G650GS or G650GS Sertao?
I'm not new to BMW MOA but new to this forum. Just did an intro post a day or so ago.
I have 10 years and 170,000 miles on a couple of K1200LTs and the occasional service loaner ride on smaller BMWs, but zero experience off road -- unless riding across my front yard counts for anything. The few times I've had an LT on a gravel road it was white-knuckle time. So, I have lots of questions for you.
Next July (2016) my son and I are riding from his home in WA to AK and back, including the Haul Road. I've been wanting a smaller second bike and this is yet another reason to move in that direction. A nearby dealer has a leftover 2015 G650GS, as well as a leftover 2014 G650GS Sertao which he is making a good offer on. You are aware of the differences in those 2 bikes. I would add the usual protection farkles to the G650GS, and panniers, GPS and other things to either bike, so in the end they would be the same bike except for the Sertao's larger front tire and suspension travel (and resultant higher seat).
Question 1: Which is "better" for the Haul Road? Is there any reason the Sertao's larger front tire will be crucial on that road? In Alcan Rider's Haul Road Primer he makes the point that whatever you handle well is the "right" bike.
Keep in mind, as you think about my first question: I will ship the bike to WA, ride to AK and back, then ship it to Ohio. Once it returns to Ohio undoubtedly I'll visit local back roads but that isn't its primary mission. In other words, it doesn't need to be capable of conquering mountain roads/trails when that trip is over.
Question 2: Tubeless tires? No experience with tubes. Roadside flat repair on a tube sounds like a pain. I understand a little about the flexibility of the spoked rim, but tubeless seems much more easy - plug and go. Plus, when I bring the Sertao back to Ohio I won't be bombing around woods and fields; this is going to be my "errands" bike and play bike for short trips. Does it make sense to replace the Sertao's wheels with cast (i.e., non-spoked) wheels? I understand there are some DIY spoke-sealing products out there, with variable results; there are also places that will seal the spokes for you, and spoke wheels where the spokes connect outside the tire bead, making tubes not required. I'm just trying to stay away from tube hassles. And the Sertao's front tire looks so skinny! I'm wondering about handling on paved roads, having read about some twitchiness on that bike.
Question 3: Why was the Sertao discontinued in 2014?
Question 4 (drum roll): Thumper, or twin? Not just the AK trip, but long-term ownership. We know the thumper can do this trip, having seen many photos of it on this site. In a 16-day trip only 3-4 will be on the Haul Road. Everything else is higher speed and paved roads; same thing when the trip is over.
That's it for now. More questions to follow as I see your replies. Thanks.
To: Hschisler in Ohio.
Don't know how tall you are but last year I rode a standard height (I am 5'7" and shrinking) 2013 G650GS with cast wheels from Northern Michigan to Deadhorse and then to Key West and back to Michigan in twenty days (13,170 miles). My only real problem with the bike being a blown fuse.
I prefer the tubeless tires and would have MAYBE went for a more aggressive front tire than the Metzler Tourance I was running.
No real issues with the bike. You need to think a little about some way to carry some extra fuel. I can give you a couple options.
I live in a great dirt bike area and have been bouncing off trees for much of my 64 years. You may feel different than me but I never felt the need for a 21" front. Especially if I had to go with tubes.
Never ridden the twin. I have seen a report from one rider that had owned both and that he liked the twin better. Who knows?
When I was coming back on the Haul Road it was raining and a group was headed North on rental adventure bikes. GS twins and KLR's. They had one bike loaded up already and a few of them looked like deer in the headlights. Having an adventure bike doesn't make you into a dirt bike rider. Havin great tires can make you look pretty good.
I have one tooth larger on the countershaft, plastic hand guards, twisted throttle driving lights, national windshield, vario bags, cheap top box, wolfman tank bag, garmin GPS, solo seat factory option with the 2 x 6 board removed and gel pads inserted.
It will cruise effortlessly at speeds up to 85 mph. Gets busier between 85 and 95.
I would take this bike anywhere.
Since your already going to Deadhorse you should go to Key West on your way back to Ohio and make a full trip out of it.
PS: I am not much of a football guy but Go Michigan - Beat OSU.
See replies interspersed with your comments. Thank you for addressing all of my questions.
More replies are welcome as I consider these points...
