Custom: Touratech G650GS Sertao

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So far as ADV riding goes, you can’t get a lot better than the proven reliability and simple ruggedness of the BMW G650GS. But, momentum is still your enemy and dropping the 423lbs bike at speed is going to break stuff. It’d also be nice to be able to carry a few things without those things being stolen. Enter Touratech, which has thrown its entire catalog at this Sertao in an effort to make it round-the-world capable.

Crash guards are added in the expected places — the engine, sump and radiators — but this bike also benefits in areas you might not casually consider. Even the little ABS sensors on the brake discs gain steel covers and new steel heel plates protect vulnerable parts like the rear brake cylinder.

Comfort is also something that most ADV bikes lack. Made mostly for long highway tours, specifically comfort while standing. To make the Sertao a more natural fit while standing up, Touratech moves the pegs two inches to the rear and the bars nearly an inch higher. Less leaning over and a more natural center of gravity are both big bonuses.

To carry shit, they’ve fitted the full complement of the insanely expensive Zega Pro luggage. It locks, is waterproof and can survive huge crashes. All that’s especially good since you won’t be able to afford to replace your gear after you’ve re-mortgaged the house to buy the luggage.

Then there’s all the little practical touches that increase weather protection or reduce service frequency. A tall screen, bark busters (keeping the levers on when you crash is nice, so is having dry, warm hands) and fork guards see to that. A side stand footprint and a center stand will also make life that much more convenient on the road.

Another pretty much necessary addition are the HID running lights. Seeing stuff at night is really nice, especially when those things might include hippos or wombats or just plain old potholes, so it’s always baffled me as to why bike makers don’t bother fitting effective headlights (SuperTen and V-Strom 650 excepted) to bikes intended for adventure. As an added bonus, by creating a triangle-like face, you’re forcing anthropomorphic object recognition on dozy drivers, meaning someone’s less likely to pull out on you, ending your trip just yards from your front door.

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Together, all these additions add thousands and thousands of dollars to the price of the already optioned-up Sertao, which sort of highlights the hypocrisy of the class. In stock form, most ADV bikes need half again as much dumped into them just to facilitate the kind of riding you see them doing in ads and whatnot. Dump a stock, 500-ish pound bike onto rocks at 30mph in the desert and there goes your adventure. Of course, you’d have trouble getting to those rocks on the stock tires. But, if you can afford to do it right, as seen here, then you can legitimately go pretty much anywhere. And that divergence between stock promise and stock capability is the entire reason companies like Touratech exist.

  • Campisi

    The G650GS is lighter than I would have thought.

  • Scott-jay

    Where’s an adventure farkle to protect the front ABS sensor wire?
    Looks more vulnerable than sensor to me.

  • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    All for the adventuresome entry fee of……one million dollars

    • go gonzo

      Or $8650

      • Dylan

        That would be the bike without any of the touratech stuff. Just the panniers cost around $1300…so needless to say this is a freaking expensive adventure bike.

  • PenguinScotty

    I love Touratech and all, but holy nuts expensive. Can’t even imagine what the package costs. Probably more than your regular mid-size sedan :P

  • Mark D [EX500]

    Here’s a cheaper way to have adventures on your motorcycle.

    Step 1) Strap backpack and gear to sportbike
    Step 2) Ride to trail head
    Step 3) Hike

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      Awesome!!!! Best comment this month.

      • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

        Just my style!

    • Mike
      • BMW11GS

        hahah yes! willy wonka telling it how it is

      • Ross

        That is perfect!

    • Wes Siler

      Our approach this weekend: dirt bike into trucks > drive to death valley > hoon.

      • Brammofan

        Gotta fit a bathroom burnout in there, somewhere. Electric, if possible.

        • Campisi

          Back wheel in the Porta-John?

        • Mark D [EX500]

          Just don’t do one in an open-pit latrine.

    • ike6116

      To be fair that’s having adventures OFF your motorcycle.

  • BMW11GS

    While the buzz over this bike is interesting (considering F650′s G650′s don’t die and can be picked up for about 4K if you look in the right places) I can’t help but think one could build the ultimate adventure bike by picking a used one up and doing some really inexpensive mods. For example many “high end” forks can be grafted onto these bikes for maybe $200 for the said used forks. Make a simple tail bracket and add your soft luggage of choice and you are looking ready to rock. I worked at a BMW shop for a while and this model can be abused to the Nth degree and keep on going. People will say that FI and ABS are liabilities in the sticks, I say try to brake one of these bikes and then get back to me. Truly an excellent motorcycle.

  • James

    I wonder if there are any crashbars you can fit on the Panigale?

