My experience: Ducati Scrambler vs BMW G650GS

Discussion in 'Moto Bellissima: All Other Dualsports' started by Omad0n, Aug 1, 2015.

  1. Omad0n

    Omad0n n00b

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    Howdy All,

    This is my first post, though I've visited the site infrequently for a few years now. I recently purchased a Ducati Scrambler Urban Enduro and prior to buying, I was trying to find posts from folks who were coming from a G650GS. Since there weren't any, and since I currently own both, I figured I would put something together in the hopes that it might be useful.

    I learned to ride on dirt, but this is primarily looking at the bikes on pavement, since that's where most of my riding is lately. I'm a year round commuter and love to ride. My longest (also stupidest) ride was on a 2006 G650GS was from Walla Walla, WA to Laramie, WY straight. That's all interstate mind you and far too long to be on a motorcycle. I've only ever owned stock moto's, as the farkle bug hadn't hit me. Enough about me though, on to the bikes. I'll try and brake this down into some of the essentials (for me), especially around things I didn't find in my own searches. I'm also happy to answer any questions folks might have.

    This is also going to be a multi post series, as I apparently have more to say than I'd thought while thinking this up.

    Comfort:

    I'm 5'5" so flat footing isn't an option on either bike. This isn't a problem, as I am comfy leaning both bikes while stopped. I will say though, the UE is definitely a tad lower, and I like that.

    Riding both bikes, it's pretty clear the G650 carries a lot more vibration. For general riding comfort, I'd have to give it to the UE.

    Both bikes are labeled for having shitty stock seats. Guess what, both bikes have shitty stock seats! That being said, a few things you should know. The G650GS seat can get wet and you can wipe it down no fuss no muss. When the UE got a bit wet, it felt spongy. I was in a rush for work that day, so I need to do some more testing to see how much water (if any) it really retains.

    Gas Mileage:

    The G650GS gets about 55-60MPG in mixed riding. It takes the cheapest fuel and eats up the road. The Urban E. on the other hand gets around 35MPG city (still in the break-in period) and they recommend using premium fuel. I haven't tried giving it the cheap stuff, and to be honest I don't think I'd want to. That being said, since it uses premium gasoline (and for other reasons,) I'm not likely to ever be taking this motorcycle around the world ah-la Long Way Round.

    That's all for now, more to come over the next week. Stay tuned!
    #1
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  2. greer

    greer Long timer Supporter

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    Hey OmadOn,

    Thanks for the report and comparison, looking forward to hearing more. If your BMW is a 2006, it's an F650GS, right?

    Sarah
    #2
  3. Murphy Slaw

    Murphy Slaw Long timer

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    10-4....
    #3
  4. Omad0n

    Omad0n n00b

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    Quick question answering :)

    Yes the 2006 was actually an F650GS, but last year I picked up a 2014 G650GS (actually 2, because the first ended up being a bit of a dud)

    I lump the F650GS and the G650GS together as they're largely the same (though of course things are manufactured in different places.) If it's easier for reading purposes, I can denote which of the 3 bikes I'm referring to for future posts.
    #4
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  5. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Long timer

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    Strange the fuel economy is so poor on your Scrambler. I have pretty routinely gotten 55+ even when flogging it. Although most of my riding is on back roads so no stop and go city riding do that could explain it.

    Regardless enjoy the new bike! It only gets better the more miles you put on.
    #5
  6. K1W1

    K1W1 Long timer Supporter

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    I'll be watching this thread. I can't imagine that many will go from a G650 to a Scrambler but it's always good to see how different people rate different things and why.
    #6
  7. KiwiKurt

    KiwiKurt Amor Patriae

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    Ive never ridden the 650gs, but Just rode a scrambler Icon the other night.

    What an absolute hoot of a fun bike to ride. Light, just quick enough, super reliable and simple, tossable. Just a super fun bike. I was a hater that was totally won over. I dont see it replacing something in the GS/XC type category due to range and luggage space and suspension travel....they do make some soft luggage tho that seems decent.

    The one I was on was well broken in and running the Termi exhaust with ECU "up map". It was getting solid mid 40's MPG from the owner's (who is the Duc service manager also) account. He is working on swapping the throttle body system from a hyper motard over to his scrambler and expect that to bring up the power quite a bit.

