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BMW Scarver - Not just for the fashionable!

Road test by Adrian Percival, pics by Simon Bradley

At first glance the BMW 650CS somewhat reminded me of the odd looking and not so popular Aprilia Moto 6.5 styled by Phillipe Starke, but as I looked more closely it soon became clear that this was not just a fashion exercise but a definite re-think of the commuter motorcycle. BMW have taken the concept of the F650 Funduro and redesigned both the frame and swing-arm to come up with a bike that not only stands out but performs as well. This bike attracts people wherever you go, not for its stunning looks or desirability, but because it's just so obviously different. Park it next to any superbike and I'll guarantee you that this slightly wacky 650 will get all the attention. People have commented so far on the big hole where the tank used to be, the huge exhaust, the projectile looking front end, the colour scheme, the belt drive, and the list is growing as more and more people see it!

BMW have succeeded in creating a bike that not only appeals to the seasoned rider but also to the new or nearly new rider. This bike is expected to be bought by a different kind of rider, so BMW say, they predict that 40% of sales will be to customers who don't already own a bike. This suggests the 650CS is not designed for us 'old hands', but with everyone’s past groans and gripes about bikes in mind, here's what the boffins at BMW decided to do about it...The 'hole where the tank was’ has been designed to accommodate all sorts of different gizmos and gadgets, and to provide a solution to that ever popular gripe about where do I put my helmet when I go shopping or to work. BMW have thoughtfully moved the fuel tank under the seat and therefore made space to fit your helmet and a range of interchangeable equipment including a bag, a hard storage box and even a waterproof audio system with speed sensitive sound! Not forgetting the pillion, BMW have also given some thought to them as well with two tank (or not as the case may be!) mounted grab handles as well as a great rear rack and the option of (wait for it!) heated rear grab rail, how cool is that! Include the optional heated grips, ABS and hazard lights and you get a complete package for just about anything you want to throw at it. It also comes is some really funky colours in both metallic and non-metallic so you can design away the tank/side panels/seat combos until you drop!

Riding the F650CS is somewhat different also. It has a re-worked version of the Funduro's 650 motor in it which has been tuned for more torque at lower revs, a very low seat height giving that 'sitting in' feeling, and you have the option to get it even lower if you really want. The wide bars and rainbow switchgear match the bike perfectly to give you that 'being part of' feeling when you ride it.The overall riding position is very good, with the high bars and low seat combination making you sit upright giving you a great view both ahead of you and around/over cars. You sit in this bike and because of the style of the bars your wrists don't get stressed therefore making traffic and slow filtering a pleasure instead of a task. To add to that the combination and effectiveness of the small front screen and wide and very comfortable seat makes both town and long rides a pleasure. With the frame being similar to the 650GS it has a tendency to fall a bit into corners, this is due to the trailie type geometry it is based on, but it is also stable when it does it, so no worries there. It handles most bends and roads very well and is a pleasure to chuck around at low speeds in traffic and to blast around out on the open country roads. With it's 17" wheels and road tyres it feels a bit of a Supermoto but hasn't got the radical performance of say a CCM R30, just a lot more gentle but equally as rewarding for most riders.

The suspension has no adjustment, but there’s very little dive from the front on the brakes and it flies over potholes, speed bumps and so on without any problems at all, and despite that incredibly large exhaust can (fitted with catalyser and oxy sensor) there are no grounding problems, except the hero blobs which you can definitely get down on both sides! The brakes work well as a single disc set up front and rear. There's plenty of stopping power but it does lack a bit of feel. Our test bike was fitted with the ABS option at a cost of £345 and I did manage to give it a good test in the wet when a Volvo estate decided to stop mid corner on one of Oxford’s finest potholed roads! Not a hint of a slide and a complete stop on a wet road, very impressive indeed. I'm sure that this option will be taken up by a lot of safety conscious customers. Pulling away is from lights and at junctions etc is just plain easy. The motor is torquey with the exception of 1st, which is a little short, but second seems to be the best traffic gear although I did have problems with the neutral selection, which may just be down to the fact that it is a belt drive, and it was new. Maybe after a few more miles (under its belt!) it will loosen up.

Maximum power comes in at around 6500-6800rpm producing 50bhp and 44ft-lb of torque with the rev limiter coming in at 8000rpm. I don't see the need to rev this motor that high as the torque just makes you short shift up to 5th and stay there using the throttle and the torque produced for all the corners and overtakes! If the corners get a little tighter then drop to 4th but gear changes on this bike are really minimal out on the open road. After trying it out in traffic I was pleasantly surprised that it has a decent comfortable cruising speed of between 80 & 90mph. At these speeds the screen is working well deflecting the oncoming air well out of the way of your helmet and top half (very surprising for such a small screen). If you really want to you can work it a bit more and get about 110-120mph indicated, and with a 17.3lt tank getting about 48mpg you don't have to stop for fuel every 5 minutes.


There are the usual and unusual BMW extras including ABS, heated grips for both rider and passenger, fitted luggage, tank boxes and bags, audio equipment, CS clothing and the list goes on. Also with this bike comes a full 2 year unlimited mileage warranty and super quiet low maintenance belt drive for the people who don't want to get their hands dirty with chain lube and the like! This bike is definitely for the urban poser and country lane blitzers amongst you! It handles well, cruises well, is great in town and looks the part with its ultra modern styling. It is agile and confidence inspiring for the first timers, yet totally satisfying for the more experienced riders. This bike is very well sorted and deserves to sell like hot cakes. If this is the type of bike you are looking for then you could do a lot worse that the BMW F650CS.Pay a visit to the BMW website, there you can design your own bike and play around with colour choices and all the accessories. The web address is

Read a technical review here

Tech Specs:

  • List price £5400
  • Water-cooled 652cc, 4v single cylinder four-stroke.
  • Fuel injection.
  • Five gears
  • Aluminium perimeter frame
  • Telescopic forks Single rear shock with rising rate linkage.
  • Tyres 110/70 x 17 front, 160/60 x 17 rear
  • Brakes 300mm front disc, 240mm rear disc


  • 50bhp @ 6800 rpm
  • Torque 44ftIb @ 5500rpm
  • Top speed 110mph
  • Fuel consumption 49mpg & 17 litre tank

Our Rating

  • Engine 4 star
  • Handling 3 star
  • Braking 4 star
  • Comfort 5 star
  • Fun factor 4 star
  • MotorBikes Today overall rating - 4 star

Read external BMW F650CS reviews on ciao.

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