Corporate Runaways - Boston to Ushuaia on 2 BMW F650GSs

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Dachary, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the note, as always! In this case, though, I'll forgive the dealer. We've had the bikes there for service before, and it's generally held to be the best BMW dealer in New England. When we've used them previously, they've always been prompt (and the shop foreman did call me back that evening but I was out walking the dogs, and his message didn't deliver the bad news, so I didn't get the status update till I called back the next morning).

    I am frustrated just because we don't know what sort of expense this is going to add up to, and I scheduled the bikes for service two weeks before they were picked up, so I'd assumed they were going to be seen immediately. Obviously that wasn't the case. I assume the sudden rush is people getting ready for the 4th of July weekend, although I'm just guessing as to why they've gotten so busy.

    Anywho, ultimately this isn't such a big deal. It's nothing like the stress of being on the trip and having something not working. It's just low-level frustrating because we've got a lot of money tied up waiting to see how much this is going to cost. And of course we're missing out on beautiful riding weather. But we hadn't expected to be able to get the bikes back this soon when we left Argentina, so we're still ahead of the curve. And I'd rather have them sitting in the shop waiting to be seen at Max than take them to our local BMW dealer that has a horrible reputation - at least I can trust Max to fix them properly.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for an update today. Usually they call us to tell us what all needs to be done and how much the parts are going to cost before they do the big work. The fact that we didn't get a call yesterday says to me that they didn't get around to diagnosing them yet. As long as we have them back in the next week or two, we can afford to be patient a little longer.
  2. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    In my experience, the shops that do good work are almost always busy and backed up during the riding season.
  3. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

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    Oh my... I just got off the phone with Tom at Max BMW and we've got a preliminary report on the bikes.

    Sadly, my bike does need a new rear shock. Looks like we're going to go with an Ohlins, since it's not that much more expensive than stock and carries a lifetime warranty + good adjustment options. Tom told me the stock shock is around $915 and an Ohlins would run around $250 more than that (so $1165?) Luckily, Kay remembered that when we spoke to Steve, the guy who organized the Chain Gang, he said they had a group buy discount on Ohlins. As a Chain Gang member, I can get an Ohlins for $729 + $20 shipping. $750 is a lot cheaper than the $1165 that Max quoted me so we'll be ordering it through the Chain Gang discount place. That paid for the price of my membership, and then some!

    Other stuff:
    My bike needs new steering head bearings ($250) and is having a big service. There's a vibration thing they'll try to diagnose after they replace the steering head bearings but I'm not overly concerned about that. Tentative ballpark for my bike: $1800 (with discount on Ohlins shock - otherwise would be $2200).

    Kay's bike needs: new steering head bearings ($250), and it looks like Santiago BMW messed up our cheap taillight mod big time. Max is basically having to re-do the wiring harness at the back end since Santiago screwed it up, and some socket back there is corroded and needs to be replaced, so that's going to be around $120. The drain plug that Santiago (I think) put on Kay's bike is all bodged and needed to be bored out and replaced. They've cleared a fault relating to the odometer and think the other wiring issues may be related to the bodging of the rear wiring harness so they're hoping that fix takes care of all that stuff. Ballpark on Kay's bike is $1100, but that assumes the wiring harness fix addresses the rest of the stuff. We'll find out next week if Kay's bike needs more work and that price shoots up.

    So yeah. They're out till next Tuesday and will work on the bikes again next Tues and Wed. We're looking at a ballpark of $3000 for both bikes but that might change depending on Kay's electrical gremlins. The earliest the Ohlins could get there is Friday so we probably won't have the bikes back next week, either :( At this rate, it's looking like we may get them back a scant week before the rally...
  4. wvdeuce

    wvdeuce Adventurer

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    Thanks for update.
  5. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

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    The Ohlins shock that we ordered got to the BMW dealer last Friday, but I called today to check on the bikes and the service manager told me that the shock is the wrong one.

    Not sure I believe them.

    The part number that the lady at Max BMW gave me is the part number for the Dakar shock. My bike is a GS with a shorter suspension than the Dakar (standard height for a GS but the GS is shorter than the Dakar in general), so that part would not have fit my bike. I ordered the correct part from a guy who claimed to know (he's the one who brought the fact to our attention that the part number that Max BMW gave me was for the Dakar) and he gave us the correct part for the GS. There is some confusion on the Ohlins website for my model year - the only shock they list for my model year is the Dakar, but my year takes the same shock as the prior years' GS, so that's the part I got. So the BMW dealer is hanging onto the shock while they wait to figure out who's right about the correct part number - me or them. Service manager says my bike will be ready to go after the shock.