Originally Posted by wkoppa
I'm 6'1" and 250#. I will do a test ride of the G650GS and the Sertao, but I think I will be too big for it, especially until a highway peg solution is added. You should be able to tell quite a bit by sitting on the bike in the showroom. I would go to a higher seat before I started adding hardware on the bottom of the bike. The height of your windshield would be important with how tall you are.
This is what gnaws at me -- since I have no experience with tubes I'm wondering what are the "cons" with them -- why do you prefer tubeless? Tubeless are easier to repair and one less complication (tube) to deal with.
Several options are out there, from a strapped-on plastic gas can to Rotopax (?) -style carriers, MSR bottles, etc. Would definitely want some additional fuel onboard, for the Haul Road. You got the idea.
I have never ridden off-road other than a few very short gravel stints on my K1200LT. No idea what a 21" tire feels like. That's part of my concern with the Sertao. The 21" wheel will roll over a big bump a little easier than a 19" wheel. Your not dealing with deep woods trail like obstructions on the Haul Road.
The dealer recommends the larger countershaft sprocket, and all the accessories you mention (perhaps different brands) will be a part of this bike. Sounds like your dealer is on-track.
It amazes that a one-cylinder bike can do that. Guess I'll find out on my test ride! I am about 210 lbs but a lot shorter. Before they convinced everyone they needed Exon-Valdez class motorcycles to go anywhere plenty of people explored the world on twin cylinder BMWs and Triumphs that had less horsepower than the G650GS. The Mothership would like you to buy a much bigger bike. On many roads you would be happier with a larger platform but on the worst of the Haul Road you will be happier with a smaller bike.
Take the money you save over a larger bike and use it to vacation in Michigan.
If I went with the Sertao, does it make sense to replace its spoke wheels with cast wheels -- to remove the tire tube from the equation?
If you go with the Sertao I would not go to the trouble of replacing the wheels.
I hope you have some other people chime in on this whole thing.
I have a 14 G650GS. 15k miles. I'm 5'7" and the Sertao was a little tall for my liking. For you at 6'1" I'd take the Sertao which has better suspension. I use to have a KLR 650 with a 21" wheel, no noticeable difference. I agree with you that flats are easier to fit on tubless wheels.
Ask the dealer about this next item. I recently read that the 2016 G650GS will have tubeless spoked wheels. If true can the dealership let you swap wheels.
I'm leaving Colorado in early June. Heading to socal then north to Alaska and Inuvik. Perhaps we can meet up for a beer.
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I'll ask the dealer; we may be there on Saturday for a test ride of the G650GS; although, it seems unlikely they would swap wheels because the G650GS has a 19" front wheel, the Sertao a 21". You'd be messing with the geometry of the bike.
Originally Posted by Ibgary6
If the '16 has spoked wheels and tubeless tires... why is that done -- strictly for appearance?
Edit: just checked bmwmotorcycles.com; '16 G650GS has cast wheels.
Retired from riding
I have not done the run you are talking about, but I have a fair amount of dirt experience. You are not going off road, so a 21" front wheel will not be necessary. If you want tubeless tires then a 21" presents problems in that regard. You can send your wheels to Woody's Wheel Works in Colorado and he will make them tubeless for far less than replacing wheels.
Most people spend way to much time worrying about the bike. You can go almost anyplace on any bike if you are smart about it. To that end I would sign up for a one day MSF dirt school. They usually supply the bikes. The reason I say this is because you will gain a greater level of comfort with a bike that is "loose" under you. This is something street riders usually never learn. It will increase your comfort level in nasty conditions.
The second suggestion, considering you are a street rider. Most folks new to "adventure" riding spend way to much time researching and buying and packing on board every conceivable thing you can think of. Trust me, the less weight you carry will raise your enjoyment and riding ability.
Enjoy the planning process but don't get overwhelmed by it or the feeling you have to find the perfect anything, you would be shocked what most bikes are capable of.
Thank you - that is just the kind of real-world experience I'm looking to hear about. Your points are all well-taken.
When I saw the G650GSs (standard and Sertao version) I thought they were the way to go because of their smaller size/lighter weight. And, because I've been looking for a light/small second bike for errands and short day trips, the idea appealed to me.
In the past few days I've been thinking of the F800 because of the bigger engine, increased comfort, a little bigger, etc. My opinion is still forming and it changes from day to day. I'll get there... Thanks.