    I dunno. If was in the market for an urban commuter/dirt trail/over night camper bike or something retro; I would jump on that scrambler.
    #7
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  8. Omad0n

    Omad0n n00b

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    And I return with my next installment :) Thank you all for your interest in the thread. I'm going to run through a couple comments and some more odds and ends. If I feel up to it, I'll get the "how they ride" done tonight. If I'm not up for it, it'll come later this week. It's something that people are looking for, and I want to make sure I give it the right treatment.

    To further clarify my ownership stuff. I owned a 2006 F650GS for a couple years and traveled from Seattle (my home) down through Cali and across to Colorado multiple times. I loved that bike dearly, and only sold it so that I could move to the NL with my now wife. In 2014 I bought a new G650GS, and rode that for about 4 months, and then got another new one - as the first was not performing well. I picked up the Scrambler UE in mid July and have been riding it almost exclusively since.

    Why you might be looking at both bikes:

    They're around similar price points. The G650GS MSRP is is roughly $8200 with the premium package (would recommend because heated grips are SOOOO nice) while the stock UE MSRP is $9995. They both hold Enduro as part of the name and for folks interested in a bike that can be used for both street and dirt, but is less aggressive than say a KTM. They're also both low profile bikes, and are light at sub 435lbs wet.

    Gas Mileage pt 2:

    My initial post suggests the UE's mileage isn't that strong compared to the G650GS, but I think that the raw numbers are a bit misleading. In my time w/ the BMW's I've always got the bike and had 40ish MPG out the gate. Over time, through learning how to handle the bike smoothly, that MPG has always improved. I'd also heard somewhere that the engine's would break in and get better MPG over time. If that's a thing I might well get better mileage from my UE. I must also admit that I'm a mediocre UE rider currently, and I'm losing a lot of efficiency to things like over revving, and not shifting in optimal placements. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see my mileage go up over the next 6 months.

    Sidestand:

    So something you might not think about, but the G650GS has a very large lean to it when on the side stand. It's so extreme that people talk about modding their bike with hockey pucks on the ends to help keep the lean from being so large. Living in a hilly city, I've definitely had to do some creative parallel-ish parking to help accommodate for the lean. This is much less of a problem with the UE as it stands quite a bit more upright. This also means it fits into tighter spaces, or leaves more room in the same parking spot. It also means that I'm leaning the bike less after the kickstand is down. Coupled with the weight difference, I'm much more confident putting the bike on its sidestand, regardless of location.

    Windshield (or lack there of):

    One of the things that struck me as odd when I was first reading about the UE is the lack of a windshield. This is fixable with the aftermarket parts, but since I'd been stock on my previous bikes, I wasn't sure I would want to add a windshield to the UE. After having ridden it very briefly on the highway and getting speed of around 70MPH, I can say that for long rides I think I'll want to get some sort of wind shield. You just feel the wind significantly more than you do on the G650GS (even though the GS has a small wind shield.) There are already several options out there, and likely more will pop up as the Scrambler picks up in use. I'm currently eying the Dart. So for this the GS solidly wins in my book.

    Weight:

    Per the websites of each bike, the UE is 3kg or 6.6 lbs lighter than the GS. This isn't a really large amount, but I'll tell you it certainly feels very different. As a rock climber so I'd like to think i have some strength, especially when it comes to pushing and pulling things. That aside, just being able to move the bike even a little more easily is super nice, and having had to catch the GS mid fall before, I would certainly appreciate a bike that weighs less.

    Okay, that's all I've got in me for tonight. When I've got some spare time I'll post about "how they ride" and see if I can't help those out who don't have the option to really ride both extensively, figure out what might be good for them.
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  9. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Long timer

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    The Dart is a nice bit of kit. Makes highway riding much better. 70 mph on my Icon is perfectly enjoyable.
    #9
  10. greer

    greer Long timer Supporter

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    Tuned in, I'm all ears, thanks.

