The bikes

Both of us have been riding big BMW bikes for years, but we felt these were simply to big and unwieldy for this kind of trip. We wanted something big enough to do the many, many kilometers of tarmac between home and were it gets rough and something that would still be easy to manage once we got there.

We considered many options, TransAlp, Tenere, someone even suggested looking at a Multistrada. In the end we choose to stay close to what we are comfortable with and stick to BMW and their F650GS. These are 650cc single cylinder bikes. The Rotax block on them is renowned for its dependability and we found a pair of them cheap. The Dutch police uses these and when they are done with them they auction them off, our luck!

So basically we have two almost completely standard BMW F650GS’s. Except for:

  • These are ex police bikes, meaning that instead of a normal seat including a buddy, it came with a single seat and a space where there once was a box of special police gizmo’s. These had been removed before the auction, but most of the custom wiring had not. One of our fist jobs was to sort out the electrics; remove a box full of redundant wiring, make sense of the left over spaghetti and try to get minor things working, like the indicators, the horn, heated grips, etc.
  • Just a few upgrades:
    • Seat: The police seat… well.. sucked. We had Rayz overhaul it completely. The new seat makes a huge difference and lines so much better with the bikes.
    • Shocks: We upgraded the front and rear shocks by installing new HyperPro springs, this should improve handling and the heavier rear spring should be able to deal with the heavy load better
    • Handguards: The standard “guards” are nothing more than some plastic covers to keep rain of your hands, in case of a fall we’d like something that will actually protect our hands and levers. Barkbusters were the obvious choice. These come with a raiser kit for the handlebars that lifts these by a few centimeters.
    • Pannier frames: We looked at several options and even sent back a set that we felt wasn’t tough enough. Finally we went with the ones we knew we really wanted from the start. Touratech makes what we feel are the strongest ones.
    • Panniers: We added some big metal cases to hold our gear, luckily we have such strong panniers frames!
    • Gear lever: Here Touratech also came in handy with a nice adjustable gear lever, to fit our big booted feet a bit better
    • Foot pegs: The standard foot pegs are to narrow and flimsy to stand on if we take the bikes off-road. We replaced them with SW Motech height adjustable off-road versions.
    • Air filter: Finally, we now have our first KN air filters! to replace the standard paper ones. These don’t die if they get wet, better still, you can wash them out. According to KN we should even see some increased performance.
    • Scottoiler: To keep everything running smoothly, we added Scottoilers