**Please be aware, this vehicle is located in Chamonix, France. The seller has indicated they would be happy to arrange shipping at the buyers expense. Motorcycle transport company Chas Mortimer LTD can collect in Chamonix and deliver to central UK for GBP450 +vat**
** The Final Hammer price is to be paid in GBP sterling**
﹒Supplied new to French Police Rally Raid team
﹒Converted to full Paris-Dakar Rally specification
﹒Competed on 2004 and 2005 Paris-Dakar Rally
﹒Recently re-commissioned and supplied with French ‘Carte Grise; registration
﹒Comprehensive parts package, including spare engine and tyres
﹒Ready to ride on the road or bigger adventures
The BMW F650GS was introduced as a smaller – and more accessible – sibling to the R1150GS that famously took Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman around the world on their first great adventure, The Long Way Round and which evolved into one of BMW’s best-selling machines, the R1200/1250GS adventure bikes. In 2006, Boorman also rode a F650GS, modified to a similar specification to the bike presented here, in the Dakar rally and made a documentary of the adventure, Race to Dakar.
The GS – in single-cylinder F650GS guise as well as more recent and bigger models - refers to the bike’s dual-sport nature; Gelände/Straße or on-road/off-road. The bike was designed to allow motorcyclists to ride to work during the week and then, head for the hills at the weekend for some off-road fun.
One of the interesting design elements of the F650GS was the fact that, to keep the bike’s centre of gravity as low as possible, BMW mounted the fuel tank under the rider’s seat, as opposed to the more common location ahead of the rider. This was a concept that would continue on its middleweight adventurers such as the later, parallel-twin engined F650GS and the F800GS.
As a dual-sport bike, the Rotax 652cc single-cylinder motor was a dry-sump design, storing the oil in a separate tank as opposed to in the frame itself. The F650’s chassis was reasonably, using a tubular steel frame, single-disc front brakes and non-adjustable front suspension with the rear monoshock allowing adjustment to the preload and rebound damping, primarily to cope with carrying additional load or a pillion passenger.
The F650GS Dakar was introduced as a more off-road-capable version, with longer-travel suspension (40mm more movement front and rear) and a higher seat – the base model sat the rider at a comfortable 780mm but the Dakar seat height was 870mm. The Dakar also benefited from a more useful – for off-road riding – 21-inch front wheel that opened up tyre options but retained the road-bike’s 17in rear rim. It was, however, still very much a road bike, albeit one with genuine off-road capabilities.
The first generation of the BMW F650 had already enjoyed considerable success on the legendary Paris-Dakar Rally, arguably the most gruelling off-road race in the world. In 1998, the German marque returned to the event in an official capacity using the F650 and the following year, claimed its fifth victory in the history of the event, with rider Richard Sainct winning the Bikes category. The following year, BMW riders claimed the top four places in the Bikes category, again with Sainct taking the top spot, followed by Spaniard Oscar Gallardo and America Jimmy Lewis for a podium lock-out. Sadly, that was to be the last year the marque took victory on two wheels.
This second-generation F650 model has its own fascinating history. It was one of two standard F650GS Dakars supplied brand-new by BMW France to the National Police ‘l’Equippe Africa Rally Raid Adventure’ team in the autumn of 2003, to be prepared for its assault on the 2004 and 2005 editions of the Dakar. Ironically, in 2004, the event began in France for the last time, in the Auvergne region while in 2005, it started in Barcelona, Spain. However, for both years, it finished in Dakar, Senegal, 16 days later with competitors having covered some 9000km over almost every kind of terrain, from rough gravel to desert sand dunes. The event would only run twice more in Europe before being cancelled at the last minute for security reasons in 2008 and in 2009, it was relocated entirely to South America.
This example was completely stripped by the team and built to deal with the gruelling demands of the two-week event. During the course of this process, the bike effectively became an F650RR (Rally Raid), such was its transformation and substitution of purpose-designed parts with fundamentally, just the frame and engine of the original bike remaining. The team prepared the bikes using the specific Rallye kit developed by Touratech (experienced and renowned endurance specialists) before the first of its two outings on the event.
