Which would you take off-road: F800GS or the old 650GS Dakar single?

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by Guy Jinbaiquerre, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    While I wish you luck for your "dream bike" to turn up, you're not going to get it. The 800GS is the adventure version (of the F650GS). You want more? Buy the G450X.

    BMW aren't an off-road manufacturer. The suspension they fit to the bike is, they think, a good balance of cost and capability. If riders don't like it (and no manufacturer in the entire history of all the planes of the multiverse that ever have been or will be, has ever built suspension that everyone universally likes), they can fit their own.

    BMW don't sell big numbers of bikes in the USA, they build for Europe, where the R1200GS and F650GS are kings of their respective categories.

    If there was money to be made in "Dakar" versions, the F650GS Dakar would still be on sale. It isn't, so you can assume there wasn't.

    If you genuinely and passionately believe there's a market for an Adventure version of the 800, pony up some venture capital and start a conversion business. I'd buy one.

    Until then, I'm happily riding.
    #21
  2. haildamage

    haildamage Been here awhile

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    this is turning out to be a good thread with lots of intelligent discussion, imo!

    i often find that people wanting to get into rindo (japanese fire/logging roads) riding are after THE perfect do everything bike. they want something that can blast down the expressway comfortably, carry luxury camping gear, and be easy and fun to ride on the fireroads. the perfect do it all bike doesnt exist at this time. that is why i have an F800GS and a DRZ400S.

    i use the F800GS for street touring and luxury camping. if there is a nice gravel road i dont hesitate to check it out, knowing i can turn around if it gets too rough, etc. as has been said the 800gs instrument cluster is fine for easy going gravel roads. however, in general the bike is just to expensive for me to thrash testing its limitations on the rough stuff. in addition, the snatchy throttle is an issue, especially when climbing something steep and rough in first gear. also, i worry about being able to pick it up if i drop it and it lands in an awkward position on a steep bit! another issue is that it cant sqeeze around some of the barriers that i dont let deter me on the DRZ! being that it is pretty heavy i get tired much more quickly riding it on gravel, especially if it is anything but the smoothest of going. in short, its a great touring bike that does well on easy gravel. i love to tour on it and explore for good gravel networks that are worthy of a return expedition on the DRZ!

    the DRZ is much lighter and is easy to handle and much more fun on gravel roads. on it i dont have to turn around when the road turns to crap and i can ride rough gravel all day long without being over fatigued. it is important to note that the speed limits are quite low in japan at around 50mph on the expressway. the DRZ can chug along at 60mph no problem when i need to use the expressway. however, knowing that Guy had a bad experience with bad crosswinds, i should note that it is very susceptible to crosswinds and getting blown around.

    i havent ridden a Dakar. i would guess that it is somewhere between the DRZ and F800. i think it is a bit heavy for the serious all day solo rindo touring that i do.

    if i could only have one bike for ADV touring in japan it would be my DRZ, no contest!
    #22
  3. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    I know it may not happen, this is nothing new. And I'm really glad Jimmy Lewis also has his hopes up. I did talk to a BMW rep a couple of months ago, and I mentioned my interest on a more dirt oriented version of the F800GS. And he replied following pretty much the same party line you did. And I had read more people making such comments in the past and getting the same response from the BMW people. So let me translate my text for you: I'm simply on the bandwagon and delivering a message.

    For now, the minimum BMW can do is to fix the bugs on this nice bike. Meanwhile, I have my Dakar and it goes well. And the MilleDue is appetizing for the road.


    #23
  4. SenorPeligro

    SenorPeligro Proper Naughty

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    My thought is that the F800GS is the "adventure-version" of the F650GS-twin. This has been debated endlessly here and on the Chain Gang.

    Haildamage, I also have an XR650L that I use for forest/desert riding. I haven't taken the F800 into anything worse than a gravel parking lot yet, while I am farkling it up for better protection - a lesson I learned from riding my F650GS-single off-road.

    The XRL is very similar to the DRZ in that it is fun to ride and cheap to drop compared to the beemer. I've taken my XR places I wouldn't dream of taking the F800. Not that it couldn't be done, but I don't have the skills or deep pockets to make it fun enough.
    #24
  5. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    Unfortunately, how I explained on my posting, we all know that. That is the official BMW party line as well.
    #25
  6. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    I stand by my invitation for you (or anyone, really) to put together a valid proposal for Adventure-spec conversion kits. Put together a suspension, protection, luggage and big-tank package for the touring crowd and a lightening, suspension and 18" rear package for the trail crowd, and watch the dollars roll in!
    #26
  7. cdo1uk

    cdo1uk Been here awhile

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    I can understand the the people looking at 800's and dakars to ride the loose stuff, some of these tracks and lanes kan be miles away, and trying to ride to these places on a KTM 450 or wr250 etc can be painfull. with the 800 and dakar you can ride to these places in reletive comfort then enjoy the experience. with regards to taking an 800 off road, i have done this and it peforms very well but, i cant get the thought out of my head its a £7000 bike and i dont want to drop it. Dakar would be the option for me. does all the same as the 800 in the real world. i think it depends on how deep your pockets are....
    #27
  8. Ducksbane

    Ducksbane Quaaack!!!

