Having ridden sports bikes since 2008 I decided that it was time for a change. As my interest in adventure travel grew I began looker for an overlander that would be equally at home on the tarmac as it would off it.

F650 GD Dakar

With the Aprilia Falco sold (the only bike I’ve owned but never toured on), I intensified my search and considered a number of bikes including the Transalp XL650, V-storm DL650, Aprilia Pegaso, and even the Versys KLE650. I then surprised myself by blowing my £2,000 budget on a 2001 F650 Dakar on an impulse.

The BMW F650 Dakar is often recommended on HUBB, and to a lesser extent ADVRider. The bike has great reputation for overland travel, and despite a few drawbacks, it doesn’t have any major known-issues that can’t be overcome either via preventative measures or by being prepared.

I’ve listed what I see as the benefits, drawbacks, and problems with the bike below.

Good points

  • 21″ front wheel (great for the rough stuff)
  • High ground clearance
  • 60+ MPG (imperial)
  • 200+ mile range
  • All day long comfort

Known issues

  • Surging at low revs
  • Water pump failure
  • Reg/rec failure
  • Headlight failure

There’s a great community around the F650 series both in the UK at www.f650.co.uk, and from chain gang in the USA.

My first tour on the bike will a 17 day trip to Budapest and back in August. As I prepare the bike that I’ll post my modifications and enhancements below.

Modifications and enhancements

  • NKG Iridium spark plug, and plastic plug cap 
  • Givi screen (far far too much turbulence with the stock screen)
  • Renthal street bars (lighter than the originals that were bent)
  • F800GS mirrors (not really an enhancement, but my originals were shot)