In 2004, it was ridden by team founder Vincent Puren (number 78) but he retired on the eighth stage of the event after damaging the engine casing. For the following year, the bike was fitted with a host of re-designed parts, such as a larger air box and higher-capacity oil tank, both of which remain in place.
For the 2005 event, the rider was motocross and endurance pilot Rodolphe Devedija. Again, the bike wore number 78 and by the end of the demanding event, Devedija completed the course in 87th place, having run as low as 140th and as high as 74th.
The bike was sold on to an acquaintance of the team who used it sparingly for off-road touring in Spain, but it was put into storage in 2012 and remained there until 2020, when the current owner became aware of its existence.
He is a former trials and long-distance endurance racer and UK importer for Ducati motorcycles and was an early advocate of large trail bikes for the road, as well as off-road. He also owns the self-storage facility in France where this BMW was stored by the then-owner. A chance meeting saw the previous owner notice several of the current owners’ off-road bikes at his workshop and he suggested that perhaps he was the natural next custodian of the BMW. The current owner agreed and just before the 2020 Covid crisis hit lockdown, he acquired the bike, with the intention of using it on the off-road trails in the foothills of Mont Blanc.
He spent the duration of lockdown restoring his own bikes and re-commissioning the BMW, cleaning it and changing fluids and filters, spark plug and fuel injector before using it during the summer of 2020 once restrictions had eased. He also spent a considerable amount of time and effort investigating the history of the bike.
However, after some miles, he realised that; “I’m not quite as sharp as I was when I raced in the 1980s and should perhaps ride something a little more sedate.” He therefore is offering this unique piece of motorcycling history (the sister bike is rumoured to be on display in police HQ) for sale for the next phase of its life.
More information on the team and its activities can be found at http://africa-raid-aventure.net
Very little paperwork comes with the vehicle, other than its ‘Carte Grise’, its French registration document. There is no equivalent to the UK’s annual MoT test in France, with an implicit obligation on owners to maintain their machines to suitable safety standards and motorcycles, condition is generally checked for safety by road-side police stops only. However, it is completely road-legal, rideable and ready to go and its identity has been confirmed both by markings and registration numbers from the team website and by Europe’s foremost expert on the F650GS/RR, as well as members of the team itself. The owner feels that, once its indicators have been fitted (LED units and relay included), the bike should not have any problem passing a UK MoT test.
Save for some cosmetic damage to the left-hand front fuel tank and to the left-rear tank when it was dropped by the previous owner, the bike is in remarkably good condition.
The tall front screen protects the rider as well as the crucial Dakar Rally navigation equipment – the Touratech rotating road-book holder and the IMO multi-function display, though the latter requires a new internal (hard-wired) battery to access memory functions. This is a process that is well documented on the internet as a DIY repair, but the current owner has decided against tackling himself. The mounting brackets for the event-provided GPS tracking systems remain, though no hardware is included.
Part of the Touratech kit was to add significant fuel-storage capacity, to allow the bikes to run huge distances on the Dakar between fuel stops. This bike can carry 55 litres of fuel in four separate tanks, though they are interlinked and connected with quick-release, dry-break connectors; there is one tank either side of the engine ahead of the rider, one rear tank across the bike behind the seat and one in the original location, underneath the seat. All feed into the main under-seat tank, from which the supply to the engine is taken.
The seat is the suede-covered Touratech version, with a quick-release system and the bike comes with the original tool storage pouch, designed to fit under the seat (no tools are included, however). The handles on either side of the seat are welded to the bike’s sub-frame and covered in tennis-racket grip tape, to allow the rider the haul the bike back onto its wheels if it falls over during use.
The rear rack is capable of carrying all manner of spare parts or supplies and the rear tail/brake lights are LED for high visibility, low weight and efficiency. Twin headlights are fitted, the main beam being a high-intensity xenon unit. There are also LED indicators and a compatible relay supplied with the bike, though these are currently not connected.
