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R1200RT Final Drive Failure


Jones

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OK, The final drive went out on my Vulcan 750 and left me on the side of the road. $1500 to fix it they said but they did it under warranty after I raised Cain over the deal. That sucked big. Now are you guys telling me that my new R1200RT is gonna shell the rear-end?? Please tell me this is a really rare thing.

 

Problem with older models?? Redesign of the new ones?? FAILURE of a high profile Iron-Butt bike?? Egads.

 

So, just what is gonna happen? Is it gonna be a gentle bummer failure or a flaming wreckage and body parts on the highway kind of thing? Will I be able to be buried in the side-cases or is the tank-bag big enough?

 

I love the bike. I guess I'll just ride it and walk toward the light. I just need to know if I need to quit putting money in the 401(k) and spend it on farkels because I'm gonna cash out on some Arkansas twisties when the rear wheel locks.

 

After everything I've been through, going out on a flaming RT flying over a 1500 foot cliff sounds kinda neat.

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Please tell me this is a really rare thing.
This is a really rare thing.
So, just what is gonna happen? Is it gonna be a gentle bummer failure or a flaming wreckage and body parts on the highway kind of thing?
Usually failure is predicated by a sign of a leak and/or the FD getting noisy, rough sounding. I'd don't think I've ever head of a catastrophic lock up on failure, or the read wheel falling off, or anything like that. It's usually just a cumulative bearing failure, then the seal gets jacked and they start to leak. Now if someone is crazy enough to ride a leaking one and gear lube gets all over the tire, well all bets are off.

 

As is usually the case, it's easy to get a distorted view by reading of high profile failures. Here or elsewhere on the net. Many, many FDs in all BMW bike series go 100s of 1000s of miles/km with no issues.

 

Relax, ride, enjoy.

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Exactly what Ken said. Don't forget, you are getting a pretty skewed sample when you use these forums. A large fraction of the threads are posted because people are having problems with their bikes. Only occasionally is there a post with the objective of discussing how great or reliable a machine has been.

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What is "rare" and what is "really rare"? I'd say getting struck by lightning is really rare, and being in a car accident is rare. Based on posts on this and other forums, and my own observances, I'd say that final drive failure is rare, or at the worst uncommon.

 

This summer a riding companion had the FD on his R1200GS replaced in Anchorage. No comments from the tech that they'd "never seen one of those before". The bike made it from Whitehorse (where we first noticed the problem) to Anchorage under its own power, and the FD was replaced under warranty. I doubt that the average Honda dealer keeps Gold Wing final drives in stock, but then they probably don't need to.

 

If you add up all the "rare" problems that these bikes have - input shaft/clutch hub splines, fuel pump, ABS unit, final drives - you may get into "uncommon" territory. I'm glad I got an extended warranty.

Peter '73 R75/5, '04 R1150RA

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Something that I don't understand. I have a Toyota 4 runner with 72k and have not been in the dealership since I drove it out. I'm sure there are others that have had trouble but I have three friends at work that also have 4 runners with no problems.

 

What's up with motorcycles? Why can't they get the engineering right? Easy to sell motorcycles so they don't have to? Seems like a rear seal would be easy to engineer?

 

Hmmmm.......

 

Gael

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I agree, with cars they seem so durable and bikes so fickle. Why is it that BMW can make a car that redlines at 8000 rpm and has valves that never need adjusting but on their bikes they say every 6000 miles the valves need checking and possible adjustment. I believe this is done to bring revenue into the dealership, more than a need for this type of service.

I always thought that shaft drive was a good way to go until I started reading these BMW forums, seems to me that with all the breakdowns nobody is riding. How do you account for the fact that BMW bikes log on average more miles per year than other brands if they are always in the repair shop?

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I agree, with cars they seem so durable and bikes so fickle. Why is it that BMW can make a car that redlines at 8000 rpm and has valves that never need adjusting but on their bikes they say every 6000 miles the valves need checking and possible adjustment. I believe this is done to bring revenue into the dealership, more than a need for this type of service.

 

A $90k M5 with a 500hp V-10 is a way different beast than a $20k air-cooled boxer with two fat pistons.

 

How do you account for the fact that BMW bikes log on average more miles per year than other brands if they are always in the repair shop?

 

Maybe because so many other bikes are too uncomfortable to ride over long distances. The GoldWing is an exception, and a very reliable (if imperfect) shaft drive bike.

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I have a Toyota 4 runner with 72k and have not been in the dealership since I drove it out

 

I have a 6 year old lawnmower that has never needed a repair but I wouldn't think of comparing it to my motorcycle. confused.gif

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Funny thing about the internet. A couple of people may have a failure and they (or maybe others that have "heard" about it) will post it on a forum. Next thing you know it's posted on several forums and now you have thousands of people talking about "I heard about this guy that....".

