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BMW R1200R Motorcycle Problems

For something different, this post summarises problems I had with my expensive 2009 BMW R1200R motorcycle. Updated for 2019!

Make no mistake, the BMW R1200R ‘hex-head’ motorcycle is a superb bike in many important ways. My overall impressions are that it’s a joy to ride and a pleasure to work on. However, a collection of BMW R1200R problems, creating headaches like this, this and this, potentially ruin the enjoyment of owning this and other similar BMW models.

This article attempts to outline each major issue and the solution. Note that none of these problems alone is a deal-breaker if BMW fixes and pays for it, as they should. If you have to fix all this stuff yourself though and pay for it, as I did, it’s a major dealbreaker and ethically disgraceful. I hope this helps other owners and potential owners.

#BMWAustralia
#BMWMotorrad
#BMWMotorradaus
#BMWProblems

UPDATE! More coming soon including the throttle body pulley debacle.

BMW R1200R Problems

I’ve owned more than 15 bikes over the years and the R1200R is one of my favourites in terms of being fun to ride, having gobs of torque, one finger no-dive brakes, awesome handling, great range and fuel economy and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, with the good comes some real bad. BMW baked in some engineering and design goofs that cause serious and expensive problems for owners. These are annoying at best and extremely dangerous at worst.

Read on for a run-through of the major problems I’ve had with the bike, all of which ultimately contributed to my selling it. I’ve also made a couple of videos about these issues:

This next video documents one of the worst problems, a design flaw with the fuel tank that allows water to accumulate at the bottom of the filler assembly and rust out the tank.

Jump directly to read about this, or watch the video!

Rear Wheel Carrier Cracking

The first is really dangerous. The rear wheel carrier that holds the rear wheel to the final drive, breaks, potentially leading to the rear wheel falling off.

Cracks form in the threaded sections containing the bolts that hold the wheel on. It goes without saying that this is an appalling engineering goof.

You think this is scary, look at the next image…
I wonder how long it would have taken for my wheel to fall off…? This happens on almost every R1200R and others using the same parts. BMW claims its due to over-torquing the rear wheel bolts. Totally unacceptable.

I took these images and made a video which also went to BMW Australia. They finally agreed to replace this part under an extended warranty. Shortly after they agreed to do this, BMW announced a worldwide safety campaign to replace this part on ALL affected bikes.

Leaky Final Drive

The second issue also relates to the rear end. Oil started leaking out of the crown gear seal area on my bike. It turned out that the bearings in the final drive exhibited wear, creating too much movement for the seal to cope with, allowing the oil to escape.

Just look at that leaky seal. This has to be fixed, but BMW Australia wouldn’t even consider helping me. In the end, I had to pay for the repair, despite better than logbook maintenance.

This is a common problem and my bike had been looked after even more strictly than the service schedule requires. BMW offered no help, despite knowing about this problem and how well the bike had been maintained.

They made me pay $800 for the new parts for a final drive rebuild. Thanks, #BMWMotorradaus for your unethical, unhelpful attitude, every time I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with you.

Auto Classic, the BMW dealer here in Perth, fixed this issue but not the first time I took it in and not the way it should have been repaired.

Poor Workmanship

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 did was to leave the final drive in my bike and whack the new bearing in sideways with a hammer. Nice.

Naturally, using a hammer against alloy damaged the metal housing of the final drive. Who knew this might happen…? There is a special jig designed to work on the final drive, but they didn’t use it. The damage can be seen in the pic below.

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…

I took it up with the head mechanic and he was very apologetic. He asked me to bring the bike back in so that they could have the paint repair look at it, and touch it up.

Loose Bearings, New Part Numbers…

The real problem was that there was still a heap of bearing free play in the rear wheel, even after the rebuild. It was clicking when you grabbed the wheel top and bottom and moved it. There was also some wobble in the pivot bearing.

I again took this up with the head mechanic. He offered to do the job himself this time, with the diff off the bike, as per the factory service procedure, at no additional cost to me. In addition, as a gesture of goodwill, they offered to inspect and replace the pivot bearings, in case they damaged them during the previous repair.

The bike went back a third time. They had it for three more days and rebuilt the diff and the pivot bearing assembly. They replaced the bearings and seals in the diff, the pivot bearings, checked the crown and pinion gear backlash. They also repaired the cosmetic damage to the final drive housing, at my insistence.

So what’s the issue here? I think they stuffed up the repair the first time. But there is also a design issue, the evidence for which is the new part numbers for the improved bearings BMW now supply for this final drive. You don’t revise the part number unless you revise the part and you don’t revise a part there is nothing wrong with.

Leaking Fuel Pump Recall

There is also a factory recall for the fuel pump. After a ride, I got off my bike and could smell fuel. Looking down, I saw fuel escaping from somewhere hidden deep under the tank. I figured I’d pull the tank and find a loose connector or hose. What I actually found was amazing.

The fuel pump outlet, a high pressure, quick release fitting, was leaking fuel. I could see a hex fitting wet with fuel so I tried to see if it was loose, by gently testing it with a small spanner. To my amazement, it sheared off, with virtually no force applied! Check it out, the bike was unrideable again of course.

Here we have the fuel pump as it sits attached to the tank. Note the white protrusion near the middle – a fuel hose and fitting should be attached here!
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.

A BMW mechanic friend of mine told me that this was common and another factory recall item. Again, I rang Auto Classic who told me they would fit a brand new and redesigned fuel pump assembly, at no charge, if I brought the tank to them.

Luckily they fixed this problem without too much drama, but really, you can see just how tedious owning this bike became for a while.

R1200R Rusting Fuel Tank Problem

This one is one of the worst issues I had to deal with and sadly, many other owners have had this nightmare to deal with also.

You’ll hardly believe your eyes when you first see photos of just how bad this is. Check out some of these images on my own rusted fuel filler area before I repaired it. My jaw hit the flaw when I removed the filler for the first time.

I know what you’re thinking: how could anyone design something where this is even possible, let alone how did a team of German engineers achieve this…?
I know, I still shake my head when I see these images too.
Can you believe, I actually repaired all this, at least I did the best job I could with it at the time.
The repaired tank

I made a video about the fuel tank rusting problem and how I repaired my bike, check it out:

Can it Get Worse..?

Yep, sadly it can, in a way that tested my patience to the very end. BMW didn’t and does not care. More on this shortly…

I loved the bike, but in the end, my BMW R1200R problems and the appalling treatment I received from BMW Australia made me decide to sell the bike.

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

    Ed

    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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