The BMW F650 Funduro will probably never reach the same classic status as some of its stable mates. But despite its unfortunate name, it’s surprisingly worthy of consideration.
Released in 1993, it was the first BMW not made by BMW (it was made by Aprilia). It was the first BMW not powered by a BMW motor (Rotax), and the first BMW with a chain drive. And it launched the Bavarian marque’s stunningly successful entry-level adventure bike segment.
Sure, the 90s ADV styling isn’t for everyone, and the Funduro is a bit porky and anemic by today’s standards. But a second-hand Funduro won’t cost you much—as little as $1,500 in the US—and should be pretty reliable.
This one is the work of Andrew Rovenko—a Ukrainian-born photographer living in Melbourne. We featured Andrew’s last bike on Instagram a couple of years ago. It was a 1955 BMW R50, taken from rust bucket to glorious resto-job, in his apartment’s spare bedroom.
Andrew still rides the R50, but wanted to spare it the abuse. “Every time I went on a group ride I had to make it work hard to keep up with the modern bikes, and it just didn’t feel fair to this veteran.”
“I kept an eye on the bike ads without having anything particular in mind, and when a well priced 1998 Funduro came up, it seemed like a pretty good match.”
“But it’s not 80s cool, and not modern cool, which makes for an interesting challenge,” he explains. “I could only find one or two decent examples of F650 builds. Unlike the Honda NX650 of a similar vintage, this model is overlooked by everyone, which makes it a perfect candidate.”
Andrew went into the project with a general idea of what he wanted. Then he attended an open day at Melbourne-based ex-racer Rod Hunter’s personal warehouse, and promptly resolved to build something with a classic race feel.
Working out the initial design was pure trial and error. Andrew accumulated a cache of used fuel tanks that he thought might fit, and ended up binning most of them. He eventually settled on an unlikely candidate: a 1980s Honda FT500 Ascot Tank.
Using heat and a car jack, he almost managed to massage the tunnel to fit it to the BMW’s frame. But it wasn’t quite right, so he started knocking on the doors of his local panel beaters.
“Alas, the majority of them nowadays seem to have completely lost the skill of actually working with sheet metal,” he says. “Luckily, I came across Max Hayes. He became a real godfather to this build. He was able to design and shape the panels, and also understood the style and what works.”
Max not only got the tank to fit, but also shaped up the tail unit too. The rear hump includes a piece cut from a 1982 Honda VF750 SC tank, since it was good match for the Ascot tank’s lines.
Max also whipped up a pair of alloy, flat track-inspired side panels to tie everything together. And everything attaches to the original mounting points—so the frame’s gone largely untouched.
Andrew’s wife has a background in costume design, so he roped her in to handle the upholstery. The actual foam was repurposed from the donor Funduro, re-worked to match the new design, and set on an acrylic plastic base that Andrew shaped using a heat gun.
With all the new bodywork, there was no way to keep the BMW’s stock airbox. So Andrew ran a custom setup with a pair of UNI foam filters (yes, early Funduros had twin carbs) and new jetting.
There’s a new exhaust can too, made by Dominator in Poland, and conveniently supplied with a plug-and-play header extension. The F650 no longer sounds like a sewing machine, and the new arrangement weighs a fraction of the OEM setup.
Andrew has kept the stock wheels and suspension, but completely rebuilt the front end. That included some brake upgrades too, including a high performance hose, a floating disc rotor and semi-sintered pads. (He tells us the rear shock will be upgraded too, as soon as he’s put enough miles into the Funduro to figure out exactly what he wants.)
The cockpit got an overhaul, with new bars, a KOSO speedo, and an off-the-shelf twin headlight flipped sideways and mounted behind a number board. Underneath is a Honda CG125 fender.
Then there’s that Gulf livery—a paint scheme that can go so wrong, so easily, but works spectacularly here, thanks to the skills of Dan Hendricksen. “2017 was the year of the 50th anniversary of Gulf Racing colors,” says Andrew, “so it only seemed appropriate to pay homage.”
Andrew’s Funduro is a lot better to ride too now. The new bars and seat have improved the ergonomics, and the rejetted carbs and drop in weight have made it a livelier performer.
We love the subtle touches too—like how the seat seams match up with the stripe on the tank and tail. “With every styling decision I had to remind myself that less is more,” says Andrew, “as it was very easy to go over the top, and one wrong choice on this foundation could make things look very cheesy.”
Remarkably, other than the work done in Max’s shop, Andrew put the Funduro together in the communal garage of his apartment building. Even his performance tuning was pretty DIY—like tearing down the street with a stripped bike and a stainless steel bottle supplying fuel.
“That attracted quite a bit of commentary from the neighbors,” he says. “They were used to my endless tinkering in the parking lot…but this was something rather special.”
Images and build by Andrew Rovenko.
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