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Old 03-19-2013, 05:04 PM   #1
MedicalQuackery OP
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Location: Silicon Valley
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GS Spends Another 2 Weeks at the Shop

Another seemingly simple warranty repair just lanquishes on and on and on... in January the bike sat for two weeks while the dealer troubleshooted, ordered and replaced the starter under warranty. Not sure why it took so long, but whatever. This time it sits while we wait for the special tool to seat the front engine seal.

Living in Silicon Valley, my bike is my daily commute vehicle (between lane sharing and the carpool/toll lanes, it makes a horrendous 50 mile RT commute bearable). That is until now, which is a particular frustration since I explained ahead of time to the dealer that the seal has a slow leak and I would order (and pay for) the seal myself just to make sure everything was in stock and ready to go when I brought the bike in for its warranty repair. For whatever reason, they tore into it and THEN discovered they needed to order the seating tool, which is backordered from Germany!

So now I slog through my commute in the SUV at 12 MPG. Joy.

This is my fourth Beemer, and it seems like this is always their downfall. Some odd ball part fails, the dealer does not have it in stock, there is no urgency on the part of service to get it back on the road, and the shop is closed Sun and Mon, making it a multiple weekend project to get back into service.

Question is, maybe it is time to change brands. At this point, minimizing down time seems like the highest priority. Either it shouldn't fail, or if it does, repair should be quick and efficient. I see two options here, Honda and Harley. From a service and parts perspective, Honda may not be much better than BMW (although perhaps they are), but from a reliability perspective, I doubt it would need a new starter after two years. My VFR went 30k without a day of downtime. I could go with the new VFR, maybe an ST, or even the new GW variant (probably do not want to deal with a chain).

On the other hand, sitting stuck in traffic these past few days have surprised me with how many Harleys are out there as commuters (as the split by me). Two things make them a contender, simplicity (compared to BMW) and support. The local dealer is open 7 days a week! Imagine that, being able to go in on a Sunday and buy an oil filter (or God knows whatever other part you need at the least minute). Probably most things can be fixed without special dealer-only tools and fixtures. Question is, do they really have the day to day reliability (do they even go in the rain?) for a commute vehicle?

So, to put it out there, what are the fellow inmate's thoughts and experiences? I realize we are talking about a bunch of different bikes and riding experiences, but to coin a phrase from the GS page... a broken vehicle is worse than no vehicle. What to do if you want to maximize the uptime?
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:14 PM   #2
drrod1
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alternate to GS

If you don't need the DS capability of the GS, then the Honda VFR or ST would suit your needs just fine. Hondas are legendary for reliability but if you do have an issue, I am not so sure you wouldn't experience the same thing as with the GS. How about a VeeSrom. Seems lots of people use them for daily commuters, they get great mileage, and are very reliable. Dealers (no matter the brand) seem to be inventorying fewer and fewer parts and you may run into the back order issue no matter what.

Rod
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:36 PM   #3
RedShark
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Back up bike. It's a good idea when you have an "exotic" bike or just don't want to get stuck driving unnecessarily.

I owned a Ducati ST4 ( great bike ) and an Aprilia RST 1000 ( great LOOKING bike, but not a good ownership experieince for me ) and the entire time kept my trusty Wee-Strom because it was just so very paid for and such a good loaner ( "you need to leave it at the airport for a couple days ? sure...") - and BELIEVE ME, it made all the difference between being pissed off and taking Euro-bike foibles in stride.

I know the GS is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, but if there is another type that interests you, this would be a good time to go get one - AND you have the added pleasure of riding it to the BMW dealer and saying "I had to buy another bike because you garage my BMW more than I do -or, - if you hadn't been so slow with repairs I'd have bought it here."
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:49 PM   #4
corndog67
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Spare bike. I usually have one.

On the BMW special seal driver. Ask for the seal. Go to a local machine shop. Have them whip one up out of aluminum. It might take all of 15 minutes. If they don't like you, they might charge you $50. If they do like you, maybe $15. Back ordered from Der Fatherland? Ridiculous. How tricky can a seal driver be? The dealer should buy it from you too , but they probably won't.

Sounds like the BMW dealers are taking their customers for granted.

