F650 technical tips


These technical tips are for guidance only. No one accepts any responsibility for their accuracy. Before working on your machine satisfy yourself that you know what you are doing.

If in doubt, don't do it.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Information Sources

Some of the information here is from e-mail correspondents, one of whom has told me of a manual.

Revue Moto Technique no 96 Picture of RMT book

Written by: E.T.A.I. 96 rue de Paris - 92100 Boulogne Billancourt.
Sales: Librairie Trame - 62 bd Jean-Jaoures - 92100 Boulogne Billancourt, France
Tel: (1) 46 03 48 69
Cost: 118Fr plus 20Fr P&P

This booklet summarises both routine and major tasks in French. Until an English workshop guide is available this is fine.


My bike is used during the winter, left out of doors and otherwise abused. This means that I clean all the bits of bodywork, screws, clamps and others bits and pieces as I go along. It takes longer but the bike weighs less afterwards!

There are two benefits of DIY work. First you can save some labour costs and second you know where bits come from; a bonus if you breakdown miles from a friendly dealer. It's not worth using dodgy parts, they take just as long to fit, you don't save much money really and they may kill you. Use the saving in labour costs to keep the oil fresh and things smooth and smart. Take the bike into the dealer for any job that you regard as tricky.

I'll assume that you've all got the normal F650 tool roll, a centre stand and the short rider and technical guides supplied with the machine.

Oil and filter change

It's always smart to have clean oil in a stressed thumper.


In addition to the standard toolkit this job is easier with 10mm, 17mm and deep 17mm sockets. You'll also need a 2 litre tray and a jar that holds around a litre or a piece of inch pipe.


Paper oil filter, washer kit comprising large and small O-ring, and 2 aluminium washers. Just over 2 litres of quality four stroke oil of grade SAE 5W50.

The task

  1. Warm up the engine, maybe go and buy the oil.
  2. Remove plastic sump guard - this will save mess later on.
  3. Clean around sump plug on base of engine and reservoir plug on front of frame within the loop of left hand exhaust.
  4. Remove sump plug, open filler cap and allow oil to drain into tray. Try to keep used oil off your skin. It's carcinogenic and may be hot.
  5. Remove reservoir plug, expect the oil to squirt forwards onto the front tyre. Catch it with your jar or pipe. You'll get around a litre from each source.
  6. Leave to drip and turn attention to filter.
  7. Remove cover over primary sprocket. You'll have to hold the brake pedal down to do this. Remove all of that nasty dirt and chain oil.
  8. Clean around filter cover and move tray.
  9. Remove cover and collect another dribble of oil. Pull filter out of housing by hand, trying not to make a mess.
  10. You should also clean a mesh filter in the oil reservoir
  11. Clean around all openings and refit plugs with fresh washers.
  12. Tighten plugs to firm hand tight.Take care to replace sump plug without damaging threads.
  13. Pour a little oil into filter and refit in cavity, refit cover with fresh O-ring.
  14. Torque settings
    Sump plug RMT manual lists 40Nm, a Pegaso rider suggested 20Nm
    now I adopt firm enough to compress crush washer
    Reservoir plug 10Nm
    Filter cover screws 10Nm

    NB I find that the specified torque for the reservoir plug is inadequate even with a fresh alloy washer and so I usually do it until it is tight using a short spanner. By contrast, the sump plug is easy to overtighten causing damage to sump thread. Don't think it won't happen to you as BMW list a repair kit based around a Helicoil insert. If damage is minor you'll find that a K-series plug and crush washer are a lot longer and will utilise sound thread in the sump (Thanks Lee for the tip).

  15. Pour in around 1.8 litres of oil, leave to stand.
  16. Run starter for 10 seconds. Wait some more (do plugs perhaps). Re run starter and allow to start. This is real scary watching oil pressure light stay on a few seconds!
  17. Check oil level as manual and top-up as required.
  18. Refit sump guard.
  19. Check front and rear tyres for oil spills- clean if needed.


I don't know how important this is. After 3k to 6k miles of use mine look fine.


Standard kit.


2 plugs, gapped at 0.6mm to 0.7mm. WD-40 and tissue or clean rag.

The task

  1. Remove right hand side grey engine cover.
  2. Gently pull off HT leads, noting which is which (don't know if this is important).
  3. Clean leads and cylinder head with tissue/WD-40. You don't want any of the dirt road in the cylinder.
  4. Remove plugs using your fingers once they're loose enough. Examine for crack, over heating, oil fouling or whatever you may recognise!
  5. Fit plugs by hand to avoid cross threading. Then tighten to 20Nm, or a quarter turn after hand tight.
  6. Refit HT leads and engine guard.

