R1200GS Valve Adjustment


If you have better-than-average mechanical skills, adjusting the valves on an R1200GS is pretty easy and straightforward. Doing it yourself can save you time (my BMW dealer is 110 miles away), money, increases your "connection" with the bike, gives you a chance to look the bike over carefully, and gives you confidence that the job was done "right".

BMW recommends checking and adjustment of the valves "as necessary" every 6,000 miles (or 10,000 km). This page shows you how to do it.

Find a level, relatively clean and well-lit area to work in. I just roll my bike out into the driveway and put it on the centerstand, as my garage is pretty cluttered. It would be easier if the bike were on a work stand, raising it a couple feet off the ground, but I don't have one — I just sit or kneel a lot when doing the work.

I suggest using the toolkit you carry on the bike. The stock one is totally inadequate, so I have a page here showing how to build your own. That's my toolkit in the blue wrap next to the front wheel above.

I have the original Touratech crashbars, which I have to partially remove in order to get the valve covers off. I'll leave that step as an exercise for the reader and just continue with the actual valve adjustment.

Take care removing the black plastic cover shown in the photo above. It's easy to break. I put a couple wraps of duct tape around the end of a flat-blade screwdriver and carefully pry the fat piece out first.

Although early production models came with a plastic gizmo to pull the spark plug wire from the sparkplug (I'm not sure if newer models have one), I use this BMW tool which makes it foolproof. Pull the sparkplugs on both sides of the bike, and remove both valve covers.

You don't have to remove the plugs, but it makes it so much easier to find TDC that I highly suggest it — besides, you should be replacing the sparkplugs when you do the valve adjust. The recommended sparkplugs (both primary and secondary) are BMW part number 12 12 7 677 560 (Bosch YR5LDE).

The secondary sparkplugs are underneath the cylinders (see red rectangle in photo above).

After you've removed the valve covers, make sure the black rubber oil seal is still attached to the valve cover as shown in the photo above. Sometimes they stick to the cylinder head. If so, just pull it off and stick it back onto the valve cover.

You may notice that the valve cover bolts are "captured" by some collars near the threaded end. No worries, it just means the bolts stay in place when you remove the covers.

Now put the bike in 6th gear and using your hands, rotate the wheel to get the right cylinder to TDC (top-dead center). What you're looking for is a little arrow on the cam chain sprocket shown inside the red circle in the photo above to be pointing towards the sparkplug. If both intake and exhaust valves are not loose, then rotate the rear wheel again until the little arrow comes around again. The valves should then be loose.

Wipe your feeler gauges clean and insert them as shown above (.15mm/.006" on the intakes, .30mm/.012"on the exhausts). The photo above is of the right cylinder, so the intakes are on the left. The other side is the opposite, naturally. Put a 10mm wrench on the locking nut, and the 3mm Allen wrench on the adjuster.

My technique is to hold the Allen wrench firmly so it won't move, and loosen the locking nut 1/2 a turn. If I then position the Allen wrench as shown in the photo above (roughly a 45° angle), releasing it will cause it to "fall" just far enough to tighten the adjuster with the right amount of force (Thanks to ADVRider.com for that trick!).

Next, hold the Allen wrench firmly in place (rest part of your hand on the cylinder head) and tighten the 10mm locking nut. Repeat for the other intake valve, then both exhaust valves. Make sure you do all 4 valves together, as they affect one another.

When doing the left cylinder, you can find TDC by rotating the rear wheel until the cam chain sprocket on the right cylinder looks like the photo above. There is, of course, a cam chain sprocket on the left cylinder too, but it doesn't have a little arrow (though it does have a small hole, if you can see it).

Wrapping it up

Reassemble everything in the reverse order, carefully cleaning all the mating surfaces as you do so. Double-check that you fastened everything properly when you're done. Here are the correct torque values:

Valve covers (tighten in diagonally opposite sequence) 10 Nm (7 ft-lbs)
Spark Plugs (threads free of oil/grease) 23 Nm (17 ft-lbs)
Adjustment Lock Nuts 8 Nm (6 ft-lbs)

Next up, syncronizing the throttle bodies...

Copyright © 2006, by H. Marc Lewis. All rights reserved.