Have you ever had Bad Thoughts? You know the ones. You're riding your GS and you see a lawn and wonder if you could just hop the curb and ride over it instead of going all the way up to the intersection? Maybe you've entertained thoughts of doing a big smoky burnout on your K12 while you're waiting in traffic. Maybe you've been sitting in a meeting and notice that the person across the way from you is pretty cute and, well, here come Bad Thoughts. I'm talking about those things you shouldn't do, but can't help thinking about.
The G650 X Moto is Bad Thoughts on wheels. It's like there's a little plug or something that fits into your noggin and start to fill your brain with Bad Thoughts.
"C'mon, Dave. You know you want to wheelie this thing."
"C'mon, Dave. You know a stoppie would be fun."
"C'mon, Dave. Is that all the lean angle you can muster? You wuss."
Oh yeah. Bad Thoughts, Bad Thoughts, Bad Thoughts. You're swimming in a veritable sea of Bad Thoughts.
Let's start with the basics. The new G series is BMW's attempt to provide more niche specific machines. These aren't ever going to be touring bikes. They're fun for a weekend, or a couple days. You're not going to load this bike up and head to Topeka from SF, CA. You're going to tear around the local roads, trails and byways.
There's a G650 that's pretty much a dirt bike, one that's a full hooligan bike (the subject of this tome) and one that's somewhere in the middle. To be completely honest, I can't keep the names of the other two straight yet. There's no doubt in my mind, though, that the X Moto is very aptly named since X Bad Thoughts doesn't really fit on the side panels too well.
This bike has a newer version of the venerable F650 powerplant. The fuel injection has been changed and there have been changes made to the valvetrain, but it's otherwise pretty much the same. It doesn't, however share the breezy character that I've experienced on the F series. This bike is snappier and the bike offers less intake honk under acceleration and much better forward progress. I thought the FI was nicely done, even if it was a bit cold blooded. The example I rode stalled once immediately after start up and usually took a couple minutes to start running cleanly when started from cold.
The motor is a stressed member, which means that it's an integral part of the chassis, carrying forces. In the photo, you can see the front stay, as well as the bigger bolts through the frame that hold the motor in place. It's also located at the rear, right by the swingarm pivot, but we'll talk about that a bit in the chassis portion.
That's the regulator rectifier hanging out there in the breeze. The ABS pump is visible behind the frame spar, to the rear of the R/R. The engine continues to be a Rotax sourced bit.
Chassis and suspension
The frame appears to be quite unusual, even for a BMW. In most twin spar chassis, the entire frame, from the headstock on down to the sideplates is constructed from one piece. In this bike, it appears that there's a wishbone shaped part that carries the headstock and the side rails, which is then bolted to the side plates. Additionally, there's a big aluminum structure in the middle that seems to loop up and over the motor and carries the upper shock mount. I don't know of more than a couple other bikes with this sort of frame arrangement. I believe Benelli's Tre has a glued up frame, with tubes that get inserted into the side plates and I think the FZ6 has a similarly glued up frame from parts. If the BMW chassis is bolted together, this would make frame repair much simpler, though it might give up some level of torsional rigidity. I didn't find frame stiffness to be an issue during my, ahem, rather spirited riding.
Forward motor mounts. From what I could see, the upper end bolts into the upper section of the frame wishbone.
Here's the view of the aluminum spar. The grayish pieces to either side are the side plates of the frame. The upper end of the shock bolts to this piece and the lower section bolts to the swingarm. There's no linkage or other fancy stuff on the rear suspension.
Suspension components are what you'd expect on a bike that's at the upper end of pricing for this range. The rear is a nice Sachs shock, complete with rebound and preload adjustment. Out of the box it's very nice and unlike most BMW's I've owned, I didn't immediately start wishing for an Ohlins in its place.
Front suspension is via a beefy male slider fork. There didn't seem to be any preload adjustment, but compression and rebound damping are readily adjustable via a simple screw at the top end of each leg. The forks appear to be nearly identical to the impressive units available on the HP2. BMW has also nicely marked each leg's adjustment with the function performed as well as which way to turn the adjuster to increase or decrease damping.
Front forks are substantial and stiff. Feedback is excellent. Wheels are stamped with Aprilia and appear to be almost identical to wheels from the Mille and Tuono.
During riding, the suspension is taut and smaller bumps are fed pretty directly to the rider. Larger bumps are filtered nicely and chassis oscillations are very nicely damped. Feedback through the forks is stellar and the rider is always aware of exactly what's going on at the front contact patch.
Geometry seems to be fairly steep, but the bike is stable at highway speeds. On spirited backroad riding the bike can accurately be place almost to the inch. In one example, I ride a road pretty regularly that has two patches on the road. This bit is in the middle of a corner, so the patches can upset an aggressively ridden bike. In between the patches is a section about 4 or 5 inches wide that is still smooth and the original surface. Even at seriously extralegal speeds, I could place the bike exactly on the smooth strip, time after time. Consider this bike an absolute backroad scalpel, allowing the rider to pick exactly where they'd like to be, with minimal effort.
Accomodations and Ergonomics
This is a supermotard bike. I don't know if they're the rage in the rest of the country, but here in Northern California, the seriously fast guys are riding them. Typically, they're a Husqy, converted XR or other dirt bike repurposed for tearing up the backroads. As anyone knows, a smaller, lighter bike requires less motive power to get the same power/weight ratio as a bigger bike, but carries the advantage of superior ability to change direction rapidly. On the tight roads around here, horsepower won't help you much, but better maneuverability will. Add in an ergonomic package that sits the rider bolt upright (even more upright than my GS!), a big wide bar and pegs that are way down there. Put all this together and you have a bike that can effortlessly change direction, partly because of the characteristics of the chassis and partly because it puts the rider in an almost ideal position to easily control the bike.
Switchgear is simple. Left cluster has the turn signal switch, horn and lights, along with a switch for the ABS, right switch has the kill switch and the starter button. Controls are "standard" in that the turn signals are operated by a simple switch on the left cluster.
Left grip with "normal" switchgear.
Right grip. Switches are nicely done and have terrific feel.
There's also a nice power socket under the seat, right next to the shock preload.
Nits: The seat is nothing short of painful. For me, I sat on those two little bones and riding down a straight, or even straight-ish section of road was tough. However, when the road got twisty, I could have cared less. I was having way too much fun.
The instrument panel could stand a tach of some type and the loopy cable routing from the right cluster neatly bisected the speedometer's reading for me (6' tall).
I wonder about the pricing, as well. This bike, without ABS, is about $9,200. This is right in there with a competitive CBR600RR or any of the other middle weight sport bikes. This bike, however, doesn't pack the punch those bikes do. In environs like Northern California, that's not such a big deal as the roads are consistently crooked enough to negate a horsepower advantage. But in other parts of the country, this bike will have a hard time keeping up unless the road is very, very tight. Thinking about my years riding in New England, I can only think of a few roads where this bike might have an advantage, or even equal footing, with the Japanese sportbikes.
In summary, this bike is unlike any other BMW I've ridden. It has the sharp edged character of the HP2 in that it's focused on a specific mission. It's never going to venture to another time zone from where it lives. It will, however, give larger, supposedly "sportier" bikes fits when the road gets tight.
Forget what you percieve a sportbike to be, the X Moto is what sporting motorcycling can be.