R1200GS Forum banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
243 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
761 Posts
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.
 

·
Senile Member on 2006 GS
Joined
·
263 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
132 Posts
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.

:smile2:

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..).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
288 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
243 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
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.
 

·
Senile Member on 2006 GS
Joined
·
263 Posts
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. :wink2: 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...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
243 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
So far so good..

I appreciate hearing the truth on what items are failing and the fix. I went into this purchase (2017 GS) tentatively knowing that the reliability was questionable. I had the Ducati experience (2011 Multistrada) and that was costly and time consuming so that went away. Then I went into FJR land for a few years and of course never had a problem. 1 year and 9k miles on this GS and so far so good. No issues. It is a great motorcycle when everything is working. Really hard to beat and while I know the Africa Twin is probably going to be trouble free it's just not the same bike. Tenere is too big and heavy and the KTM's are too tall and chain driven. If Honda had made that VFR 1200 a bit more compact that would have gotten a strong look. The GS ticks all the boxes for my current riding needs. I'll hope for the best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Actually if I had to choose another current large displacement ADV bike it would be the new VStrom 1000. Really nice bike for the money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
I have owned two GS LCs and have ridden three others all over Europe and the UK.

No problems, whatsoever.

YMMV
 

·
Survivor
Joined
·
682 Posts
I’m on the 11th BMW since 1980 and have four in my shop now. The newest are a 2017 GSA with 15,000 miles and Spousal Unit’s GS with 5,000 miles. We had our first failure ever that caused a disruption to our travel plans last week. While it was a PITA it took a tech less than an hour to fix with a software adjustment. Finding the correct tech was the painful part.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
761 Posts
So Far

A little over 60K miles. Starter motor started hanging and replaced under extended warranty along with LED headlight. Those two repairs didn't stop me from riding, but cost $2600 (warranty).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
190 Posts
I’m on the 11th BMW since 1980 and have four in my shop now. The newest are a 2017 GSA with 15,000 miles and Spousal Unit’s GS with 5,000 miles. We had our first failure ever that caused a disruption to our travel plans last week. While it was a PITA it took a tech less than an hour to fix with a software adjustment. Finding the correct tech was the painful part.

4 bmw bikes over 24 years. Ill take my latest near round world. Ill offer my thoughts on BMW quality.

Between dropping it off a cliff and leaving it shiny garaged, is riding with the expectation it will fail as all vibrating machines do. Ride it more aggressively and it will fail more often.

It’s a BMW not a Lexus. So the brand isn’t known for ultimate reliability but I’ve had only a few issues in 23 years. Honda Yamaha less so but they’re not going off road.

I bought this and sold my 911 because I don’t mind rolling this and using the handle bars to spin it so I can lift it. Dirty and scuffed it looks fine, maybe better.

Most importantly though for this discussion is the realization that different mechanics make a huge difference to quality. Firstly, the RSD changes every year eery model and some mechanics earned their stripes on other machines other models or not at all. Initial set up can vary widely in terms of quality and those variances compound over the initial years. If never rectified then they contribute to perceived “lemons”. Routine matenance also varies. I’ve had lose bits and bits left off in routine maintenance. Also contributes to reliability.

So I’d choose very very carefully who manages your machine if not you.

Watch the professional and semi professional tourers. Even then there’s lots of maintenance. So if you’re expecting a few tips expect a few issues. But mostly have fun and roll w the punches.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
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.
Honour bound? I would rather say you are very frustrated and wanted to vent!
You purchased three of them, so the issues mustn't be so bad.

I understand that you had some negative experiences with your bikes and you have lost your patience. But to generalise? That's a bit rough.

Why don't you just sell the GS and purchase a light and reliable Japanese bike? I wouldn't touch a KTM, as you might get similar issues.
But you won't find all the electronic adjustments that you'll find on a BMW (or Aprillia and Ducati), as the Japanese don't make fancy. They make reliable and boring.
Of course that is not always true, as I had very many issues with Japanese cars and I have owned a few.

It very often comes down to the dealership and how well they work on your particular vehicle, as mentioned before.
Sometimes there are electronic gremlins, as it happened to somebody I ride with, but it seems fixed now.

BMW GS are the best selling Adventure bike worldwide and they have sold over 500,000 units in over 30 years. They have pushed all the others to come up to a very high standard.

I am not saying they are more reliable than any other brand, but it is unfortunately very true that more modern vehicles fail more often.
The simpler the tech the more reliable the vehicles are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
how did you get the tank opened. I has similar issue with my ducati and the bike could not be started with key,luckily for ducati you have a back up where you can start the bike with password and the tank opening is by key. so no worries there. i had asked the similar q with BMW and they showed me a plastic key which had to be moved above the rear tyre to start, will this help to open the tank
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
how did you get the tank opened. I has similar issue with my ducati and the bike could not be started with key,luckily for ducati you have a back up where you can start the bike with password and the tank opening is by key. so no worries there. i had asked the similar q with BMW and they showed me a plastic key which had to be moved above the rear tyre to start, will this help to open the tank
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
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.
Thanks. I had 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2015 GS and every one of them except the 2015 had rear end bearing failures at around 30 K miles; none covered under warranty. Otherwise minor issues, yet if you want reliability, Japanese made bike are much better in that area.Hugues
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top