Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

BMW F650ST Strada

Wed, May 4th, 2011

Note: The F650ST was sold in the U.S. from 1997–on.

1993–2001 BMW F650ST Strada
The Rotax-built single put out decent power and torque for a thumper, but was not exceptional. The original carburated version was not as smooth down low or as fat in the midrange as later fuel-injected models.
The Strada shared the dualsport Funduro's suspension, and there's a bit too much hobby-horsing for the street. In the twisty parts, the boing-boing suspension wastes a solidly constructed frame and nice brakes.
The original Strada was too little changed in appearance from the Funduro, which was a bit odd-looking to start with. The overall effect is a mishmash of dual-sport, standard, and sport bike proportions.
Despite BMW purists' concerns about an Italian-built machine, the original chain-drive F650 turned out to be no less reliable than its Teutonic brethren, which high praise. I'm not saying it will hold up anywhere near as well over the decades as vintage BMW twins have, however.
As long as you keep the speeds to a reasonable pace and don't go crazy in the turns, the F650 Strada will take you anywhere there's paved roads without too much complaint. The bike is comfortable for its size, although you might want to replace the useless windscreen with the Funduro's higher version.
The F650ST is a nice enough big thumper, but it suffers emotionally from being exactly the sort of conventional design that BMW spent years criticizing other makers for building.
While it's not the sort of bike you expect to see wearing a BMW roundel, the F650ST is a fine street-only thumper, which has admittedly been an under-served niche for years. I only wish BMW had gone all the way with it and not stuck so closely to the Funduro's design.