 

You get the idea. dopeslap.gif

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Funny thing about the internet. A couple of people may have a failure and they

 

Often that "couple of people" may each post about their failure once a month for years. If you don't keep track of the names you may think they represent lots of different people reporting lots of failures.

 

The above isn't intended to deny that BMW has had too many failures of the final drives, and splines. Any is too many if it happens to you.

 

For the record my '02 RT hasn't been in the shop for the last 91,000 miles. And that proves exacly nothing (since I do all of my own work). More importantly it has never had a serious problem to date. Also not proving much, other than some people have all the luck. smile.gif

 

Hey guys / gals, it's a machine. Ride it long enough, hard enough, and it will break. The real question is how often is too often for you.

 

Stan

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The bike made it from Whitehorse (where we first noticed the problem) to Anchorage under its own power, and the FD was replaced under warranty. I doubt that the average Honda dealer keeps Gold Wing final drives in stock, but then they probably don't need to.

 

I doubt very seriously Don keeps FD in stock. I worked there a few years back and I can tell you that stock is minimal; except tires during the riding season. They do a lot of "overnight" shipping. They have been known to cannibalize a new bike for an "emergency repair" but very rare. They DO cater to the traveling motorcyclist, especially BMW's. Good people, great techs, good service.

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I agree, with cars they seem so durable and bikes so fickle. Why is it that BMW can make a car that redlines at 8000 rpm and has valves that never need adjusting but on their bikes they say every 6000 miles the valves need checking and possible adjustment.
I hate to break the news, but have you looked at reliability data on BMW cars these days? It's right down there in the dumper with Mercedes. frown.gif
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At the risk of beating a dead horse, looking at the stats of the 1993, 1997 and 1999 IBR's, Honda riders averaged 110819 miles between mechanical failures that put them out of the rally. BMW riders averaged only 39496 miles between mechanical failures. (Yamahas were second most reliable, but a total of only 8 started those three years.) But the majority of the BMW failures were related to their suspensions. Transmission failures were second most common, followed by electrical failures.

 

To be fair, at least one BMW rider, and there were probably more, insisted upon riding a much older bike.

 

Nonetheless, Honda riders were 98% likely to finish the rally if they did not fail due to rider error. For BMW it was 87%.

 

The lowest: Kawasaki with only 15215 miles between catastrophic failures. But their numbers in the rallies are really small.

 

I would wager that the average miles to transmission/drive-line failures in automobiles is far higher. Some may argue whether it's even reasonable to ask that a motorcycle be as reliable as the typical automobile. To them I say, Why not? While it's true that size and weight are more critical in motorcycle design, they have far fewer parts than cars or trucks.

 

Some rainy day I'll dig into the later years for a better representation of the relative reliability of more modern bikes.

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I hate to break the news, but have you looked at reliability data on BMW cars these days? It's right down there in the dumper with Mercedes. frown.gif

 

The 3 series reliability has been not bad over the years. All the rest are awful. I'll be curious about how well the new 1 series small BMWs will do next year. /hijack

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Let's face it, as in the auto world, Japanese reliability is superior to German. They simply have better engineers, better quality control, and often are more customer oriented. That said, I drive a MB, a Porsche, and a R12RT. Guess that says that my purchase decisions are not simply driven by relatively small reliability differences, but by handling, etc....

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Sorry- but I must disagree with max... Japanese engineers are not better then German engineers... the difference is Management. Management generally gets what it wants. If German managers insisted on quality and better engineering they would have it.

 

If you begin with the idea that you are superior and that you have few faults you will overlook some things and under invest in certain things too.

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Sorry- but I must disagree with max... Japanese engineers are not better then German engineers... the difference is Management. Management generally gets what it wants. If German managers insisted on quality and better engineering they would have it.

 

If you begin with the idea that you are superior and that you have few faults you will overlook some things and under invest in certain things too.

I agree. I don't think German's or Japanese engineers are smarter or better than American Engineers. It's a management issue. Engineers do what they're told to do.
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I don't think German's or Japanese engineers are smarter or better than American Engineers. It's a management issue. Engineers do what they're told to do.

 

The trend began when American "widget" companies started making the accountants CEO's instead of the people who knew how to make the widgets. No offense to accountants (hey I married one), but the result is a lot of businesses who's primary mission is to make great money, not great widgets.

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Well, don't blame the managers, blame the shareholders, the 401k owners and pension funds, and little old ladies who own the stock...

and...

 

We fire the CEO's who can't "produce"... but we go to Wal-Mart to buy the cheapest stuff we can... etc.