I lived in Fairbanks for many years. Annie and I have made the trip between AK and the states over ten times, and we've been on the haul road several times as well. While in Fairbanks I worked at the U of AK and oversaw the campus housing as one of my responsibilities. In the summer we let riders stay on campus and would host 3-400 riders; many of them headed to Deadhorse. I saw bikes of all sorts head up the haul road and I think the G650GS is one of the best options. Light and nimble go a long way. Annie rode her 2007 on the road several times including to Deadhorse and back. Some considerations:
Tires: Putting a set of TKC80s on your bike will go along way towards building your confidence. If it is raining the road will be slippery but the most difficult parts will be areas that are being maintained. These areas will be freshly graded and wet from having calcium chloride sprayed. When you encounter such a stretch of road it is best to take a break and let some big rigs go through to pack down a path. You probably don't want to make the ride to and from AK on the TKCs. The best place to swap out tires is at Alaska Cycleworks in Fairbanks. Dan is available 24/7, will have the tires you need set aside and will hold your road tires for you. They are on the web. Give the a call to arrange having the tires ready for you.
Fuel: It is about 500 miles from Fairbanks to Deadhorse. The first 85 miles (mostly the Elliot Hwy) is paved. The last fuel before the Dalton is at mile 5 of the Elliot; then 128 miles to mile 60 of the Dalton at the Yukon River; 115 miles to Coldfoot at mile 175; 240 miles at Deadhorse. The 240 miles from Coldfoot to Deadhorse is within the bike's range but too close for my comfort. Also, on one of our trips the Yukon River fuel point was out of fuel; that meant 245 miles between fuel points. Bottom line is carry a gallon of gas. We used Peg Packers on Annie's 650. They work well and keep the weight low.
Lodging: While in Fairbanks you can stay on the campus of the U of AK Fairbanks. Google their Conference Services. Most people make the trip to Prudhoe and back in four days. Some do it in two and people have made the trip in under 24 hours. I recommend the four day version. Day one is Fairbanks to Coldfoot for fuel and food, then another 12 miles to Wiseman for the night; day two Wiseman to Deadhorse; day three Deadhorse to Wiseman (no food in Wiseman); day four Wiseman to Fairbanks. There is an inn at Coldfoot but both places in Wiseman are much nicer. Reservations are required at all locations.
The trip to and from AK may be the highlight of the entire adventure. There are three realistic options:
The ALCAN Hwy. Try to work riding the Icefield Parkway into your Route.
The Cassiar Hwy. Stop at Hyder, AK. The 40 mile ride into the town is spectacular.
The Alaska Marine Hwy (Ferry). You can go between Bellingham, WA and Skagway or Haines; or between Prince Rupert, BC and Skagway or Haines.
Go north on one route and south on another.
Which bike: The G650GS or Serato are good choices for the trip. You don't really need the extra off road capabilities of the Serato for the haul road. You are not really going off road as much as just going off pavement. If you plan to later on use the bike for long distance interstate riding, then it would not be my first choice. It can get a bit busy at speeds over 70 MPH in my opinion.
Glad to see you have read Jack's (ALCAN Rider) thread on ADV Rider. I know Jack quite well and nobody knows more about riding in AK.
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Great info and tips. Thank you. My son and I are making note of all the good info.
Tubeless spoked are made to give the benefits of spoked wheels which are "more flexible and stronger than rigid cast wheels", yet they allow you the option on going tubeless, which allows for quick easy flat repair.
Originally Posted by hschisler
If you test ride the F800 and G650, you will probably noticed the 800 is smother. The 650 smoothes out after a few thousand miles. Last time my bike was in for service I took an 800 as a loner for the day. When I came back to get my bike I thought the 800 was more buzzy than the 650. You should test ride the Tiger too.
I chose the 650 mostly because of weight. I'm alone 99% of the time and when I drop the bike I need to pick it up alone. 420, 470, 490. Your a big guy you can pick any of them up.
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See replies below.
Originally Posted by Ibgary6
If you move up to the twin you should consider the F700GS. It's more than a match for the haul road with good tires mounted. It has tubeless tires on cast wheels which will do fine on the Dalton. The weight of the 700 is reasonable and I think you will prefer the 700 for life after AK.
No matter what you decide there are a few maintenance procedures you should practice before you go using only tools you'll have with you on the trip:
Tube tires: remove wheel, remove tube, patch tire, replace or patch tube. Reinstall all.
Tubeless: plug a tire or remove wheel and patch tire. Reinstall tire wheel.
Carry: an electric pump, spare master link for chain, jumper cables and/or a lithium jumper battery, tools to remove body panels and wheels and tires.
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