F650GS twin versus F800GS Adventure - upgrade from V-Strom DL650

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by vulupe, Jun 28, 2019.

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F650GS twin or F800GSA as an adventure bike?

  1. F650GS twin

  2. F800GSA

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  1. vulupe

    vulupe Adventurer

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    Hi all,
    I'm writing this as a sanity check, before I take the plunge (yet again). So, the current status:
    - I have a heavily farckled V-Strom DL650 2010, ABS, on which I did over 50K miles, mostly pavement
    - recently I have started to look for the dirt roads, fire trails, kind of easy stuff but not always
    - last year trip took me through the 'Stans and Mongolia (20K miles in 1 tour)
    - next trip will be yet again in South-East Asia (later years South America, than hopefully Africa), mostly paved roads but I expect more and more dirt riding as well (washboards, corrugations, washed dirt roads, probably muddy roads as well, deep gravel, river crossings, etc.) but not single trails or too technical stuff (if it can be avoided)
    - riding solo, with lots of luggage (~50Kg in total), rider's weight around 80Kg
    - riding partner has a F700GS
    - I'm based in Europe
    - I have test ridden both F700GS and F800GS (2014) (shortly and only on-pavement) and I liked better the feeling of the F800GS
    - most important aspects are: reliability and ruggedness for the long haul
    - I don't like singles

    Reasons to change the V-Strom:
    - bike is getting close to 65K miles, getting harder to sell (and I want a change)
    - I want a lighter bike, lower CoG, more trust inspiring on rough sections
    - I want a bit more torque/power
    - I want some more ground clearance

    I'm looking specifically at the F650GS SE from 2012 (with ABS) and 800GSA from around 2014. Both, of course, second had, ideally no more than 20K miles.

    So far, I prefer the F650GS for the following reasons:
    - lighter
    - lower compression, so I can use lower octane gas
    - tubeless
    - cheaper
    - lower seat height (~30" inseam)
    - regular forks, more reliable for bad, dusty roads (and easier to service)
    - I can install Ricor Intiminators (which I have on the V-Strom and love them)

    So far I prefer the F800GSA for the following reasons:
    - higher ground clearance
    - almost a complete adventure bike, not too many upgrades required
    - better suited for off-road sections
    - more comfortable
    - better range due to the larger tank

    Overall my take is that the F650GS will be, in the end, roughly 15Kg lighter and 2.000USD cheaper than the F800GSA (carrying the same amount of fuel and farkles). And I'll probably miss the higher ground clearance the most.

    For both of the mentioned bikes the suspension will be changed, at least all the springs, hopefully the entire shock will be upgraded. To be honest, I think a more suited bike will be Yamaha T700, but it's not yet available and I don't like the idea to beta-test a bike. That's the plan for the next bike :D.

    So, any suggestions? Are my assumptions wrong? Do you have any better options?
    Thanks a lot for your help.
    #1
  2. zero war

    zero war Zee

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    I preferred my 2010 F650gs to my present 2015 BMW F700gs. I had the hyperpro suspension on both.

    The f800gsa is way too tall for me.
    #2
  3. vulupe

    vulupe Adventurer

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    How tall are you? What inseam? What seat type do you have on the F700? Thanks :).
    #3
  4. skysailor

    skysailor Rat Rider Supporter

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    7731C9A7-3261-482E-AF49-CC3B378238F9.jpeg I have a 2012 F650GS. Absolutely love the thing. See no reason for a change. Tried on the 800. Way to tall. I’m 5’6” with a 30” inseam.
    The 650 uses regular fuel
    Single front brake.
    Lower seat
    Same engine....as I understand it different fuel mapping.
    I don’t consider it a serious single track/off road machine but she tracks well on gravel.
    #4
    Bors likes this.
  5. ROMAD

    ROMAD Been here awhile

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    BMW makes a "Normal Octane" fuel map for the F800GS. My understanding is it takes 2hp off the top end above 7k and a little less aggressive ignition advance but you can run regular octane fuel.
    #5
  6. todd900ss

    todd900ss Been here awhile

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    If the 800gsa isn’t to tall for you that would be my pick.
    The GSA also carries more fuel, at least here in the US it does.
    Both are great bikes, hard to go wrong.
    #6
  7. shuswap1

    shuswap1 Long timer

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    I have a F700GS, bought because I needed a road bike, the wife had the same model and a good deal presented itself. I'd say the suspension is useless for even moderately quick off-road, but does pretty well on the street. I've run mine on regular gas, but the engine rattles pretty bad exiting corners with too much throttle, otherwise this was OK. The fuel economy is almost unbelievable with this engine....if you are gentle with the throttle and keep the speed low. It'll suck fuel heavily if you ride fast, so at least there is a choice.
    The F7 doesn't have a lot of clearance but if you go slow enough it can be enough to get by the rougher stuff, drop offs, etc. You won't find much clearance on any of these bikes if they are acceptable to shorter riders.
    The F7 does a respectable job with power delivery, feels stronger than it is, which I enjoy right up to the point I'm looking for more passing power and none exists. I've been caught by this a couple of times while making a long high speed pass.

