The High Mileage FAQ

compiled & edited by Kristian #562
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This FAQ is dedicated to collating and summarising the opinions of Long Term/High Mileage Owners

General High Mileage Feedback

Refer also individual FAQs and the Surveys, accessed from the Main Page)

Anyone on this board have a 650 (any 650) who has not had trouble, repairs or replacements. We hear of ALL the problems, but rarely, if ever, hear anyone say that their 650 is trouble free. Guess I can't judge by mine 'cause my classic has only 6,000 and my GS 1/3 of that. To date, they have been trouble free but I'm sure.., having said that, that it will change tomorrow. Mentioned in a post below that my worst fear about riding is equipment failure. Is there a BMW MC, or just a BMW 650 that you can buy, take care of, and count on not to let you down?

HM - Classics:

HM - GS/Dakars:

Detailed High Mileage Service Records

Feedback #1

For a detailed "Round the World Trip" F650 Service Record; Service Record for TWO Classic F650's, (From Erin & Chris Ratay's Website).


Finally rode back into the USA, after 4 years (well, 3 years, 11 months, and 5 days, but who's counting?) Crossed from Copper Canyon into New Mexico at Columbus (anticlimactic), and went to Deming before lunch on Friday... Discussed the problem with the crew, and were later told they could not do a leak-down test until this coming Weds. Rode to Tucson Friday night (stopping every 50 miles to check/add oil) and hit Iron Horse first thing Sat morning. Leak-down test showed that exhaust valves/seats are worn, maybe intake too, piston rings will need to be checked, and we might have problem with breather seal again (we replaced rings and seal 20,000 miles ago, though at the time, no sign of damage to rings or cylinder).  According to the dealer, we're looking at about $300 just to tear down the engine for full inspection. Then, valve job, potential ring job, and maybe even breather seal would probably run a couple of thousand $$$, plus a couple of weeks. Marty says even if we replace the "damaged" bits, the rest of the engine is worn from heavy use.


Our 1997 F650 is blowing oil out the airbox -- about 1/2 quart every 100 miles. Bike has 98,000 hard miles, and breather seal and rings were replaced at 76,000 miles. Bike currently runs fine, but leak-down showed that major air is escaping through exhaust valves, a little through the intake, and also a tiny bit past the rings. Changed rings previously only because we had them, and engine was torn down to replace breather seal (all that work for a $1 seal!). Valves were re-cut at 60,000 miles.

Just an update, as we kinda left this hanging a bit. We're staying with Al & Julie Jesse, and with Al's help we have torn down Erin's motor. The bike was losing a lot of oil, like we experienced in Patagonia a year ago. The good news is that Erin & I tore the engine apart (split the cases) in less then 3 hours, the bad news is that the head needs an overhaul. We sent the head to Ron Wood Racing in California, and we're "stuck" until we get it back (we're begging Ron for early next week). For awhile there (last 2 weeks), we thought we might have to change the engine. We were told some things that made us think the engine could be severely worn, and probably not worth repairing. Finding another engine in a short period of time seems futile -- we've heard rumors of $600, but all we have been able to confirm are upwards of $2-3,000. Getting a new head would cost around $1,000. Surprisingly, with 98,909 miles on the clock, the engine looks pretty sweet! Thankfully, after opening it up, the "damage" is not so bad. We could have replaced the crank case breather seal (again), buttoned it up, and continued. The bike had been running strong as ever -- the only reason we stopped was because of the oil puddles we were leaving. The concern is the intake valves were seated a bit deep. The exhaust look OK, but the intake could cause us a problem down the road -- not today, but maybe 5,000 miles, maybe 25,000 miles -- it's hard to know, and why take the chance. So Al contacted Ron Wood in CA and asked his help -- we sent the head out last night. It's gonna cost a little over $400 to overhaul the head, and take about a week. The Nikasil (or however you spell it) on the cylinder looks near-new. The rings we put in at 76,000 miles are OK, but we have to check the gap. Al looked inside and said the shifter arm and gears look near-new. Everything looks in great shape! Since we have the engine in pieces already, we will change the rings, all gaskets, and a couple of crank case seals. Probably the water pump too, just to be safe. The extra time is chewing into our schedule, but we're in great company and the truth is, with just under 100,000 miles on the engine, it really wasn't that bad ;-) Thanks for your ideas and suggestions, and hope to see you out on the road. -C & E

Feedback #2

Charlie #070.

1997 F 81,000 miles, I'm going on memory on the mileage below cause I don't feel like looking it up :-) .

  1. Rear wheel bearing 38,000 miles and another rear wheel bearing around 60,000 (replaced every one front and rear just in case).

  2. Ignition switch 65,000 miles.

  3. Odometer 72,000,

  4. Voltage Regulator 78,000.

  5. Tach cable 79,000.

  6. Both rubber choke diaphragms cracked 79,000.

  7. Oil seal behind sprocket 79,000

  8. Oil seal behind shift lever miles ?? (maybe 45,000)

  9. Bike is in the shop now because the coolant tank filled up with engine oil, probably a head or cylinder gasket.

  10. Also started to loose antifreeze before this, so I told them to replace waterpump seals and impeller shaft.

  11. 81,000 miles. Lots of batteries, tires, light bulbs, chains and sprockets. Probably a few more things I haven't thought of but nothing big.

