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2002 F650GS--Opinions?


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Folks, what are your opinions of a 2002 F650GS with 18K miles as a dual-sport in a Third World country? Is this a reliable machine? Is it easy to fix? I won't ask about availability or cost of parts. I don't want to know....

How would you compare it to a KLR as a practical bike to have?

Thanks in advance.


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Hey David,


I had an '03. Put 23k on it in 1 year. Zero problems. Good bike/just not as good as the 12GS. More complex than the KLR which could be a problem where your going.


Good luck.

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More complex but higher quality than a KLR. The advantage of a KLR in a 3rd world country is that you can almost fix anything with JB weld, duck tape and bailing wire. Both are solid machines and will probably serve your purpose.

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The F650 is what Glenn Hedsted rode around the world with minimal problems. I would wager that with the amount of them used in SA and some other places across the continent you should be able to aquire parts comparitavely easy. I realise its not like going to the dealer down the street but all things considered its not a bad choice of machine, and the things you can do to customize for fuel range and other things to make it a true Africa explorer are awesome.

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2002 was the 2cd year of fuel injection for the F650. Issues with the original 2001 FI should have been solved (surging)by 2002. Issues surrounding the F650 (my opinions only and I do own a F650) is there are steering head bearing issues that seem to show up on forums. Not that big of a deal to fix, but there is the possibility of failure. The Rotax motor is darn near bullet proof. Weakest part is probably water pump seals, although with proper maintenance (fluid changes) this is a rare deal.


The frame and components are very stout (except for turn signals) and stand a lot of abuse from bad roads. The bike will still feel very solid after many miles. Brakes are scores better than a KLR, and the motor is more powerful than a KLR. It is also a better on road bike than a KLR, but not as good off road. KLR's have more "buzz" at highway speeds. The KLR is better in really rough stuff with better suspension travel.


Other F650 weak points are wimpy forks and a marginal shock. The fork fix is easy (at least for me) by adding 3/8" spacers over the stock spring spacers and changing to 15 weight fork oil. I weigh 190 lbs, so adjust from there. The rear shock is rebound adjustable and can be dialed for comfort. It also has a preload adjuster which can be a great attribute when riding touring loaded vs. empty.


KLR parts and dealers are much more plentiful than BMW dealers. However, when we limped back from Mexico, one of the KLR's with us was having tire and electrical problems. We found a dealer in Arizona to try and get parts. He didn't really stock much, and only had one tire that would fit a KLR rear wheel. It happened to be a street tire. So, maybe the dealer network is strong, but parts and pieces aren't?


The F650 was the mileage king on our journey (2 KLR 650's, One KlR 250, and the F650.) At gas stops the 650 KLR's would see around 52-55 mpg. The F650 saw 65-75 mpg. We all travelled at the same speed and mileage. The fuel injection and motor are that efficient over the carbed versions.


All 3 KLR's had to add oil during the 5000 mile trip, but the Rotax didn't use a drop.


I originally was going to buy a KLR. After riding one (a new 2006), I was disappointed with the vibration, motor and brakes. For the money to fix these things, I decided on the F650 as it also came with ABS. Both the KLR and F650 have limitations. I think you just need to decide whats most important to you.

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I agree with the statements Outpost22 made.

I have owned a 2002 F650GS for 5 years now. It has been very relaible and gets great fuel mileage.


If you maintain it well it will not let you down.


If you are going to use the bike for rough off road riding, I might suggest a smaller lighter bike. The F650GS is designed for 75% street and 25% off road. It will do fine on dirt roads and trails.

Somewhat aggressive off road tires are available for the rim sizes on the bike.

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Good feedback! Thanks.

What mods/accessories would you recommend? I'm not talking about farkles. I'm talking real meat-and-potatoes stuff I need for living in a country with rough roads and some sand roads and trails.

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The best bet is fork skins for the upper fork tubes. They will save your fork seals. I also fashioned a deflector for the rear shock out of an old vinyl floor mat. This will keep the rear shock seal and ram free of nicks and debris which will also save the seal. Both mods are under $25.00.


The fork mods I mentioned earlier are cheap (spacer and fork oil). Good money spent to dial them in, depending on your weight and gear.


I also spent a whopping $8.00 on dense seat foam and leveled out the seat. Just pull out the front 1/2 10,000 staples of the stock seat and build up under the stock foam until you're happy. I added about 1 1/2"-2" to get it level. Then use an air stapler or power stapler to put it back together.


Another useful mod is a water proof battery monitor like a Kurasyn (sp?). Replacing the stock battery with an AGM is worth doing as the stocker drinks water.


I have also added fog lights, Cee Baileys windscreen, handguards, Wolfman tank bag and tank panniers. Also, to lower the foot pegs 1 1/2" and add support, Fastway pegs were used. These are comfort mods, but if you are 5'9" or shorter, they probably aren't necessary. I went with Hepco & Becker crash bars as they also double up as a place to mount hiway pegs for comfort cruising. They also serve to protect a Stebel horn that I just put on. The stock horn is worthless.


I would like to replace the stock exhaust to save weight, but don't like loud bikes, so I'm waiting on this one.



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The fork fix is easy (at least for me) by adding 3/8" spacers over the stock spring spacers and changing to 15 weight fork oil.


Where can I get spacers? Or did you machine them yourself?

Do the forks themselves need more bracing?

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The forks don't need any more bracing (ala KLR's). They are already braced. I made the spacers out of aluminum, but you could use pvc pipe too. ( I don't remember the diameter but have a spare spacer and I can measure later if you need the info.)


I do recommend the Hepco & Becker crash guards over the BMW guards. They do not get in the way during standard maintenance like the BMW guard does.

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Great suggestions. The bike will maily be used for relatively short trips. Rides out to the provinces, etc., I don't anticipate long-distance cruising with it, but who knows. I might get crazy! I've been looking at some of the aftermarket suppliers. Lordy! This stuff is expensive! Guess I've been living in Africa too long.

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One of the really great things about the F650GS is its fuel mileage. If you are cruising along at 50 MPH on highways, you can expect to get 75 MPG! With that type of mileage, you do not need an extra large fuel tank.


Last summer I took a 1500 mile trip on mine. I was fully loaded down with side bags, camping gear, and all of the stuff besides the kitchen sink. I was cruising around in the Rocky mountains at 10k feet, and getting 70 MPG! It was amazing.


The first items I would buy for the bike are the tank bag and a good rear rack or top case. It makes carrying stuff so much easier.

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On my last trip thru the Sierra's and up and down hwy 395/Bodie/Aurora/Masonic/ Virginia Lakes; Tioga Pass; Hwy 108 and 4, Pepper the 06 650 Gs got between 68 and 72 mpg. We were fully loaded with filled Givi E21's; and a 36 inch long side zip duffel on the back. Man, we had fun.

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