    All things considered, you mention the T7 as you 'ideal' bike and we only get to ride so long, before time catches up. It's great to weigh the options and assess the pros and cons...... but really, get the bike that makes you smile, amigo.
    #7
  8. vulupe

    vulupe Adventurer

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    Yeah, I know. But that bike is currently unavailable and also out of my current budget (as is the KTM 790A). So I'm looking for something that will fill in over the next 2-3 years, until the price gets low on the second-hand market. Or that will prove as more than a good-enough solution ;).
    PS - even T700 has a few points that I do not like (yeah, I know I'm picky), similar to the F800GS:
    - up-side down fork, though better performance, more exposed and more prone to leaks on the long run
    - tubed tires
    - tall seat
    Actually T700 is very similar to F800GS, only japanese and a bit lighter. And looks a lot better :D.

    LE - according to this picture, the F650GS twin does not do that bad off-road (the picture is taken while travelling with a F650GS twin and a F700GS): https://www.horizonsunlimited.com/h...twin-versus-f800gs-adventure-98893#post601930
    #8
  9. shuswap1

    shuswap1 Long timer

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    The wife and I have ridden tracks on our F700s at least as bad as the one you mentioned in the above thread without bottoming, albeit with a single rider and lighter than RTW loads. The F7 will not do well, at speed, over this terrain...no matter what you do to the suspension. The F650GS and F700 GS are not that different, suggest you find one local to you that is in great shape and you won't likely be too disappointed
    #9
  10. mostro900

    mostro900 Adventurer

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    I have an 08 F650GS and bought it new as the F800gs was not available. I put stiffer suspension on the rear to give it more height and installed intimidators(sp?) in the forks. I’ve got Pirelli scorpion rally tyres and it’s a blast off-road. I do wish for a bit more power at times but not enough that I’m looking to change anytime soon.
    Definitely consider the f650gs as you’ve mentioned as it’s a capable machine.
    #10
  11. vulupe

    vulupe Adventurer

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    Have you also changed the fork springs? Have you shortened the fork spacers for the Intiminators valves or just let them at the standard length and thus increased the spring pre-load?
    Thanks a lot.

    PS - I have found this rear shock: https://www.wunderlich.de/shop/en/wunderlich/suspension/view/sku/640-0874-00/ that provides an extra raise of 2cm, which sounds just about perfect. Can be coupled with progressive springs: https://www.wunderlich.de/shop/en/wunderlich/suspension/view/sku/600-0170-03/ and the Intiminators for a pretty good setup for RTW requirements: rough, not necessarily technical conditions. Not yet clear how can I match the 2cm raise on the back to the front, as I'd like to keep the same frame geometry. Still some research to do...
    #11
  12. Woody2627

    Woody2627 Grey Wobbler

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    I don't know about the 15kg weight difference, but I'll take your word for it. It seems to me you have summed up the pros of both bikes quite well, you now have to decide how to weight those pros, and only you can do that. If seat height wasn't an issue I would go the 800 because of the wire wheels and bigger tank, but as a confirmed shortarse I went for the 650, just like the one above. I have ridden one from Ushuaia to Lima as well as lots of gravel around Oz and didn't have any problem.
    #12
  13. mostro900

    mostro900 Adventurer

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    I’m fairly confident that I also upgraded the springs, but I can’t find the details of what I went with. Other than that, I didn’t shorten the spacers.
    For my rear shock, to keep things simple and cheap, all I did was get a 2nd hand F800gs shock. It works OK, but I think you’ll be aware that it’s not a great shock. The first one I had died, but the 2nd one has lasted a few years now.
    I used to take my son(12yrs old at the time) on the back with all our camping gear and it was fine. Just to give you an idea of loading it up.
    #13
  14. vulupe

    vulupe Adventurer

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    Sounds good. So a 3cm increase on the rear (as the F800GS shock is longer than F650/F700) plus the Intiminators and keeping the spacers at the original size does not significantly affect the geometry. Pretty good news actually :D.
    I have done some measurements and, as they are now, the ground clearance of the F700GS is minimum 2.5cm higher than my V-Strom (which is already ~2cm higher than stock on the rear), measured from the engine bash plate to the ground (both have a bash plate) with the bike kept upright without any additional load.
    So I can hope for a pretty nice 4.5cm increase in ground clearance with the upgraded F650GS, at a cost of a bit less than 900EURO, plus a much improved suspension overall. Not bad, not bad at all.
    #14
  15. CallofDoty

