2007 BMW G650 Xmoto First Ride

April 16, 2007
Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison
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The ulcers keep piling on for the warden of the MotoUSA asylum. With the inmates running rampant around the globe, Hutch has opted to get in on the madness more these days than in years past and is back in the saddle again.

2007 BMW G650 Xmoto
The 2007 BMW G650 Xmoto was the featured entertainer in the cactus cabaret as we traveled to the Sonoran Desert for the fiery 53 hp single’s intro.

It’s not every day that you get to have your way with a set of good looking triplets, but BMW offered up a threesome of untainted beauties for us to objectify and exploit to our heart’s content under the guise of testing in the Sonora Desert of Tucson, AZ. I know this all sounds incredibly immoral but I assure you we had the consent of BMW as we flogged the hell out of its super sexy Single, the 2007 G650 Xmoto. Only a small number of state laws were violated during this process, none of which we will freely admit to.

At first I was relegated to voyeur status while gathering video of our dirt specialist, JC, getting down and dirty with the first two recruits. I was anxious for the opportunity to mount the third and, arguably, the best looking member of the G-series trio and give it a good thrashing. It was worth the wait.

Based on the same steel bridge tubular frame chassis as the Xcountry and Xchallenge, the Xmoto’s distinctive features reveal it is intended for street use specifically. Its sporty bodywork, sticky Pirelli Diablo tires and 17-inch cast-aluminum 10-spoke wheels attest to that fact. BMW North America placed the emphasis of our riding experience directly upon the Xmoto’s canyon carving capabilities with a ride highlighted by a few quick strike assaults up on Southern Arizona’s most treacherous canyon roads.

With a claimed dry weight of 324 lbs and a wheelbase of 59 inches  the Xmoto is easy to maneuver through traffic or to toss through tight turns.
Though bred as a street motorcycle, the G650 Xmoto has a dirtbike feel with its slim moto-style seat and MX-style Magura Bars.

Our ride began with a scenic route out of the posh surroundings of the Starr Pass Resort, through the Saguaro National Park for a bit of gratuitous sightseeing before unleashing us on the unsuspecting public for a day of urban warfare with BMW’s sharpest stiletto. Our gracious guides from the Tucson Moto Tours lead us due east, through the hustle-and-bustle of downtown Tucson, then tossed in a few highway miles before refueling at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountain range, part of the Coronado National Forest and the gateway to our final destination 9000 feet above the valley floor – the summit of Mt. Lemmon.

The journey to the mountain was a perfect opportunity to judge the around-town prowess of the Xmoto. The riding position is based on the off-road oriented Xchallenge, with MX-style Magura bars, stylish radiator shrouds, minimal front wind protection and a thin moto-seat giving the Xmoto a definite dirtbike feel, nearly identical to its dirt-oriented Xc stablemate. Riders are free to slide forward and back, unencumbered by a lack of a traditionally located fuel cell to get in the way. The tank is instead located under the seat and the filler cap, positioned out of harms way along the right side of the bike. The seat, however, was uncomfortable after an hour of riding around town, with the firm foam and formed edges rubbing my cheeks the wrong way all day long. This is one of our few major complaints about the design of the Xmoto.

The BMW G650 Xmoto s Pirelli Diablos stuck fast as the treacherous canyon roads of the Santa Catalina Mountain range served as an excellent barometer for the bike s canyon-carving capabilities.
The BMW G650 Xmoto’s Pirelli Diablos stuck fast as the treacherous canyon roads of the Santa Catalina Mountain range served as an excellent barometer for the bike’s canyon-carving capabilities.

Aside from the solid saddle, the upright riding position is conducive to the long haul and you get a great view of the road ahead thanks to its 35.4-inch seat height. An optional low seat brings that figure down to 34.6 inches to accommodate shorter riders. It was pretty tall for me in standard trim, but as any sub 6-foot tall rider can attest, once you’re used to only touching on one foot, it’s no big deal. Mirrors are typical Beemer parts-bin roundies and, as usual, they provide a good view of any wraiths approaching from the rear. Thick sportbike-style grips help with the streetbike feel, but there is a waft of vibration/buzz coming though them at highway speeds over 80 mph. On the freeway the Xmoto has plenty of pep to keep up with fast traffic and the unobstructed view helps to keep track of what’s going on around you.

Around town the Rotax-designed liquid-cooled 652cc thumper proves to be quite smooth and churns out just enough power to make riding the Xmoto entertaining. Internal specs start with an 11.5:1 compression ratio, 100mm bore and 83mm stroke working with a chain driven DOHC 4-valve top end that combines to churn out a claimed 53 hp at 7000 rpm and a respectable 44 lb-ft of torque at 5250 rpm. The fuel injection is well dialed-in with no hint of lag or noticeable throttle abruptness making its way into our notes.

