BMW G650GS Sertao: Dakar moves to Brazil

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Remember the F650GS Dakar? Well, now there’s the BMW G650GS Sertao. Same deal: taller suspension, standard accessories like an engine protector and bark busters and wire wheels; all for an increased off-road focus. “Sertao” refers to Brazil’s north eastern interior while “sertanejo,” Portuguese for a person from Sertao, is commonly used to mean something like “cowboy,” so they’re invoking adventure without licensing the use of a race name.



The biggest change is going to be the additional suspension travel, up to 210mm front and rear, up from 170 and 165mm respectively. That also brings about a small increase in wheelbase, up from 1477 to 1484mm. The increased travel ups seat height from 800 to 860mm or an optional 900mm (35.4 inches). The front wheel also increases in diameter from 19 to 21 inches while the 17-inch rear wheel shrinks from 3.5 inches wide to just 3 to enable the fitment of proper off-road rubber.

Of course, the same problem that afflicted that old Dakar is going to be a problem on the Sertao — it’s heavy and slow. Wet, the new bike weighs 192kg/423lbs while the 652cc single-cylinder only makes 48bhp and 44lb/ft of torque. That means this adventure tourer still puts the emphasis on dirt roads over actual dirt even if it is now the most off-road-focussed bike in BMW’s adventure line up.

Please excuse our lack of galleries this morning, it’s a little bug we’re chasing down right now.

  • Denzel

    If BMW has to license “Dakar” then they have lousy lawyers…

    A neighbor has a BMW HP2 Enduro, based on the 1200 but over 50 lbs lighter. If they could give the Sertao that treatement…

    • Thom

      No… its the Dakar organization that like Harley Davidson has incredibly sharp and greedy lawyers with big teeth and the cojones to use them .

      Just go ahead a try to name any motorized Vehicle you manufacture ” Dakar ” anything without buying a license from the Dakar Organization .. and watch those French Lawyers descend upon you like Vultures on Road Kill …… with the results being about the same …….. e.g. You’re being stripped to the bone .

    • Devin


      See Penguin’s comment. XChallenge was the answer to that, and the price was just as extreme as the HP2 was compared to the R1200GS. That being said, love my X-bike, but this will be a much better touring mount that can also go offroad.

    • Denzel

      Gee… and I thought Dakar was the capital of Senegal :-)

      Devin, the X bikes look pretty awesome themselves…


      I assume they won’t pass the licensing savings to the consumer.

  • jpenney

    Against it’s competition (KLR 650) the G650 is by far the better bike. More power, 10 fewer pounds, and better looking.

    The 650 single is softly tuned but they run forever, the forums for the old F series singles have some extremely high milage examples.

    I assume the Dakar branding was dropped since the 650 cc motor is not eligible for use in the Paris-Dakar rally.

    • Beale

      I’ll take a well setup KLR over one of these or its ancestors any time. The only good thing about the G650 (the motor) is also one of the reasons I won’t buy one, vibration. I’ll take the KLR’s dirt clod engineering over some of the kinds of failures I seen on the BMWs. Swing arm broken clean off, anyone? I’ll pass.

      They do have a nice, timeless ADV look, though.

      • jpenney

        Having recently owned a G650GS and ridden a KLR a month ago … the KLR has much more vibration than the G. I was always impressed with the smoothness of the G motor.

        Were I buying a second bike for dirt(ish) use, I would probably pick the KLR over the G simply on price. If my bank account allowed room I’d get another G in a heartbeat.

    • The other Joe

      I can’t afford a BMW and I don’t like the KLR, so this spring I bought a ’94 KLX650R for $1000 and couldn’t be happier with it.

  • Penguin

    This is the bike I’ve been wanting to buy for ages – I’ve been searching in vain for a used xChallange for a long time. Any news on price and availability in Europe?

    • Jochen

      Well, the price tag in Germany reads 7.650,00 €

  • Paul

    I owned a Dakar, and I can tell you those single-cylinder motors are very expensive to service. A BMW tech told me only the LT touring bike was more of a pain for the guys in the shop. And the rear wheel is extremely difficult to remove from the rim with tire irons–not exactly helpful if you hit a cactus thorn in the “Sertao.” I wasn’t sorry when I sold it.

    • jpenney

      I did the service on mine with no problems. The valves are shim-and-bucket but at least there’s only one. All in all it took around 4 hours for me to do the 12,000 miles service myself. Keep in mind that I don’t work on motorcycles day-in-day out. I imagine my Street Triple will be a bit more of a bear to wrestle with come service time.

      Actually, the only bike I’ve owned that was easier to service was a Sportster. Talk about a simple service procedure.

      • Paul

        You did pretty well. I think the shops charge at least three hours for that job. I can’t comment on the difficulty (no greasy hands here), but I know there are a lot of parts that have to be taken off and put back on. Overall, my DL650′s service costs are running less than half of what my BMW cost me.

        PS: Get ready to replace your steering head bearings.

  • BMW11GS

    Okay time to clear up a lot of misinformation. I wont tell anyone that this bike is better for you than “x” competitor’s bike, but for starters this is one of the only single thumpers with off road pretensions that has ABS. Before we jump in about ABS having no utility off road,on the dirty paved roads where this bike and its ilk truly shine, having ABS is imminently usable and dare I say, life saving. The difference between loosing the front on a dusty side road in Kinshasa or having the ABS cycle a couple times while you continue on your way, undamaged is one such hypothetical.

    In terms of maintenance the F650GS is a true tank. While water cooling is a liability in the real tough stuff, plenty of aftermarket radiator guards, protectors, etc. can mitigate this risk significantly. Secondly in regards to the swing arms braking off as one poster alleged above, are you sure you are not thinking of final drive failure on the bigger shaft driven BMWs? F650s have a box section double sided swing-arm with good old fashioned chain and sprockets. There is nothing truly novel or “BMWish” about the F650s, they’re pretty much conventional bikes in contrast to BMWs other offerings. Also they have essentially been around since 1993, only 5 years after the KLR650 was introduced.

    For the horrific maintenance costs ask yourself can you afford 3 quarts of 10w-40 and a fiber oil filter every 6,000 miles? Why yes you can, by jove! I have seen these things go 70,000 miles with only minimal maintenance done (really minimal! one guy abused his bike to the extreme, no valve adjustments and throttle bodies clogged with accumulated detritus) that still chugged along dutifully. In summary, don’t be afraid of rumors and perceived difference to the norm. While many people apprehensively regard Ducati’s desmodromic valve adjustment, a Ducati tech once told me that those valves are not difficult to adjust at all…just different! With a little research, you will find most things are not as challenging as they first appear.

  • Jefferson

    Test rode a 2011 R1200GS, a 2011 R800GS and a 2003 R650GS Dakar last weekend. The Dakar was the only one that put a smile on my face. It’s an awesome ride. I’m glad BMW is replenishing the supply of used models.

  • Zaron Gibson

    The 650GS is the bike my girl just has to have. She thinks it’s beautiful and likes the go-anywhere nature. She’d love to see this one.