    Kay's bike: they're "having problems finding the parts they need to fix the taillight." I'm not sure why that should be such a problem because they've had the bike for 3 weeks at this point, which should be long enough to get a new rear taillight assembly shipped from Germany if they had to. I'm concerned that they haven't really touched Kay's bike, because the service manager said that the electrical problems could be linked to the rear taillight, and if they haven't fixed that yet, they haven't begun diagnosing the electrical problems. So three weeks after going to the dealer, I fear Kay's bike is still undiagnosed.

    I told the service manager that we have plans for this weekend and we hope to attend the BMW MOA rally next week, and asked if it would be possible to get the bikes back in time. He says he should be able to do it, but I don't know how he can say that when Kay's bike is still basically undiagnosed.

    I must say that my estimation of Max BMW is starting to slip a bit.

    Should know more in the next couple of days. Hopefully I can post good news and the final total by the end of the week.

    In the meantime, hope all you fellow ADVers are enjoying the summer riding season!
  6. RockyNH

    RockyNH Older Than Dirt!

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    Dachary, sorry that it is not going as well as you hoped.. It would be nice if you at least had them for the rally..

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you and Kay! :D

    Pat in NH
  7. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

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    I asked Kay to call Max BMW today to check on the bikes as I'm getting sick of dealing with them, and had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach about getting the bikes back in time for the Rally...

    Turns out the sick feeling was right.

    Max BMW is still sitting on my new Ohlins shock because they haven't yet resolved the question of whether the shock I bought is the right one. Apparently they're waiting to hear back from Ohlins to resolve the dispute. On the one hand, I can't fault them for not wanting to install the wrong shock... but on the other hand, I can TOTALLY fault them for having the wrong part number and trying to sell me the wrong shock in the first place. If I'd gotten the shock through them, they would have blithely installed the wrong shock (thinking it was the right one) and I probably would have been out of luck getting it made right. Now they've had the new shock for almost a week (it'll be a week tomorrow) but still haven't installed it because they're waiting for verification. Personally, I see no reason this should take so long and am rather livid about it.

    More annoying, though, is the fact that they've revealed today that they're waiting on a part for Kay's bike to come from GERMANY. I was right. It's currently somewhere between there and here but because of the way shipping works, they can't track it until it hits our shores. But come Tuesday they will have had our bikes a month, and that's certainly long enough to get parts from Germany. We're only still waiting because it took them forever just to look at our bikes, so the bikes were just sitting around in the shop waiting to be looked at instead of sitting around waiting for parts to arrive. Now we're waiting for parts, and have no idea how long it'll be... but we certainly won't have them back for this weekend (we had Sunday plans with our local BMW charter group) and Kay's probably won't be back in time for the Rally, since Max BMW will open for the week on Tuesday and we were supposed to leave on Wed.

    Now we're trying to figure out alternate plans. Kay suggested I could ride to the Rally and he could potentially take a bus, but to me that defeats half the fun of going - we haven't ridden together since March and I was really looking forward to riding with Kay. There's talk of getting my bike back (which I'm not confident of since they've already been sitting on the shock so long) and trying to go 2-up, which would get us there but not as fun and would ruin my plans to go to Indiana after the Rally. We've pondered asking Max for a loaner bike for Kay since they've had our bikes for a month at this point, but no idea if that's possible... and we've even started scouring Craigslist for some 2-wheeled thing for Kay to potentially buy this weekend, register on Monday and ride out.

    But I'm not sure how feasible any of these plans are, and I'm really angry at Max BMW right now... I miss being on the road and bodging something to get us through.

    I hate sitting around and waiting with things out of our hands, feeling helpless. Am tempted to pay whatever it takes to get a truck and a trailer and go to Max this weekend to pick up our bikes in whatever state of disrepair they're in, and work on them this weekend ourselves just to get them running enough for the Rally... but Kay probably wouldn't go for that. Will have to conference when he gets home.

    This whole repair scenario is just not going well. I think I'm well past the point of losing the goodwill I had for our local dealer/shop (supposedly the best BMW dealer in New England). The delay at this point just feels unacceptable, and I can't do a damn thing to hurry it along.
  8. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    The only solution for this sort of thing is to have more than one bike. I had a BMW in the shop for over a month waiting for a part from Germany. It wasn't that big of a deal since I could ride my other bike. This is your chance to go out and buy something small and inexpensive. Try a small scooter (125-200cc), or something like the CT110 Nathanthepostman rode, you'll have a blast on it. I got a 150cc scooter last fall and ride it almost every day.
  9. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

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    You are so right! We've been toying with the idea of doing trips on ridiculous scooters and I went so far as to go shopping for something fun for Kay this afternoon.