Despite the impressive performance numbers, this is not the wheelie-pulling, iron-fisted German bad-ass I was expecting. It accelerates just fine, but the torque is not quite enough to loft the front wheel on demand in any gear other than first at low speed. The gearing is well suited for spirited street riding more than any outright Supermoto shenanigans.

Okay  we didn t get a bevy of Playboy bunnies to debut the G650 Xmoto like we did for BMW s R1200S release  but Hutch still called the Xmoto a  sexy single.
Okay, we didn’t get a bevy of Playboy bunnies to debut the G650 Xmoto like we did for BMW’s R1200S release, but Hutch still called the Xmoto a ‘sexy single.’

BMW fans will be happy to know that this motor is the latest evolution of the mill found in the F650GS models, although it is tuned for lower emissions, is physically lighter and is slightly more powerful in this version.

Clutch pull is not overly stiff and that pays off in stop-and-go traffic. Clicking through the 5-speed transmission a few times exposes a very precise cog-to-dog interaction taking place beneath the stylized black engine cases. First gear is not overly tall, so it is easy to get going from light to light, and the torque reduces the chance of a stall, which makes it a nice option for new riders as well as veterans. Although internal gear ratios are the same on all three bikes, the 16/47 sprocket ratio gives the Xmoto and Xcountry slightly taller gearing than the Xchallenge as part of its street rider emphasis.

It might be crazy to say that a Supermoto bike is capable of being a fine choice for newbies but this bike is very user-friendly – as are the other members of the new G-troupe. Once we began our ascent of Mt. Lemmon, the Xmoto inspires bad behavior like a good moto should, just minus the big wheelies. Unfortunately the State-mandated 35-mph speed limit was keeping my inner thug in check, initially. We did manage to push it a tiny bit beyond that, but the ever-present fear of the Fuzz kept all of us from going crazy during the ascent.

The big change to the Supermoto variant of the new 650 series comes by way of its treads  which are 120 70 front and 160 60 rear sportbike tires.
You won’t be disappointed with the Rotax-designed liquid-cooled 652cc thumper, but a little more torque through the middle gears would make the G650 Xmoto the German bad-ass Hutch was expecting.

As we neared the top, the outside air temperature dropped dramatically and revealed a decided lack of protection from the elements. Some handguards, or better yet, hand warmers would have been a real treat in this scenario. Ridden at a leisurely pace the Xmoto is smooth for a Single and well balanced. It hides its claimed 351-lb wet weight very well thanks to the relatively low center of gravity offered by the underseat fuel cell. It’s easy to maneuver through traffic or toss through tight turns, which makes it impossible not to feel compelled to push it harder and harder as the road gets tighter.

Once we reached the top and separated from the group to procure a bit of video footage for your viewing pleasure, it was time to test the chassis and suspension at speed during the descent. As those early-’80s role models Bo and Luke Duke like to put it – Yee-haw! Pitch the Xmoto into a turn and twist petrol distributor dial to WFO and its time to get it on.

While the Beemer won’t impress hardcore speed junkies with sheer acceleration, it’s not slow either. The fact that the bike and its sticky rubber will adhere to even the coldest highway surface inspires confidence in its ability to hold a line while holding the throttle at the stop. Grab a bit of rear brake and try to spin a 180, and the predictable nature of the Pirelli tires and the familiar layout make it a snap to ride like a fool.

Up front a single 320mm disc and 4-piston Brembo caliper provide plenty of stopping power and steel-braided brake lines are standard fare on all the G-series. If top-shelf brakes alone are not enough to whet your appetite, then the ABS system is a $670 option.

Suspension consists of a single adjustable rear shock with 9.6 inches of travel and an adjustable 45mm inverted front fork with 9.4 inches of travel. It seemed to be pretty good since it never exhibited any unjustified manners while being tossed around the simply sickening Catalina Highway curves. It does dive abruptly during hard braking, but the massive 320mm front rotor is the true culprit. The rear is equally soft but justifiably so, since this is a streetbike not a full blown racer. Combine these braking realities with the long travel fork found on all of these new-age Supermotos and a bit of front-end dive is a natural byproduct.

The G650 Xmoto is a spirited  no frills ride ready to tame the urban streets.
We’ve given you the first taste of BMW’s trio of 650cc appetizers – keep posted as we bring out two more courses soon featuring the Xcountry and Xchallenge.

At $9575 the Xmoto isn’t exactly a bargain, but at BMW things are not always about price. Factoring exclusivity into the mix, there should not be a lot of these bikes at the local hangout bearing in mind BMW feels they only need to sell about 1500 units of the entire G-series to consider it a successful first year.

If you can’t tell by all the gushing, the Xmoto gets the MotorcycleUSA stamp of approval. It’s as capable during a jaunt to the store or scything through rush hour traffic as it is at eating up the corners of your favorite backroads.

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