Time and cost

Plugs and oil change takes around 2 hours depending how much cleaning you do! A service kit (comprising filter, plugs and washers) costs around 12, depending on source.

Air filter

If you live by the beach this must be very important. Mine is nice and clean most of the time - but once the Airbox had water running around and the engine ran terribly. I don't know how it got in!


An 8mm nut spinner saves fiddling, but standard toolkit adequate.


A little petrol and filter oil, some newspaper and lots of clean rags.

The task

  1. Remove left hand cover and battery. Lots of places to get salt out of. Clean around relay area in particular.
  2. Remove two bolts at top and bottom of starter relay carrier and lift out a cover about 4cm by 15cm.
  3. Slide out filter cassette. Separate into foam and two pieces of plastic. Wash filter in petrol and allow it to dry. Run a little filter oil into a plastic bag add the filter and work the oil in, add more oil and repeat. Squeeze to remove excess and allow the solvent to evaporate. Recently BMW have specifically advised against using engine oil for this.
  4. Find the Airbox drain pipe hanging inside the left foot peg support. It is capped with a bung retained by a spring clip. Get a little jar under it and then remove the bung and let the greasy water out. This seems to need doing between services if you drive through a lot of spray. Old Fs have air holes in the top of the Airbox. Last time mine was in the dealer they covered these with gaffer tape. I suppose it reduces airflow but I guess this might be to reduce water ingress. The drain pipe loops underneath the battery box, make sure there's nothing trapped in a U-bend. Replace bung and clip.
  5. Clean around the inside of the Airbox with a rag. Don't shove it into the carb. inlets. Some people suggest a light smear of grease in the Airbox helps to catch particles that have penetrated the filter.
  6. Clean and check battery level while it's out.
  7. Reassemble the filter and grease its edges. Reassemble everything.

Time and cost

The length of time taken depends on how stripped down the bike is before you begin. The job itself takes less than 20 minutes. Negligible cost.

Rear brake pads

If you drag the rear brake on roundabouts these may last no more than 8k miles, otherwise twice that is reasonable.

I must stress that you should know how to do this job, and be reading this merely to confirm what you already know.

If you get it wrong it will be dangerous.


Standard toolkit plus a small hammer, old screwdriver about 3mm to 4mm diameter, tooth brush, 10ml disposable plastic syringe.


Brake part cleaning spray, pair of pads, copper grease, cotton swabs on sticks.

The task

  1. Clean calliper with spray and tooth brush. Remove right hand body cover and wipe around reservoir.
  2. Examine the calliper and see if the pad retaining pin can be rotated by hand with the split pin. If it can, OK, if not you'll have to decide how much force to use later on.
  3. Remove and retain split pin.
  4. Gently tap out pin from left hand side using old screwdriver as a drift. Once the pin has moved around 4mm it will be loose as it has a spring collar on it. Remove and clean pin.
  5. Lift out pads and examine them and disc for scratching. You've not left it too late have you?
  6. Clean internal surface of calliper and piston with brake cleaner spray and cotton swabs.
  7. Loosen lid of fluid reservoir.
  8. Lever calliper from right hand side (i.e. adjacent to wheel) to width of new pad. While doing this check for, and maybe remove with syringe, excess brake fluid in reservoir.
  9. Fit wheel-side pad, ensuring that locating lug is in place.
  10. Lever piston into calliper, again remove excess fluid as it runs back to reservoir.
  11. Fit pad, again checking locating lug.
  12. Realign pads, double check that they are located properly and replace retaining pin, having put the smallest possible amount of copper grease onto the spring collar.
  13. Tap the pin home and refit split pin.
  14. Press pedal a few times to centre calliper and top up fluid level with fresh fluid. Replace cover.
  15. Check for binding and stopping ability before riding off.

Time and cost

This job takes around 40 minutes. Genuine BMW pads cost around 28 and Brembo 15. Unlike other bits of the bike there doesn't appear to be any BMW marking on the pads (last time I looked anyhow) and the code number on the BMW pads showed that they are the same Brembo ones. It's your choice, but hard compound will destroy expensive discs, I expect Brembo will be OK. Can anyone report on extended use of non-Brembo pads?

