NHSTA Opens Investigation into BMW Final Drive Failures

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

  1. Mandalazu

    Mandalazu Flatland-bound Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2007
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    Central Ohio
    Yes, well... My 2007 GS slowly ground the final drive away on the way back to Ohio from Alaska in June of 2009. Julius at Gina's BMW saved me, though I got cussed for riding 700 miles that day on shredded gears (in the absolute worst rain I've ever ridden in, up hill both ways). "I maybe coulda saved it!" Again, yes, well. The clock read 26K and BMW replaced it. (Sidebar: BMW Roadside had "no recollection" of my current membership when I called them for help from Altoona, IA. So BMW ended up picking up the tab for three days of R&R in beautiful Iowa City.) I left there with a strict admonition to change the drive oil after 600miles, then every 12K, which I have done (in no little fear of recurrence).

    Fast forward to tonight. I thought it had been feeling a little "crunchy" these past couple months and, due to the winter weather, haven't put many miles on it, making a mental note to get it to service before doing any serious spring riding. The clock now reads 50.7K and tonight, on my way to an evening activity in this unexpected spring-like weather, the bike actually wobbled. After ten or so miles, I found good light, crawled under it, and experienced that same gut-wrenching feeling when I saw drive oil covering the back wheel. I limped it home at 2500rpm in third and will be calling the good people at Holt BMW (180 miles from my garage) in the morning for advice and, most likely, an appointment. All I see when I close my eyes is $$$$$$$$$$ signs.

    Twice? REALLY?!
    #41
  2. FlatDarkGS

    FlatDarkGS Master BS'er

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    Mile-High Albuquerque, NM

    I look at my GS the same way. Every time I roll up to my driveway after a ride, no matter how short or how long, and see my bike reflected in the windows next to my house, I could care less how I look...But I look in awe at my GS and how damn unique and cool of a machine it is and how that machine somehow finds a way to be both a lightning rod and a crucible for passion when I ride it...Wouldn't have it any other way.
    #42
  3. mcstark

    mcstark Living brappy...

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    Ditto. I make no excuses to the layman for the homeliness of my bike...on the surface. I know what the bike can, and might do, and that makes it beautiful in my eyes.
    #43
  4. WeazyBuddha

    WeazyBuddha Carbon-Based Humanoid Supporter

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    Therein is our lot in life, the burden we must carry.

    There is no other bike I've liked as much as my GS, it is absolutely awesome.

    My other bikes just sit although I do have to admit to an infrequent jaunt on the viffer.
    #44
  5. roarin calhoun

    roarin calhoun Been here awhile

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    My GS was also "a lightning rod and a crucible for passion ",especially when light bulbs blew out, ABS failed(often)tranny screwed up, shock blew up,etc,etc."Unique"? Truely so. My "crucibled' passions went nuts as hell,i got supremely pissed. Tenere fixed all that. I kid you not. Sorry.Sorta.
    #45
  6. Makalu

    Makalu Long timer

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    Event horizon
    I've always wondered the same thing, and I've got a dog in this fight (I've got both a GS and GSA). Even though it would royally suck if it was your bike that had the FD failure, I think it would put it in some sort or perspective to see the number of failures documented vs the total production number. Is there an industry standard on number of failures of a mechanical part vs number produced that makes it a bad design? If we're talking the space shuttle, then obviously a failure once is one too many. But is that same standard held (vs desired) with parts like FD's? Interesting that a high percentage of failures occurred on bikes during the Iron Butt Rally. You can't abuse bikes much more than that. On the other hand, I don't think Ewan or Charlie had any FD failures on there long ways round and down and they abused those bikes quite a bit.:lol3
    #46
  7. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    In an effort to add some balance. I've owned 6 1200GS's. I've put a total of a bit over 200k on them. All were sold to friends and have at least an additional 70k on them. While I had them the only failure has been a leaky shock on my current '09. Replaced with Wilburs. The '07 snapped a drive shaft coupler at 55k. The new owner admits to being very abusive when he rides. I've been to alaska twice/in 49 states and 14 countries...all solo. Returning to europe this spring/summer to enjoy more countries and to enjoy the hell out of my GS.

    Guess what I'm saying is BMW must have made a few good GS's.:clap
    #47
  8. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    Sir,
    I hope that even though your FD was designed by BMW, you make it to my village, for lunch in the shade of the lemon trees.

