I very recently happened upon a low cost purchase opportunity. A friend of mine is moving to another European country for a new job and he was looking to sell his FMX 650.
I've been on the bike as a passenger quite a few times, he's someone i trust (so i knew he wasn't lying when telling me what's good and what's wrong about the bike), so i started considering his offer and by doing a bit of research on the internet i stumbled upon this forum.
Long story short, we're in the process of finalizing the paperwork to transfer ownership of the bike and i went shopping for protective gear. All in all, for about 2200 Euros i got the bike, a carbon fiber - aramide composite full-face helmet, a motorcycle jacket, a pair of new handlebar grips, couple of locks and a pair of Acerbis leather gloves with knuckle protectors. A trip to a trusted mechanic for an oil change and check-up confirmed my buddy's claims about the state of the bike: engine is running smooth, tires are almost brand new, chain and brakes in very good condition and the mechanic telling me "he sure spared no expense in keeping it serviced properly".
Part 1 - Tech Help:
I had to do an oil change (there were 1.3 liters of oil left) and replace the speedometer "wire" (don't know how to call it in English, sorry ) because it was broken, just minor servicing. The bike has 15000 kms on the clock plus about 5000-7000kms since the speedometer stopped working (20000-22000 kms total that is) and the valves and tires were changed about a year or 18 months ago after he took it riding on summer holidays. After that point the guy pretty much stopped riding any meaningful distances (think neighborhood rides to the coffee house only), so the valves also have a low mileage.
The only real problem (which i knew of before purchase) is that due to a long period of inactivity there's a battery problem that makes starting a bit of a gamble. I was about to install a new battery today but the mechanic advised me to check with an electrician first in case there's some kind of an electrical "leak" somewhere, because if there's something else draining the battery it would be a waste of money to replace it and have the same problems.
First of all, what he told me is that the battery seems pretty low capacity for the engine displacement on this bike and it's actually similar to the category of batteries used on 250cc scooters and such. He also told me that he hooked up a car battery of suitable voltage/amperage to the bike's connectors when testing it on the shop and it still seemed to struggle when starting, choke and all, which was why he started suspecting a possible electrical malfunction of another kind.
My question to you helpful lot here is, what kind of reasons would there be for this bike to be hard to start? Maybe it's not even electrical at all, maybe it's something else and simply trying to start a few times drains the small capacity battery? Maybe it's both?
For purposes of comparison with your experiences, let me say that i've found out that after 4-5 start attempts the battery can't turn the starter over at full speed and it's all downhill from that point on.
Part 2 - General Advice:
I'm pretty much as rookie as it gets to this. I've wanted to ride since i was 15 and hitched my first ride on my cousin's 50cc town mate, i've had a license for 4 years but didn't ride much since and this is the first bike i own. I've heard good things about its reliability, handling, traction and braking capabilities. The fact that it's not a top performer in terms of speed and HP is actually a good thing to me. I feel it's a bike i can comfortably and gradually grow into as a newbie rider, instead of getting something like a high performance supermoto and being scared out of my mind when it pops an unintentional wheelie the first time i try to ride it, or getting a heavier cruiser bike and being unable to manage the weight
"What do you want to do with it" you'll ask me. Well, for the following year i'm going to mostly use the FMX for commuting within the city and if i get comfortable enough with it by summer, i might take it on a weekend getaway or two to the beaches 150km from my home town.
I've had my first almost-drop today when i was driving it home from the repair shop and (lucky me, i know) it had been raining. It's a small distance of 500 meters or so and i kept to 1st and 2nd gear and no more than 25 km/h, exiting the main roads and entering the alleys close to home as early as i could, to get away from traffic and be able to move at bicycle speeds for safety reasons without holding up everyone else behind.
Well lo and behold, 3 cars are somewhat jammed because someone double parked with alarm signals on, so i approach slowly (walking speed slowly) and move to the other side of the alley, not with the intention of overtaking the last car but mostly to be able to see what's going on up ahead. It's at that precise moment that i'm about to stop and put my foot down, when the middle car driver is fed up waiting and starts reversing somewhat angrily to exit via the intersection i'm approaching. I'm not sure if he saw me, i'm not used to the bike yet and just like you have already guessed, i lock the front wheel and the bike drops to the right. I turn it off, the hurried driver comes to my aid, apologizes and helps me pick it up again. All this is happening at 5km/h and 50 meters from the entrance of my home
I didn't think much into it because there was no damage to me, anyone else, the bike or another vehicle and i had been really careful to offset my lack of experience by keeping my distance and going slowly because of the rain. I just took it as a confirmation of my previous thoughts that i need practice and to get used to the bike, which is what i intend to do as soon as the weather clears up.
That being said, i took my license lessons and exam on a honda CBF500 which is quite a bit heavier. I had trouble controlling that too initially, but i managed to pass the first time i took the test, despite gusting cross-winds battering me while i was trying to do the slow handling portion of it (the "keep on the painted line at walking speed and do it in no less than 15 seconds" part). That was a real challenge and i was leaning the bike into the wind while leaning my body the other way to counterbalance it, working the clutch, rear brake and throttle and readjusting everything whenever the wind gusts would come and go.
So, i have a feeling that if i practice in a controlled environment without traffic and redo whatever i used to do for my driving lessons, i will get the hang of how the FMX handles. I'm thinking of taking it to a department store parking lot each Sunday when they'll be closed and the lot will be empty, so that i can drive around and learn at my own pace without having to worry about traffic. That way i'll also be able to gradually push it and learn its limits, a bit at a time. I intend to start with basic handling (clutch control, shifting, slow speed maneuvers and figure-8s), move on to braking (accelerate to 40-60km/h and then stop, panic stops, stopping with the clutch held in vs down-shifting to use engine braking), then start practicing obstacle avoidance (swerve techniques, push steering, swerve and stop) and doing a cone slalom. I will probably take some plastic cups with me, fill them with a bit of water so the wind doesn't scatter them and use them as cones for my improvised course.
And if i fall, i'll be away from traffic and dressed properly, because i spent 3 hours picking a helmet, gloves and jacket before i even had the bike in my garage.
The reason i'm getting you bored with this? I would really like some of the experienced riders here to judge if my overall mindset and attitude towards riding is one that will help make me a safety-oriented rider. I'm 31 and i want a fun (and less fuel-guzzling) way to do my everyday commuting and maybe a bit of short-range traveling around my parts of the map. I do like the feeling of speed as much as anybody, but i don't see myself on a sport bike approaching corners at 200km/h and braking to 60km/h before leaning it all the way in anytime soon. I just want to ride safely at speeds comparable to the ones i do when i drive a car, at least until i rack up a year or two of experience.
I know the FMX is weak compared to the competition, but it's just fine for what i need it to do and definitely more than i can currently handle
The bike is pretty much stock, with the exception of Remus cans by the way.
Finally, is there any extras you could suggest for purchase down the road? I'm not interested in performance gains just yet, i'm thinking more in terms of accessories that will maximize functionality and the safety factor for now. For example, should i look into getting a stronger headlight at some point, as the stock one seems kind of weak? Should i look into getting an oil cooler if i start driving longer distances? Maybe a different battery model to make sure i have enough juice to start it easily? Or something that increases mileage/fuel capacity? (that is my only gripe with this bike, the fuel tank is a bit too small). Things like that.
Thank you all in advance for any information i might be able to glean, safe rides and if you've read this far, well...congratulations