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    While I would also like an Adventure version of the F800GS with more off road ability after reading the two following ride reports I have come to the conclusion that the 800GS is capable of some amazing things off road if the rider is good enough ... which I'm not.

    Try these rides ... http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=584006 in Zambia

    and ... http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=579487 in Russia

    I guess I have now accepted that the bike is probably a bit more capable than I am. :eek1

    Having said that I do have the Hyperpro progressive springs front and rear, and would still like to improve the forks a bit more if I could without spending a fortune.
    #28
  9. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    I'm with you on that. I'm not a good enough rider to even tell well-sorted suspension from crap, so I stick with stock and fiddle with the knobs. The only two major mechanical changes I've got planned for mine are a smaller front sprocket (to tame the beastly throttle), and a steering damper (because the front is a bit twitchy for me to feel confident).
    #29
  10. Guy Jinbaiquerre

    Guy Jinbaiquerre Monorail Conductor

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    No way, I love my GSA for 99% of the riding I do now. Most comfortable bike ever.

    But if I'm gonna start doing more dirt, I was wondering what would be a better choice. Based on this thread, I think a Dakar or an 800 would be too similar to the GSA and I should go for something lighter if and when I get an offroad-dedicated machine.
    #30
  11. tmex

    tmex Long timer

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    IMO, unless you are an A or a B+ rider spending time and money on suspension mods is a waste. It certainly will make no difference whatsoever to where you can or cannot take the bike. Sure it might make the bike more enjoyable to ride (mostly due to the placebo affect), but no big deal. Just ride through it, and spend your time improving your bike handling skills. If you are riding the F8 hard enough to need substantial suspension work, you will be flattening rims as well.
    #31
  12. F650Dakar_Norway

    F650Dakar_Norway What off-season?

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    It's all about making compromises and evaluating the actual riding planned ahead. Ironically my older, salt-rusted 2004 F650 Dakar would be my chosen RTW tool or preferred offroad or trail technical riding tool (if ever having to choose between those two). Simply based on the thickness of my wallet. I've had the involuntary pleasure of crashing both the 650 Dakar and the F8GS, and given the shape of headlight housing and front frame assembly durability the 650 wins hands down that crashworthyness test.

    The 650 went down hard twice in 70kmh on an icy dirt road in september 2007. I merely picked it up, replaced the broken clutch lever, duct-taped together the windshield and zip-tied the indicator glasses in place and rode on. No big deal, really.

    Whereas the soft-jawed F8GS merely nicked the rear left corner of a commuting car at merely 25-30kmh and dropped the whole front instrument console and headlight assembly dangling. It cost me nearly 15 000 NOK in replaced parts and would be a seriuos setback if the same thing happened during a world tour or dark gravel road ride. That edgy, plastic front assembly has its serious drawbacks and made me think twice about dropping it in the dirt. It'll no doubt survive most light to medium falls as long as no boulders, trees or rocks are in the way. But on the dirt it's not that difficult to accidentally bump into a tree or hit a rock when making a bad line and bumping into things.

    I intend to cut & drill aluminium profiles and reinforce the front end assembly before doing much bad road touring, that's for sure. That plastic is not good enough on its own in my experience.

    This is the F8GS plastic front assembly in question that should have been more solid and at least should have been factory reinforced with aluminium plates around the light housing and frame attachment points in centre:
    [​IMG]
    http://www.maxbmwmotorcycles.com/fiche/fiche.aspx

    ..compared to the more solid and crashworthy F650GS Dakar ditto in sheet metal. This thing is incredibly robust and the F650 Dakar headlight is better protected than the edgy F8GS ditto:
    [​IMG]
    http://www.maxbmwmotorcycles.com/fiche/fiche.aspx
    #32
  13. Gangplank

    Gangplank Advenchaintourer

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    Have you broken one or seen one broken? If you crash hard enough to break that the Dakar screen, both blinkers and the bars will be bent. I know from experience. As well as you will probably bend the weak front sub frame that you call hard steel. It bends. I had to replace one after a crash.

    As far as crash worthy, yes the Dakar is better. Ask me how I know... I've crashed on my old bike many times. I have crashed the F8GS off road too. No problem and it help up pretty well actually. No broken anything.

    Now that all said, I wouldn't hesitate to take the F8GS on any road that I would take the old Dakar. It will ride it equally well and with less effort. That is what I mean by trounce. The Dakar will do it but it took a lot of rider effort. The F8GS does it with less rider work. Maybe it is my skill level. Probably is actually but I stand by my statement - in stock form with dualsport tires the F8GS is far better. With upgraded suspension and knobbies the Dakar can keep up.

    I guess perhaps I misread this thread. I presumed, perhaps incorrectly, that he meant within the bike's intended purpose "adventure touring offroading." If instead he meant dirt & trail riding, well then I wouldn't take either one. It is a big adventure touring bike. Not a trail bike.

    I've owned both and I assure you I am far more confident of the capabilities of the F8GS vs. the F650Dakar. The Dakar in stock form vs. F8GS in stock form.