    Sarah
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  11. Xtyling

    Xtyling Adventurer

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    I am so thankful for this thread. I was heavily considering the a BMW 650.. But never got a chance to ride one. I was swayed by the proximity and service reputation of my Ducati dealer. But now it's like i get to find out "what if...?"
    #11
  12. K1W1

    K1W1 Long timer Supporter

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    Must have been an awfully long test ride for you to have been able to work that out. :lol3
    #12
  13. KiwiKurt

    KiwiKurt Amor Patriae

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    lol.

    It went on for weeks.

    Basing that on what my buddy wa saying about it and the fact that it uses that air cooled 803cc l twin that has b een in use for a long time.....
    #13
  14. K1W1

    K1W1 Long timer Supporter

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    SWMBO has the 1000cc version of the engine in her S2R and I can tell you that that bike has been very reliable over about 8 years now.
    #14
  15. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Long timer

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    The Scrambler engine has its roots way back in 1980 when Ducati first released a streetbike with a belt driven camshaft & 2 valve engine in the 500 Pantah. Actually before that they had used belt driven cams in their factory racing bikes since '73.

    I'd say they have had plenty of time to work out all the kinks in this motor, and the fact that it's slightly detuned and overbuilt, I expect mine to last damn near forever.
    #15
  16. mmoore415

    mmoore415 Adventurer

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    I went from a G650GS to the Scrambler as well, though I had some time without a bike in between. My initial reason for the GS was to do some off-road riding with buddies that had DRs and KLRs but I never really got comfortable with it. I bought the Scrambler with the idea that I would be doing very little off-pavement riding, with the exception of the odd gravel road or two. My wife has also decided she'd rather not do the miles on a bike, so I could get something without worrying about pillon comfort.

    The biggest thing I notice between the two is that the GS had a better suspension from the start, or at least the extra travel made it feel that way. I took several trips with 500+ mile days two up on the GS. I won't lie and say it was comfortable, but I can't even imagine doing it on the Scrambler. It was also nice to have the hand adjustment for preload, though using the tool on the Scrambler isn't that bad.

    The lack of windshield is noticeable, but doesn't bother me. I was more bothered by the original one on the BMW as I got some pretty bad buffeting. I ended up trading it out for the taller Givi model and the adjustable Touratech bracket. At least for now I think I'll leave the Scrambler without it. I have a fairly high mileage trip coming up next month, so maybe that will change.

    Details would be good I suppose. I'm 5'9 with a 30" inseam. I could flat foot the BMW, just barely. The Scrambler is definitely not an issue. Both bikes got an upgraded seat - Seatconcepts for the GS and the Ducati Comfort Seat for the Scrambler.

    Not sure I can recommend one over the other. They are both good at different things. The Scrambler works for what I need right now, and hopefully for a while into the future.

    I'm not the greatest photographer...

    [​IMG]
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  17. Omad0n

    Omad0n n00b

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    Apologies on the delay all, I'm in the process of selling our home and grossly misestimated the time it was going to take! I've got a breather now I want to focus on the heart of this exploration. I'm also writing this before reading other posts (since my last) so apologies if someone has asked a question that I don't answer right away.

    My take on the GS:

    As I'd mentioned before, I've actually owned both a 2006 F650GS and two 2014 G650GS'. I have a combined riding total somewhere around 30k miles on street, dirt and all kinds of weather. Even though I learned on dirt, I wouldn't say that I'm super crazy on it, but I'm comfortable on it. My longest ride was from Walla Walla, WA to Laramie, WY straight. A memorable hairy ride was the first time I'd ridden on I82 coming over the pass into Yakima (It was my first time in high wind... was.not.prepared.)

    The G(F)650GS is a wonderful machine. It's a smooth ride, gives a lot of room for throttle error, and inspires confidence in its abilities to tackle whatever you throw at it out of the box. Living in Seattle, I have to deal with steep hills in the city . Riding the GS I always felt strong, like a tank, despite it's diminutive size. It's a bike that feels like it was built to do lots of things well, and I would say it does most things above average. It seems happiest around the 3k RPM range and once you get the hang of it, it handles well.

    Favorite thing about the GS?

    It's hard to nail down a favorite because it just does so much at a nice level. I'm a huge fan of the mileage - even in lots of stop and go traffic it's superb. I also really love how well the stock shocks work. I remember just a few months ago I came over a hill after a hard rain and there was a huge pothole. I was going too fast and had to just go over it, and the bike didn't flinch.

