QUIKSPIN: BMW G 650 GS Sertao – High Adventure

25 March 2013
The Sertao 650 is BMW’s jack-of-all-trades adventure bike, which happens to be LAMS-approved. I was gifted this bike to test from a restricted rider’s perspective, and here is proof learner bikes can be keepers, not just stepping stones till you get your fulls.
This bike is big compared to many other LAMS bikes, but not in relation to other adventure bikes. Picking the bike up off the long sidestand (very long, actually – other, shorter staff members couldn’t even get the bike up on its own two wheels) requires a bit of strength and leverage, so shorter folk will find it hard work.
I rode it from Sydney to Bathurst (200-odd kilometres), though I could have ridden to Broken Hill – the seating and ride position are that good. I encountered some sub-zero temps along the way, which had me thanking the lord for the heated grips. This along, with the handguards and the screen, mean even unhardened newbies like myself can still enjoy riding in the extreme elements, without becoming a two-wheeled glacier.
My bike was fitted with a set of Continental Twinduro road/trail tyres – a type I haven’t done much riding on before. This made the bike ride rougher on bitumen and essentially meant I couldn’t throw it into corners as hard as the bike is capable of, not to mention tippy-toeing around in wet conditions on that skinny 21-inch front wheel. But those negatives are thrown out the window when you get to the dirt. Once I was enjoying the bike off-road I could totally justify having knobbies – and it’s made me realise riding off-road is so addictive. Most of my riding has been on black-top, so the more dirt I tore up, the better I got and I was soon roosting with the best of them (sort of). If I had a Sertao, I would find dirt every weekend. It’s not short on grunt, it’s forgiving, and it’s lighter than other big adventure bikes, so it’s full marks here.
On the return journey I finally had the fuel light blink at me, so I pulled in and filled up. The bike managed 3L/100km which combined with the 14L tank gives the bike a great touring range of over 450km. Adding to the touring ability is luggage-toting capabilities – there are plenty of tie-down points, optional tankbags and there is plenty of room for a pillion.
For me, the Sertao is the full package: something I could ride to work while still being able to enjoy on the open road, plus being able to ride the bike to rugged destinations makes it a major winner.
The Sertao is one of the cheapest adventure bikes on the market. Not only is it three bikes in one for a great price, but if I had one as my own bike I would happily hold onto it after graduating from my LAMS restrictions.
Configuration Single-cylinder
Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 652cc
Bore/stroke 100 x 83mm
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Cooling Liquid
Fueling EFI, 43mm throttle body
Power 35kW @ 6500rpm (claimed)
Torque 60Nm @ 5000rpm (claimed)
Type Five-speed
Clutch Wet
Final drive Chain
Frame material Tubular steel
Frame layout Cradle
Rake 26?
Trail 92mm
Front: 41mm fork, 210mm travel
Rear: Monoshock, 210mm travel
Wheels Wire-spoked alloy rims
Front: 21 x 2.5 Rear: 17 x 3.0
Tyres Metzeler Tourance
Front: 90/90R21 (54S)
Rear: 130/80 R17 (65S)
Front: 300mm disc, two-piston caliper
Rear: 240mm disc, single-piston caliper
Control: Optional ABS
Weight 193kg (wet, claimed)
Seat height 860mm
Max width 920mm
Max height Not given
Wheelbase 1484mm
Fuel capacity 14L
Fuel consumption 4.3L/100km (claimed)
Top speed 170km/h (claimed)
Well balanced
Accurate steering in the dirt
Torquey engine
ABS on the gravel
Must stop to switch off ABS
High-speed performance