Any converts from BMW F650GS Thumpers out there? - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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Any converts from BMW F650GS Thumpers out there?

Hello. First post. I am highly attracted to the Versys mostly because of the need for additional power and engine smoothness for long distance camp touring. I do this now on a BMW F650GS. I routinely do 500 mile days. And, giving up the off road capability of the BMW is no biggie, since it sux at that anyhow. I ride my DRZ offroad.

I have queried the forum for the opinions about the comparo between the BMW and the Versys. I would like to hear from anyone who has significant direct experience with the BMW thumper and can compare it with the Versys.

I would like to know from anyone else who intimately knows the BMW thumper, how the handling compares. If you owned a F650GS which you are comparing, are you referencing stock suspension?

I would also like to know about build quality. Folks diss the cost of the BMWs, but those who have owned one know where lots of that cost is located. Not saying it is everyone's idea of good value. Just that the F650GS build quality is pretty stupidly good. I would like to know if Versys is in the same league.

Finally, I would like to know about the engine. Folks on the BMW forum say you can cruise the F650GS at 85 mph for mile after mile. Hogwash. It likes to go exactly 69.8 mph by GPS. Not one iota over, or the bike gets really uncomfortable. Will the Versys cruise at 80 - 85 without straining and becoming a torture device for the rider? Or, do I need a heavier bike with more power to get that, in your opinion. I ride very congested interstates on occasion, and I find that the F650GS is badly underpowered for that. I get skeeved in traffic with so little power on tap. Does that happen on the V?

Finally, does the V Vibrate like the Thumper. I doubt it, bit is the smoothness of the V significantly better? For example, at 75 mph are the rear views clear, or do they do the Thumper thing?

I hope my focus on former BMW riders does not offend. It is not intended to. But, I would really like to hear from a BMW thumper owner. All opinions are valuable, but the farkled BMW and the KLR are Apples and Oranges. That's why I solicit input from the BMW thumper owners.

Thank you for your time.
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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To clarify, on the KLR comment, I do not mean that the BMW is "better" or whatever than the KLR. The KLR is great. There is one in my garage right now. But the BMW with a built RaceTech front fork and an Ohlins rear shock is a pretty nice handling machine. Much better than a KLR on the road. That's what I mean by apples and oranges.

Thanks
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 08:31 PM
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Talking

I 'test', rode a friends 650 BMW before I got the Versys. I also had a KLR when I got the Versys, so have a bit of a thumper background.

Versys will do well over 100mph, close to 120mph, but for freeway cruising, its is most comfortable around 75-85mph, you'll get about 50 mpg (US gallon).

Its much smoother, being a parallel twin, over a thumper. Its has plenty of power 2 up with luggage. Even at 11,000' it has a load of power-I took my lovely bride all over the Rockies last summer.



I'm 5'10" and 175lbs and its the most comfortable bike I've ever ridden. On long trips (over 500 a day) I use a sheepskin and Airhawk, but stock saddle is good up to 300miles for me anyway.

Not only is it a good long distance tourer, its great in the twisties, well balanced, plenty of power. I ride with a very aggressive group in the San Bernardino mountains and I've got the smallest bike-but I can keep up with the 1000cc plus machines-except on the long straights.

Yes, I'm totally biased, but of the many bikes I've had the Versys is the best.

You'll get a lot of great advise................plus mine, on this forum, but you won't regret getting a V, plus you'll have a load of money left over to buy accessories and gas with.

Machog


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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 08:37 PM
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I to have rode a F650 and a KLR and agree with Machog that this is a great bike.(Except I think my Yamaha Roadstar is the best I have ever rode)

81 Honda CB750F with Jupiter sidecar, 82 Honda CB750F, 86 Yamaha Radian, 87 BMW K100RS, 2002 Honda XR 200R, 2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250, 2009 Green Versys, 2010 Kawasaki Vukcan 900 Custom
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 08:47 PM
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Sorry I don't have any experience with the BMW but I thought this video might be of interest to you. It is a British magazine comparison of Versys, BMW, and V-Strom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dreoYlnlVQw

Hope it's of some use to you.

John
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 09:28 PM
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Gahboo-

I have had three- two single sparks and the old funduro. Everything in you post is correct. The Versys stock does everything better than the F650 except fuel economy and mirror vibration. Ok, well, getting ABS in the states would be nice. You can count on it. Now, if you got your heart set on a BMW, get the new de-tuned twin F650. My other half has one in the garage, and that bike rocks.
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info guys. The V is really appealing. But I do love my Beemer. Not because it is a BMW, but because it "fits like an old shoe". It is so outstandingly comfortable to ride. Has a Corbin seat. Agreed, the stock seat stinks. But with the Corbin, I can, and have, ridden 10K mile trips.

With my weight at 240, I basically had to rebuild the BMW suspension. It made an excellent ride after that. In you guys' opinion, is the Verysy going to need major suspension work for my weight? I understand that it is pretty stiffly sprung at it comes from the factory.