I commuted from Monterey to Santa Clara for several years. 72 miles, one way. It sucked.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:01 PM   #5
concours
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedicalQuackery View Post
Another seemingly simple warranty repair just lanquishes on and on and on... in January the bike sat for two weeks while the dealer troubleshooted, ordered and replaced the starter under warranty. Not sure why it took so long, but whatever. This time it sits while we wait for the special tool to seat the front engine seal.

Living in Silicon Valley, my bike is my daily commute vehicle (between lane sharing and the carpool/toll lanes, it makes a horrendous 50 mile RT commute bearable). That is until now, which is a particular frustration since I explained ahead of time to the dealer that the seal has a slow leak and I would order (and pay for) the seal myself just to make sure everything was in stock and ready to go when I brought the bike in for its warranty repair. For whatever reason, they tore into it and THEN discovered they needed to order the seating tool, which is backordered from Germany!

So now I slog through my commute in the SUV at 12 MPG. Joy.

This is my fourth Beemer, and it seems like this is always their downfall. Some odd ball part fails, the dealer does not have it in stock, there is no urgency on the part of service to get it back on the road, and the shop is closed Sun and Mon, making it a multiple weekend project to get back into service.

Question is, maybe it is time to change brands. At this point, minimizing down time seems like the highest priority. Either it shouldn't fail, or if it does, repair should be quick and efficient. I see two options here, Honda and Harley. From a service and parts perspective, Honda may not be much better than BMW (although perhaps they are), but from a reliability perspective, I doubt it would need a new starter after two years. My VFR went 30k without a day of downtime. I could go with the new VFR, maybe an ST, or even the new GW variant (probably do not want to deal with a chain).

On the other hand, sitting stuck in traffic these past few days have surprised me with how many Harleys are out there as commuters (as the split by me). Two things make them a contender, simplicity (compared to BMW) and support. The local dealer is open 7 days a week! Imagine that, being able to go in on a Sunday and buy an oil filter (or God knows whatever other part you need at the least minute). Probably most things can be fixed without special dealer-only tools and fixtures. Question is, do they really have the day to day reliability (do they even go in the rain?) for a commute vehicle?

So, to put it out there, what are the fellow inmate's thoughts and experiences? I realize we are talking about a bunch of different bikes and riding experiences, but to coin a phrase from the GS page... a broken vehicle is worse than no vehicle. What to do if you want to maximize the uptime?
Buy 3 oil filters when you DON'T need them... so when you get a free 20 minutes, even on Sunday, you can service it.
Seriously, though, RELIABILITY is why there is no Beemer in my garage. I came close, but the failures kept me away.
Don't let the vintage layout of the Harley fool ya, plenty of special procedure/tools required. As reliable as any of 'em, still, as with all of them, some quality escapes. The dealer network is huge.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:03 PM   #6
Cogswell
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If your bike is covered by the warranty have the dealer give you a loaner to ride.


Mike
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The good thing is, your damn motor can't read. If it says oil on the container, it's pretty much OK to dump in there.... ED.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:10 PM   #7
JimVonBaden
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Wrong forum, try G-spot!

You spent a lot of time on your rant, but none figuring out where to post it?

Jim
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:11 PM   #8
MedicalQuackery OP
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While the specific issue is with a GS, the bigger question is bikes at large. BMW has a big dealer network, but it seems like few parts are stocked, and even trying to be proactive about minimizing the down time comes back to bite you. Question is, are other brands any better?

Had a couple of Hondas and a Kawasaki, but neither ever visited the shop. So, I can't really speak to parts availability, turn around times, etc. But if an ST was bulletproof, maybe it does not matter too much.

Harleys are all over the place, so keeping one in the road is probably easier. I have no clue whether they are more or less reliable, but you at least have hope of getting the part you need. But maybe that is not true either, need to hear from folks who have been there.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:22 PM   #9
Deuce
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Yamaha Super Tenere! Does everything the GS does without the constant BMW headaches.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:29 PM   #10
MedicalQuackery OP
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The Super Tenere is a thought, to be sure. Questions I have for owners are:

1. Do they use something like BMW to make the spoked wheels compatible with tubeless tires?
2. What does the maintenance schedule look like? Are valve adjustments a "rip the whole thing apart" sort of deal, and how often.
3. Is the engine the typical integrated engine/tranny/clutch design? Any major issues come up with this?