Front brake pads

This job is almost identical to the above, except:
  1. Remove plastic calliper guard.
  2. Remove calliper off fork
  3. As you remove the pads check the arrangement of a flat spring steel retaining clip and ensure that it is correctly orientated on reassembly.
  4. Replace calliper and tighten bolts very firmly

Valve clearances

It is important to check the clearance between the valve shims and the cam shafts to ensure that the gap has not worn away. This will cause serious damage to the cylinder head and or the piston.

Before beginning the job you must consider if you are likely to need to replace the shims (i.e. adjust the clearance). This is a harder job, not yet described here, that needs specialist parts and tools. Rumour has it that once the engine has bedded in and the shims replaced at say 6000 miles then an averagely ridden machine will not require replacement for many miles. Two of mine were reshimmed (don't know which) by the dealer at 6000 miles. At 32000 miles they are still in tolerance (a dealer checked it at 23000 miles).


A low range torque wrench is thought by some to be advisable. A 10mm socket to fit above and a set of feeler gauges are essential. You also need a large straight screwdriver and a 6mm long Allen key and T-bar.


A replacement 10mm screw clip for the oil breather hose unless you have the special tool to allow you to refit the OEM clip. Clean newspaper.

The task

  1. The engine must be cold to check the valve clearances. It's also helpful if the petrol tank is nearly empty.
  2. Remove grey plastic pieces either side of engine.
  3. Disconnect the petrol feed pipe at the tank tap (plug or cover this to stop dirt going into the system) and the tank breather pipe at a joint hidden under the rear left corner of the tank, accessible from the seat area.
  4. Remove the petrol tank by undoing the body work Allen screws and the rear bolt under the seat. Slide the tank backwards and then lift. So you know, it has 4 tabs that hold locate it into the front fairing and underneath, two grooves that slide onto rubber bosses on the frame spine.
  5. Clean the exposed frame and cylinder head cover taking care not to get the spark coils too wet. Leave to dry. It'll be messier here than you'd expect!
  6. Detach oil breather hose from frame reservoir.
  7. Detach the spark plug leads and remove a spark plug.
  8. Remove the 'button' from the centre of the alternator housing on the right-hand of the crankshaft and fit the 6mm Allen key. This is to turn the engine.
  9. Loosen and remove the 10mm bolts around the periphery and in the middle of the head cover and remove it to the left hand side. It's a bit fiddly to get it off above the timing gear and below the frame but it will fit. Watch out for the bolts catching on the cams.
  10. Turn the engine clockwise to TDC on compression. Check the compression using a finger over the spark plug hole. The lobes of the cams should be pointing 'outwards' and the lines scored on the left side of on the timing gears dead horizontal and inline with each other.
  11. Check the clearances by sliding a gauge between the cam lobe and the upper surface of the valve shims. The right hand gaps are obvious, left can be accessed via slits in the cam shaft bearing carrier. The clearance should be between 0.10mm and 0.15mm. Write down the gap for future reference.
  12. If they are OK then reassemble. If not, you have to change the shims. I suggest you reassemble and take the bike to a dealer who will have the set of shims.
  13. Replace alternator 'button' very gently. The metal is soft.
  14. Replace cylinder head cover and gently replace bolts, working around the cover. Torque to 10Nm either using torque wrench or by feel using a small ring key.

    NB I'm told that it is a bad idea to use a wrench on 'old' bolts as they will shear at the specified torque due to fatigue and oil on the thread. You have been warned.

  15. Replace oil breather hose (using your new clip) and spark plug and leads.
  16. Replace petrol tank and reconnect petrol feed and the breather. The tank can be fiddly to get back into final position. Get it right and check that the pipes aren't kinked.

Time and cost

It takes a while to remove and replace the tank, but this speeds up plug changing. Removal and replacement of the head cover takes under half an hour. It's only a few minutes work to check the clearances. Negligible cost.

Monoshock replacement

IntroductionWARNING LOGO

The rear BMW/Showa monoshock on my F650 lost damping and some support at around 20,000 miles. This appeared as a huge drop as the machine came off the centrestand accompanied by a clunking noise. When the rear was lifted up and down with the grab rail the machine felt heavy and dead. I'd noticed this whilst I was in Spain but it took someone to point it out to me for me to really believe there was a problem!

The BMW replacement is 400 - I was not able to find a company that will rebuild them.

Serious riders such as Helge P. recommend using an Ohlins shock. I'm beginning to see why.

