BMW G450 X Tested and Reviewed by Trailriderz.com.au
A purpose built Enduro Dirt Bike with rugged design and typical German engineering excellence.
BMW G450 X test ride and profile, December 2008.
BMW G450 X Quick Info
|BMW G450 X Tested
The water-cooled, forward tilted single cylinder 4-stroke 450cc power plant delivers 30kW (or 41hp) and is complimented by dual overhead camshafts with four Titanium valves and dry sump lubrication.
A Compression Ratio of 12:1 helps to provide a maximum torque of 42.8 Nm at 6,500 RPM.
|Gearbox & Clutch:
Mechanically operated, multiple disc, oil bath clutch with a constant mesh five speed gearbox integrated into the crankcase.
Bridge-type stainless steel tubing.
FRONT: Upside-down front fork, rebound and adjustable compression damping.
REAR: Dual swing arm rear suspension made of aluminum beams, Öhlins rear shock, compression plus rebound damping and adjustable spring preload.
FRONT: Single 260 mm diameter front disc, double piston floating caliper.
REAR: Single 220mm diameter rear disc, single piston floating caliper.
|Wheelbase: 1.475 m
Seat Height (riderless): 955 mm
Weight (riderless) road ready and fully fuelled: 121 kg
|Usable Tank Volume: 8.1L
Fuel Reserve: approx. 0.75 L
|More Specs from BMW
|The 2009 BMW G450 X is a dirt bike that BMW can rightly be proud of.
|Edited Version of the Test Ride Report kindly provided by Andrew from Trailriderz.com.au
Introduction & Background:
With the introduction of Yamaha's revolutionary four stroke motocross weapon, the YZF 400 back in 1998, a new benchmark was set for the new age “thumpers”. Since then, all other manufacturers have attempted to copy, improve and remodel that concept in their own way. As a result, the field of the race ready “off the shelf” 450 cc dirt bikes has been tightly competitive, leaving very little for riders to do other than choose their favourite colour.
With the BMW G450 X, BMW have started from the ground up and brought about a new revolution. Where the YZF400 was an engine revolution that evolved from existing enduro/motocross platforms, the BMW G450X has been built to be the best machine for the job.
You can see straight away that the designers of the G450X didn’t base their creation on what everyone else is doing; it is based firmly on typical German practicality, innovation and effectiveness.
As excited as we were to be reviewing a pair of new bikes, when Craig and I were invited to test the BMW G450X and 650 to provide a ‘normal’ blokes impression, we both approached the task at hand with very open minds.
Both my personal bias for Japanese equipment and Craig’s love of the Austrian were quietly shelved for the day. We made our way into Launceston BMW to meet Ian Fisher and Chris Gannon who introduced us the basics of the new BMW bikes.
After signing our lives away on “the form”, the mirrors were removed and we clutched off to head straight to … an ATM. Interestingly, the bikes really do get noticed … and are probably a good tool for spotting people who read motorcycle mags …and I think I lip read “that’s one of those new BMWs” more than once.
The Test Ride:
Heading out onto the West Tamar highway for Beaconsfield, our first ‘test’ was a tar section. This is a vital aspect of the Trailriderz riding style whereby we link together multiple off-road trail sections.
To begin with, I was on the 650 and the first ‘conditions’ we encountered were the rough potholed section of road up and around Brady’s Lookout. I twisted the 650 up through there, and deliberately headed over some of the rougher stuff at speed …no issues. Then Craig rode around the outside of me on the 450, no issues there either obviously.
After a fuel top up at Beaconsfield we shot through to the Tattersals Road end of the Asbestos Ranges. We decided to work our way over some familiar tracks, several of which we rode on our recent 2008 St Helens to Strahan ride.
This is where I grabbed the 450. Instantly, I felt quite at home. Nothing seemed out of place or even unfamiliar … though I would rotate the bars slightly forward to suit me, but that's all.
Our initial run was on gravel. I straightaway felt how smooth G450 X ‘flowed’. Pointed it into a small rut or two to see what happened …nothing! ... hit an erosion channel …not a lot. Very plush landings.
Meanwhile, Craig was having a ball on the 650 and was often picking through tighter stuff, making the “Big Girl’ look pretty damn nimble.
All day a thought was running through my mind. If there is something I don’t like about this bike, it’s me, not the bike. The designers who built this machine know way more about the geometry and physics employed in its construction than I do about riding.
The burst up the hills to the top of the ranges was fun. We powered up to a high section via some rocky and dusty tracks, a bit of tight trail and some forestry roads.
The G450 X ‘s power is deceptive. Whether its due to the lack of noise or just the way it just eats ground, I found myself grabbing a fistful of brakes on more than one occasion.
The brakes on the BMW G450 X, incidentally, are terrific. It took me only a few kilometres to get dialled into them. Once my settings were ‘loaded’, I never thought about them again until I later hit a mound, got some air and decided to lock the front wheel in mid air. An ugly landing with body position change on the seat saw ‘the form’ flash in front of my eyes. Then it all just came right and I just rode on.
We swapped bikes numerous times during the day, making sure we both got to experience each bike in the different terrains. I can’t say there was anywhere that the bike didn’t feel comfortable and very capable.