Price is pretty nice on this, as is the styling.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:43 PM   #11
RedShark
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Yes, No, No.

Did you say to the service writer, "Did we NOT have this conversation about the front seal BEFORE it came in the LAST TIME ?" and "If this were YOUR bike, would you be satisfied with this level of 'service' ?" and "Can you possibly be surprised that I am losing faith in you ?"

Look, the GS is a neat bike and when it's fixed -if they can fix it right it'll likely be a good mount for a long time, so just get something else under your ass and you'll feel much better.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:53 PM   #12
klaviator
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Why are you limiting yourself to Honda or Harley? Why don't you do some research and see which local dealer (s) are really good and buy a brand that they sell. For the price of one typical BMW or Harley you can get a bike of another brand and a spare or 2.

BTW, I have owned all kinds of different brands of bikes and never experienced the problems you have except one incident where my BMW was in the shop for 2 months waiting for a part. It happened right during the spring when I had a lot of riding plans........so I rode my Kawasaki EX500 which I put 66,000 miles on and never had it sit in the shop waiting for parts.

This is one reason why own multiple bikes.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:55 PM   #13
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In my experience, the shop most likely to have the parts I need in stock is my local Harley dealer. It is rare that I have to wait for them to order anything.

Next best is my my local eurobike guy who carries Triumph, KTM, Aprilia, and Moto Guzzi. His stock is not as big as the Harley shop, but he usually has had what I needed for the Triumphs I've owned. He always has what I need in maintenance items for Guzzis as well, but not many repair parts. That's easy to accept though cause there just aren't that many Guzzis around. Can't comment on KTM or Aprilia as I've never owned one.

One of the reasons I never consider buying BMWs anymore is that when I have owned them, the local shops have never had any parts I needed available.

The same has been true of all the big four Japanese shops. It really irritates me when I have to wait for them to order an air filter or front brake light switch for a bike that was manufactured unchanged for over ten years (Nighthawk 750) and sold by the thousands. The air filter is a simple maintenance item and that switch was probably used on most of the models Honda produced during that period, but they don't stock them. And then they complain because people buy parts off the internet and don't support their local dealer.

My vote for the brand that is easiest to keep on the road from a service and parts availability standpoint would definitely go to Harley. The big four build some great bikes, but heaven help you if you ever need a part quick.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:49 PM   #14
Kommando
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Buy a used DR650SE. Work on it yourself with maybe 3 tire levers, and the Playskool toolkit bolted under the left side-plastic. Use loc-tite or grease where appropriate. Maybe you'll have to fashion a home-fabbed tool out of a broomstick, for disassembling the forks. I already had (cheating!) a chain-breaking tool from my other bike, but I don't even really need that anymore, for the DR, since I now use a safety-wired clip-style masterlink.

If it ever has to wait for parts ordered, or to go into the shop for something you can't do yourself (not likely), buy a spare used DR to ride in the meantime. When your other DR is ride-ready again, sell whichever one is in worse shape or your less-favorite color for about whatever you bought it for.

When a bike can be torn down to the frame and rebuilt in a weekend, it's kind of ridiculous to have it in a dealer shop for longer than a week, IMO. You can probably locate that fancy tool or it's equivalent on Ebay, and have the sucker shipped to your door overnight.

I tore a rusty Jeep CJ7 down to a tub, frame, hood, grille, tailgate, engine, tranny, t-case, driveshafts, rollbar, interior parts, wiring harness, dash, axles, tank, wheels, suspension, and more in a week...by myself. I was 19 and mechanically-uneducated, with basically just a jack and 2 stands, a set of Craftsman sockets, and a ratchet, in my mom's garage. A trained dealer tech with fancy tools (that they should already freaking HAVE for the new WARRANTEED machines they sell!) should be able to move a hell of a lot faster than that on a bike.

Kommando screwed with this post 03-19-2013 at 08:58 PM
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:29 AM   #15
No False Enthusiasm
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... time for a Wee...

Plug and play tubeless tires, which for a commuter, I would think would be required.

ABS available.

Plenty of fuel.

Longer suspension, with plenty of upgrades available.

19 inch front wheel to ease over pot holes.

Of course, I ride one..., but I don't commute.

NFE

PS, almost forgot... just about bullet proof...
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