    But! Apparently when *Kay* said "BMW MOA Rally" it stuck a chord somewhere, and Max BMW called us back shortly after 6PM with a completely different tune. They're swapping out Kay's taillight for a different model temporarily, and bringing the bikes home to us on Saturday! When the right part comes in, Kay can ride up there and get the taillight swapped out while he waits. So we'll have the bikes home on Sat, we can do the rest of the wrenching ourselves (install Kay's new tires, chain, rear sprocket, replace some bolts and get them inspected) and be ready to ride to the Rally next week!

    Am very psyched. I was (obviously) getting really annoyed at their delays so I'm glad they lived up to their reputation and did something to make it right. We won't find out the final total until tomorrow - the service manager is going to go over everything on the invoices to make sure it's all entered properly as there was a lot of work. But the bikes will be coming home soon! Yay!
  10. GSequoia

    GSequoia I know a few things about radios... Supporter

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    Maybe they suddenly realized they were trying to screw genuine ADV celebrities and if they proceeded with that they'd get screwed themselves. :clap
  11. kitesurfer

    kitesurfer Long timer

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    THEY aren't worried about losing my business with me being from Florida i'm sure. But considering the problems you guys have had with your BMW's, i'll never consider buying one. maybe current BMW owners like them, but I can't see your trip report bringing BMW new customers. sorry you've missed have your riding season :(
  12. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

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    I'm sorry if you've gotten a bad impression of BMWs... our bikes were pretty effing awesome on the trip and Kay and I would both happily buy them again, and would absolutely recommend them for adventure riding and long trips.

    Realistically, the two things that went wrong with my bike on the trip (a paper gasket developing a leak and a known weak spot in the bike - i.e. the rear shock) I think the bike was a rock star. And with the rear shock - I'm not a light person and I was carrying probably 70-90 pounds of stuff on the rear so the shock probably would have lasted a lot longer if it hadn't been so heavily loaded. (Alternately, I could have gotten an Ohlins before we left because the rear shock is a known issue... I pondered it but we were already spending so much on trip prep that I didn't want to pony up an extra $750 for a new shock.) Kay's bike had more problems (fan, fork seals) but those were related to it being an older used bike, and not being kept up as well. If he'd had a newer used bike, I think we would have had smooth sailing pretty much the entire way.

    Kay got a call from the dealer this AM and apparently all of his "electrical" problems were related to the way the Santiago dealer screwed up his rear taillight. Our dealer has installed the new temporary rear light and that seems to have corrected all of the problems with the warning lights (fuel light, neutral light, etc.) Kay forgot to ask about the odometer, but they told me earlier that they encountered a fault with the on-board computer and cleared it and that should have fixed Kay's odometer issue. So most of the problems that Kay's bike has experienced were due to the Santiago BMW dealer. Unsurprisingly, because that's when the "electrical" problems started showing up... (and everything was running fine after our original $10 taillight bodge in Colombia by random small-town mechanic - it wasn't until BMW tried to "undo" the taillight bodge and then re-do it that the poor bike started having trouble.)

    Apparently, though, my bike has developed a new tick whilst in the shop. When they talked to Kay this morning, they said *my* bike was having problems with the neutral light, and was blowing fuses... so they've had to replace some $200 part. But my bike wasn't having any electrical problems when it went into the shop...

    So the lesson here isn't "Don't buy BMW motorcycles." It's "Don't take them to a BMW dealer." :evil
  13. GSequoia

    GSequoia I know a few things about radios... Supporter

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    I must say you make me glad that I have the space, tools, and experience to work on my own vehicles.

    Good luck with the rest!
  14. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

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    We got the bikes back on Saturday, and ended up spending the entire day Saturday wrenching on Kay's bike to finish up the stuff we did ourselves (install the rear sprocket, new chain, new front and rear tires). Service for both bikes was: $2776.72.

    My bike:
    - 12k service
    - Replaced the battery (I think they did this by mistake - the battery was dead the first time I called regarding service, and I subsequently called back and told him I'd replaced the battery and it was working but they replaced it again when it got to the shop. I asked about it and he claims the brand new Oddyssey PC310 battery I'd installed wasn't working so they had to replace it, I balked, and they took the charge off - but now I'm running an inferior battery because they had already thrown away my BRAND NEW BATTERY.)
    - Replaced the steering head bearings
    - Installed the new rear shock
    - Installed brake pads, chain that we sent along
    - Installed new front and rear sprockets
    - Installed new directional switch (wasn't a problem when it went in but they found it to be a problem in the shop for around $350)

    Total for my bike: $1319.93.

