The Chain Gang

F650 Technical FAQs (Beginners Guide)

Welcome to the BMW F650 Technical FAQs. There is a load of information on this website, and it can be a little tricky to find what you want. This page should help guide you through the FAQs, and point you in the right direction. There are well over 200 FAQs covering many topics you can think of, and probably a few you can not think of. Do not worry if you feel flooded with all the information in a FAQ - go for a walk, think about what you have read. Better yet, go for a ride! Then come back and read the FAQ again.

New to riding? New to the F650? Don't know which bike you want?

So are you looking around for a bike and not sure about the differences between various models? Check out the F650 History, Differences and Purchasing FAQ. If you are vertically challenged (really short), you might want take a peak at the Classic Lowering Kit FAQ and the GS Lowering Kit FAQ.

It might be a good idea to start with the non-maintenance FAQs such as the Riding Tips FAQ or if you are really new to the bike, you might want to start with the Break-in FAQ. Many of the other FAQs are technical in nature, or contain information about aftermarket modifications you can make to your bike.

You might also want to check the Cleaning FAQ - because keeping your bike clean is an important part of maintenance. Besides, what is the point of having a dual sport bike if it never gets dirty? And if your hands are getting tired when riding to the dirt, you might want to check the Throttle Rocker FAQ. And while your waiting for your bike to dry... have a read of the History of the Technical FAQs.

TexBiker's Opinion

I'm 35yrs old and have been riding streetbikes for nearly 20yrs. Until recently, I only bought sportbikes. I liked the power, the handling and the looks. Sure, they weren't very comfortable for long trips, they didn't have many provisions for luggage and the insurance was expensive, but I still loved them. Mainly just commuted, took some day trips and quite a few track days.

However, I'd often see dirt/gravel roads and wonder where they went. I'd go to places like Big Bend and realize I was missing most of the park because my bike just wasn't suited for that type of terrain. Last fall, my wife decided she wanted to learn to ride. A few weeks and 3000 miles later, she ended up with a pristine '97 Funduro after she was ready to step up. She joined the Chain Gang loved to wear her orange shirt to impress and confuse her friends.

For the last few days, I've been riding the Funduro around town...running errands, going to the coffee shop, meeting friends for lunch, etc. I've put about 400 miles on it and have been very, very surprised at how much I've enjoyed every one of them. The F650 isn't particularly quick or fast. It's not "sexy" like my old Ducatis. It's not as imposing as my big GS. It's just fun. Sits up taller than the sportbikes and much more nimble than the R-bike. With the Corbin seat, it's comfortable...all-day comfortable. Even though my dirt skills are minimal, I can pretty much take any road I see with the confidence that the bike will go where I point it. With my Givi bags and topcase, it has more than enough luggage space for a couple bags of groceries or my laptop...or a RTW trip if need be. Maintenance is simple and parts are (mostly) inexpensive and easy to find. Not to mention the great community of other F650 riders who are more than willing to help with just about any issue.

A year ago, if you had told me that a sub-50hp, single cylinder dual-sport motorcycle with knobby tires and full-luggage would end up being the most enjoyable bike I've ever owned, I'd have laughed in your face. After these past 400 miles, I honestly can't think of another bike I'd rather have in the garage right now. It's not perfect...but for me, it's pretty damn close.

Bike not starting? Strange Noises? Having Problems?

So your bike is not performing as it normally does? Or may be you simply are having problems starting it. Well the list of FAQs below should help you. Keep in mind this is not a full list of all the FAQs that might solve potential problems. There are dozens of FAQs covering all sorts of topics...

What's that? You want to do some maintenance?

No doubt if you have been around for a little while, and read some of the other FAQs, you may want to start doing some maintenance yourself. If you are worried about doing it - have a read of some of the comments at the very end of some of the FAQs. Many times people with little or no previous mechanical skills have been able to start working on their bikes.

Most of the common maintenance is covered in the FAQs, from changing your oil to checking your valve clearances and changing shims. However you are encouraged to go wandering through the FAQs yourself now... because there are hundreds of pages covering many many topics.

You could start with the Oil Change FAQ

You want Farkles? Or are you an aspiring CBOA?

Farkle (noun) - An addition to your motorbike such as a GPS, chain guard or something else. A Farkle may add value to your bike, or it may not. A Farkle may or may not be useful. To Farklize is to add Farkles to your bike.

CBOA - Has two definitions: "Cheap Bastards of America" or "Cheap Bastards of Australia". The origins of this term have been lost, however a likely version is that of CBO Australia - rather than buy a Farkle or fix the problem with an appropriate part, Aussies will sometimes come up with innovative and very inexpensive solution. Membership to the CBOA is in a continued state of flux - your membership can be revoked if you buy an expensive Farkle where an inexpensive Farkle would have worked. For example rather than buy a Touratech radiator guard, make your own.

There is heaps of information in the FAQs on Farkles, CBOA solutions and other aftermarket options. Wander through the FAQs and you will soon find them.

ATGATT - All The Gear All The Time. You may read "ATGATT" in the forums and other places from time to time. It is to encourage you to ride your bike as it says... in all the gear all the time. That means not just a helmet, but gloves, jacket, pants and boots. Look at it this way: Would you prefer to spend more $$$ now, or two months and lots of $$$ later in hospital. Even for a quick test ride around the block after a service: ATGATT.

Top ten modifications

The following should help you get an idea of what the more common modifications people make to the bike, and why. (Note: These were what I came up with, and not based on any survey)... in no particular order:

  1. AGM Battery - The stock battery is a wet-cell, and many problems are encountered. Check the Battery FAQ
  2. C/S Sprocket Change - The stock 16T front sprocket is quite often reduced to a 15T. See the Chain and Sprockets FAQ. This gives the bike a better bottom end gearing with the downside being a slight loss of top speed.
  3. Aftermarket Windshield - Wind is sometimes a problem with the F650, so some people add larger windshields to their bikes. See the Buffeting FAQ.
  4. Aftermarket Lugguage - Going somewhere, then you might consider one of many aftermarket solutions for Classic Aftermarket Luggage or GS Aftermarket Luggage
  5. Radiator Guard - Those that take the bike offroad sometimes install a radiator guard.
  6. Suspension Upgrade - After a while many people find the F650 suspension has a lot to be desired. You can check the Aftermarket Shocks FAQ and the Aftermarket Forks FAQ
  7. Protective Equipment - Many people add or replace various protective equipment on the bike such as chain and sprocket guards.
  8. GPS - A very popular addition to your bike (if you can afford it!)
  9. Aftermarket Seats - Many find the stock seat is not good enough for longer rides.
  10. Aftermarket Exhaust - (Could not really come up with much else that might be popular).

And Join the Chain Gang!

The Technical FAQs and F650 forums are free... however they only continue to exist because people join the club and support club activities. Check the main webpage for membership information.

Note: Nobody makes a profit from the Chain Gang DVDs or membership fees. The website and DVDs were created by volunteers. The website is updated by volunteers and the DVDs are distributed by volunteers.