See it soon at Apple’s Eye

by TONIO DARMANIN

Having ridden a good number of bikes from the BMW range, I was interested in trying one of their smaller machines from the G series consisting of the G650 Xmoto, Xcountry and Xchallenge models. I had noticed a spanking new red and black Xmoto in the showroom and without delay, arrangements were made to take it out for the weekend.

With these smaller bikes from BMW, there are a number of things one needs to come to terms with. First of all, we are dealing with a 650cc single cylinder liquid-cooled engine designed by BMW that gives you a completely different riding experience from any of the other bikes the company produces. The three models are built on a steel bridge tubular frame chassis, they are chain driven and present a relatively high riding position.

The Xmoto is intended for street use, however it provides a dirtbike feeling and has an off-road driving position. The seat is narrow and the cushioning thin with sharp edges, so it does get a bit uncomfortable on long runs. However, the rider is free to slide forward and back at leisure without the traditional obstacle of the fuel tank which is located under the seat and not in front of it. This also lowers the bike’s centre of gravity. The riding position is upright and at 35.4 inches, it is perfect for a tall driver with a great view of the road ahead but the seat is also adjustable downwards to accommodate those under six feet tall.

The engine thumps smooth for a single cylinder, and quite a big one at that. It develops a respectable 53hp and produces a reasonable amount of torque. I was actually impressed with the throttle response and the lack of ‘knocking’ this type of engine often produces. Acceleration is decent and gearing well suited for frisky street riding.

The Xmoto is easy to manoeuvre through traffic and extremely capable at taking tight turns. The four-piston Brembo callipers pressing on 320mm discs with steel-braded brake lines sounds capable enough, however the model under test was fitted with an optional ABS system which makes breaking excellent. With 9.6 inches of travel on the single adjustable rear shock and 9.4 inches on the front inverted fork, you’re provided with a comfortable ride although you do get some dive in front when braking hard.

I got a real kick out of the Xmoto and consider it a brilliant daily runner, with a smooth engine, fantastic braking and a perfect ride on our imperfect roads. Easy to handle, agile and fast enough.

This article was first published on Times of Malta on March 2, 2009
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