    Kay's bike:
    - 12k Service
    - Installed a new (temporary) taillight so we could have the bikes back - will install the correct part when it arrives from Germany
    - Cleared a fault regarding the odometer
    - Checked the electrical system and determined that ABS is turning off correctly, but indicator light isn't showing - dealer says we'd need to replace the dash to get the ABS indicator light to work again
    - Drilled out and replaced the drain plug that Santiago BMW installed incorrectly (was causing a substantial oil leak)
    - Drilled out and replaced two fairing screws that were cross-threaded (again, Santiago BMW)
    - Installed new steering head bearings
    - Installed brake pads we'd sent along
    - Installed the new clutch cable that we had secured on the bike for a hot-swap if needed; we think this was just confusion on the tech's part since the clutch cable was right there - he assumed we meant for him to install it even though it wasn't on the work order

    Total for Kay's bike: $1466.79

    With the parts we bought ourselves, the total we've spent on getting the bikes repaired/replacing wear parts since arriving home is around: $4500.

    Yeah, that's almost enough to buy a new (used) F650GS, but then we'd still have to have it all kitted out...

    I'm annoyed about them installing a new (inferior) battery and throwing away my BRAND NEW battery. We're also annoyed because we have reusable air filters installed, and the work order says they "Replaced Air Filter Elements" on both bikes (an extra $32). And I assume that whatever they put in isn't reusable.

    On Kay's bike, the odometer still isn't working, even though they spent time "fixing" it and claimed on the work order that the problem was resolved. The gas light is also still constantly on. Practical effect: Kay has no way of knowing when he needs gas. Gas light is always on so there's no visual indicator, and he has no odometer (and the trip meter is still stuck on 0.0) so he has no idea how many miles he's ridden. We're both annoyed that they charged us labor and claimed this was fixed but it's still an issue.

    Also on Kay's bike, he specifically asked them to address his broken speedometer and they didn't even touch it. He was really looking forward to having a working speedo again but Max BMW didn't oblige him.

    There are a couple of notes on Kay's bike that make it not clear if specific work was done or if it still needs to be done, so we've got to call tomorrow to clarify on that...

    So we have the bikes home and they're in working condition. We've got to get them inspected tomorrow so they'll be street legal and then we're leaving on Wednesday AM to ride to the BMW MOA Rally in Pennsylvania. Yay!

    I'm annoyed that Kay's bike isn't in better shape, electronically, after they've been sitting on it for nearly 4 weeks and had very specific instructions on the work order. I'm not happy with the job that Max BMW did for us this time around. At this point, I'm very tempted to buy the stupid BMW diagnosing computer thing that they use to read codes, etc. and try to fix the electronics ourselves when we get home from the rally. But it was good to wrench on the bikes - the new tires are all set, new sprockets all set, new chains, and we've replaced some bolts that we lost on the trip.

    I reinstalled some of the luggage rack mounting points with new pieces (the SW Motech Quick Lock release things) and my racks are much more sturdy now. They're nice and snug and don't have room to rattle around anymore. I also spent some time re-sealing my panniers - the riveted seams had started to separate from having the bike dropped on the cases so much, so I squeezed some silicone into the cracks and hopefully that'll fix that. I also installed a new piece of neoprene lining in the pannier we had repaired in Colombia, because they removed a neoprene panel to rivet on the new metal end cap piece and the stuff I put in the pannier was scraping on the metal on the inside of it. Not a huge deal, but we had leftover neoprene from lining our panniers before the trip and it'll cut down on the "rattling around" noises of having stuff inside the panniers.

    The Metzler Tourance tire on Kay's rear, btw, was completely squared off - it looked like a car tire. We got it in Lima and installed it in Bolivia, so it had only 7,000 miles on it. I'm still running the Anakee 2 that we installed in Peru (before Lima), so it has around 8,500 miles on it and still has plenty of tread - and isn't squared off. Kay's old Anakee one rear tire that we removed to install the Metzler Tourance had around 12,000 miles and still had tread - and wasn't squared off. So clearly the Metzler Tourance tires are the suck compared to the Anakees. We'll be sticking with the Anakees.
  15. dirtymartini

    dirtymartini Shaken, Not Stirred

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    :eek1:huh:ddog:dog
    :kboom
    I think you two better learn to do more wrenching! Or maybe I should open a BMW servicing shop:lol3

    See you in Bloomsburg!
  16. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    I bought a brand new scooter last year for less than that.
  17. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

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    It should be noted that that squared off tire was a Tourance EXP not just a Tourance... big difference. In lima I told them I needed a dual sport tire. They said "How about a Tourance". People have been debating Tourance vs Anakee for a while now so it's at least comparable. The next day we come to pick up the bikes and they hand me a Tourance EXP. I'm thinking to myself that I didn't look right, but we didn't want to stay another day in Lima at the overpriced hotel and I wasn't totally familiar with the Tourance tires to begin with.