 

Its complex

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Don't forget to eliminate the skilled Union workforce that produce the superior quality widget and replace the workers with cheaper unskilled workers, so you can then profit even more off the cheaper and inferior widget ignoring the customers safety and then blame the change on the people that made your company profit in the first place. Ain't that corporate America! Happy Labor Day. Brought to you along with the 40 hour work week by Union Labor.........

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I blame myself. If it wasn't for consumers like me who demand lighter and faster motorcycles BMW could have continued to produce tanks like they did in the 60's/70's. Admit it, would you buy a motorcycle that weighed 800lbs and produced 70hp? What kind of company could survive with that mentality?

 

 

Can you say Harley? lmao.gif

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I blame myself. If it wasn't for consumers like me who demand lighter and faster motorcycles BMW could have continued to produce tanks like they did in the 60's/70's. Admit it, would you buy a motorcycle that weighed 800lbs and produced 70hp? What kind of company could survive with that mentality?

 

 

Can you say Harley? lmao.gif

 

Sorry - my 70hp 1977 R100RS weighs 500lbs. Krauser bags maybe added 20 more. I don't know of -any- airhead that was 800lbs unless it had a sidecar attached confused.gif

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Please tell me this is a really rare thing.
This is a really rare thing.
So, just what is gonna happen? Is it gonna be a gentle bummer failure or a flaming wreckage and body parts on the highway kind of thing?
Usually failure is predicated by a sign of a leak and/or the FD getting noisy, rough sounding. I'd don't think I've ever head of a catastrophic lock up on failure, or the read wheel falling off, or anything like that. It's usually just a cumulative bearing failure, then the seal gets jacked and they start to leak. Now if someone is crazy enough to ride a leaking one and gear lube gets all over the tire, well all bets are off.

 

As is usually the case, it's easy to get a distorted view by reading of high profile failures. Here or elsewhere on the net. Many, many FDs in all BMW bike series go 100s of 1000s of miles/km with no issues.

 

Relax, ride, enjoy.

 

The BMWLT site has a survey. In it they asked what preceded the failure and whether there was any warning. Also what the failure was. A number of the answers are no warning, some say in retrospect they noticed a noise for about a 100 miles or so. Some say they definitely noticed a noise for a hundred miles, and stopped due to the noise. Some saw oil. Without going a back and counting I'd my sense was that most had minimal or no warning. Keep in mind these are almost all LTs.

 

As far as the failure itself, some reported wheel wobble and loss of control. Others reported fluid leak and loss of, or potential loss of, braking control.

 

There are enough response that I think it does give an accurate idea of the problem. The folks at BMWLT are treating it as a safety issue, although, so far as I know, no one has been hurt yet. I didn't see any reports of a wheel locking or of fire.

 

Here is a sample of responses to warning question:

 

139. Rumbling noises and vibration like out of balance wheel

138. None, found oil on rear brake and rotor, then radial (side to side) 1/8" movement and ABS no working

137. Grinding noise at time of failure.

136. NONE Just found shreads of bearing on drain plug magnet and in lube when I changed lube. Lube looked like metal flake paint.

135. rubbing/scrubbing sound at time of failure

134. Had the Oil analysis and was high in aluminum and iron. Tore it down and the taper roller bearing on the crown shaft was turning on the shaft.

133. Grinding when it happend - nothing before

132. No. First indication of failure was massive leaking of oil on rear wheel and tire, causing instability and reduced braking power.

131. sound and vibration like riding on "milled" surface, but highway was smooth.

130. This was a 200 miles trip, it started some vibration about 100 yards from home.

129. A few sharp strikes (like going over a 1 inch rock) just from the rear, followed by a decided shimmy of the rear like tire deflating. Got off on the side, by the time I got around bike waht was left of the lube oil was puddled around rear tire.

128. Oil seepage at boot cover

127. Roaring

126. NO - had only a slight grinding noise when pulling out. On the second time I pulled out, I had nothing.

125. I noticed an unusual road noise at speeds over 25 mph. Check final drive oil and it was very gray with small flecks on the drain plug magnet. Got it to dealer and they confirmed it was final drive.

124. Grinding with vibration

123. No None.

122. No.

121. wirring in finaly drive then wobbling

120. humming from rear of bike before

119. Noise in addition to normal gear whine especially at speed.

118. No warning, slowed for toll booth, as I started to accelerate the rear of the bike started "dancing" could have been disastrous had it happened at speed.

117. rubbing noise for 100 miles before

116. Speedo became very erratic, low whinning sound from rear end that became louder. No oil leaks. Flakes of metal in oil and rough feel when wheel spun. No side play in wheel.

115. yes. it sounded and felt as if the rear tire was worn (cupped). i had the tires changed with no change in the sound or handling. within 24 hrs. it was leaking oil and the sound change to a loud whine.

