Troublesome! - BMW R1200GS Forum : R1200 GS Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 13-Jun-2018, 03:51 AM (368) Thread Starter
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Troublesome!

I have owned three BMW R1200GS'. They all have been troublesome. Just about tolerable when still covered by the warranty but totally unreasonable when not. A US survey of the 10 major manufacturers put BMW, unsurprisingly, at 9th.

It's important never to confuse a quality/prestigious product with reliability. After all it's generally accepted that Mercedes Benz cars are considerably more troublesome than Toyota!

Major things that have gone wrong -
Cruise control switch replaced (4 times on two bikes)
Rear shock failing on two bikes. The last one would have cost 2000 out of warranty.
Two new master cylinder.
Gearbox seal replacement, requiring the rear of the bike to be removed.

By comparison in the nineties and 0s I owned four Honda VFR750/800s. Did well over 100,000 miles on them and only two things went wrong. A loose bolt under the seat and a rear shock that had a oil leak. That's it!!!

There is a moral here, which sadly I have taken far too long to take on board.

This is not the type of thread you probably expect on a BMW forum but I feel honour bound to share my experience but I guess it will be removed fairly quickly.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 13-Jun-2018, 05:00 AM (416)
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I hear you. I haven't yet had any major issues, hoping that will last, but lately a little worried about some rattling engine noise under load (will investigate - it's another post). But even little things don't seem that reliable, and the cost of any spare part is just a complete joke. Something I had underestimated when buying it. I wonder what would that bike cost if bought in spare parts (excluding labour). I know any bike is expensive, but I am confident BMW is amongst the highest prices for parts.
Same experience as you with the old hondas, the only things I broke on those were from user error. And the mechanics are friendly and don't charge you a packet at every possible occasion. I actually feel listened to and respected in japanese dealerships.
I love the GS for all of its qualities, and we all recognize them, but I'm not going to be as patient as you have been. If it keeps running trouble free, great. But on the first occurrence of a major problem I'll fix it, flog it, and get an Africa Twin.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 13-Jun-2018, 06:51 AM (493)
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BMW Cars have way worse on repairs after warranty expires. Luckily my 2014 has been pretty reliable at 60K miles. Starter motor $600 and headlight $2000 covered under extended warranty. I had a 1987 BMW K bike and it never gave me a problem at 65K miles.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 13-Jun-2018, 10:49 AM (659)
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I bought my GS, a 2006 that turned 50K on the way home from the dealer, two-and-a-half years and 16K miles ago. At the time, I of course just assumed that Beemers were pretty much indestructible and eternal. Then, once I had the bike, I started hearing the horror stories...

So far, the most I've dealt with is the minor inconvenience of a bike whose designers really didn't think too much about routine maintenance (in particular, the whizzy brakes and the drain-plug-less FD), and one spell of erratic operation from the starter-clutch-neutral interlock system (which seems to have been fixed by tightening a loose set screw on the switch and re-introducing the gear position potentiometer to the computer).

I found some raw data (the "GS registry" online) and did a bit of statistical analysis over the last winter, concluding that, well, the odds are about 75% that I will ride this bike to 100K miles without a major failure, which is not bad. Probably as good as any other bike I've owned. The other thing that seemed to pop out in the registry data (though it could just be the result of a sample skewed toward relatively low-mileage bikes) is that most of the failures were infant mortality. So perhaps, by buying a bike that was ten years and 50K miles old, I can rest assured that I have no parts that were defective from the manufacturer. I hope.

I have said this will probably be my only BMW, for the simple reasons that if it's as durable as people say they are, I will probably never need to replace it; and if it's not that durable, then I'd probably replace it with something else anyway.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 13-Jun-2018, 11:37 PM (192)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boringoldfart View Post
I have owned three BMW R1200GS'. They all have been troublesome. Just about tolerable when still covered by the warranty but totally unreasonable when not. A US survey of the 10 major manufacturers put BMW, unsurprisingly, at 9th.

It's important never to confuse a quality/prestigious product with reliability. After all it's generally accepted that Mercedes Benz cars are considerably more troublesome than Toyota!

Major things that have gone wrong -
Cruise control switch replaced (4 times on two bikes)
Rear shock failing on two bikes. The last one would have cost 2000 out of warranty.
Two new master cylinder.
Gearbox seal replacement, requiring the rear of the bike to be removed.

By comparison in the nineties and 0s I owned four Honda VFR750/800s. Did well over 100,000 miles on them and only two things went wrong. A loose bolt under the seat and a rear shock that had a oil leak. That's it!!!

There is a moral here, which sadly I have taken far too long to take on board.

This is not the type of thread you probably expect on a BMW forum but I feel honour bound to share my experience but I guess it will be removed fairly quickly.

Possible reasons for your problems are:

Cruise control switch replaced (4 times on two bikes) - You are becoming more and more clumsy
Rear shock failing on two bikes. The last one would have cost 2000 out of warranty. - You are becoming overweight
Two new master cylinder. - You do not know how to brake properly
Gearbox seal replacement, requiring the rear of the bike to be removed. - You do not know how to shift gears properly.



But seriously, here is my 2 cents,

BMW products are different from say, Toyota or Honda in that they are more performance oriented. Honda could have its six-cylinder engine produce much more power. They decided they want reliability instead. It is like that with every other motorcycle part. Every time one pushes things to the limit, reliability suffers.

Plus I am not sure if in BMW they have serious "zero defect" goals for parts they are manufacturing themselves or receiving from outside, and Kaizen, philosophy of continual improvement etc...