What's the verdict on the Versys engine? I know folks say it is reliable, but sometimes I think F650GS riders have a whole different definition of reliable. For example, my bro in law has a KLR that he parks in my garage. That bike is nothing close to as reliable as the BMW is. Not even in the same universe. Switches break, electrical problems, broke off rear brake mount, etc... Constant carb tuning required (I know the V is EFI, so that is good.) The BMW has 30K miles on it. I have done all the maintenance on it, and it has never had a single mechanical issue of any kind whatsoever. Not even a valve adjustment. Valve clearances have not moved even 0.001" since new. Does the Versys have this sort of reliability? Also, is it amenable to self wrenching? Should be fine, because the F650GS is not known for being easy to work on.

Thanks for all the great info.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 10:16 PM
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I'm starting to think you have very high standards. I'm not sure any bike is going to live up to what you've built your BMW up to. The Versys is reliable, but sometimes things break. It has quirky bits. It has a fairing buzz that should've been sorted a long time ago, but it's easy to fix. Some of us have complained about the tranny being clunky. The seat is an issue with many of us as well.

The Versys is a great bike for it's price, especially if you grab one of the used bikes that've been up for sale lately. I'm not convinced you'll be happy with the Versys, or any bike for that matter, having to live in the shadow of the BMW.

Maybe you should be looking for a newer BMW...



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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 04:25 AM
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I think I read that BMW decided not to drop the original F650 because of an outcry. They came out with it in a 800cc, but they'll be still selling it in the 650cc with standard heated grips and ABS for only around $7500. If true, that is a good deal. They'll be made in China, at least the motor will.

Regarding problems, the V is pretty good at being reliable. But, if you can get a bike you like brand new as above, then transfer all your upgrades to it, you already know how to work on it, plus you already like it, why mess with your happiness?
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 08:45 AM
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My girlfriends '05 F650 RIDES "like an old shoe". My V rides like them new fancy running shoes with the springs in the heel. I ride fast and fun and at high revs and the GS is plain boring as hell after being on the V. Far less torque down low, geometry rake less exciting for the majority of riding I do, and suspension too soft for my 185lb liking. The BMW is more comfortable on washboard gravel. Frame strength and overall build quality is most likely higher quality than the V. The BMW tours like an old shoe fully loaded and looks cool...mostly due to the woman riding it Good thing she can't reach the ground on my V...she likes it ALOT.

The Rotax engine? Meh. Japs got it all over it. The V does 6,000rpms at 80. Much less comfortable cruising at 80 on the GS. I'll take my 17" wheels, thank you. My V knows it's more all-around fun...and probably let's the GS know during their quiet times alone in the garage at night.
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Good thing she can't reach the ground on my V...she likes it ALOT
Well, adding the custom gel seat, Speedy's lowering kit, and dropping the suspension & front forks will get the seat down to about 29". So if she wants one of her own, it's do-able . . .
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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 09:30 AM
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Working on the BMW was not a bad job, the Chain Gang website spelled everything out for nearly anything you wanted to do. I did go thru 2 water pump seals while I owned the bikes, and froze a fan in the middle of the Mojave, but never got truly stranded. The rotax is an old shoe motor, and has it merits, but I still feel I enjoy the V more. Both in reliability, dealer network, working on it, modifying it, and the extra 3k or so in my wallet made a big difference in farkles.
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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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Dude...

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Originally Posted by Bear on a bicycle View Post
I'm starting to think you have very high standards.
I think you are making assumptions that I am not intending to communicate. I do have high standards. I am pleased with the BMW. But, please do not play that "arrogant BMW rider" card on me. I am pretty tired of that. If you didn't realize, I ride the F650GS, the "girl's BMW bike", so I already get that stuff from the BMW crowd too. It gets tiring, to tell the truth. Why would I take time to ask unless I thought that maybe the Versys might be a good alternative to the BMW?

All I am saying is that the BMW is stupid reliable. I like that. Lots of folks are really familiar with the KLR. I like them too. I am just saying that they are nowhere near was reliable as the BMW in my experience. That is all. No value judgments involved. Just facts, as I see them of course, based on my personal wrenching experience. And, yes, I know there are tons of non F650 bikes that BMW makes that are not at all reliable. The F650 is not one of them.

It is important to understand why I asked the way I did. Every forum is full of the converted. Everyone here thinks the bike is great. Or else there would not be a forum. BMW has theirs too.

I also know that maybe my idea of a "great handling bike" and others might be different. I might well know nothing at all. That is why I asked for opinions of converts. Folks who have a common frame of reference for me. If you think I am dissing the V, you are not paying attention.

Respectfully.
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by atgatt View Post
Regarding problems, the V is pretty good at being reliable. But, if you can get a bike you like brand new as above, then transfer all your upgrades to it, you already know how to work on it, plus you already like it, why mess with your happiness?
Well, that is true, but, the thing is a big ole thumper. A thumper engine at highway speeds is not fun. Plus, when I bought the bike, it had plenty of power, as I was an inexperienced rider. Now, I am wanting / needing more. I like to take extended road trips, and the F650 is pretty tiring on the highway because of the vibration.