    [TaSK]
    #48
  9. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    So do you come back to G-spot to gloat, or just continue bitching? :dunno

    Me thinks you are still a BMW guy at heart, as we all love to complain!:lol3

    Jim :brow
    #49
  10. darrendeep6

    darrendeep6 BMW Dirty Dozen

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    Jan 4, 2010
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    296
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    Michigan
    Why do these Tenere guys keep coming over to Gspot? It's like they're looking for approval from us. Yes, yes you bought a motorcycle that is trying to compete with the GS. Good on Yamaha. Yes the BMW is the benchmark. Now go ride and post somewhere else stupid. :ken
    #50
  11. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    Task, I had to cancel last year but this year is firm. Knoff is taking my moto to heidelberg. Riding into chambery to see my daughter then on to Slovenia and Croatia. Ferry to Italia, then will come for lunch!!! I'll stay in touch/many thanks!
    #51
  12. TuefelHunden

    TuefelHunden Been here awhile

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    Sep 23, 2008
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    718
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    Spartanburg, SC
    There is a similar thread to this one on STN and I'll bet there are other which I never had the interest in looking for.
    I just bought my GS and this subject caught my eye. Funny how the STN and this one parallels except for the BMW haters that creep in over there from time to time. Maybe NHSTA will actually find something, but my money is on statistically insignificant to warrant a recall. I guess these topics keep us occupied while waiting for good weather :D
    #52
  13. eric2

    eric2 ®egister this:

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    145 failures over 10 years? Heck the 12gs series alone must have had at least around 200-300k bikes sold, that doesn't include all of the other versions out there. That means the failure rate is well below .01 %

    its amazing that final drive on fire has spawned an urban legend, nobody mentions the real reason had nothing to do with the final drive. The brakes overheated and melted the seal.

    I know they fail, everything mechanical fails, but to date nobody has proven its a design defect, many failed due to improper shimming though. The problem is that you can't tell if its about to fail, like a chain. It and the driveshaft are hidden from view
    so problems go unseen until the big bang.
    #53
  14. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    The legend is most likely a carry-over from the 1150 where a significantly higher number seems to be the case.

    [TaSK]
    #54
  15. rdcyclist

    rdcyclist Long timer

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    Similar to Marty, I've put over 200k on three GS's over the last 7.5 years. Unlike Marty, I've had more than one FD problem and I personally know of five other FD failures that rendered the bike immobile (neither one of mine did but it was close in one case). And like Marty, my next bike is going to be a GS; and the one after that too 'cuz they're still the best bike for what I do.

    As far as the NHTSA investigation, they'll initiate an investigation on much less than a .01% failure rate. I think they'll even start a recall on less if it's deemed real scary (fuel delivery stuff is like that). I don't think BMW has sold 200k motorcycles in the US over the last ten years so we're probably looking at a much higher failure rate than that. Some of the recent high profile car recalls were based upon something like 5-10 failures over 300k units.

    On another subject, it's pretty funny how the Tenere guys like to come over here and attempt to gloat. The ST is nice bike. But...and there's always that BUT, it still ain't a GS. The ST is about 10% slower, 20% less efficient, and takes 20 feet further to stop from 60. Nice bike though...
    #55
  16. FatChance

    FatChance Road Captain

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    :nod I would GLADLY have a final drive failure than the clutch spline failure I have on my 1150GS with 50k miles!
    #56
  17. Spaggy

    Spaggy Long timer

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    Western Canada

    Yup Yup, me too.
    #57
  18. Willie B

    Willie B Been here awhile

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    Feb 6, 2012
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    272
    Location:
    Midway, KY
    I had the pleasure of visiting with the Yamaha Camp this past summer at Moto GP in Indy. I saw the Tenere and consumed all the hype that was being spewed. I was invited to Cincinnati several weeks later to ride one. I am a bike whore and pleasure myself from being so. I raced GNCC for years and never subscribe to the euro bike syndrome, but as I prospered in life, I have come to enjoy the finer things in life, Euro Bikes. I thought the Tenere was a nice bike for someone who commutes, likes to take in an occasional fire road scenario and possibly enjoys being the odd egg in within one's environment. If you like lot's of plastic, I feel it's a wonderful bike. I currently own my second GS, a Multi-Strada S and various other euro-trash stereotype bikes. If I'm running errands around town or going on a 2500 mile trip, the GS is my obvious choice. I can load it down, it's very maneuverable, extremely dependable and it's a comfortable riding at high rates of speed or burning up miles of fire-road type situations. I wouldn't dream of riding my Multi-Strada on a gravel road or through a stream, it's not happening. The GS looks fantastic dusty and caked with mud or clean with the tires blacked. Years ago I would have bought the Tenere, but now I realize there's another dimension of bikes that I enjoy. If you are cash strapped, this isn't something to be ashamed of, but accept it, grow from it and go to the Tenere forum and stroke yourself with the rest of your comrades.:dizave
    Personally, I'm not here to drink your cool aid, so move on!!
    BTW, 93K on 1150 GS with no problems. 12K on '09 1200GS with no problems. The only problem I have at the moment is a desire to get a new GS when they hit the floor.
    #58
  19. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    Ambitious first post, I must say.
    You'll like it here, I think.

    [TaSK]
    #59
  20. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    rdcyclist, I'll be back in norcal in late july/hang out just north of the GG Bridge. We should meet for coffee somewhere!
    Bovine Bakery or any place you like. Your right about my next bike...it will be a 12GS till I get too old to climb aboard.:D
    #60