The Chain Gang

The BMW F650 Technical FAQs History

The following history is based on input from Flash and Kristian.
Their input has been invaluable in filling in the blanks of the story...
These are the ones who started the FAQs.
So if you want someone to blame, blame them!

The Original Keepers of the FAQs

Nothing constructive ever gets done by a committee, especially a virtual one. Therefore, a few of us took it upon ourselves to assemble this FAQ, piecewise. Each write-up is generally one person's opinion on answers to questions that are often asked about BMW F650 motorcycles or a maintenance/repair task. This opinion is the author's. If you don't like it, you have two options; put up your own website with alternative opinions or post a message on the CG Forums to discuss it. If you have some constructive criticism or have something you would like to contribute, great, send an email to the FAQ Master. Please include your CG number in any email to the FAQ, if you have one, so if you make a FAQ contribution, your number can appear next to it. If you don't have one, don't worry, email us anyway.

The intent of these write-up are to provide more detailed information on how to do some basic maintenance tasks, as well as to give part numbers for generic parts such as bearings and seals, available (much cheaper and often BETTER quality) from sources other than BMW. F650 riders tend to prefer to avoid paying BMW prices whenever possible. These write-ups are mainly for the Carburetted F, but there are lots of similarities to the Dakar, so there will be some useful info for Dakar/GS owners too. Some FAQs are more for information on where to get particular items because some subjects are too subjective (e.g. Oil Type, Wind Buffeting, Tyre Brand, Intercoms, Bags). For these subjects what we will try to do is give a cross-section of comments on the particular item or product. Again, if you have an opinion on the FAQ information, drop us a line. Sorry if it's not beautiful, we're more into content than presentation. In the interests of those still on 56K Modems, I've also tried to use links to Graphics, rather than the Graphics themselves or at least thumbnails.

If you have a specific question about a problem with your bike, please read through the FAQs, and post a message on the CG Forums if you can't find the answer here. Please understand we're busy enough writing and compiling the FAQs without answering individual queries, although we will try and help you if we can, on the message board.

Why do we include so much "Feedback" and "Opinions"? Several reasons. No one wants advice - only corroboration. John Steinbeck. First & foremost though, because it helps you identify your symptoms, exactly how Joe Average might describe it. What's the use of a really technical description if you can't understand it? The second is so you have some idea of the number of instances and the severity of the problem. Note that what is in the FAQ is probably NOT a representative sample, but at least it is SOME sort of relative gauge. Thirdly, so all the info is collected in one place, so you don't have to trawl for it. Is this a lot of work? Yes it is!. Want to help? We'd be VERY grateful for a dedicated pair of hands.

Please also note that all the work done here on these FAQs is completely voluntary. We have normal jobs. This is a labour of love, or stupidity, depending on your viewpoint. We have no sponsorship deals and none of your membership money, nor your yearly subscriptions for the newsletter, is intended to keep this FAQ going. That would take money away from the Charitable Works done by Steve on the Chain Gang. So please don't think this is where your money goes, or expect this is what you've paid for and start expecting it to serve you. It's not. If you want to help, please drop us a line. If you have a good suggestion, we'll try to consider it. If you want to contribute, we will definitely consider it, if you do something about contributing your time. If you want to contribute to Children's Charities, please contact and tell him on behalf of the FAQ, you'd like to make a donation. Thanks!

The [Original] Keepers of the FAQ - Flash #412 & Kristian #562

So It Begins...

In about May of 2001, Flash wrote the original F650 FAQ - mainly due to the same damn questions being asked in the forums all the time. You can find a copy of Flash's FAQ from 17 December 2001 by clicking here (not all links will work on this page - as they are linked to the web archives). The account Flash used for the FAQ was free, and the FAQs were written using an old UNIX based editor called vi. After a while, Kristian, who was also sick of answering the same damn questions, wrote some FAQs of his own. Contacting Flash, Kristian asked if he could help with the FAQ. Given the extra work that would be involved for Flash in uploading extra FAQs, Kristian was encouraged to create his own webpage. Flash was surprised (and delighted) when Kristian did create his own FAQ.