    Other things I like are the handle grips - they're nice and smooth. The pegs are wide and grippy. The sound isn't big (I'm not into motorcycles that wake the neighborhood)

    Least favorite thing about the GS?

    The power behind it. It's not that the power is bad, and I've had many a wonderful experience with the GS series, it's just that my riding has changed a bit. When I had the F650GS I was not married, and had no kid. This meant I was out away from city traffic a lot more. As a commuter I spend a lot of time in stop and go traffic. The bike does very well in this, but there are times where I really just want to fly, and while the bike certainly moves well at 70MPH, it just doesn't get to that speed quite as quickly as I'd like.

    That's what I've got for tonight, though I'll swing back through the posts. I'm hoping to post on the Scrambler ride next week. Thanks everyone whose shown interest. If you have questions feel free to ask, I want to get you as much info as you can handle :)
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  18. Omad0n

    Omad0n n00b

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    Thanks for sharing your input mmoore415. I'm going to give some of my scrambler thoughts away and say they mirror your experience. More to come :)
    #18
  19. Omad0n

    Omad0n n00b

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    After what's been entirely too long I'm back w/ thoughts on the Ducati Scrambler. With about 1250 miles on the moto, I feel like my riding competence is updated to amateur rider!

    My take on the Scrambler Urban Enduro:

    It's an ove-simplification, but where the GS feels like a sturdy tank, the Scrambler feels like a svelte... motorcycle. There isn't much weight difference between the 2, but the more powerful engine really gives the Scrambler a lot more pop. It's the kind of power that lets you flirt w/ speed troubles that you'd never get from the GS. Having just come back from a 50 mile ride, I can say that the stock seat still sucks; the handling is impeccable, you feel the road a lot more.

    This bike feels like it was built to get up and go, but still happy to have some terrain thrown at it. While I haven't had the chance to take the UE into the dirt, I have taken it to through many of Seattle's alleys during rush hour and through the industrial area where roads are... not kept the best. Overall, the UE handles admirably. The more I ride, the less jarring the ride. It's amazing how you 'get used to things.'

    Favorite thing about the Scrambler Urban Enduro?

    Hands down it's how quickly the UE goes. It's not crazy fast and I'm sure many a speed bike would put it to shame, but it's a nice balance of speed w/o being stupid speed. It makes me feel very confident in rush-hour traffic, and my ability to get out of tight jams with the pickup.

    Least favorite thing about the Scrambler Urban Enduro?

    For me, it's mileage. It's gotten a bit better, and I'm averaging 40 MPG at this point, but combining the premium gas w/ the decreased range, just frustrates me. This is by no means a deal breaker, and in fact, that this is my biggest issue, is pretty telling I think. It's true, I wish it had better suspension, but for my current usage, what it has is fine.

    So with that we just need my final thoughts on everything.

    Final Thoughts:

    I don't think you can wrong w/ either bike, it just depends on what you're looking for. Out of the box you're going to pay less for the GS. The tradeoff will be speed, and weight. Out of the box with the Scrambler, you're going to get more speed. The tradeoff will be mileage and being much more sensitive to the road, and some missing standard features.

    If you can, ride them both. I think most folks will know out the gate if the GS is fast enough for them or if the Scrambler is a bit too close to the road. For me, the UE is currently the better fit. What will I be doing with it? Well, with the coming winter I'll be buying some heated grips, getting some side racks for it and getting some kind of wind shield.
    #19
  20. giganova

    giganova Been here awhile

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I have a '13 G650GS Sertao and thought about ditching it for a Scrambler. However, I couldn't get over the lacking windshield, the off-center tach and the toothpick handlebars. But that's probably just me. What I miss most on the G650 is more power, but the fuel economy is unmatched; if I ride long-distance trips, I get up to 70mpg, but I must admit that going over 70 mph on highways for a few hours is not much fun on the GS.

    I heard from a few people who bought the R9T and regretted that they didn't wait a little longer and get a Ducati Scrambler because it is so much lighter and easier to handle.
    #20