Introducing the new range of single-cylinder models, BMW Motorrad is broadening its model line-up with a clear focus on additional target groups. Proceeding from the same technical foundation, the Company has created three new motorcycles absolutely different in their features and characteristics: - the G 650 Xchallenge (Cross-challenge) Hard Enduro, G 650 Xmoto (Cross-moto) Street Moto, and the G 650 Xcountry (Cross-country) Scrambler. With their outstanding product substance, their purist looks, and their exceptionally sporting riding characteristics, these single-cylinder models are filling attractive niches in the market. And through their low unladen weight of less than 160 kg according to the DIN standard, they offer dynamic performance for both the connoisseur and the sports-minded rider.

BMW G 650 Xchallenge

the Hard Enduro for the off-road enthusiast.

The BMW G 650 Xchallenge proves at first sight that it has a lot to offer: This is an uncompromising off-road machine with long spring travel and not one single gram of extra weight. In its design, the BMW G 650 Xchallenge is dominated by proportions typical of a genuine Enduro - a high-lying, but smooth and flat fly line merging directly into the high and slender rear end to offer the rider the ideal seating position. Made of fracture-proof plastic (mainly polypropylene), the fairing components are both light and robust and are likewise ideal for tough off-road riding. The front wheel cover is fitted directly to the lower fork bridge, giving the front wheel smoothness and traction under most conditions.

The slender fairing, in turn, gracefully takes up the asymmetrically contoured headlight featuring a reflector in free-form design. Positioned off-centre, the parking light, finally, helps to provide that typical look of BMW Motorrad further enhanced by paintwork in White and the blue seat.

Benefiting from 270 mm spring travel both front and rear, BMW Motorrad's new Hard Enduro will easily take on any challenge off the beaten track. Tube diameter of 45 mm in turn, gives the upside-down tele-fork enormous overall stiffness, allowing a handlebar lock of 40°.

seeing if we could get down to the challenge...

yip, we all could, after riding more than two and a half Ks through this bat-filled tunnel

For the launch ride in South Africa, we were given the opportunity to ride the bike in most of the conditions that would be experienced off road. We rode a course just west of Swartkops, riding the Xchallenge through the open veld, over technical rocky outcrops, through a two and a half kilometre, dark, storm-water tunnel, through soft sand, over a submerged weir and across rocky and wet river crossings. And the G 650 Xchallenge proved to all of us there, that the Xchallenge is one very capable off-road machine. In fact I would say that I reached my limits way before I reached the bike's limits. With a bit more time in the saddle, I reckon I would improve my riding ability and be able to appreciate the real capabilities of the Xchallenge. The only problem I experienced was the very high 930mm seat height, and then only when riding foot-up style over big rocks, losing my balance and having to put my foot down, and not finding the ground in time to prevent me from falling down... eish, at least I only fell off once. Maybe I should wear platform shoes next time (ha).


down deep gullies...

over virgin veld...

The springs and dampers are all specially tuned for off-road use, meeting the highest demands in every respect. As a function of the rider's own weight and personal preferences, the truly ambitious Enduro rider is even able to fine-tune the dampers on their inbound and rebound strokes, the adjustment mechanisms offering predetermined rest points for smooth, consistent adjustment.

Again in the interest of minimum weight, the wheel axle measuring 20 mm in diameter is drilled hollow on both the front and rear wheel. The rear wheel suspension also allows various adjustments and set-ups, albeit of a very different character: Like the BMW HP2 Enduro, the BMW G 650 Xchallenge features the BMW Motorrad Air Damping System, a special spring/damper system operating exclusively with air. In its configuration and functions, the Air Damping System is the same as on the HP2 Enduro and has merely been adjusted in terms of weight and its running requirements.

The BMW's Air Damping System comes with a piston inside, similar to the configuration in conventional spring struts. Instead of hydraulic fluid, however, this system forces out air through plate valves into a second chamber, the damping effect being achieved by throttling the flow of air.

It almost goes without saying that the wheels and tyres also meet the typical requirements of off-road riding. Due to their better elasticity, spoke wheels come as standard on the BMW G 650 Xchallenge, offering all the features of lightweight technology. The wheel hubs made of aluminium are hollow-cast and are connected to the epoxy-plated aluminium rims by extra-strong wire spokes. To build up sufficient stabilising gyro-forces on difficult and slow trails, the G 650 Xchallenge comes with a front wheel measuring 21 inches in diameter and running as standard on a 90/90-21 tyre, while at the rear an 18-inch wheel running as standard on a 140/80-18 tyre allows the use of specialised off-road tyres whenever required.


both sides of the G 650 X stripped

that big black thing under the seat is the fuel tank

Measuring a significant 300 mm in diameter at the front and 240 mm in diameter at the rear, the brake discs - and indeed, the entire brake system - are conceived without compromises for handling high loads. Apart from saving weight, the cross-drilled Wave brake discs on the G 650 Xchallenge have a better self-cleaning effect than conventional discs. And while the front wheel disc runs within a double-piston floating caliper configuration, the rear disc is held tight when required by a single piston floating caliper. With its 15-tooth pinion and a 47-tooth sprocket, the G 650 Xchallenge has a shorter final drive ratio than the other two models in the new G 650 X model range.

While the upside-down telescopic fork offers 270 mm spring travel as on the Hard Enduro, the fork is even firmer and tauter all round in its inbound and rebound motion. Particularly, the sport rider will be happy to enjoy the sensitive, incremental adjustment of the damper in both directions, ensuring an individual, personalised set-up at all times.

