NHSTA Opens Investigation into BMW Final Drive Failures

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by rdcyclist, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. GrahamD

    GrahamD Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,456
    Location:
    Blue Mnts Ozstralia
    Don't :topes click :topes on :topes the :topes link :topes TuefelHunden...:lol3
  2. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,392
    Location:
    STL, MO, USA
    For cars, yes. When I was an FSE for Volvo, we lived in terror of the NHTSA.

    NHTSA considers motorcycles "inherently" dangerous and pretty much leaves them alone. BMW does recalls on their bikes all the time, but all of them I know of were voluntary. BMW USA does them for litigation protection and occasionally to force DE's hand.

    For what it is worth, the old R12GS/GSA final drives were mediocre. On average, they were cheaper then the sprockets and chains that would have needed replacement on the model as a whole, had it been chain drive, but they were nothing to write home about, or feel the sky is falling about.

    The updated one with the vent is SUPPOSED to be more solid. I saw an "NA eyes only" engineering document of all the changes, it looks like a very positive step, but only time will tell for certain.

    The vent will suck in water in some situations. I have seen this with my own eyes on multiple customer bikes.

    If you like submarining, replace the rubber duck bill with a hose and run it up high. I would drill a hole slightly smaller in the top of the air box and stuff the hose through there. The air box isn't often flooded and if it is you need to change the engine oil anyway so adding the final is no big deal.

    There, someone that used to work for a franchise just acknowledged the old 12GS/GSA finals weren't as solid as we would have liked, feel better?
  3. Sigster

    Sigster n00b

    Joined:
    May 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1
  4. Geografo

    Geografo Lost Armadillo in Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    152
    Location:
    Hurricane Magnet (SW Louisiana)
    MY $.02 WORTH: After finding out from the P.O. of my bike after he sold it to me about the final drive failure issue, I have been reading these threads (Btw--the P.O. told this in a message wherein he offered to buy the bike back because he was having second thoughts, and then told me about a "sweet" farkled-out R11000GS with only 12,000 miles for $8000.00--I politely told him "no thanks, I think I'll keep THIS one").

    My conclusion: Check for oil on the rear hub and vicinity, check for unusual sounds, think about buying a used rear drive from ebay or beemerboneyard, and keep enjoying the bike I own rather than worry too much about what might happen. From what I can tell, my chances of being hit by some cager on a cellphone and seriously injured or killed, either on my bike or in my Toyota, is probably greater than my final drive failing. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about either, although both are always in the back of my mind. Shit happens, ya know? I'd rather be stuck in some out-of-the-way place fixing my final drive than sitting here writing this message. To me, that is the very spirit of adventure. Although my experience as an adventure rider is not so much, my experience with adventures is pretty long, hence my user name (Hint: it is also my profession).

    Nor am I willing to sell or trade-in my nearly paid-off GS to go back into debt to buy one of the competitors' bikes. :deal Maybe a few years down the road I will, but then again, maybe not.
  5. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,230
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    And, Sir, the consequences of the two is on a different scale.
    If I were in your position (well, I am, actually) I would worry substantially more about being killed or injured than about a bearing failing.

    My experiences, by the way, is that on the 1150, the left-hand side indicator switch fails much more frequent that the FD.
    I don't worry about that either.

    [TaSK]
  6. lightfighter

    lightfighter where does this go?

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,303
    Location:
    Sierra Vista AZ.
    :deal

  7. woonun

    woonun Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    101
    Location:
    Idaho
    1995 GS at 60K leaking seal. Replaced seal and final drive
    bearing with same shim. 6K later leaking and wobbling rent
    truck last 250 miles of trip to make it home to Idaho.
    In trying to find out everything I can about preload this time
    around I read BMW manual and watch Curtis's movie using
    Dman's method for checking preload with dial micrometer.
    With heating of cover and cooling of crown bearing with oil I
    am unable to move it up and down. Resort to using wire spark
    plug gauge (90 degree) in situ the clearance varies 6/1000 in.
    around the perimeter. I did this three times and came up with
    the same in situ result with careful attention to torque and
    cross tightening.

    The first replacement I failed to notice there were two other shims
    pressed into the housing. (I know...idiot) So the factory had
    three shims in originally...0.4 mm and two smaller ones. They were
    clearly over stressed the second time.
    Seems strange given the range of shims in fiche is from 0.1 to 1.7 mm
    that there were three shims.
    The backlash checks btw.

    As a community with collective intelligence I feel we can solve the problem
    much faster than any investigation. Since most final drives work so well it makes sense
    there is a solution that may be common.
    Thanks for any redirects if there is a better place to post this.
    To BobbySands...those Flyers are showing some real heart.
  8. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,230
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    I don't think you have a 12GS, which, if I understand correctly, is the target of this investigation.

    [TaSK]
  9. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,597
    Location:
    put something on and stay in that position.
    Always ready to turn a phrase, TaSK.

