The BMW F650 Funduro debuted in 1994 as the company’s lightweight, single-cylinder adventure bike — a baby GS packing a 50-hp four-valve Rotax engine, top-notch build quality, and ultra-low running costs. But Visordown.com claims there’s more to it than that — the Funduro has a secret identity:
“It’s also the tool of choice for the hardcore adventure traveller. Where the bulkier, heavier R1150GS and R1200GS can’t really cope with the toughest off road conditions, the more manageable, compact F650 will keep chugging forward.”
This opinion can be found again and again among F650 owners and enthusiasts, who see the bike as one of the world’s best do-anything machines. It has surprising agility in the twisties, confidence-inspiring poise on gravel/dirt roads, and a mule-like ability to haul camping and touring gear over multi-day trips. Possibly the biggest criticism is the bike’s aesthetics, which were polarizing back in the nineties and has since earned a reputation as one of the brand’s less attractive machines…
Enter Renato Frateschi of Brazil’s Frateschi Garage, whose fuel-injected DR800 street tracker we recently featured — one of the year’s most popular bikes. Now he’s back with this 1994 BmW F650, built for a client who was originally interested in the shop’s 1984 XL250 — a bike Renato could never sell, since it was a very special project for his wife! So they decided to build a 500+cc scrambler with a $4500 budget and a sober, classy design. Renato found a cheap F650 donor in solid condition:
“For many it is considered the ugly duckling of the BMW family and that was a big part of the project’s challenge: to make the motorcycle more modern and attractive.”
Renato endeavored to make the bike somewhat less stylistically aggressive than his previous builds, adding a touch of elegance with the iconic airhead tank, which also houses much of the bike’s electronics — including the battery! Many of the bike’s parts are 3D-printed — fenders, headlight grille, oil condenser, etc. — and perhaps the most aggressive element is the hand-built stainless exhaust with undertail mufflers. The paintwork finalizes the full package:
“The special two-tone (red and black) color scheme was the final touch to give a new face and make an old lady shine again, looking like a brand new and modern bike.”
Overall, this is the most striking F650 we’ve seen, and sure to keep the new owner smiling for years to come. Below, we get the full story on the build, as well as more gorgeous shots from photographer Gustavo Epifanio (@gustavoepifanio).
Custom F650 Funduro: In the Builder’s Words
This project reached us due to the interest of a prospective customer for another motorcycle that I’d built. On a quick visit to the workshop, he was delighted with a 1984 Honda XLX 250 we’d transformed into a scrambler. But since this specific motorcycle had been a very special project for my wife, I would definitely not sell it at all. So, I started looking for a donor bike for a new scrambler that would fit the project budget around $4500 — the payment previous agreed with the client.
The idea was to use a motorcycle with at least 500cc, since the client had the intention of using it for leisure and short trips, always with a rump in the back seat, cherishing comfort and counting on the possibility of light off-road duty. What’s more, he wanted a more sober and classy design that would not make the ensemble too flashy or look like a kind of sassy boy thing.
During the search for the base bike I was surprised by a BMW F650 1994 with only 40,000 km. Despite its age, very well cared for and in good condition. In addition, a motorcycle with a good track record of durability and reliability among its owners, with a single-cylinder Rotax engine from the Italian Aprilia. The same model ended up winning the Paris Dakar twice because of its robustness and low center of gravity, among other things of course. The curiosity is that this same model ended up giving rise to the F650GS line with two cylinders. Overall, a great donor bike with a relatively low purchase cost for what it offers. Exactly $1950 for one secondhand bike in good general condition.
Although the 650F was a sales, critical, and public success in the not-too-distant past, its design was never necessarily unanimous. For many it is considered the ugly duckling of the BMW family and that was a big part of the project’s challenge: to make the motorcycle more modern and attractive. Taking into account the premise of discretion proposed by the client, I believe that I really ended up actually making a more sober bike compared to my other projects where I usually adopt a more aggressive line both in terms of looks and performance.
The necessary touch of class came with the iconic tank of the first BMWs. The personal and authorial touch of the workshop’s daring was with the exhaust in 1×2 stainless steel, manufactured almost completely except for the SC Project tips. I believe it is the single most aggressive element of the project. The most difficult part of the construction was to adapt the old fuel tank in a project in which, in addition to doing its function of storing the fuel, it would also have to accommodate practically all the hidden electrical parts, including the lithium battery, to give the cleanest appearance possible.
I tried to use 3D printing a lot to put as many unique and exclusive parts on the bike as possible. The fenders, headlight grille, suspension protectors, oil condenser with filter, and other smaller parts were manufactured in this process. The subframe has been completely redone as well as the supports for the exhaust system. The special two-tone (red and black) color scheme was the final touch to give a new face and make an old lady shine again, looking like a brand new and modern bike.
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- Photos: Gustavo Epifanio (@gustavoepifanio)