Eventually, Kristian suggested the two pages be combined, and they were joined by Flash on his website. After that, Johnathan Gifford, the former site administrator, pulled my F650FAQ site into and created This was (probably) at the suggestion of F650#1, Steve Johnson, our fearless leader and benefactor. Kristian took over as FAQ-master in around September 2001, before the FAQ went live on in December 2001. Flash's f650.htm file was last timestamped Dec 29 2001 from when he nuked his own FAQ and simply linked in to

Other misc. contributions worth mentioning include:

By this stage editing the FAQs required login access to Soon the FAQs became large and unwieldy, and using vi was no longer viable. Flash was experiencing firewall issues at work, and had dialup access at home. Kristian asked if he could reformat the whole mess, and Flash handed over FAQs to Kristian.

Flash, Kristian, and indeed all FAQ maintainers have philosophical diferences over the content. Be it over the layout or content. For example in Flash's own words: Kristian believes that ALL opinions are valid. I believe that BAD information should NOT be presented in the FAQ. If somebody says something is impossible and somebody else provides photos how to do it, I think the first opinion has no place in the FAQ. If somebody posts the wrong part number, I think it should be fixed or not appear. However these differences have never come between the maintainers.

On the other hand, Kristian says... I attempted to embellish and expand existing FAQs for the complete non-mechanic (Flash would say too much, but my target audience was always Joe_BMW_owner who believed that BMW could change oil better than he could, and to give him a sense of satisfaction)... I went too far and added far too many FAQs, gleaning from forum posts and emailed posts and sometimes the inventions of others often performing these on my own bike and writing it up with the experience and photos from first-hand knowledge.

Changing The Guard

When Kristian's first child was born, his wife was not happy with how much time he was spending managing the FAQs. Flash sent a message explaining that it was time for Kristian to walk away and why. After that the FAQs went un-addressed for a while. A few half-ar$ed attempts were made by uncommitted individuals to maintain them. But they all felt overwhelmed by the job, and underwhelmed by the pay. To be honest, there is always heaps of information to be added to the FAQs.

For Flash, the FAQs pretty much ended when the fool infected bikes started becoming the majority. Flash had said most of what he felt was needed to be said. He felt BMW ruined a GREAT design. Flash moved on to other projects including the DVDs and the Cagiva Gran Canyon. Flash's input can be found in many FAQs - a testament to his knowledge and skill as an F650 mechanic.

Kristian still has the F650GS (as of late 2005), but feels it is not quite as good as his Classic, a bike he is attached to. He almost bought a Cagiva Gran Canyon a few years ago, but had no room to maintain three bikes and a car. And a special thank you should go to Kristian's wife (and the SOs of all FAQ maintainers) - Thank you for his time.

As this all happened five or more years ago,
the "truth" has a tendancy to fade. Better to get it right sooner
than try to reconstruct it later. (Not that anybody REALLY gives a $#!t).

Tomorrow is Another Day

Sometime in mid 2005, Winter took the reins of FAQ Master. This was less than a year after purchasing a 2004 GS - another demonstration that in less than six months someone with little or no knowledge of engines can end up maintaining their own bike - with the support of these FAQs.

Flash has some good advice for all future FAQ Masters: There is one thing you should NEVER forget. These FAQs are NOT more important than anything real or any person in your life. The FAQs can WAIT. Nothing bad will happen if you have something important to do and don't get the FAQs done. The more demanding some individual becomes about something in the FAQs, the more you have the right to tell him to write it up himself. This is a volunteer job. If at any time you get fed up, walk away. Take a break or quit entirely. The world will NOT stop because the FAQ is not updated. But meanwhile, more people than you will ever know appreciate your behind the scenes efforts.

When the F650 forums underwent changes in October/November 2005, a mammoth task to update the look and feel of the FAQs begun. This effort continues today, and includes incorporating the remaining Tech Tips and vast quantities of information in the forums. Most of this work is a cosmetic change, and the addition of information. At the core, the F650 FAQs remain based on the vast efforts of Flash, Kristian and many many others.

More More More...

In October 2006, BMW released three G650X models. These bikes were essentially the same as the dual spark F650, except each model had been on "The Biggest Looser" and lost some weight. Due to the similarities between the G650 and F650 models, the F650 FAQs were expanded slightly to include a little more information about the G650X models.

After many years, the FAQs became available on CD in June 2007. This was an effort to reduce the traffic on the website, and to allow everyone to carry the FAQs with them. At less than 512Mb in size, the CD could also be coppied to a USB / thumb drive, and carried that way as well. It is worthy of mention of the many people in the Chain Gang who have spent countless hours distributing the DVDs and CDs over many years. No one gets payed for their work. So buy them a drink the next time you see them.

Why not use a Wiki?

From time to time people ask why we do not use a Wiki for this site. There have been many debates over this, however it comes down to the following simple points: