2012 BMW G650GS Sertao - First Impression - Dirt Rider Magazine

The BMW G650GS Sertao is the latest member of the GS family and has its focus on the adventure rider that wants to spend a little more time off-road. Named after the badlands of Northeastern Brazil, BMW is selling this machine as "The New Dakar". BMW invited us out for a day at the RawHyde Adventures Training Course to test the new GS and show us exactly what the Sertao has to offer. Cold and damp conditions greeted us at the facility and added some mud and ice to the already varied terrain. Over the course of the day we came across everything from tight muddy corners to the open freeway and everything in between.The Sertao's design for the unbeaten path starts with 8.3 inches of travel, (almost 2" more than the standard GS) for more ground clearance and a 21" front wheel (19" on standard GS) to keep the front wheel up and out of those unwanted holes for added clearance and stability. The new GS also receives some added protection with an engine guard, hand guards and a taller wind screen. The weight of the Sertao does see an increase of 4lbs., but this is hardly noticeable. For a 426lb motorcycle (ready to ride) this bike feels light and nimble through the tight stuff. The weight is very well balanced and gives the bike a low center of gravity. So, even with the added height and weight, the bike was still effortless to maneuver around. The extended suspension also has great hold up and soaks up the chop while still absorbing some pretty serious hits.

The Sertao does come standard with street tires and that is how we rode it. I guess BMW wanted to show us what the Sertao was capable of right out of the box. This wouldn't have been a problem, but rain had turned the hard pack clay into a muddy skating rink. Although knobbies would have been ideal, the slick tires proved how well this bike handles. The light and nimble handling made it easy to correct mistakes that would normally put a heavier bike on the ground. Don't let all the light and nimble talk fool you though because this bike is still very stable on the fast dirt roads and highways.

For Being a 650 single, this bike has excellent torque and is surprisingly smooth. Sure it doesn't have the power of a 1200, but that's not why you are buying this bike. This bike is made to give you more time on the back roads and away from the rat race. The motor still gets to the power quick, but it lets you get away with a lot more in the dirt. The delivery is smooth enough that even the "loose throttle" riders will have control in less than stellar conditions. This motor also allows you to cruise 70mph at about 4500rpm on the highway, so the bike isn't straining and there is barely any vibration. BMW claims 75mpg at 55mph; and with gas heading towards 5 dollars a gallon, this not only makes a great adventure bike, but would also be an excellent commuter. It will have you looking for the scenic route to work instead of the shortest or quickest.This power and handling combo give the Sertao a fun and sporty feel on and off the road. The ergos are comfortable and allow you to stand up when needed. The bike comes standard with a 300mm single front rotor and an ABS brake system that gives you great control when you need to slow down in a hurry. Along the ride we had the option of a mud crossing or a hill climb. I wanted to keep our Sertao looking sharp for the 80 mile ride home, but I also wanted to test out the ABS on the downhill, so I opted for the hill-climb. The descent was better than I expected; very controllable. Was it technique or the ABS brakes? Check the photos.

The ride home from the intro was well after sun down and the temperature was dropping. At 70mph I realized the moto helmet was a bad idea. Luckily the extended windscreen did offer a lot of protection from the freezing cold and let me focus on the icy roads. My favorite optional accessory that was installed on the test bike was the heated grips. They are well worth the $250 upgrade and highly recommended. BMW also offers plenty of extra accessories including more protection and storage options to personalize your ride.

Overall we were very happy with the new Sertao. Its light handling and stable demeanor make it a fun effortless ride. The added travel and clearance give you even more options off the road and the little motor still gives you that sporty feel. At $8,650 for the base model and $8,950 for the optional upgrade package, this is an excellent bike for your next great adventure. Now it's time to throw on some knobbies and see what this bike is really capable of.Be sure to look for the future issue of Dirt Rider Magazine for the full test of the BMW G650GS Sertao.