Evolution – for heading towards 20 years a 650cc “big single” engine has been powering a range of light-weight BMW on/off-road bikes. Now the latest, the G650 GS, has arrived on the scene.I confess to bias. I’ve had a BMW F650 single for more than 11 years, the model called, back then, the Funduro, and it’s still in regular use with more than 72 000km on the clock and the only time it stopped running was when a dealer screwed up a service and I had to pay again to get it fixed.No, the details are too painful...That model, which was discontinued in 2007, pre-dated BMW's addition of fuel-injection to the range, but it was still water-cooled with twin-spark ignition and ran an economical five-litres/100km in real life traffic – and still does today. It’s pretty much corrosion-free even though I live in Cape Town and in fact the frame and paintwork are spotless.Way higher techThat’s testimony to quality, unlike my other bike – a Japanese unit – that’s only about two years old but its front fork arch is already corroding; the paint is peeling off the mirrors and rust is showing through the aluminium paint of the side stand. You’d think some of the nuts on various part of the body had been pulled from a couple of years in the Atlantic.But back to the G650... this new model soon to be launched in South Africa, the BMW G650 GS, is way higher tech than mine. Thanks to electronic fuel-injection, the tried-'n-trusted twin-spark ignition, high compression-ratio of 11.5:1 and a closed-loop catalytic converter it returns (BMW’s data) 3.2 litres/100km at a constant 90km/h EASY RIDER: A choice of three seat heights means the BMW G650 will fit most sizes of rider. BMW’s media materials describe the bike as of “lean, wiry, off-road stature, a single-cylinder enduro that cuts a cheeky, light, and adventurous figure. At the same time it stands out clearly from its rivals in terms of quality”.“In conjunction with its relatively low weight and low seat height, it presents an attractive means of entry to the passion of biking and the world of BMW GS adventure.”Its liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts has a displacement of 652cc, delivers 35kW at 6500rpm and 60Nm at 5000. There is the option of a power-reduction version limited to 25kW and 47Nm but it won't be available in South Africa.It’s hooked to a claw-shift, five-speed gearbox.The bike’s suspension (well, on mine, anyway!) mocks road humps and rough roads. Many riders swear by its ability off-road. The suspension, BMW says, was developed primarily for running on country roads (I have road tyres on my version for safer commuting) - an agile chassis with a bridge frame of steel tubing and a bolt-on framework tail that has already seen excellent service on the earlier BMW F650 GS.Anti-lock an optionThe front wheel rotates in rigid telescopic forks, the rear uses a solid dual swing-arm of square steel sections in conjunction with a monoshock linked via a lever system. Besides the optimal riding stability up to the maximum speed of 170km/h (power reduction 145km/h) the new G650 GS presents “a thrilling performance of playful handling on country roads”. (BMW again.)Anti-lock is available as an option on the discs (single 30mm front, 240mm rear) but it can be deactivated (see picture) if you plan to head into sand or onto loose gravel BRAKING MODES: The optional anti-lock brakes on the new BMW G650caption can be switched off on sand or gravel. The continuing evolution has meant a complete redesign. In particular, BMW says, the front section makes the single-cylinder enduro light, sporty, and dynamic. The asymmetrical headlight and the self-steering front wheel cover give the G 650 GS “a look of absolute independence”.“A clear design of lines, the targeted use of coloured areas, and all-black plastic parts uphold the visual impression of a robust enduro outfit,” BMW adds. “The overall impression of sportiness is boosted further by the engine, exhaust covers, frame, swing-arm and slide tubes, which are all black, contrasting with the plain colours of aura white and orange-red as well as the matching two-tone seats.Some of the “buying points” of the G650 GS that is assembled at the BMW plant in Spandau, Germany:• Monoshock suspension spring travel front 170mm, rear 165mm.• Cast alloy rims, front 19”, rear 17”. Wider rear wheel rim for better riding stability.• 14-litre fuel tank.• Three seat heights: standard 780mm, low slung 750mm, high seat (black) 820mm.• Sporty cockpit design with asymmetrical headlight and instrument panel.• Luggage carrier with lockable storage compartment.• New handlebar fittings.• Extensive range of optional accessories.For improved riding stability at higher speeds, the rear wheel rim has been widened from 3.0” to 3.5”. Tyres in the sizes 110/80 R19 59V and 140/80 R17 69V are fitted on the 2.50 x 19” front rims and the 3.50 x 17” rear rims respectively.Additional informationCompletely new is the compact, flat instrument panel consisting of an analogue speedometer and an LCD display with digital tachometer.This LCD, BMW says, presents additional information such as kilometres travelled, two trip counters, and the time. For indicators, high beam, idling, fuel reserve, ABS, and engine temperature, the LEDs present a clear arrangement to the right of the round instrument.In addition, simple and safe handling is ensured by new, lean, multifunctional switches operated like conventional indicators.Optional equipment• BMW Motorrad ABS (ON/OFF) incl. hazard warning flashers.• Heatable grips.• Charging socket.• Centre stand.• Low slung (seat height 750mm).• Vario panniers in a new design.• Pannier carriers.• Inner pocket for vario panniers.• Topcase.• Inner pocket for topcase.• Tank rucksack.• Seat, high (plain black, seat height 820 mm).• Single seat with luggage compartment (plain black, seat height 780mmlike standard).• Three types of windshield.• Hand protectors. Share your thoughts on the new BMW G650 GS.