You get a lot of bike for your money with the Italian Speedy Working Motors (SWM) RS 650 R dual sport machine.
At only $8999, it comes with some exotic features such as Marzocchi forks, Sachs rear shock, Brembo hydraulic brakes, GET ignition, comprehensive instrumentation and Mikuni throttle body feeding the 600cc liquid-cooled engine that drives a six-speed transmission. (That is an introductory price offer which increases to $9490 from Aril 2016).
This dual sport machine would be a handy commuter that you can ride away on weekends to some isolated location where you can tackle the trails and forestry roads without having to trailer it there.
The bike can be bought in learner-approved or derestricted format.
It’s basically a 2010 Husqvarna TE630 which is a proven dual-sport machine.
It’s the first in the line-up of SWM machines coming to Australia, followed now by the SM 650 R ($9490) supermoto, the RS 300 R and RS 500 R enduros and SM 500 R supermoto in April, the Silver Vase 440 scrambler and Gran Milano 440 roadster in May and the Super Dual 650 in August.
The RS 650 R is a comparative lightweight 144kg and feels like a quality build, even though there are some messy bits and pieces.
The red, white and black plastics are a modern design, but the front guard looks a little like a duck bill.
I also didn’t like the way the cabling crosses over the speedo so you can’t see it when you are seated. Standing it is fine.
It’s tall, but when you throw your leg over the bike, the narrow seat allows you to get your foot down and the hard cushion is actually quite comfortable for this type of bike.
The bars and pegs are well spaced to give you good control standing up or in a seated position.
The big truck mirrors are a little ugly, but they provide plenty of rear vision.
Instruments are easy to read except for the cable in the way and feature comprehensive info such as time on the road, trip, odo, revs, clock etc.
The big single can be difficult to start when cold, so you have to pull the “cold start” lever next to the clutch. Once going, it never stalled once and it starts promptly when hot.
The twin exhaust is a good look, but a little quiet for my liking. Nothing an aftermarket system couldn’t fix.
The kick stand is a little hard to use. It annoyingly deploys to about 75% of its distance, then you have to push it out further which is difficult when you are seated on the bike.
If you don’t get it firmly on the ground, it tends to spring back which can catch you out if you don’t pay attention to the placement. I found myself fighting with it to keep it on the ground.
It’s best to demount the bike, then pull the side stand down.
As far as on-road performance goes, it handles pretty well around the corners and roundabouts.
The big 600cc single has plenty of torque to get you moving along quickly from corner to corner.
For the road, it’s geared a little low which is great for wheelies, but it tends to buzz through the seat, bars and mirrors at highway speeds.
It also gets up a reasonable speed wobble about 105-110km/h.
I found if I took one hand of the bars it would stop almost instantly and would only return if i gripped with two hands again. Rather than riding one-handed I think it just needs a decent steering damper.
At low speeds with constant throttle it tends to hunt and surge a bit which is annoying in traffic.