    The Tourance EXP is unquestionably a street tire, and it turns out we barely went on the dirt with them. Even so, I vote it as a pile of crap compared to the Anakee, and the Anakee 2's have even better life.


    It should also be noted that while we changed tires flawlessly on the road, we've apparently gotten soft after getting home because we pinched two tubes and accidentally put on an old tube with a hole the other day when we got the bikes back. Spent all day changing tires. We blame it on this longer, more aggressive spoon we were using that had somewhat pointier corners. We only had short spoons with nice round corners from the Bead Breakr kit with us on the trip.

    Also, we really need to get a small jack/lift. Dachary had to sit on the back of the bike to keep the front off the ground while I changed the front tire. Then we switched for the beginning of the 2nd attempt at the front tire... I'm really getting annoyed with this whole tube thing.

    With regards to the comment about the problems we've had with the BMWs. I still contend that almost everything that's happened to us can happen to any bike. Since going to MAX though there's the sending unit for Dachary's which *is* BMW specific and overpriced, the fact that you have to replace the entire fuel pump to make the gas light work again, and the fact that I have to replace the dashboard unit (still not sure what they mean by that) to make my ABS indicator work again, and the fact that my ODO is still broken. ... Ok, and that the speedo circuit board is >$350 but that wasn't related to this trip.

    In short, they're no worse than any other bike... except possibly for everything in the dash. As for BMW's claim of "Unstoppable" yeah, no. In my opinion they're just as likely to have issues as anything else made by a reputable company.

    HOWEVER, while BMW dealers frequently give you a much better service experience, they're just as variable in quality as mechanics everywhere else. Parts are either average or overpriced (no way of telling which is going to be outrageous and which isn't), and it's going to be harder to find a place with cheap labor. Then again, do you really want to take any bike to a place with cheap labor unless you personally know the laborer?

    Dachary notes that of the totals from MAX we posted $466 of Dachary's was parts and $400 of mine . So, you could have saved roughly $1900 by doing your own service. We spent around $2600 on parts. We're perfectly happy to do our own maintenance but we needed the electrics diagnosed, we don't have the tool for the valve clearance, or a wrench that can get that huge nut off the front sprocket, or the ability to drill out screws (a few needed it), or a computer to diagnose the error codes, or a lift, and we don't have a garage. We don't even have a parking spot. We wrench outside in front of our house. So any maintenance we need to do on the bike we have to commit to having done before the sun goes down.
  18. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Motorcycle parts tend to be very expensive regardless of the brand. A few years ago I had some work done on my R1100GS by a small independant shop. They were surprised at how inexpensive the parts they needed were compared to Japanese parts.

    Also, us cheapskate KLR owners use BMW shims when we do valve adjustments because they are less than half the price of kawasaki shims.

    The biggest problem I see is that many new motorcycles have gotten so complex that most people can't do the work themselves. The F650GS is far less complex than any of the new BMWs.
  19. Süsser Tod

    Süsser Tod Long timer

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    Well, if a "lesser complex" BMW could be screwed up so badly by a stealership, I don't want to know how much they could have fucked up a CAN BUS bike... But I'm sure it wouldn't have been pretty.
  20. PlasticSun

    PlasticSun Long Live The Supertanker

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    Hey guys,

    I'm a little curious, it sounds like the cost of getting the bikes back from Argentina was ~7000, (2 round trip flights, 2 bikes freighted home, plus some expenses for storage, lodging, food during the return trip, the post is a few pages back and I can't seem to find it).

    Now add another 4500 in getting the bikes back up to a good running condition, which is admittedly high, but there's a very expensive shock in there, I expect grabbing a used F650 rear shock from a salvage yard or off the flea market might have saved 600-700bucks.

    By my math that's around 11.5 - 12K, which would seem like enough to buy two used F650s fairly kitted out, or a kitted out used bigger bike like a 990, 1200 if you'd prefer to ride 2up.

    If you were to do the whole thing again knowing what you know now, would you sell the bikes in argentina for a fraction of their value (for parts basically) or keep them knowing what they'd cost you?

    I only ask because I imagine that some other travelers have run into similar issues with costs of getting their bikes home after over-running their budget.