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Old 10-15-2008, 07:36 AM   #1
ARDirt OP
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Versys Vs BMW 650GS

Ok, here is my story. I have been riding dirt for years and when younger loved to adventure ride. Have been only on dirt while the kids were growing up and now want to get back to riding on the road because I just can't get to the dirt very often. Started about 2 years ago looking at Harleys as this is what most of my friends have but just couldn't pull the trigger on one. Oh, am 49 and 6'0" if that matters. Anyway, started looking at the BMW 1200GS and love the look of the adv bikes probably because of my love for dirt bikes and dirt riding. However, waited to see the new 800 then saw the 650 with the same motor as the 800. While all this was going on started hearing about the Versys and thought I better take a look before buying the BMW. This is where I need your help. Any thoughts on the two bikes based on experience? Know that BMW owners wsay theirs is better and Versys will say theirs, so really just want your input. Oh, live in Northwest Arkansas and we have absolutely beautiful riding here in the mountains and backroads. Will being doing only one up riding as my wife is not in to the motorcyle thing.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:50 AM   #2
pilot
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Go look at the "Versys Riders Check In" thread. Lots of good info in there.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:24 AM   #3
Grainbelt
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MCN did a Wee Strom / Versys / F650GS comparison video that someone had linked in last week or so... I'll see if I can find it.

They preferred the Versys.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:37 AM   #4
huckleberry
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don't know much about the kaw but rode a lot of dirt bikes myself had a ktm450 exc. and while the bmw is no ktm i think its a great backroad bike that you could take anywhere-- the only real shortcomming of the 650 is ground clearance and of course it is a bit heavy off road thou i don't think you'll notice off road-- i had mine out the other day and was riding right thru the woods in the strippens with it which brings me to my only complaint with the bike--- a close ratio box with a 1st gear that does 10 mph at idle!!! 6th is sweet where it is on the road but it should be a wide ratio box with a lower 1st gear and the rest spaced accordingly. on the street -esp back roads and dirt roads you'll love it!! something to remember with the kaw is the 17" front wheel and even lower ground clearance "i think" Hope this helps a bit. oh did i say i love my bike?
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:47 AM   #5
Ed@Ford
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARDirt
Ok, here is my story. I have been riding dirt for years and when younger loved to adventure ride. Have been only on dirt while the kids were growing up and now want to get back to riding on the road because I just can't get to the dirt very often. Started about 2 years ago looking at Harleys as this is what most of my friends have but just couldn't pull the trigger on one. Oh, am 49 and 6'0" if that matters. Anyway, started looking at the BMW 1200GS and love the look of the adv bikes probably because of my love for dirt bikes and dirt riding. However, waited to see the new 800 then saw the 650 with the same motor as the 800. While all this was going on started hearing about the Versys and thought I better take a look before buying the BMW. This is where I need your help. Any thoughts on the two bikes based on experience? Know that BMW owners wsay theirs is better and Versys will say theirs, so really just want your input. Oh, live in Northwest Arkansas and we have absolutely beautiful riding here in the mountains and backroads. Will being doing only one up riding as my wife is not in to the motorcyle thing.

Thanks for your help!
I lusted over a Versys. Is sold in europe with ABS. 2009 USA Versys...no abs. Bought a F650GS. Yup, more expensive, ABS is identical to that sold by Kawasaki & Suzuki. The $$$$ for the bmw with ABS is worth the safety factor. It performs perfectly on gravel & dirt...turn it off when offroad in VERY loose stuff.

The BMW dealer here has an F800 demo...as many dealers do. Go ride it. The Kawi dealer was very amenable to riding the Versys...but I did not. The F650 fit me perfectly. The F800 wasnice, fit well, but $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

F650GS (2009 twin) has quite a wait list. My delivery time is 2.5 months off.
If you want to read stuff by a guy who rides a lot...onroad & offroad and is FAST, google "Verle Nelson" and go to his website.
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:18 AM   #6
sagalout
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http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=dreoYlnlVQw

That might help :)
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:56 AM   #7
blackie
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I got the 650GS.
I was also looking at the Versys before getting it. I found the Versys being more street oriented as it was meant for the Euro market as a supermotard hence the 17" front wheel and street tires.
I went with the GS cos it had the ABS, the fit and finish is miles ahead of the Versys (note the stainless steel stuff here, there on the GS), I figured there should be a TON of aftermarket stuff available for it and most importantly, is designed to go off road (aka dirt/gravel tracks/roads not MX stuff) whereas the Versys wasn't.
Despite the higher $$ tag, the GS is really a GS and worth the extra pennies where I thought the Versys is a GS wannabe. That swung the vote for me
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Old 10-15-2008, 11:41 AM   #8
ENDODB4
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You might want to give this a read!

http://verlenelson.com/vstrom/
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:32 PM   #9
mdaniels
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENDODB4
You might want to give this a read!

http://verlenelson.com/vstrom/
Or this:

http://verlenelson.com/versys/index.html
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Old 10-18-2008, 08:16 AM   #10
tmbrwlkr
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Versys and KLR

