2007 BMW G 650 Xcountry
Although it didn't excel in the dirt, the 2007 BMW G 650 Xcountry is capable enough and won over our testers with its style and grace.
MSRP: $9345 ($475 destination charge and $670 optional ABS included)
Weight: 329 (Tank empty)
Average MPG: 49
defines dual-sporting a little differently with its G 650 Xcountry. Although the single-cylinder machine is capable of light off-road excursions, clearly the Beemer is more focused on the asphalt part of the equation.
Aesthetically the Beemer can't be touched by the other two bikes. The bike has a very retro yet contemporary look - a 21st Century homage to the scrambler design made famous by its EU-neighbor, Triumph.
Hopping aboard the ultra-slim Bavarian machine reveals its upright, forward riding position. The Magura aluminum handlebars are positioned high and wide and the slim seat comforts the rider's bottom extremely well. So well in fact that it feels as if it was custom made. the seat height is also adjustable. We had it in the lower 33.1-inch setting, making it the lowest of the machines, but it can be raised to 34.3-inches if needed.
"I love how small this bike feels," says the 5-foot, 6-inch Dare. "This bike seems to have been designed for us smaller dudes. BMW claims it's a dual-sport but it feels more like a supermoto to me."
There is no denying how compact feeling the Beemer is, but fortunately with the well thought out ergos even tall folk are comfortable on the Xcountry.
Powering the Beemer is a 652cc liquid-cooled four-valve Single - and it rips! The DOHC equipped engine features the same bore/stroke combo as the KLR but boasts a much higher 11.5:1 compression ratio; necessitating the use of premium unleaded fuel. The Beemer makes a steady amount of power throughout the rpm range. Most notable is the strong bottom-end that progressively transitions into a snappy mid-range which allows the rider to ride on the back wheel in the first three gears.
The Rotax-designed Single powering the 2007 BMW G 650 Xcountry is both powerful and efficient, with its 43-horsepower peak and 49 mpg figures the best of our testing group.
"By far the Beemer has the best engine out of the bunch," remarks Dare. "The engine has an amazing amount of pull just off idle. Power keeps coming on until the rev-limiter abruptly kicks in. If this motor would rev out a little more it would be about perfect."
The twin-spark engine is the only bike of the three graced with digital fuel injection and it helps the Rotax-designed and manufactured engine spins almost 43-horsepower at the rear wheel, all while maintaining a miserly 49 mpg. The 2.5-gallon fuel tank sits below the seat which gives the Beemer roughly a 120-mile range depending on how heavy your throttle hand is. When it comes time to fuel up the G 650, the rider has to physically dismount as the key-accessible, auto-style fuel cap is on the right side of the bike. This quirky feature makes fueling a little tricky as you need to be careful or risk fuel overflow down the flanks of your German steed.
The G 650 puts its power back to the right-hand side chain-driven sprocket via a five-speed close-ratio transmission. The gearbox features ratios that are perfectly matched with the next allowing the rider to be able to pick an appropriate choice in any scenario. We did, however, have a couple gripes with the tranny. First, there is a lot of free-play in the transmission as felt at the end of the shift lever. While it doesn't really effect gear changes, it makes the bike feel sloppier than a $9000 machine should. Secondly, finding neutral can be a bit problematic. At times it is hard to hunt down and yet other times you will find the sweet-spot but the green dashboard light won't acknowledge until you rev the engine once to unload the transmission.
The transmission gremlins also plague the cable actuated clutch. Although it has a very easy and progressive pull, engagement is somewhat grabby, especially during launches.
Once it ventures off the asphalt, the 2007 BMW G 650 Xcountry is at a disadvantage, with its Marzocchi and Sachs suspension components pushed to their limits.
A very up-to-date looking instrument package allows the rider to keep tabs on what's happening. The large in-your-face LCD screen features a digital speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, volt meter, clock and warning lights. Given the relatively high performance of the engine, a tachometer and coolant gauge (as opposed to the provided coolant warning light) would have been a nice touch.
The chassis consists of a steel bridge, tubular frame connected at front to a non-adjustable 45mm inverted Marzocchi fork that sports 9.4-inches of travel. Out back the two-piece aluminum cast swingarm is connected without linkage to the Sachs rear shock. The hydraulic shock offers 8.3 inches of travel and is height, spring preload and rebound damping adjustable. Out on the streets the Xcountry gets the job done. Its long-travel suspension offers up a comfortable, albeit soft ride on the streets and its 28.5 degrees of rake and 4.6 inches of trail combined with wide handlebars allow it to turn with ease.
The Beemer rolls on a set of beautiful Italian-made black 19-inch front and 17-inch wire-spoke wheels shod in Metzelers' Tourance tires. The tires have lower profile lugs than on the Kawi or Honda and are more street oriented. On the road the tires offered up additional levels of adhesion allowing the rider to lean the bike farther over with much more confidence. Out on the dirt however the Beemer feels out of its element. Yes, it can still negotiate gravel fire roads without a problem but as soon as you mix in some bumps, jumps, dips and any other typical trail rough stuff the Beemer's suspension and rubber start to protest.
"Definitely the dirt is not the Beemer's strong point," remarks Dare. "Yes, it can take you off the beaten path but its suspension just isn't up to task for anything more than you're a-typical gravel fire road. The tires, however, do really well on the gravel I was surprised how well they hook up."
As befits a Beemer, the '07 Xcountry comes with ABS, with the Bosch-made unit able to be turned off with the push of a button.
Our G 650 came equipped with BMW's optional ABS system, which modulates the Brembo twin-piston front caliper and the single-piston floating rear caliper through steel-braided brake lines. The Bosch-made system adds 3.3 pounds to the machine and is always active unless the rider manually disables its function via a red button on the left handlebar. Although the ABS system works well for its intended purpose, we preferred having it off and made it a point to turn it off every time we hopped aboard the bike.
"The ABS works well - it's much more transparent than the annoying foot-thumping garbage that I have in my car," Frye says. "But for me, I would rather have it off. I like having the ability to lock up the rear brake and for me the ABS removes an element of control that I have over the bike."
Turning off the ABS feature is as simple as putting the bike in neutral at a dead stop and holding the red ABS button down for three seconds. The dashboard ABS light will illuminate in acknowledgement and you are then free to lay darkies anywhere you'd like.