    If I were riding from SF to Utah to go offroading in Moab, or to Mexico to ride the copper canyon, etc. I would want the F800GS. My Dakar was ok and I took it on both those rides. I liked it and it was less expensive for sure.

    If you want to go single track or OHV trail riding and not touring buy a Yamaha dualsport or DRZ. Have more fun.

    If you are limited to the decision between the Dakar (used) and the F8GS well it depends on your cost factor. I like my F8GS adn havn't had any real issues so far with it.
    #33
  14. F650Dakar_Norway

    F650Dakar_Norway What off-season?

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    Concerning the F8GS front assembly - I've got one broken item at home as proof. I also have the 15 000 NOK replacement parts bill as well for reference. When that thing breaks, other attached plastic parts also go west. Handlebar and front fork legs were easily realigned afterwards. That said there's no crash that exactly replicates another crash on the same type motorcycle. An egg will break different each time one is broken.
    #34
  15. tmex

    tmex Long timer

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    When I ride Japanese bikes I wear my Richard Nixon mask in case I were to run into someone I knew. They would think I lost my job.

    I've had more issues with my F8GS than any other motorcycle I have owned. The Dakar is much more sorted as delivered. Off road the performance is close, but I prefer the Dakar mainly for the ergos and throttle response.

    I will say that the F8GS is one sweet bike.
    #35
  16. raider

    raider Big red dog

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    I don't mean to knock your experience, but it sounds like a pretty rare set of circumstances and a silly means of making a purchase decision.

    No bike, if it collides with a car, will come off well. If I have a spill on my RTW tour that shears the whole front of my bike off, I'm going to be in hospital, or if I'm not, taking it as a message from the good Lord that it's time to take up public transport.

    Sure, it happened to you. But I'd warrant you are the only person on this site with first hand experience of that.
    #36
  17. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

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    Never ridden the Dakar or been in Japan either for that matter. The 800 will be far superior on pavement if you routinely ride at speeds above 65 mph. Any 650 class single can handle pavement at lessor speeds.

    As for crash worthyness, you can be disabled on any bike. A crash on my KLX650 left me stranded in Death Valley when a rock took out my instraments including ignition wiring. But the 800 is covered with brittle plastic and needs a good skid plate, crash bars, and lever guards, but most bikes do. If you read all the threads you will see problems with the rims, shock mounts and riders stranded with fuel pumps and injector problems. I have dented the rims on rocky trails, but not suffered the others.

    Problems that I have identified is the tall gearing, especially first gear, adrupt low speed throttle imputs and the suspension.

    If you are a normal sized rider and ride on relative smooth dirt the suspension will be fine for you. If the terrain allows reasonable speeds the throttle won't be an issue either. Keep you air pressures in the high 20's to save your rims.
    If the terrain is rocky you will need to upgrade the suspension. Not only will it help soak up the terrain, it will also help save the bent suspension bolts, dented rims and make the throttle imput smoother.

    With the proper mods the bike is fun on more open terrain, it is stable, light steering, tractable, and generally goes where you point it as long as you are applying some throttle. But it will be a handful in the tighter stuff. It is heavy with a long wheel base and never meant for single track.

    The bike has had more than its share of teething problems, but BMW is addressing some of them, sometimes under the radar, but that is another issue.
    This is really an issue only you can decide, depending on the intended terrain and your riding skills.
    #37
  18. F650Dakar_Norway

    F650Dakar_Norway What off-season?

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    I only have a motorcycle license, no car ditto - and ride all-year with a big grin anyway :beer

    I've got the luxury of being able to choose between my 650 dakar and F8GS for allroad touring, single trail or offroad duties - if so needed. I may also be the only person in the world having knocked the front assembly off my F8GS at 30kmh, without any kind of personal injury but a sore starboard wrist and a bruised ego.

    Based on my personal experience that relatively low-speed, moderate impact caused considerable and expensive damage, and I cursed the brittle plastic frame holding the front light and instrument console. The F8GS - as a total motorcycle concept - is THE best motorcycle I've ever owned in 32years of continuous riding. I've still got factual concerns on its robustness compared to the 650 Dakar. It simply won't tolerate the same unfortunate whacks as the 650 can take. That low-speed, moderate impact could just as well have happened on one of my dirt-rides, knocking into a tree or sizeable rock/boulder - moss-covered or not.

    Facts:
    It's fully possible to knock off the beak/instruments/light assembly without much speed or drama. Simply because the F8GS has an all-plastic front assembly frame. The square-edged headlight design also contributes to weakening the construction at impacts from starboard angles. Just take a look behind the lights, below the instruments and compare to the metal sheet ditto of the 650 Dakar. Then take a look at the metal front assembly frame of the Dakar Rally bikes and ponder about what can take a whacking best...

    This may upset the smiley-faced F800GS community, but still simple, non-disputable facts. I'm now on my 2nd F800GS and still call it my best motorcycle ever. Due to its weight and my personal rider skill limitiations, strict terrain laws etc. I don't take it true offroad here in Norway, but thoroughly enjoy it on gravel- and dirt roads. :beer
    #38