Those Japanese invented manufacturing procedures and philosophies are more difficult to adopt today when product models change so rapidly. Every few years motorcycles are completely changed (new or modified engine etc...). Basically, there is no time for reliability improvement of motorcycle parts. They would have to be perfect from day one. Everybody puts too much emphasis on performance nowadays, because it is the primary selling point for products like motorcycles (and their different parts - say Brembo brakes, shocks, switches etc..).

Last edited by BMW; 13-Jun-2018 at 11:40 PM (194).
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 16-Jun-2018, 01:34 AM (274)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boringoldfart View Post

Major things that have gone wrong -
Cruise control switch replaced (4 times on two bikes)
Rear shock failing on two bikes. The last one would have cost 2000 out of warranty.
Two new master cylinder.
Gearbox seal replacement, requiring the rear of the bike to be removed.

This is not the type of thread you probably expect on a BMW forum but I feel honour bound to share my experience but I guess it will be removed fairly quickly.
Phew! That's a pretty bad run you've had. Lots of information not in your post though, eg new or used bikes? Serviced /repaired properly? Dodgy dealer? Riding conditions?
I take your point though.
My real curiosity though, lies in your last sentence - why would your post be removed? Many many critical posts about the bikes here. The forum isn't owned by BMW and many of us have had some degree of frustration about the bikes at some point. If anything, our posts can, and no doubt do, make their way to the Bayern and instigate improvements in current and future production runs.
Hope you sort everything and are able to enjoy the bike.
Greg
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 16-Jun-2018, 09:22 AM (599) Thread Starter
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I was prompted to write such a negative thread because of what happened this week.

On Tuesday I called into my local BMW dealer because I had a developing brake issue. On startup I can nearly pull the front brake lever back to the handlebar. On the first pull it gets better and the second pull it's fairly normal. Not ideal. My dealer checked it out and thought it needed a new master cylinder, a replacement was then ordered.

I then went for a ride. On a particularly bumpy road I decided to experiment by stopping and setting the suspension to maximum. In the process the suspension fault warning light appeared and although the display showed AUTO it was obviously set at MAX and adjustment was no longer available. Bugger! So back to the dealer. Fortunately it wasn't too serious, the dealer did a 'reset' .

Sadly, considering all the pervious issues, that was the day that I became disillusioned with my GS.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 17-Jun-2018, 05:29 AM (436)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boringoldfart View Post
I was prompted to write such a negative thread because of what happened this week.

On Tuesday I called into my local BMW dealer because I had a developing brake issue. On startup I can nearly pull the front brake lever back to the handlebar. On the first pull it gets better and the second pull it's fairly normal. Not ideal. My dealer checked it out and thought it needed a new master cylinder, a replacement was then ordered.

I then went for a ride. On a particularly bumpy road I decided to experiment by stopping and setting the suspension to maximum. In the process the suspension fault warning light appeared and although the display showed AUTO it was obviously set at MAX and adjustment was no longer available. Bugger! So back to the dealer. Fortunately it wasn't too serious, the dealer did a 'reset' .

Sadly, considering all the pervious issues, that was the day that I became disillusioned with my GS.
Re the brakes, your problem is obvious: somebody snuck into your garage at night and replaced your Brembo/BMW calipers with ones off an old Harley. My '04 Road King has exactly that behavior, though on the Harleys it seems to be caused by caliper pistons not moving their rest position out as pads and rotors wear. Fortunately, "resetting" the pistons (by pulling the calipers, cleaning the pistons, and forcing them to the full-retracted position--the same thing I have to do when doing a fluid flush on my GS) cures the problem for about a year's worth of riding.

I thought of this when you mentioned the suspension problem that could be cured by doing a "reset." A lot of things on newer machines (not just bikes) seem to be that way. Especially anything with software complicated enough to require an "operating system" or be capable of displaying fault codes. There's a reason (in addition to maybe selling you upgraded features later on) that vehicle control software is now kept in flash storage rather than permanently written memory: it is just about mathematically impossible to make software of non-trivial complexity without including at least a few errors. Hence the ability to do updates. But since fixing errors is expensive (and carries the risk of introducing new errors), it's often better for the manufacturer (and in all fairness, for the customer) to not fix problems that occur infrequently and can be "fixed" by doing some form of reset.

Just all part of the new technological world we live in... Of course, if you had a primitive old Hexhead like I do, you wouldn't have this problem. You also wouldn't be able to change suspension settings on the fly, though...
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 17-Jun-2018, 10:53 AM (662) Thread Starter
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Many thanks for all the responses. The advice and particularly the humour is much appreciated.

For all it's reliability issues the GS is a brilliant motorcycle. Ticks all the boxes except the aforementioned one.

Such a shame.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 17-Jun-2018, 07:31 PM (022)
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Originally Posted by Boringoldfart View Post
Many thanks for all the responses. The advice and particularly the humour is much appreciated.

For all it's reliability issues the GS is a brilliant motorcycle. Ticks all the boxes except the aforementioned one.

Such a shame.
Boring my 18 GSA did the same thing with the suspension.....rode out after a service and software update, about 30 kms into the ride stuck in traffic, temp crept up to 100C plus and the error for the suspension came in!
Parked the bike waited for a few minutes and it was gone.
No adjustment was possible when the error was showing.
When I paid the deposit for this bike I had made up and primed my mind that such stuff is going to happen where so many electronics are involved.....after a first hand experience riding the Himalayas in 2016.
My buddy on his brand new GSA, height about 16000 feet, cold as hell, the last gas station where you have to fill up and bingo his keyless cap wouldnt open.....took an hour to sort that out.
Next day crossing a waterbody and his instrument display goes blank, bike starts missing and a bunch of random stuff.
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