  • Charlie

    Hasn’t the new Triumph XC rendered this old maid obsolete? Perhaps stout, but maybe the worst BMW except perhaps the Xmoto experiment? Flying brick is too old to be considered for booby prize. I hated getting a GS 650 as a loaner bike. At least the CS ugly enough to be interesting

    • BMW11GS

      does the Triumph XC get consistently above 55 miles per gallon while offering a round the world tough bike? Maybe, but this one sure will.

    • Eben

      They don’t have much in common. The GS is over $3K less, significantly smaller and lighter and better off road in every way, even in stock, non-PD/Sertao form. Given the choice between the two, I’d take the XC in a heartbeat, but that doesn’t mean the GS is bad for what it is: a bulletproof, do-everything motorcycle.

  • jonoabq

    While the touratech stuff is painfully spendy, everything I every bought from them was quite well thought out and bulletproof. I’ve dropped my 06′ tiger in the rocks (both sides) and the only thing that kept me from a punctured (plastic) gas tank was touratech crash bars. In some cases you do get what you pay for.
    As far as the GS goes, meh.

  • jpenney

    I like the new back tracking Wes! The west coast sun must have removed some of the NY grit. Every mention of the G650GS on HFL used to mention how boring it was.

    Yeah, it’s not super exciting but it works well for it’s purpose. To me that purpose was to do everything reasonably well.

    My G650GS took me through the twisty roads of Arkansas with full camping gear, blasting through some single track on a friends land, hooning around the city streets jumping curbs, exploring long discarded ruins of roads, blasting down gravel roads and some pretty serious sporty riding, and happily traveled for hours at a time of 80-90MPH highway riding.

    No it didn’t keep up with the sport bikes one the open road (105 MPH top speed) and the front end pushed during aggressive cornering but it wasn’t far off pace.

    Optimally, I would have kept the GS and added my current Street Triple. Unfortunately my wallet isn’t that fat so I had to sell the GS to buy the Triumph. The Street Triple is more exciting and arguably more fun but it doesn’t really work on gravel and when the roads get rough it really tries to beat the hell out of me.

  • Kerry

    I can’t wait for Harley to re-enter the Adventure market . . . if you consider the Ulysses it’s first foray. Not that I’d ever own one, just the amount of factory crap add-ons they’ll come up with.

    • Andres Freire

      The Ulysses was a BUELL product not HD, the two companies are polar opposites. Just look at EBR now and you can tell where their roots stem from.

    • Dylan

      I don’t ever see HD ever re-entering the Adventure market. Kinda hard to go offroading in a skull cap, leather vest, and ape hangers. Not to mention the possibility of those leather tassels getting caught in every bush or tree.

      • Campisi

        One could make the argument that Harley has a history of off-road-capable products in the form of WW2 courier-dispatch bikes. A bike like that with a knack for fire roads and a decent engine would (I think) split the difference between Adventure bikes and Harley’s own internal conservatism.

      • Kevin

        I rode my Multi to the Grand Canyon on Friday, and wondered until I saw the signs for the Laughlin River Run why all that Thundering Herd was around me on I-40. Shorts, work boots, hoodies with leather vests, fingerless gloves… and for extra protection against desert elements at 80 mph… bandanas.

        • aristurtle

          Ah, yes, the ubiquitous American Flag Bald Eagle Harley Davidson bandanna, found everywhere there isn’t an enforced helmet law. Made in Vietnam, for maximum irony.

      • Kirill

        Silly stereotypes aside, the simple reason why Harley is unlikely to enter the ADV market is that the dedicated ADV market is just not big enough and they already have the “bike as accessory” market that’s responsible for the popularity of the 1200GS cornered. The only company besides BMW that does anything even remotely similar in terms of making heavyweight ADV bikes is KTM and they have enough of a reputation to pull it off and are small enough to be able to make money selling mere handfuls of 990s.

        As for BMW, well, since BMW Motorrad might as well be a line item on the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG balance sheet and as such can pretty much throw money at developing bikes since whatever cost will be offset by the sale of 3 Rolls Royces – a luxury Harley by virtue of being purely a motorcycle manufacturer (or an apparel maker that builds motorcycles on the side if you want to go that route) can’t afford.

        • Dylan

          From what ive heard (unfortunately I havent been able to ride it) the new Triumph 800 XC is pretty damn good as well. I think as more people realize that its pretty hard to do everything on a sport bike, they will turn to sporty adventure bikes. But I definitely agree, unless there is massive growth in that sector Harley will never consider it a market

  • Archer

    Always wondered why Charlie and Ewan didn’t opt for this class of bike instead of the behemoths they used in their show.

    Oh, wait, I know… the series would have been half as long because of the lack of dropped bikes. Would have taken away all the drama.

    • Filipe


      • Kirill

        On the upside, there would also have been far less whinging.

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