I love my BMW F650GS, but I wish it came with cruise control. I ride 500 miles on pavement for every mile I ride off-road, and before my last trip I decided to investigate options for cruise control for the F650GS.
I was surprised to find that my F650GS posed some challenges for cruise control. All the devices on the market are actually “throttle controls” (but I’ll still say “cruise control” here to keep it simple). This means they hold the throttle in one position. Now if you’ve ever ridden a 650cc motorcycle, you know that you have to twist the throttle to maintain your speed while going up a hill – or even an overpass. A throttle control doesn’t let you set your speed and relax. You need to adjust it regularly.
Furthermore, my 2003 F650GS is the single cylinder model. It creates a lot of vibration, challenging cruise control devices to hold steady. The heated handgrips affect holding power for metal or plastic devices, and the results are disappointing.
What the forums told me was that there is not a perfect solution. $150 bucks will buy you a throttle control with mixed reviews. But there is a cheap cruise control solution that was mentioned several times. For $5, I was willing to try it.
Before you read further, this is a non-approved device. If you are a new rider, or know deep down that you are new-ish since you don’t ride that often, don’t do this. Everyone else, use at your own risk. There. That said, let me introduce cruise control for the BMW F650GS: the Caterpillar O-ring, part 8M4991.
Here’s how it works. See the gap between the bar end weight and the throttle handle above? That’s where the magic happens. When you get the bike up to speed, you roll the O-ring so it covers that gap, creating friction against the throttle like this:
You can still twist the throttle with the O-ring in position to adjust your speed either up or down. However, I would not ride around town with it engaged. I found it very edgy to exit the highway with it in place: I couldn’t lay off the throttle to control my speed like I often do with the GS.
So what’s with the zip ties? It’s hard to get that O-ring off when you’re wearing gloves. Even without gloves it’s tricky. But the zip-ties make it simple. They work like this:
One other lesson I’ll share: don’t waste your time or money going to an auto parts store to see if you can get an O-ring that will work. You will eventually buy the Caterpillar 8M4991. I just called a local heavy equipment distributor and had them mail me one for $5. Yes, I overpaid. But then again, I own a BMW. Even cheap parts are expensive.