Project Bike – Part II: Mechanical Assessment and Basic Touring Equipment Upgrades

Apr 09, 2012 View Comments by

Prior to purchasing the used BMW motorcycle, we inspected it for a number of potential mechanical issues, including rust spots, fluid leaks, mechanical malfunctions, errant engine noises, cracks in the seat or bodywork, cracks or dents in wheels, or excessive chain and sprocket wear. We also checked for evidence the bike had been raced or crashed and looked for a proper title without a lien, 
manuals and service records, etc. Now that we’ve acquired the 
2003 BMW F 650 GS, we’ll proceed with the following three steps 
to imbue it with basic touring capabilities.



Step 1: More In-depth Assessment of Mechanical Status and Service as Needed
We put the motorcycle on the lift and checked the following, with the results indicated:

Procedure Est. hrs. Results
1. Review service records 0.5 Found only initial dealer service
after break-in recorded in owner’s
manual; no other service documents
2. Inspect condition of engine oil and
change oil and filter if needed if
2.0 Oil dirty; new K&N* oil filter
installed (part # KN-151) with
10W-40 synthetic Amsoil*
3. Check the level and clarity of the
antifreeze and change if needed
1.5 No apparent rust or fluid
discoloration, but drained
and replaced anyway
4. Inspect front and rear disc
brake pads and replace if needed
1.0 Substantial pad life remaining;
replacement not needed now
5. Inspect condition of chain and
sprockets and measure play in
chain; adjust and/or replace
sprockets and chain if needed
0.5 No adjustment or replacement
required; cleaned and lubricated chain
6. Examine condition of air
filter and replace if necessary
1.0 Filter damaged and dirty; installed
new K&N* air filter (part # BM-6501)
7. Check tread depth and wear
pattern of tires and
replace them if necessary
0.5 Immediate replacement is
unnecessary, but new tires will be
needed within the next 1,000 miles
8. Check hydraulic
fluids and replace
1.0 Generally clear, but given the age of
the bike and lack of maintenance
records, replaced fluids
9. Closer inspection for
any fluid leakage
0.5 None found
10. Recheck operation and
adjustment of all mechanical
and electrical controls and
adjust them as necessary
1.5 No problems found
11. Use multimeter to check
electrical output
0.5 Output good
12. Check manual clutch
cable for fraying and lubricate
it; replace cable if needed
1.0 Cable in good condition; lubricated
13. Check battery fluid levels 0.5 Added distilled water
Total Inspection and Maintenance Time: 12.0 hrs






















*Amsoil and K&N filters were selected because of their recognized high quality in high performance applications.

Tools needed for performing inspection and maintenance: Various pliers and screwdrivers, as well as an assortment of metric tools including sockets, Allen wrenches, Torx wrenches, and open- and box-end wrenches. A multimeter is used to check electrical output. Low-profile pans catch used oil and antifreeze, and funnels are necessary for installing fresh oil and antifreeze. (Be sure to dispose of used oil and antifreeze responsibly.) A torque wrench is necessary for reinstalling bolts to their proper torque settings.

We kept a three-ring binder for the bike to record and document maintenance performed, aftermarket equipment installed, and costs incurred, which required an additional hour.

Step 2: Acquire Basic Touring 
We accomplished our goal of spending less than $1,500 on basic touring accessories. The bike already had a number of desirable touring equipment items, including a center stand, handgrip warmers, and antilock brakes. We added the following accessories:

SW-Motech mounting brackets,
Twisted Throttle
SW-Motech TraX 37-liter black 
cases with locks and dry bags, 
Twisted Throttle $737.98
Twisted Throttle DrySpec 
D66 luggage $179.99
Crampbuster CB4 $10.95
Givi Windscreen D234S, 
Twisted Throttle $100.00
Powerlet Handlebar Outlet, 
PKT-090-54-B $129.95    
Total Cost of Accessories $1,393.87

We also purchased the following maintenance items:

Haynes Service Manual, #4761 $45.45
Amsoil 10W-40 synthetic oil $35.00
K&N oil filter, KN-151 $7.19
K&N air filter, BM-6501 $61.29    
Subtotal** $1,542.80
Acquisition Price of Bike $4,400.00
Total Investment-to-Date $5,942.80

**Retail costs exclude taxes and shipping

Step 3: Install Touring Accessories
Our notes on the installation of the accessories follow:

  • SW-Motech TraX Side Cases: Lockable, hard side cases are an important feature on any touring motorcycle. The SW-Motech mounting brackets come in several pieces and fasten to the bike at pre-existing locations designed to accept them. The installed bracket components demonstrate an impressive level of rigidity. (Note: Installation of the mounting brackets will go much faster after a thorough reading of the directions.) The SW-Motech TraX side cases also are designed for sturdiness and attach easily to the mounting brackets with a clever locking system. Tools needed: Metric sockets, and Torx and Allen wrenches. Approx. installation time: 3 hrs
  • Twisted Throttle Waterproof Soft Luggage: This two-piece luggage ensemble can be mounted either longitudinally or transversely on the bike; we mount it longitudinally so it won’t interfere with opening the top-loading side cases. Four nylon straps securely attach the larger rigid bag to the motorcycle, and separate straps attach the top waterproof bag, which can be opened on either end, to the lower rigid bag. Make sure the straps are not located next to exhaust pipes and that they allow for easy detachment and reattachment. Tools needed: None. Approx. installation time: 1 hr
  • Givi Windscreen: This attractively styled windscreen provides almost six inches of additional wind protection. It installs over the existing shorter windscreen, which gives the taller screen additional rigidity. We simply removed the existing screen’s fasteners and then mounted the Givi screen on top of the existing one, using the longer fasteners provided with the new screen. Tools needed: Metric Torx and Allen wrenches. Approx. installation time: 1 hr
  • Powerlet Handlebar Electrical Outlet: This outlet is designed to mount on a round handlebar, and because of potential interference with other handlebar controls, there was only one location and one position where it could be mounted on our bike. The most time-consuming portion of this installation was removing and reinstalling body panels surrounding the battery. Attaching the positive and negative electrical connections was straightforward. Tools needed: A Torx wrench for removing and reattaching body panels; an Allen wrench for attaching the Powerlet outlet to the handlebar; a 10mm open-end wrench for loosening and retightening the battery cables; and some zip ties to secure the excess wiring between the battery and the outlet. Approx. installation time: 2 hrs
  • Crampbuster: We installed the CB4 model, which accommodates an oversize grip and has a wide palm platform. This accessory helps prevent throttle arm and hand fatigue during all-day riding sessions.

Total Installation Time: 7 hrs

Our total investment in the project bike so far is just under $6,000 plus 20 hours of labor. In return, we have a very competent touring motorcycle ready for some serious backroad exploring. In the next installment of this series, we take our project bike to the next level, making it an even more comfortable and competent touring motorcycle. Stay tuned!

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