The bike is finished in BMW blue and white and looks splendid against the backdrop of Mont Blanc in the French Alps.
There is little of the original road bike left in this example, the majority of the mechanical components having been replaced or fabricated to cope with the extreme demands of the Dakar Rally. The bike was stripped and though the engine remains in standard specification, it was blueprinted with all tolerances being optimised. The chassis was prepared with the Touratech Rallye kit (http://www.vmar.com/touratech/f650/index.html) which included the fuel tanks and lines; an uprated oil cooler and its necessary pipework; handlebars, grips, guards and controls; exhaust system; wheel and tyres and the uprated suspension.
The Nikko titanium exhaust system is what the owner describes as ‘raucous’, though the bike is supplied with a comprehensive spares package that not only includes a spare engine, sprockets and hardware, it also comprises a ‘dB Killer’ insert that, when fitted within the exhaust silencer, reduces the noise (and power) output.
The suspension is by WP and comprises larger, upside-down front forks and replacement rear monoshock; all are fully adjustable, with preload, compression and rebound damping to cope with all anticipated ground conditions on the event. The bike is also supplied with three sets of wheels and tyres: Michelin Sahara knobbly desert tyres on Excel 21in/18in wheels, which would be the best choice for muddy British trails; Mitas E-07 knobbly trail (gravel) tyres on Excel 21/18in rims which the current owner fitted to replace the used desert tyres and work very well on-road as well as dry trails; and Metzeler Tourance Enduro3 road tyres, on BMW 19in/17in wheels.
In addition, there is an engine protection plate, in aluminium to absorb some impacts and deform rather than carbon-fibre which shatters and houses a storage compartment designed to hold drinking water for the rider, tools or more spare parts. The air-box and oil tank were completely remade by team engineer Donatien Martinaeu for the bike’s second Dakar and are a wonderful demonstration of the art of aluminium fabrication and welding. The front drive-chain sprocket is exposed to allow quick and easy maintenance on the event, either during a stage or in the end-of-day service bivouac and the bike is supplied with a two-piece paddock/service stand. It also is fitted with a sprung-loaded side stand.
As previously stated, the owner feels this bike is now a little too much for him. It is extremely competent at what it was designed for – large expanses of rough terrain – and as such, makes for a wonderful ride. Prior to the Covid situation, he and several friends were planning a seven-day ride from the eastern side of France to the Mediterranean coast on mainly gravel trails where possible, a trip that would suit this bike perfectly. Sadly, that trip was not to be and the owner is now offering the bike for sale and will arrange shipping to anywhere in the world, at the buyer’s expense.
He feels that it is eminently suitable for off-road forays, with longer trips suiting its characteristics best. He feels it is probably too large, heavy and noisy for short, green-lane forays in the English countryside, for example but for adventure-bike rallies or for multi-day trips exploring elements of the Trans Euro Trail (TET, transeurotrail.org) across Europe, it would provide the ideal combination of technical capability and carrying capacity. He also feels it would suit the owner of a road-going adventure bike as a second bike which is; “The real deal”.
The owner explains the bike is actually very easy to ride; the engine starts instantly, the throttle action is quick and progressive, the clutch is light and both clutch and front-brake levers are adjustable for their span. The seat height, while fixed on the bike, can be altered slightly by adjusting the suspension preload and the owner confirms that at 5’8” tall, he can get a foot down when necessary to steady the bike.
For any motorcycling or motorsport fan, a bike with this degree of pedigree is a very special vehicle, made all the more desirable because it can be ridden on or off-road immediately. Alternatively, for anyone wishing to attempt a round-the-world tour on a motorcycle, we can’t think of anything better-suited to the task than this proven and unique machine.
**Please be aware, this vehicle is located in Chamonix, France. The seller has indicated they would be happy to arrange shipping at the buyers expense**
** The Final Hammer price is to be paid in GBP sterling**
The pictures in this listing have been provided by the seller.
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