If I were just wanting to keep the F650, I would just hang on to this one for another 70K or 80K miles, as they routinely do over 100K before needing real work. It is more about comfort on extended rides. And possibly twisty handling.

There is so much that makes the BMW stink. Like parts costs. I would love to buy a set of front brake pads for less that $90 for example. I am not a fan of the $20 oil filter. So, I have reasons for looking in other pastures. Though the BMW is really reliable, parts cost is pretty punitive.

But then I would probably not feel too uncomfortable taking it to Deadhorse, AK without a full toolkit.

Maybe I might reframe my question like this...

Is the Versys engine as reliable as say, your typical Japanese I-4 engine? If so, then that is a good thing. They routinely go 24K between valve adjustments, for example. I know the 650R connection, but unfortunately I am not familiar with that bike.

I do sincerely appreciate all this information. My last bike purchase was not that well considered. I bought an Aprilia Tuono. Wonderful machine, but just all wrong for me. I lost a whole cheek on the subsequent sale of that bike. I would rather prevent that from happening again.

So far, I am thinking the V is a good choice. I can trade my BMW plus $1800 for a new '08. I am probably going to do it...
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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by neil_asheville View Post
My girlfriends '05 F650 RIDES "like an old shoe". My V rides like them new fancy running shoes with the springs in the heel. I ride fast and fun and at high revs and the GS is plain boring as hell after being on the V. Far less torque down low, geometry rake less exciting for the majority of riding I do, and suspension too soft for my 185lb liking. The BMW is more comfortable on washboard gravel. Frame strength and overall build quality is most likely higher quality than the V. The BMW tours like an old shoe fully loaded and looks cool...mostly due to the woman riding it Good thing she can't reach the ground on my V...she likes it ALOT.

The Rotax engine? Meh. Japs got it all over it. The V does 6,000rpms at 80. Much less comfortable cruising at 80 on the GS. I'll take my 17" wheels, thank you. My V knows it's more all-around fun...and probably let's the GS know during their quiet times alone in the garage at night.

Thanks a ton for this great post. I responded above before I read this. This is EWXACTLY what I was wanting to hear!

Appreciated. The BMW is an old shoe. I am thinking I might like a set of Nike's...
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post #16 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by atgatt View Post
I think I read that BMW decided not to drop the original F650 because of an outcry.

I think they did it to get a bike into the lower price market. Lots of folks are skeptical of that CHinese engine.
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post #17 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Chicken Little View Post
Working on the BMW was not a bad job, the Chain Gang website spelled everything out for nearly anything you wanted to do. I did go thru 2 water pump seals while I owned the bikes, and froze a fan in the middle of the Mojave, but never got truly stranded. The rotax is an old shoe motor, and has it merits, but I still feel I enjoy the V more. Both in reliability, dealer network, working on it, modifying it, and the extra 3k or so in my wallet made a big difference in farkles.
So, you successfully wrench the V too? I infer from your post that it is not htat challenging. Can't be as big of a PITA as doing a valve check on the F650
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post #18 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 10:58 AM
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Wife had the f650 a few years back. Good bike and we toured a lot of the US. At one time i thought i could ride it full time but after rideing it off and on all summer it just wasn't enough bike for me and didn't like it all that much. I did like her old twin 650 R 65 for some reason better. Had many BMW's but as the years went by they got too electrical soffisticated to where there was always something wrong with them and i got tired of going back to the shop and not rideing them. Also got too pricey. I did kind of like my simple KLR and had two in fact. The Versys has it all over the single BMW for me. Power is much more and such a nice road bike. For that fact the F650 wasn't much of anything but a road bike the same. I even still belong to our BMW club. Not very many of the old members have a BMW anymore. Wonder why? Dropped the magazine years ago as all they wanted to talk about was touring overseas. That and their expensive gear. Kind of left the working every day man they used to have in the dust. Too bad. Should have kept one line of their bikes simple and more in the mainstream of price and reliable. My 2 cents why i left them. Don't think the German brand with a china engine will go over so great either.

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post #19 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 11:01 AM
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I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new V, so I cannot comment on it from a personal perspective, but I have been on an F650CS (not the GS, but same engine) for the past few years. My reasons for changing are pretty much as you say. There was another thread on this subject you might find useful:

http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ead.php?t=2604
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post #20 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 12:09 PM
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Be interesting to see your perspective after you have the V. Not knocking anybody that has a BMW. I swithched to Guzzi for my last 3 bikes touring. Went to the BMW rallies with all my club members and had a lot of Canadian riders at our rallies and had good times with them. One even joined our club. Don't have a good BMW dealer for 100 miles and only one Guzzi dealer about the same distance. Several Kawasaki dealers around and Kawasaki was my last 3 bikes. Think you will enjoy the V. I would say maybe half the 60 club members have some other bike now. Poor dealer network hurts them here.

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