The sand down in the valleys was awesome, and as a well-known sand hater, I had a ball. The whoops were fun and we even stopped for a few photo opportunities in them, but pics simply don’t show how well the suspension rode the whoops and sand mounds.
I recently had my suspension upgraded and tuned on my bike to suit me specifically, and I love it. The G450 X’s suspension is just superb, without touching a thing; it felt perfect to me, on any surface.
We wound our way down some pretty steep hills. I found it easier being on my pegs in very tight slow stuff and used the clutch in 2nd gear to punt my way through some tight notches. Initially I found the gears a little loose, but soon adjusted my movements to suit and again, never thought about it for the rest of the day.
I had to pop a mono or two. I know exactly how things should feel whilst on the back wheel and I was immediately aware of the length of that rear swing-arm. How? … I don’t know, I could just feel it.
After a few more monos down the road, with throttle movements all set in, I was popping it up in 4th, having a ball. It’s a silly requirement, but a requirement nonetheless. Put it this way … I wouldn’t own a bike I couldn’t pop a decent mono on.
A funny flaw, if you can call it that, was that when the fuel level got down a bit. After a few hundred metres on the back wheel, it would starve for fuel and splutter … I’m sure there’d be a simple fix for that.
Then a few more tracks before we headed for home.
The G450X was great fun on the loose red gravel, great fun and very predictable. I think a lot of average riders (like me) could look good on one of these.
Some Minor Issues:
Now, there are some small issues with the BMW G450 X. Many will have already read about them in magazines and on websites. However, I feel that often something has to be found wrong with a bike mostly for the sake of journalistic credibility. But the things I found were almost negligible.
The seat, which is meticulously crafted from solid Sore-arsium, is a bit on the hard side. I was doing the cheek swap after only about 100km. So what did I do? I stood up more often.
The restricted turning lock. Now you will only notice it on ‘U’ turns, but you do notice it. Never once on the trails did I hit the stoppers (that I know of). After about the 3rd ‘U’ turn, you quickly develop the habit of the old half-doughie turn, as most do anyway.
It should have an exhaust guard like the Wr’s. BMW could also make a killing selling new ones when the old ones rattle off or get bent … however the melted pants smell made me think of it more than once. I’m sure a clever aftermarket crowd could conjure up one that clamps to the pipe.
One last thing ... when I noticed 'FUEL' flashing on the dash, I slowed up and yelled to Craig: "it's flashing FUEL!" Then shortly after that, it ran out.
I hadn’t noticed it before then, as I had been busy following the last command that it had been flashing ... 'SPEED', 'SPEED', 'SPEED' … I was doing my best. So a little rest by the roadside while Craig got more petrol (I did consider ringing BMW roadside assist) and we were soon back on track to the carwash.
So those are my niggles. They are almost insignificant in the light of just how good this bike is.
If you were to live with the BMW G450 X for a while and make personal changes and bolt on some protection for the underside (available through BMW dealers, I believe), this bike would suit most of the riders I ride with. It would be an ideal machine for the St Helens To Strahan ride, given its versatility and very user-friendly performance.
We rode the G450 X without the power plug in place, which gives it another 11 HP. It’s something that initially you wouldn’t need, but once it was in, it would probably stay in.
If I had a G450 X, I would get a pipe (Remus have one on offer) and that would simply be for my sake, it doesn’t really need one. And with 11 extra horses secretly stashed within the electronics, for some, this bike could be an absolute weapon.
Someone on the trails recently said to me, “they (the G450 X) look alright, but I reckon they’d be suited to 40 something riders” … damn right …our recent ride across the state had an average age of 42, and I believe none of those riders would be out of place on a G450 X. But then, I can’t really think of an age group that the bike can’t be made to suit.
BMW does however have a marketing issue …Go into a BMW dealership … (now, we didn’t actually go into the dealership, we went to the bike section next door, which was close enough) … I’m not a stereotypical 'BMW customer’ although I am a prime target of the demographic they are aiming the G450 X at. And therein lies the problem. The G450 X is aimed at a market that does not go into BMW dealerships …OK, at least not many do. In my mind, getting product out the door involves first getting customers in the door.
BMW exudes exclusivity. Trail riding is about collectivity … you virtually always ride with mates. So, how does BMW make the G450 X more accessible to the general dirtbiking public? Trade shows? Yes … Demo days? Yes.
How and where does the dealership meet the target demographic? How do you market a product from a company based on individuality, in a sport based on group cohesion? That’s BMW's Marketing Department’s dilema … but I do have an idea.
So, in closing, the BMW G450 X in my opinion, is an awesome machine. There is nothing I dislike about it enough to really call an issue. It really is a contender when the decision to buy a 450 presents itself, and anyone seriously looking at a 450 should ride one before putting money down elsewhere. You’ll just feel better parking your non BMW car down the road when you go to pick it up.
Thanks to Miles from BMW Australia, Chris and Ian at Launceston BMW.
Dirt Bike Australia would like to thank Andrew and Craig from Trailriderz.com.au for providing a most interesting evaluation and perspective of the BMW G450 X, as well as generous access to their photos. Thanks also to BMW for making it possible.