I'd would very much confer with Verle Nelsons description of the Versys. I have one, and came from a KLR650. My advice would be to first really think about where you want to ride. If it is mostly back roads, paved twisties and decent dirt and gravel, the Versys absolutley kicks ass! - and the money you save lets you put all sorts of goodies on it (panniers, crash bars, skid plate, etc) The Versys pretty much tops out at easy single track, it's not a dirt bike. I don't ride as fast as Nelson, and therefor have never come close to feeling I have pushed the limits of this great bike. No bike does everything well, but the V does a lot well, and is a blast to ride and own. First service at 600 miles can be done yourself without voiding warranty, and the first valve check is at 15,000 miles. Its a put regular gas in it, occaisionally lube the chain, check tire pressure, and ride, ride, ride bike. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-18-2008, 09:59 AM   #11
John Ashman
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I still don't understand the point of the Versys, anymore than I understand the point of a Nissan Murano or Mazda CX9. I understand the point of a Jeep. The F650 actually feels like a real dirt bike to me, albeit a heavy one. Of course, I can't find a Versys anywhere to try out so who knows. What I do know is that is heavier, taller, less suspended, less powerful and more street tired than the F650GS which doesn't bode well for Baja where pavement is rare dirt is rarer and sand is plentiful.

If I were buying a street bike, I'd get an F800ST or a Ducati 696 or Aprilia Shiver.
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:30 AM   #12
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The versy will be better on the road, the BMW better in mild off road, both sucky in real off road. If it were me I'd buy a Versy for road use and a KDX200 for off road and be all set. I don't get what's not to understand about a Versey, its a dandy, comfortable street bike. Think an SV650 with a small fairing and better suspension. Power is similar to a 696, but its more comfortable and has much more fuel range (and is cheaper), its a heck of a lot cheaper and a bit lighter than a Shiver, more standard than sport than an 800ST and again a lot cheaper. Makes perfect sense to me as an all around street bike - fun in the twisties, great commuter and a fine tourer all for around $6k.
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikePilot
The versy will be better on the road, the BMW better in mild off road, both sucky in real off road. If it were me I'd buy a Versy for road use and a KDX200 for off road and be all set. I don't get what's not to understand about a Versey, its a dandy, comfortable street bike. Think an SV650 with a small fairing and better suspension. Power is similar to a 696, but its more comfortable and has much more fuel range (and is cheaper), its a heck of a lot cheaper and a bit lighter than a Shiver, more standard than sport than an 800ST and again a lot cheaper. Makes perfect sense to me as an all around street bike - fun in the twisties, great commuter and a fine tourer all for around $6k.

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Old 10-18-2008, 12:48 PM   #14
John Ashman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikePilot
I don't get what's not to understand about a Versey, its a dandy, comfortable street bike.
Well, the ER6, for one thing. The Ninja 650 for another. Don't get me wrong, I love Kawasaki for the money. And if money is an object, I'd buy a Kawasaki over all the other Japanese bikes for what they give you. But like an SUV that is really a station wagon on stilts, the Versys is like having an adventure tourer without any of the adventure.

I find the MCN video interesting because they said they wanted to find which was the best beginner bike and the only beginner chose the BMW, whereas the MCN employees chose the Versys. Secondly, there was no offroad anything. Again, it's like testing an SUV on the highway where a station wagon would kick its ass, yet not taking it off road where a Jeep would kick its ass. What's the point of an SUV/Adventure bike not designed for or even tested off road? Third, the seat was the main objection and rightly so. That looks like the low seat as it is much more scalloped than stock. I'd rather have low suspension than that seat, it is horrible both ergonomically and, I'm sure, a butt killer after 15 or 20 minutes. But that is more easily and cheaply fixed that adding power or ground clearance or more suspension or bigger front wheel to the Versys. It would certainly be less expensive than replacing the exhaust every time you caved it in with a rock!

Besides, I think the pros will always pick the bike that revs more and the F650GS motor is not for revving. It's way more powerful and torquey down low where an adventure tourer needs it. But then, I never rev over 5000 rpm or so. I don't like winding out an engine and prefer a bike that knows how to lug than one that knows how to whine.

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that the question is being asked on advrider is the answer in itself. I think the Versys would be a better bike if it were an inch or two shorter, had a little bigger fairing and optional saddle bags. It's a light tourer or commuter bike, IMO, rather than an AdvTourer, though it seems perfect for people that live on a long dirt lane and commute to the city for work. What's the point of the tall suspension if it doesn't have the travel or ground clearance of the BMW, except to see over the car in front of you maybe.

BTW, this is my own POV for what I need out of a bike. Everyone has their own priorities and needs to try different bikes and make their own choices. For me, the F650 and F800GS fill a long over due niche for people who are going to do some reasonably serious off road miles, but don't want a behemoth. I am fully expecting to dump the F650GS on a regular basis and can only hope the 10 spoke rims hold up since the F800GS is just flat out too tall for me (and a bit overpriced as well). The F650GS is actually a decent bargain for an 800cc bike, very un BMW-like in that regard. As I've said elsewhere, I think they tried to dumb it down from the 800GS and accidentally made a bike that is just as good, but different, for $2000 less.

John Ashman screwed with this post 10-18-2008 at 01:05 PM
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