Jan "die bielie van die Bosveld" walking across the narrow ledge we were to ride across...

and here I go, across the weir... trying to look calm

All three of these new models are powered by the single-cylinder carried over from the former F 650 models now optimised for even better performance and minimum weight: In the G 650 X-models, the upgraded engine now develops maximum output of 39 kW (53 hp) at 7,000 rpm, reaching maximum torque of 60 Nm at 5,250 rpm. And it almost goes without saying that the engine's well-known virtues such as reliability, refinement, economy, and environmental friendliness have been enhanced to an even higher standard than ever before.

Yet a further improvement is the even more dynamic surge of power from the four-valve engine now made possible by the lighter crank-drive and a number of other modifications. The rear wheel, finally, is driven on all three model variants by an O-ring chain.

The bridge-type tubular frame made of steel with cast aluminium side sections and the bolted-on aluminium rear frame, together with the rear-wheel swing arm made of cast light alloy and a number of other high-quality components, characterise the suspension and running gear concept of the entire G 650 X model series - all components are the same on all three models.

Intelligent lightweight technology with a high degree of overall integration of the various components allows particularly low weight for a motorcycle in this class between 156 and 160 kg, depending on the model. Dry weight, in turn, is between 144 and 148 kg.

Various set-ups and versions of the upside-down telescopic fork as well as the rear suspension elements give each model its own special character and riding features. The Xchallenge, for example, comes with a particularly elaborate air damping system. The wheels on the Hard Enduro are 21 inch up front and 18 inch spoke wheel out back, highlighting the specific character of the machine.

The brake system on the Xchallenge is a single-300 mm disc with a double piston brake caliper, while the rear calliper is gripped by a single pot calliper onto a 240mm disc.

The new models are not only the successors to the former single-cylinder machines, but rather round off the range as a whole, since both the F 650 GS and the F 650 GS Dakar are to remain in the model line-up in 2007, with production continuing at BMW Motorrad's Berlin Plant.

The new single-cylinder models were developed under the leadership of BMW in cooperation with Aprilia S.p.A., Noale, Italy (Piaggio Group). Production is by Aprilia in their North Italian Scorzč Plant, naturally fulfilling all of BMW's strict quality standards. As on the F 650 models, the power unit comes from Austrian specialist Rotax. In their overall concept, the three new models, using largely the same parts and components on the engine and frame as well as the same main features, seek to offer a very different and distinctive character in each case.

The most important features of the new G 650 X model series at a glance:

Fast-revving single-cylinder power unit developing maximum output of 39 kW (53 hp) at 7,000 rpm and peak torque of 60 Nm at 5,250 rpm.
Crankshaft running in anti-friction bearings and an even lighter alternator reducing free mass forces.
DOHC valve drive with cup tappets and four valves.
Liquid cooling with an aluminium radiator.
Electronic BMS-C II engine management with intake manifold injection and dual ignition.
Stainless-steel exhaust system with three-way catalytic converter and oxygen sensor.
Dry sump lubrication with the oil tank positioned appropriately for an ideal centre of gravity.
Close-increment five-speed gearbox with secondary chain drive.
High-quality running gear components, epoxy-plated aluminium attachments.
Torsionally-rigid tubular bridge frame with bolted-on aluminium rear frame.
Stable upside-down telescopic fork, fixed-position tube measuring 45 mm in diameter.
Light and highly stable two-unit cast-aluminium swing arm.
Top-quality spring struts at the rear.
Dry weight between 144 and 148kg.
Conified aluminium tubular handlebar.
Foot brake and gearshift levers made of forged aluminium.
Fuel tank positioned beneath the seat for an ideal centre of gravity, with good access to the filler pipe.
High-performance brake system with on-demand ABS as an option.
Model-specific range of accessories and optional features.

Specifications G 650 Xchallenge

Engine                                                                Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke unit with dual ignition

Capacity                                                              652cc

Bore/stroke                                                         100/83mm

Max output                                                          39kW / 53hp @ 7,000rpm

Max torque                                                          60Nm @ 5,250rpm

Compression ratio                                                11.5 : 1

Camshafts                                                            DOHC

Valves per cylinder                                               4

Fuel supply                                                           Electronic manifold injection, BMS-C II

Exhaust management                                             Fully controlled three-way catalytic converter

Power Transmission/Gearbox

Clutch                                                                   Multiple-plate clutch in oil bath

Gearbox                                                                Five-speed gearbox

Rear wheel drive                                                    Chain

Suspension and Running Gear

Frame                                                                    Steel bridge tubular frame with bolted cast aluminium components and aluminium rear frame

Suspension, front                                                    USD telescopic fork, tube dia 45 mm

Suspension, rear                                                     Aluminium two-unit cast swing arm

Spring strut                                                             Air Damping System

Spring travel, front/rear                                           270/270 mm

Wheelbase                                                             1,500 mm

Single-disc brake, front, disc dia                              Double-piston calliper, 1 x dia 300mm

Single-disc brake, rear, disc dia                               Single-piston floating calliper, dia 240 mm

Wheels                                                                   Spoke wheel, front         1.60 x 21, rear           2.50 x 18

Tyres                                                                      Front 90/90-21, Rear 140/80-18

Weights and Dimensions

Length, overall                                                        2,205 mm

Width, overall, with mirrors                                     907 mm

Width, overall, without mirrors                                825 mm

Seat height                                                              930 mm

Dry weight/DIN unladen weight                              144/156  kg

Max permissible                                                     335 kg

Tank capacity                                                         9.5 liters

Fuel Consumption and Performance

Fuel consumption 90 km/h                                       3 liters/100 km

Fuel consumption 120 km/h                                     5.1 liters/100 km

Acceleration 0–100                                                 4.01 seconds 

Top speed                                                               165 kph (approx)

Photos by Mark Bow

Thanks to Rob Barnes, Cora Forssman and Lachlan Harris of BMW South Africa for the ride,

an Xcellent off-road machine, able to take on any off-road challenge.