motorcycles & more

1997 BMW F650 ST

The BMW F650 ST is a true European hybrid: Designed by an Englishman for a German company, with an Austrian engine and built by an Italian firm (Martin Longmore, BMW, Rotax, and Aprilia, respectively). I had been following these bikes on Craigslist and eBay for about a year, and it seemed remarkable to me how inexpensive they had become. In the midst of my sporadic observation of the marketplace for these bikes, my wife (after 15 years of marriage plus a couple more of cohabitation) decided that her militant disinterest for riding with me as a passenger had turned to a full-scale interest in coming along.

The most passenger-friendly bike in the fleet at this time was my 1990 Ducati 750 Sport. Although the seat is relatively comfortable, the riding position is moderately sporty. Also, the difficulty of finding 16" tires for the thing was developing into a major challenge. The F650 was an economical way for my wife and me to "test the waters" of two up travel. We lucked out on two fronts: first, the color of the bike is about the most pleasant one can imagine, a dark blue just lighter than navy with no trace of odious metalflaking; second, the seat had been replaced with a Corbin Gunfighter and Queen. Because it is all about her pleasure.

Since purchasing the ST, I have found it to be the best commuter bike in the fleet. Effortless shifting and neutral-finding, great visibility, plenty of grunt away from stoplights, carrying capacity in the "city-style" panniers, and lost of fun. I do not expect expect to have the F650 forever, as a true sport-tourer is probably in my future. But I have enjoyed having the bike, and I think I will miss it when it is gone.