    CallofDoty n00b

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    I recently switched from a 2009 DL650 to a 2015 F800GSA. I'm taller and I raised the back end of the V-Strom, and the GSA is closer to that ride height stock. I definitely love the upgrade on the bike as a whole - I did a tiny bit of dirt road riding on the V-Strom and it felt like a street bike on gravel, more or less. Comparing the two, the GSA is obviously way more dirt-oriented but is still almost as comfortable on the road, if not just as comfortable. I have done a couple 200+ mile mountain rides and it absolutely sips fuel under 50mph. At highway speeds it's a little less conservative but still not terrible. One thing I noticed that I really enjoy is the perceived difference of a lower center of gravity. It's tons of fun to canyon carve, and for whatever reason I feel more confident on pavement than before. As far as weight, I can't tell a difference between the two when riding.
    #15
  16. eehgil

    eehgil n00b

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    Have you considered a Transalp?
    #16
  17. vulupe

    vulupe Adventurer

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    @CallofDoty - Lots of what you have written is pretty closed to my expectations as well...

    This weekend I had the opportunity to test-drive both F700GS and F800GS, both make year 2014. Same seat (standard), the F700GS had stock suspension and bar risers (but setup to bring the bar closer to the rider, not higher) and the F800GS has Hyper-Pro springs lowered with 30mm.
    Yet it is still a very hard choice: overall I liked the F800GS better for my size (as mentioned, it was lowered, but I have ridden it before lowering and I can cope with the standard height and comfort seat). The F700GS felt... too small. Hard to pinpoint the difference but literally the F700GS felt like a too small bike: too low (I was flat-footing it easily), too short (seat to peg distance as well as seat to bars), too exposed to wind and the suspension way too soft (the fork dive is really nasty). Most of these probably can be fixed: longer shock,, heavier springs, intimininators, bar riser, peg lowering, some adjustable and bigger screen. On the twisties though the bike was a blast, soooo easy to play around the bends. Also I could feel the power differences: it felt closer to the V-Strom (better torque at lower RPMs) than to F800GS. The F800's power was just great, not too much, no too little.
    That being said, I'm still undecided if the F800 is really worth the extra 2.000Euros and the extra headaches (for me): USD fork, lower mileage, higher octane gas, tubes, etc. It is really weird to see how different these 2 bikes are, having so much in common actually.
    #17
  18. vulupe

    vulupe Adventurer

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    At some point yes, but the engine is way too mellow for me. And it is still a heavy bike.
    #18
  19. shuswap1

    shuswap1 Long timer

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    I added risers to my F700GS to raise the height in order to stand comfortably. The bike is ridden regularly on gravel over hard pack at 60-100 km/hr and felt skittish with the Anakee3s and me sitting down. I cannot overstate how nice the risers have made the bike feel in the same conditions but with me standing instead....it feels like everything has come together and I can power/drift corners quite easily that previously caused concern when sitting. The F7 is a street bike that can ride gravel/dirt at modest speeds, lacking the suspension to ride rough ground quickly. It feels reasonably quick but the power signs off quickly also and my pet peeve is with the lack of passing gusto. The F8 isn't all that much of an improvement in either dept.
    I like the F7 but will never give up my dirt bikes, they are my first love when it comes to motorcycling.
    #19
  20. Jimbobvfr

    Jimbobvfr Jimbob

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    I've recently upgraded from KLX250s/351 bigbore kit with offroad intermediate tires to a '17 800GSA
    Finally had a chance to do some forest roads, and ?
    I like it!
    The bigger twin engine is much smoother, and is a piece of cake to ride fast on the street(probably too fast, as the edges are collapsing a bit), Off the road, forest trails, set engine to Enduro(offroad with street tires), ABS to off(easier to drift), and works great! Never went over 40mph, worked great.
    I've also used the 30cm lowering kit, to accommodate my shortness(5'8", 29 inseam), and although it's still a bit tall, I've adapted.
    In a word, I plan on more road miles with this bike, more offroads like forest trail and less CRAZEE shit than I did with the KLX(like breaking 6 ribs right before Christmas...), so this suits me just fine. The 6.8gal tank has the 1200GS rider filling up when I was still over half a tank, I like that!
    Get what you can afford, add knobbies and ride it like you stole it!
    #20
    morfic likes this.