Flicking through a local Facebook page that lists items for sale, my lovely wife stumbled upon a 1995 BMW for sale.  After battling the moral dilemma of whether to tell me or not (If I tell him he will buy it), she relented and passed on the info.

“Is this the sort of thing you were looking for?” She asked in a very non-committal manner.

“What is it?” I asked.

“An old BMW 650”

“Not really” I said “How much is it?”

"Cheapish" she said, and then let slip that it only had 4300kms from new, I was suddenly more interested plus it was only about 10kms from home, bonus.

Reading the advert and looking at the pictures which were taken in a poorly lit underground car park I wasn’t sure if the mileage was a misprint.  A quick call was made where the owner assured me that the mileage was correct and the bike was like new.  I thought a “look-see” was in order and arranged a convenient time to view it.

Meeting people to go and look at bikes is always stressful:  do you take all the money or just a deposit, should you meet at the owner’s house rather than a car park, should you run a hpi check before you set off? Meeting at a car park you need to spend as much time checking out the owner and paperwork as the bike itself.  Not a task I really relish, but it was too good a deal to turn down (sometimes this is the problem).

The meeting with the owner couldn’t have gone better.  We met at a local tennis club and I followed him back to the bikes location in the car park under his apartment block.  I had a good look around the bike which turned out to be as genuine as the owner himself.  He even offered to let me have a ride which is unusual but I declined for insurance reasons.  The bike started and ran perfectly, showed little sign of use and appeared to be a great low mileage example of a 19 year old bike.  It turned out that Carl had only owned it a few months and decided sports bikes were more his thing so the BMW had to go.  He had however in the brief ownership period fitted a new pair of Michelin Anakee 3 tyres and a Dominator stainless steel race can.

Within about 15mins a price was agreed upon and collection arranged for the 16th April which was two days later and happens to be my birthday.  Thanks darling, another great birthday present.

Three months later and how is it going?

The only downside that nearly put me off was the fact that it is a UK registered bike in Spain.  This isn’t a problem as I imported my GSXR 750 in 2003 without hitch, it can be expensive though so this has to be factored in.  The positive side of this is that I was able to run a HPI check before purchase.

First job was to send off the UK paperwork for the transfer to me and then look into importing the bike officially.

After that I gave it a good check over, the pads look OK and the brakes work surprisingly well for a single disk dual piston setup, it was made by Brembo after all.  Oil level was good, if a little sticky looking and all fasteners seemed tight.

Not knowing when or if it had ever been serviced (no books) I put oil, oil filter and air filter on my shopping list as a precautionary measure and decided that I would check everything else as I went.  A Haynes manual was also ordered and membership to two forums completed, they have been very usefull so far. and

Before the service but after a safety check a few kms were added to the bike to familiarise myself and to check for other issues.  The only thing was that it seemed a little asthmatic but my other bike is a GSXR750 so many things seem asthmatic compared to that, however it seemed a little worse than expected especially with a race can.


Service parts bought, Haynes manual studied, a spout fabricated to drain the oil and I was ready.  The air filter was tackled first; this consists of a flat foam element trapped between a reusable plastic cage.  What the Haynes manual doesn’t tell you is that the housing usually has a small amount of oil in the bottom from an engine breather pipe. As the housing cover was removed a reasonable amount of oil exploded out onto me, my shoes and the garage floor.  It’s always funny when it happens to someone else

On closer inspection and whilst removing the reusable cage the old “air filter” fell to pieces, the reason for the quotation marks is that it looked like a piece of upholstery foam had been used rather than a proper filter.  Maybe this was the cause of the asthmatic running.

Next, drain the oil and replace the oil filter.  Sounds simple but after the previous incident, greater precaution was taken with large pieces of absorbent paper on the floor and a large catch tank for the oil.  All went well with the drain plug, the filter was another matter.  Having fashioned a spout out of plastic and whilst holding it near the housing cover I proceeded to undo the two bolts, no leaks so far.  Next I removed the bolts and the cover stayed in place, it was more than hand tight.  Applying a relatively small amount of pressure with a flat bladed screwdriver had the previously tight cover flying off and landing on the floor face down and obviously two inches beyond the absorbent paper.  It also distracted me enough to move the carefully prepared spout and cover the engine and some more of the floor with oil.

Stop laughing it only gets worse.

It would appear that the filter fitted was the original one and over time it had welded itself in place but after another 5 minutes of fiddling it was removed and the new one fitted.

Time to fill with oil, reading various sources of information, there was no clear amount of oil to use, the Haynes manual says to top up until the dipstick is at full then run and retest.  Unfortunately where the filler is located necessitates the use of a funnel which then limits your view.  I managed for the first time in 22yrs of servicing my own bikes to over fill it and again had oil all over the floor (it was a good job my long suffering wife was away for the week).

What then, drain all the oil and start again? No, I found an old syringe and sucked about 150ml of oil back out of the tank at between 5 and 10ml at a time.

The more observant F650 owners will have noticed that I did not mention the oil strainer, which I only remembered after topping up with oil so will leave that until next time, as I intend to change the oil again at the bikes first official service at 10,000kms.

Lessons learned for next time:

  1. fabricate a better spout ideally one that can be attached
  2. use more paper just in case and buy a larger drip tray

Or dare I say it

  1. get someone else to service it, that won’t happen it’s too much fun.


Following it´s service, performance has improved and the wheezy sensation has disappeared.  It actually has a nice airbox noise which I wasn’t expecting.

So far in a little over two months I have added 1500 happy kilometres to the little BMW, both on road and off with a 300km day thrown in, just to see how comfy it is.  The fuel economy is excellent at around 50 – 55mpg.  The Dominator pipe has been removed due to noise as it seems to be missing its DB killer and I can do without the attention and the headache.  This will probably be refitted if I can quieten it down a bit.

Overall the bike is great and hopefully will be pressed into service as a tourer for the next few years.  Let the modding commence.