    Sometimes your posts should have ™ behind them.
  10. wilson

    wilson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Oddometer:
    109
    Location:
    Idaho and the Southwest
    Tagesk (post #328) is incorrect in his guess that, we are talking only about a BMW R12GS. The OP clearly states in his thread opener that they are investigating the 1999-2005 K1200LT'S final drive. No mention of the 12GS. He also states that he wants ANYONE with a final drive problem to stand up and contact them about it. It is his thread. And so the discussion goes on . If you have a BMW with FD bearing trouble speak up, now's the time.

    Woonun is trying to inform people on how he is repairing the problem and the difficult details on how to do it correctly for the average shade tree mechanic. He is talking about actually fixing the problem instead of all the blowhards yapping about it (I include myself) and not really DOING anything about it. We do want to fix the problem, not just talk about it right ?

    My GUESS (I don't really know crap , like everyone else, thus the discussion) is that many people have trouble with the FD bearing because the shims were not installed correctly at the factory. My 2004 R1150 GS ADV. has over 100k on it with no bearing trouble. I change the FD fluid every 5k miles and don't worry about it. Although I do carry a bearing and seal for distant trips where the parts are not readily available.:lol3

    For a certain percentage of people with the FD bearing problem, I understand it's a BIG problem. For us that have been lucky , the BMW is the best moto around. I would rather change a FD bearing every 50 k than deal with a chain's full time problems. Carry on and go ride that moto ! :freaky
  11. Geografo

    Geografo Lost Armadillo in Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    152
    Location:
    Hurricane Magnet (SW Louisiana)
    Tagesk,

    Point taken. I did not mean it to read that I do not worry at all about being killed or injured. I am constantly doing whatever is in my power to prevent such a thing from happening. Unfortunately, sometimes that is not enough. So, while I do not want to be killed in such a manner, I do not let it keep me from riding and enjoying it (frankly, I am more worried about what may happen to my s.o. when riding two-up, since I can account for what I do and how I react to certain situations, but not her, and to have something serious happen to her would be personally devastating for me). That said, I have learned to put such things as FD failures well down the list of things to worry about when I suit up and ride, for the very reasons mentioned in my last post, and in this one.

    Btw--I generally enjoy reading your well thought-out posts. So keep em comin'
  12. Gone-Native

    Gone-Native XPLORER

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,196
    Location:
    Southern VT Green Mtns
    I'm about to do my second roller bearing in FD on my 07 GSA..... 1st was under warranty...... 54k now, I pay da bill:cry
  13. Gone-Native

    Gone-Native XPLORER

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,196
    Location:
    Southern VT Green Mtns
    Now, I would like to add, the roller bearing in the EVO Hex-head and on, is a sealed bearing, not bathed in gear oil as the previous FD's were. When BMW replaced the first bad roller bearing, the FD fluid and everything inside, checked out fine... I learned that BMW outsourced the roller bearing then, sometime in 07, realized they needed a better bearing.... well, I'm about to do another one, I hope..... we'll see what I find when I open her up!
  14. Merlin III

    Merlin III Mean SOB

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,775
    Location:
    Maine
    I am not real knowledgeable about the mechanics of the subject. I have a 2001 1150GS which I have owned for about three years. I know nothing about the previous history of the bike. After one year in my ownership the dealer told me that my bike had metal flakes in my final drive fluid and he replaced the bearing. Yesterday, Max BMW informed me of the same thing and replaced the final drive bearing. The time between near failures was 1 year, 10 months. I mean, how can this be? Besides design flaws, are there any contributory factors in how the bike is ridden?

    Last year at the BMWRA rally I met a rider with exactly the same bike as mine. A few years before, I am not exactly sure when, he told me he was in a bad single vehicle motorcycle accident where the cause of the accident was that his rear wheel came off his bike for no apparent reason. Is this the type of incident that would be possibly caused by a catastrophic final drive failure?
  15. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    56,288
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA
    Read the whole thread, then you decide.

    There are multiple reasons for FD failures, and especially one following the other like yours. The original failure could be from poor initial assembly, overlaoding the bike, riding in very rough conditions, while overloaded, and getting water in the Fd through streem corssings. Or, it could simply be a defective FD from the start.

    As for a FD actually falling off, not unless the owner was so out of tune with the bike that he never noticed major self destruction impending. They do not simply grenade with no warning.

    Jim :brow
  16. Undermoose

    Undermoose Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    83
    :eek1
    Just picked up a 2012 R1200GS. Where do new BMW GS's stand in this thread's light?
    :eek1
  17. brownsr

    brownsr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    Oddometer:
    148
    Location:
    Kaiserslautern, Germany

    Dude you're screwed....Better turn it back in
  18. Undermoose

    Undermoose Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    83
    :norton
    But really, are the new final drives improved or are we still potentially hit by this issue?
    :norton

    (Yes I'm a R1200GS noob)

    Thanks!
    :ear
  19. El Gato

    El Gato Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    784
    Location:
    Los Gatos, CA
    Don't ask. :rofl
  20. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    56,288
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA
    Don't let the fear of a small chance of an issue let your ruin your enjoyment of your bike. Go ride!:deal

    Jim :brow