I was told by an Aprilia dealer that the Pegaso shock fits but I was not convinced. I chose a rebuildable Hagon, made in the UK for 200, with a full 2 year guarantee. When fitted, the bike sagged rather too much and after 2,000 miles it was flat on the floor. After asking Hagon for advice they advised increasing the preload by a maximum of 10mm although they were surprised that I was dissatisfied. The shock needs to be removed to do this as it has traditional collars and these cannot be rotated in situ. After a few thousand more miles I decided that the sag was still excessive as the bike would readily bottom out with any load above me on it.

Another call to Hagon and they agreed to supply a 180kg/cm spring rather than the original 150kg/cm. This was also a bit longer than the original and so about 5mm preload had to be used to get the collars properly screwed on. This is now a great improvement, giving no sag on an unladen bike and only a bit with myself and luggage. Clearly this would be an unsuitable setup on a lightly loaded F650.


A new shock, rags or tissues, petrol, MDS-based longlife chassis grease


Centrestand, house brick, standard toolkit, 17mm and 19mm sockets, 10mm WAF Allen key or wrench fitting, medium range torque wrench, long nose pliers or thin fingers.

The task

  1. Support bike on centrestand, reduce preload to minimum and remove plastic side panels.
  2. Identify suspension linkages and clean bolt heads with a petrol-dampened rag so that they can be removed without damage.
  3. Loosen bolts so that they can be removed readily when needed.
  4. Support rear wheel on brick so that the weight is taken. Considering tread depth etc this equates to lifting wheel about 10mm.
  5. Remove linkage bolt ensuring that you retain a large washer from each side. This can be withdrawn with fingers alone if the wheel is supported correctly.
  6. Lift wheel and swing arm at least 25cm by supporting the wheel on the end of the brick. This should completely expose the lower monoshock bolt.
  7. Remove the monoshock bolt (17mm socket) retaining both a plain and a spring washer. There is not a nut as the shock bracket is threaded.
  8. Push the two linkages that are hanging from the swing arm so that they face backwards and tape up if need be. Remove remote preload reservoir from the frame by undoing the 10mm WAF bolt.
  9. Remove upper monoshock retaining bolt (you may need pliers to extract the bolt between the various black breather pipes) holding the shock with your other hand. Retain a washer from each side. Mine had only one washer. I suspect that this was because the welding had run onto the attachment point and a washer would not have fitted flat.
  10. Carefully withdraw the shock down through the swingarm, making sure that the preload system doesn't get stuck.
  11. Clean all exposed suspension linkages surfaces and bolts/washers. The bearings contain needle rollers so don't wash too much petrol around or get grit inside them. Regrease bearings.
  12. Reassemble in the opposite order making sure that the threaded side of the lower shock bracket faces the right hand side and the damping screw is accessible from the left. It is advisable to put Loctite on threads.
  13. If you are using a Hagon shock it is worth checking the preload setting before tightening everything up. The adjustment rings are not accessible when assembled.
  14. Tighten the bolts to:
  15. Re-examine everything and after making sure that the brick is out of the way take the bike off the centrestand. It should feel better. Mine did! Adjust preload and damping as required.

Time and cost

Around 3 hours. Cost depends on your choice of shock but it's going to be between 70 for a rebuild and 600 for an Ohlins.

Fork seal replacement


The fork seals seem to start leaking between 6,000 and 50,000 miles depending on the sort of riding that you do and how clean you keep the stanchions. 20,000 miles seems to be their usual life on UK roads. I have heard of the chrome pitting after only 6,000 miles but this was on a machine that was severely neglected. I hate cleaning the bike but I do wipe the tubes with WD40 after most trips. No pitting yet. Some people say that gaiters keep the forks a good condition, others that they trap dirt! The F650 forks are too small for real dual-sport gaiters and too big for those for small commuter bikes. You'll find that pattern K-series gaiters fit well and when secured with black cable ties they look OK.

The job

In theory this is straightforward. In practice I failed to complete it and I am told that it can be awkward for the technician. My advice is do not start this job unless you have lots of experience with Japanese forks and stuck seals. Therefore there's no more text!

Time and cost

My bike was off the road for nearly a month as I struggled. The 9 units of BMW labour (to fit seals to loose forks) were well worth it. You might choose to take the forks off and carry them to the dealer but I guess this may be more inconvenient for you.

If you can correct or add to this information in any way please let me know.