any big bike trip is about preparation. And dajg might not have loved his unintended delay in Khartoum, but I'm sure one day his grandkids will be bloody sick of hearing about the time gramps got stuck in Sudan and had every mechanic between Khartoum and Munich offering him suggestions on fixing a fuel pump!
    #18
  19. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

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    Fuel injectors, appropriately-designed, are far less user-serviceable but essentially maintenance-free. Of course, they do need to be designed to cope with poor fuel quality - so they need appropriate filtration, control software that can adapt to imperfect injection, and so on.

    Like any bike, you need to be comfortable with the maintenance actions you will need to perform on a big trip. On the new-gen F-bikes, that means you need a knowledge of how the computers work, what the error codes mean, and a GS-911 tool. On (say) an XR650, it means a knowledge of jetting, needle valves and checking the float height. The F-bikes also tend to be more "plug and play" than "repair on site" with their componentry, so your spares bucket is more likely to contain a DHL shipping account and a few bucks to drop at an internet cafe than it is to contain piston rings and spare points.


    I kind of knew the answer, I just like to read Joel Wiseman's responses. I agree with what you are saying, but being an old phart born waaay before the computer age it is pretty much greek to me.

    BMW clearly wants your repair business. The repair manuel is not much help except to replace parts and I would have to buy a laptop to use on the road anyway. :rofl

    I guess you can't stop progress.
    #19
  20. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks House Ape

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    Great post, Raider. I'm going to save it for the next time someone asks me why I chose to buy one of those "black box" motorcycles. :deal

    David
    #20