Review: BMW G650 Sertao
BMW thumper fans are rejoicing in the streets, “THE G650 SERTAO IS HERE!” To understand what all the excitement is over the re-entry, this 650cc single Beemer harkening back 12-years, you have to look beyond the surface.
In motorcycle years this is like getting excited for the return of those bicycles with the big wheel up front, or the release of a new flintlock hunting rifle. BMW fans began begging for them to bring back the widely popular F650GS Dakar ever since it was discontinued in 2007. BMW produced the dirt-worthy F650GS Dakar from 2001–2007 when it was discontinued and replaced by the F650GS (twin) and the F800GS series. The basic architecture of the “new” Sertao’s motor dates back as far as the Funduro of 1993 and has had minimal updates since 2000. However in the riding segment where simplicity, price, fuel economy and reliability are more important than big HP, complex gadgets, and “bigger is better” egos, the BMW thumper soldiers on with a strong following.
We’ve been riding the new BMW 2012 G650GS Sertao for several months and have run it through the wide range of duties including commuter, light weight tourer, and trail bike. Looking beyond the fresh and modern-looking lines of the G650GS Sertao you can easily find its heritage; many will assume it is just an updated version of the defunct BMW F650GS Dakar with new body work. This comparison is natural and true in many ways, but there is more to this bike than just a warmed over F650GS Dakar. Compared to the older Dakar (2001–2007) the new Sertao has updated EFI, new electronics, lights, bodywork and comes standard with ABS and heated grips; it even has a traditional turn signal switch on the left grip!
Living with the Sertao
If the R1200GS is a Clydesdale then the F800GS is a stallion… making the G650GS Sertao the mule (this isn’t a bad thing). The Cascade Mountains are my backyard playground and in the mountains it’s the mule that you depend on!
Riding on forest roads and trails the Sertao is a pleasant companion, feeling light, nimble and planted by adventure bike standards, often leaving you wondering why you would need any other. Wick the pace up and you are reminded that this is not a dirt bike. And when ridden hard the suspension begins to show its limitations. In my experience this type of riding is well beyond the pace of all but the most aggressive riders—so as long as we keep in mind that this is a mule, and we aren’t supposed to race mules, all will be well. The trade-off is a comfortable non-punishing ride when ridden at a pace more akin to that of a traveler. Keep the bike at a touring pace and it is a true joy to ride. The Sertao would effortlessly take me places that would make an R1200GS beg for mercy and requires less skill and effort than my F800GS.
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