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Old 04-24-2013, 11:43 PM   #1
Chickenstrip OP
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r1100rs: Tell Tale Signs of Problems?

Hi Folks,

I've got the new-to-me bike itch and I've been considering a R1100RS as a possibility. But the stories about bad transmissions and final drives (as well as memories of my buddy's history with BMWs) has me concerned.

Are there obvious signs that something's mechanically wrong with the motor that I can keep an eye out for when test riding?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 04-25-2013, 03:15 AM   #2
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Since the newest R1100RS is 12 years old now, know that even in a perfect situation, you are starting with an old bike.

IMO engines rarely have issues. Some super high mileage bikes have a problem with cam chain tensioner rails breaking and the oil sight glasses popping out, but generally speaking, its a robust engine.

Most of the bad transmissions got replaced under warranty, so as a group, R1100RS's have some of the more current transmissions in the Oilhead line. And I wouldn't even be concerned about a final drive.....my wife and I put 200K miles on three R1100's and never had an issue.

I would be concerned about stuff related to a 12-year old bike......old brake and fuel lines, weepy front master cylinder, rusted hardware, etc.
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Old 04-25-2013, 05:25 AM   #3
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Thanks for the wisdom, jdiaz. There is an RS that I have my eye on and it's a 2000, so at least it's as 'new' as an RS is gonna get.

I'm a long-time rider and I owned my previous bike, a Honda, for over ten years. The brake lines, master cylinder and so on held up fine (though a more picky rider would have replaced the lines early on with SS lines).

Do BMWs have a tendency to 'weather' more than other brands? For instance, I've seen some 90s Triumphs with a corrosion that looked like they sat in salty sea air for a year despite being far from the coast.
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Old 04-25-2013, 05:43 AM   #4
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I always thought they weathered better than most brands. An R1100 might show a little age on its plated fasteners around the brake calipers and swingarm pivot, but the engine itself is fully powder coated and well sealed from the elements.

As usual, if you want a clean used bike, go to the Midwest where bikes are rarely ridden in winter with salt on the road. Stay away from coastal bikes.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:15 AM   #5
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I have an excellent example available in Central New York

sent you a PM
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:50 PM   #6
Jimmy the Heater
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Well I was on the other side of final drive failures. Bought a used BMW and had the receipt for a replaced final drive done 2k before I bought it. I rode the bike for 6k and it failed again. I didn't find out til later that some aren't shimmed correctly from the factory.

I was not hard on it, just normal street riding.

Do RS's have the problem with the clutch slave cylinder weeping and taking the clutch out as well?

And of course pulling the entire tranny to lube the output splines at 30k I believe.

I drank the roundel kool-aid and spit it back out asap. YMMV as always.
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Old 04-30-2013, 06:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy the Heater View Post
Well I was on the other side of final drive failures. Bought a used BMW and had the receipt for a replaced final drive done 2k before I bought it. I rode the bike for 6k and it failed again. I didn't find out til later that some aren't shimmed correctly from the factory.

I was not hard on it, just normal street riding.

Do RS's have the problem with the clutch slave cylinder weeping and taking the clutch out as well?

And of course pulling the entire tranny to lube the output splines at 30k I believe.

I drank the roundel kool-aid and spit it back out asap. YMMV as always.

If the OP is talking about a R1100RS, then the clutch is a cable and not hydraulic as in the 1150 tranny.
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:42 AM   #8
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The only piece of advice I'll offer is the same that I'd say about any used BMW, and that is find out all that you can about the maintenance history of the bike. A well maintained bike that has a documented maintenance history has lot more known quantities, IMHO.
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeanMoe View Post
If the OP is talking about a R1100RS, then the clutch is a cable and not hydraulic as in the 1150 tranny.

Ahhh Gotcha, sorry my bad. Thanks for the correction.
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:52 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the feedback, guys. Not having broken into a boxer engine, I don't understand 'shimming the final drive.'

Seems like the motor is mostly dependable, but when things go wrong they really go wrong, costing $$$. Does warranty work, if needed, regardless of not being the original owner?
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chickenstrip View Post
Seems like the motor is mostly dependable, but when things go wrong they really go wrong, costing $$$. Does warranty work, if needed, regardless of not being the original owner?
The warranty goes with the bike, regardless of how many owners it has had.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chickenstrip View Post
Thanks for all the feedback, guys. Not having broken into a boxer engine, I don't understand 'shimming the final drive.'

Seems like the motor is mostly dependable, but when things go wrong they really go wrong, costing $$$. Does warranty work, if needed, regardless of not being the original owner?
Shimming the final drive refers to setting the mesh of the ring and pinion gear on the rear shaft drive. There are several write up's and videos on youtube about it.

In my opinion it is kind of a dark art. There are some BMW tech's that are great at doing this and can get phenomenal life out of a final. Others half ass it or get one that was assembled at the factory on a Monday and don't re-check it and pay the price in short life.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the BMW final drive design, but it is notoriously difficult to set up correctly so it behaves as designed.


Regarding warranty work...BMW has a 3 year 36,000 mile factory warranty. Not going to help on a 1100 series. And I don't know of any add on warranty programs for something that old.
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Old 05-04-2013, 06:32 AM   #13
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The earlier versions had some problems. I've had clutch and tranny problems on my 94. Also had to replace the hall sensor. I think the clutch and trannys were ironed out before 2000. The hall sensor probably not. I haven't heard of many rear end problems, but probably a few out there. Generally a great touring/sport bike.
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Old 05-04-2013, 07:05 AM   #14
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Newer is better as BMW changed things inside the tranny and didn't get it sorted out until the 97 model year.

Pivot bearings are a maintenance item in the swingarm pivot, easy to replace & maintain, but you need to keep an eye on them.

Final drives where a hit and a miss with the 1100 series as well as newer boxers. Not all where the drives fault. There are ways you can check for free play on the rear end and the pivot bearings so you can be aware when things are going south.

Maintenance history is important on these bikes. If a bike doesn't have any then I'd walk away ( unless it is really cheap ) you can spend more on a fixer upper than you would on a pristine model. I would look for a low mileage model with a good history built 97 or newer.

If you are mechanical inclined then it becomes less of an issue as you can do most if not all the maintenance on these bikes. There are many good forums where you can go for advice & assistance.

I had a 2000 R1100R for a couple of years and never had any issues. Great handling bike. I did the maintenance ( including pivot bears - retorque & lube ) and found the bike easy to maintain but they are more maintenance heavy than some other brands.
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:49 AM   #15
Tom48
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Mine was a R1100RS a 1996. It came to me with "nicked" cylinder walls, a torn rear seal and a nicked transmission input shaft.The bike was new and under warranty.
All of these issues were discovered one at a time. I had a hard time with BMWNA. I received a letter from NA advising me not to bother my dealer. The machine was still under warranty
I have not had a hex head bike since
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