Where does the BMW G650 X-Country fit in? One of the popular bikes of BMW's ongoing mid-life crisis is a bit of an enigma; it's very confused motorcycle. The big, spoked wheels and dual-sport Metzeler Tourances tyres shout 'I'm bouncy - take me off road', while the chunky upside-down forks and Brembo brakes whisper 'I'm a proper Supermoto'. If that's not enough to confuse you, the minimalist dashboard, ABS and underseat fuel tank have 'funky urban bike' written all over them.
The BMW G650 X-Country is an attempt to mix two mutually exclusive worlds and I'm keen to see if it works. Will it sell? The little blue and white badge should see to that, despite the monumental price and relatively low specifications, a claimed 53 horsepower won't set many people's hearths a-pumping. I'll be honest; it didn't do much for me when I heard about it. The half-and-half styling is cute but won't fool many people. It's not really an off-road bike. Is it?
This thought is given backing by my initial on-road impression, as the single is unexpectedly brilliant: reactive, addictive and charming. It's refreshing to have a motorcycle you can go a bit silly on and barely scrape a ton. But it's in the lovely, bend bits between straights that it comes into its own. It's so responsive that barely a gentle nudge is needed on the bar to drop you into a corner, before an assertive twist of the throttle sends you thundering out smiling from ear to ear.. Okay, BMW have got the road-riding right, a wise move considering that's where the BMW G650 X-Country will spend most of its life. It must really be poor off-road, then.
The inspiration to find out finally strikes on my way home. I leave the soulless dual carriageway and plot a course on unclassified back-roads, hoping I'll stumble across a suitable unsuitable road. The gods of ill-advised endeavors, patrons of many of my adventures, are smiling because just 8 kilometers from home I find unmade track of grass, mud, stones and broken tarmac. Perfect.
And the BMW G650 X-Country's good here too, good enough to temp me back. All right, I've only had three adventures away from the tarmac now, but gravel, soil and grass are no obstacle. I think it's time to up the game on both terrains, some green leaning and a few long days on the road are needed.