BMW R1200R Motorcycle Problems

Hi folks, this post is not related to audio in any way. Rather, it’s a summary of some recent problems I’ve had with my 2009 BMW R1200R motorcycle.

The BMW R1200R is a superb bike in every respect and a joy to ride and work on. I’ve owned more than 15 bikes over the years and this one is my pick in terms of being fun to ride, having gobs of torque, killer one finger brakes, almost no dive under braking, awesome handling, great range and fuel economy and the list goes on.

R1200R Issues…

The bike has had a couple of issues though and these seem to be common to this model. I felt that I should write about these issues in the hope that it might help someone else.

The first is a real safety related issue. The rear wheel carrier that holds the rear wheel to the final drive is known to crack, in the threaded sections that contain the bolts that hold the wheel on. Mine did, and it looks scary bad when you first see it!

You think this is scary, look at the next image…
Crazy isn’t it. This happens on almost every one of these bikes and others that use the same parts, like the GS offroaders.
I wonder how long it would have taken for my wheel to fall off…

I think you’ll agree, this looks bad, and it is. I contacted BMW here in Perth about this issue and they in turn spoke to BMW Australia. I took these images and made this video which also went to BMW Australia. They finally agreed to replace this part under extended warranty, because it is a safety issue. Shortly after they agreed to do this there was a worldwide safety campaign announced by BMW to replace this part on affected bikes.

Leaky Rear Diff

The second issue also relates to the rear end. On my bike, oil had started to leak out of the crown gear seal area. Why we checked the area in more detail, it turned out that the bearings in the final drive were worn, allowing excessive free play to develop which in turn allowed oil to escape past the seals.

Just look at that leaky seal baby! Obviously this has to be fixed, but BMW arent paying for it. Bastards!

I also asked BMW Australia to fix this as it is a very common problem and because my bike has been looked after by me in the most fastidious and careful way possible and strictly according to the factory service data. Nevertheless, BMW would not come to the party about this and to my great disappointment I had to shell out $800 for the new parts for a final drive rebuild. The work was carried out, not very carefully, by Auto Classic, the BMW dealer here in Perth and the place my bike was originally purchased from.

Shonky Workmanship

Unfortunately the guys at Auto Classic didn’t take the best care of my bike. Nor did they repair the final drive according to the BMW factory service procedure. What they in fact did was to leave the final drive in my bike, and whack the new bearing in sideways while the diff was in the bike.

I can’t imagine how bad this was for the rear end of the bike to receive those weird sideways loadings from having a bearing drifted in. The side effect of this was that the retard who did this damaged the area around the plastic trim ring, because of doing the work in this non-factory way. There is a special jig designed to work on the final drive out of the bike, but they didn’t use it. The damage can be seen in the pic  below.

This really pissed me off. Look at the chipped paint all the way around the edge of the black plastic trim piece. Some moron did this and then “couldn’t remember how it happened.” Convenient memory lapse there.

Anyway, they also put a great big rubber boot burn mark on my spotless titanium exhaust and lets just say I was less than happy. Those who know how I work on electronics or cars and bikes will know how I view crude and careless work like this. I took it up with the head mechanic there and he was very apologetic. They asked me to bring the bike back in so that they could have the paint repair look at it, and touch it up. They had the bike for a few days and they did touch it up.

Loose Bearings

The real problem was that there was still a heap of bearing free play in that rear wheel, even after the rebuild. It was clicking when you tried to wobble the wheel at the top and bottom and there was also some wobble in the pivot bearing, where there had been none before.

I took this up with the head mechanic again and told him how unhappy I was with the whole process and at spending nearly a grand to still have a wobbly rear wheel. He was very good about this and offered to do the job again, personally, and with the diff off the bike, as per the factory service procedure. This of course would be at no cost to me. In addition, as a gesture of goodwill, they offered to inspect and replace the pivot bearings, in case they damaged them when bashing – no wait, drifting one of the new bearings into place.

So, I took the bike back a third time, they had it for three more days and they rebuilt the diff again, and the pivot bearing assembly, which took them some time apparently, due to a stuck pin. This time they obviously took better care of my bike. They weren’t able to remove the burn mark from some careless mechanics boot, but they did replace the bearings and seals in the diff, and the pivot bearings, checked the crown and pinion gear backlash and reassembled and tested the thing properly. It seems OK for now, but I will be keeping a very careful eye on this final drive and any sign of trouble and she will be going straight back!

Bad Fuel Pumps

The last issue I want to talk about with these bikes is another factory recall item, this time for the fuel pump. I got off my bike one day and could smell fuel. I looked down and saw fuel pissing out of somewhere hidden deep under the tank. I just figured that I would pull the taken and find a loose connector or hose. What I found when I pulled the tank was amazing.

The outlet from the fuel pump, a lovely high pressure, quick release racing fitting, was leaking fuel at quite a rate. I could see a hex fitting that emerged from this fuel pump assembly, so I tried to see if it was loose, by gently testing it with a spanner. To my amazement it simply sheared off, with almost no force applied! I was left with what you see below.

Here we have the fuel pup as it sits attached to the tank. Note the white protrusion near the middle – a fuel hose and fitting is meant to be attached to this point!
And here is the offending piece, it just snapped off! There is no way to repair this, it is toast, along with the fuel pump.

You can no doubt imagine my surprise when this part snapped off. I rang a BMW mechanic friend of mine who told me that this was common and that it is a factory recall item. This was very helpful as it gave me some hope. He told me to ring Auto Classic, the local BMW dealer, which I did. They were very responsive and told me they would fit a brand new fuel pump assembly redesigned not to break like this, at no charge to me, if I brought the tank in to them, which I did.

Luckily this problem was fixed without too much drama, although even on this repair they caused some damage to the bottom of the tank, where it must have sat on a concrete floor.

6 thoughts on “BMW R1200R Motorcycle Problems”

  1. hey hey.
    Very Interesting. I’m campaigning a 2007RT and a 1983 R100RS (fully rebuilt)………………I’m drinking the same Kool-Aid.
    Thorsten Fritz does the work on my Bike. Ive delt with “Classics for years”………only when neccessary.
    Vince Radice is my Airhead Wizard.
    BMW’s will not tolerate indifferent servicing.

    1. Hi James, yes they are essentially great bikes, but the later models are let down by some really disappointing engineering decisions in terms of materials choices and quality. Thorsten is great and a fantastic guy. He gave me lots of advice about how to deal with BMW over the lastest failure of both throttle bodies – I’ve yet to make a video or post about this, but will do so soon. I do all my own servicing to ridiculous standards of precision, but sadly even that has not been enough to save my bike from repeated parts quality and design related failures.

  2. Shaftie owner here (not bmw) the oil change intervals for these things are too far apart i think. My final drive oil was black when i drained it at 25k after noticing the casing getting quite hot.

    Temps are noticeably lower after new oil. Do it every other service now 10k


    1. Agreed, I change mine with gearbox oil every 10,000km. BMW originally set out the oil as not needing to be changed. They obviously changed their minds when the warranty claims came flooding in…!

  3. I have a R1100R 1994 and have had similar experiences with BMW “specialists” I decided early in the life of my bike that I was going to train myself to do all servicing and simple repairs. So far I have had only one mechanic put a spanner on the bike, to replace leaking seals in the front forks. This was done well, and I would use the same mechanic if I needed a complex job. So far, at 177,000 km all good.

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