  12. Steering head bearings still seem good. Never had to add oil until this last problem.

  13. Starts good runs great.

Feedback #3

Kristian #562

For a detailed Classic F650 Service Record.

Feedback #4

J@mes NZ #848
100,000 Miles: This is what happens to a '95 F650 when ridden through South and Central America. Serviced by third world Mechanics and Pirates.

  1. Rear tyre: Bridgestone trail wing: till 52,700km/ Conti TKC 80 till 67,500km/74,000km(2ndhand)/79,300km(+2,500KM)(2ndhand)/

  2. Oil changes: 47,500km(f)/52,700km/57,700km(f)/60,000/66,500(f)/71,500km/75,000km(f)/77,600km(+2,500KM)/79,300km(f)/81,500km/86,100km

  3. Steering Head Bearings: 56,000km/ XXXXXXX

  4. Chain: 57,700km(2ndhand)/65,800km (VAZ-too weak)/72,300km (chain torn twice!)/CHAIN KIT 88,300km

  5. Brake pads (front): 60,000km (custom-made tractor)/66,500km/79,300km(+2,500KM)(some grip left on old ones)

  6. Brake pads (back): 60,000km(custom-made tractor)/66,500km/ 79,300km(+2,500KM)

  7. Front Tyre: Bridgestone trail wing till 61,000km/Conti TKC 80 till 79,300km(+2,500KM)(2nd hand)/

  8. Magnetic impulse switch in generator repaired: 60,500km; replaced at 66,500km

  9. New Sprockets: 65,800km(VAZ)/new front one: 75,100km (VAZ one was loose from beginning)

  10. Starter motor checked: 71,500km

  11. Outlet manifold (rear twin rubber piece at carburettor): 71,500km

  12. Rubbers in rear sprocket: 57,700km

  13. Rear wheel bearings: 68,500km

  14. Forks sealants: 72,800km

  15. Change brake fluid: 40,000km/ 71,500km/77,600km(+2,500KM)(back one only; partially)/79,300km(+2,500KM)

  16. Oiling cables: around 54,000km/71,500km/77,600km(+2,500KM)

  17. Change fork oil: 40,000km/72,800km

  18. Change radiator liquid: 71,500km

  19. Clean carburettor: 60,500km/ 71,500km

  20. Full service: 40,000km/ 71,500km (ECUADOR -HAHA!!!)

  21. Change starter motor relay: 75,100km (was NOT necessary!)

  22. Inlet manifold (front twin rubber piece at carburettor): 77,700km(+2,500KM)

  23. Change gasket for generator cap: 75,100km

  24. Crack in engine block where screw from generator cap is screwed in, probably caused by torn chain that banged against that cap, moving it out of place a bit: cold metal to stop the oil from leaking out:75,150km/77,700km (+2,500KM)

  25. Change spark plug caps: 75,100km

  26. Change head light bulb: 75,800km

  27. Change spark plugs: 40,000km/60,000km/75,100km

  28. Speedometer cable (complete set): 77,600km(+2,500KM)

  29. Thermostat broken/replaced: 78,500km(+1,500KM)

  30. Lubricating brakes: 77,600km(+2,500KM)/79,300km (front one again)

  31. Exchanged broken clutch lever: 77,700km(+2,500KM)

  32. Battery liquid replaced (AGAIN!!!): 77,700km(+2,500KM)

  33. Adjust shims: (were TOO TIGHT! mechanic Ecuador?!) 79,300km(+2,500KM)

  34. Battery: 77,700km (+2,500KM)

  35. Change brake fluid: 71,500km/77,700km(+2,500KM)/79,300km (FRONT ONE ONLY)

  36. Front brake: friction with brake disc: 77,700km(+2,500KM)

  37. Radiator excess tube broken at outlet due to pressure from tank above: 71,500km/75,500km/77,700km(+2,500KM): turned upside down rubber rings on holders and taped right one

  38. Gearbox: could not shift into first gear for about 10km: 78,800km (+2,500KM)

  39. Found out that "Nockenwelle" shows scratching; needs to be replaced together with top and bottom
    cover: 79,300km(+2,500KM)

  40. For more Info see

Feedback #5

I put nearly 10,000 on my Classic since last November when I bought it used from a fellow in Seattle.

The things on mine that have needed attention are:

Counter shaft sprocket came loose. I removed it, cleaned it added LocTite then torqued it.
The shift lever became just slightly loose (not loose enough to be a problem) but it did improve shifting when I snugged it up.
The wires going to the rear brake light switch ended up hanging down near the chain and became just slightly worn (I caught it just in time) on the outer insulation. I coated it with some of that liquid electric tape stuff and tape. Afterwards I used some cable ties to secure it properly out of the way.
My rear taillight was flickering then not working. It had come loose at the white connector under the seat. One side had come loose from the plastic fitting allowing it to loose contact. I reconnected it to the plastic fitting and it has been fine since.

Other things I did to improve on the original stuff:

I would not have done any of these changes if it had not been for the fact that I bought all of the parts used from a friend and he did the installations with my assistance. In doing these things it allowed me to learn and see much more about the bike. The brake line and Race Tech mods were really good improvements for heavy braking. I really recommend it. The other things are taking more time to realize the benefits (the rear shock is great but I'm still in the learning phase of handling) but all in all I'm very happy with the changes.

Good Ride'n Bill