114. Grinding noise coming from rear, and vibration felt through handlebars.

113. Resonating vibration from rear wheel

112. Loss of rear brake effectiveness, rough noise like I was riding on the rim with a flat tire

111. Winding noise for about 100 miles and 50 miles of grinding noise.

110. No warning of failure

109. There was a very pronounced rhythmic sensation, not unlike expansion strips cause, but the road was smooth! This was just a few miles before it got really shaky and noisy. Just as a side note, I did notice something was not right when we started out that morning, but could not put a finger on the problem. Hindsight says that it was talking to me about 150 miles before it finally went, but I was not sure if it was the rear drive or my paranoia about just such a thing happening on our vacation!

108. slight vibration for about 100 mi. followed by slight "swerve" on acceleration once or twice in 20 mi, then severe wheel wobble and rapid stop

107. Vibration, a kind of thrum-thrum-thrum in footpegs. Thought it was a tire going bad. After a few more miles, it started feeling more mechanical, and when I spun wheel on centerstand it was tight and brake was dragging. I only rode far enough after I discovered it was mechanical to get to a phone. It never did leak any oil.

106. Increasing level of noise which sounded like a worn tire at first but got worse. Found oil leaking from unit when stopped and inspected.

105. FOUND BY DEALER - METAL IN DRIVE FLUID AND SOME NOISE

104. Yes, Vibration

103. Leak and flat tire feeling 9jumping up and down)

102. On reflection remember sometimes thinking rear was a bit noisy. On day it fell apart halfway thru 300km ride began to hear "cycling" gear noise. By the time we coaxed it home there was loud growling and rear wheel movement and oil dripping from rear casing.

101. Vibration and noise during preceeding 100 miles.

100. Grinding, Growling noise

 

 

Here is a sample of response to the what the failure is question:

 

110. seal failure caused by main bearing cage failing.

109. Bearing Failure

108. Bearing failed.

107. Final drive failure.

106. Only about 80 per cent of ball bearings remained. Only rear drive affected

105. Only part failed was the large grooved crown wheel ball bearing. Bearing was completely intact, but bearings had just begun to show wear and was just ever so slightly rough feeling when I rolled it in my hand after it was removed.

104. Bearing failure causing seal to dislodge

103. According to the technician, the retainer for the crown bearing failed, leading to failure of the seal, as well as internal parts. Significant metal found when draining final drive.

102. Large ball bearing failure, good seal

101. Crown Bearing F~6000 since the last failure

100. Crown Bearing Failed

99. Bearings in rear drive failed. felt like a flat tire, then herd grinding noise coming from the final drive. This is the second failure on this bike.

98. Rear end failed and oil spilled out.

97. Caught before failure

96. I heard a rythmic humm, pretty loud. Dissasembled before it failed.

95. seal was leaking and replaced under warranty at the 6000 svc.

94. bearing race semi-shredded, punctured seal

93. bearing failure

92. Found masses of metal shavings in rear end oil at major service.

91. unknown at this time, not been apart yet

90. bearing starting to crater, seal starting to get cut.

89. final drive

88. Unknown

87. Seal, leak

86. Keeper cage of large bearing failed at two bearing locations - trashed seal in process. No further damage.

85. no seal leakage, only a nasty looking bearing

84. Both final bearings and seals replaced.

83. bad crown bearing

82. Started with a slight vibration that progressively became worse and worse. ABS lights flashed on and off. Eventually vibrations became severe and had to pull over after getting out of a construction zone with no shoulder.

81. no leaks, humming noise in rear drive and vibration. Also felt slightly bad tracking of rear end.

80. noise, vibration, grinding when turning wheel by hand. (my 3rd drive failure)

79. seals leaking

78. entire rear drive assembly

77. right now noticeable slop and excessive brake wear

76. Rear crown bearing. Ball retainer broken in several pieces until some balls dropped out.

75. sounded like someone had thrown a box of rocks in a laundry dryer and turned it on, followed shortly by vibration and inability to hold bike up. Still at dealer and he has not opened it up yet to determine what mechanically failed.

74. Don't know -- hasn't been towed to the dealer yet

73. Loud noise as described above, but no oil leak until after I rode it 1/4 mile additional to get to a service station.

72. Grinding of bearings took out the main bearing and damaged pinion gears

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I have 6100 miles on mine and just dropped it off at Atlanta BMW with a failed rear drive. I noticed the rear drive was making noise and that the rear wheel was dirty when rolling the bike out of the garage. I thought it might have been loose lugs. After ensuring proper torque I knew I had a failed drive.

 

BMW of Atlanta was surprised by the failure and stated that they have never seen it on a bike with this low miles.

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OK, let me be fair. I did have two failures within about 33 days. However, that was almost 13k miles later in that span of time. BMW gave me absolutely no hassles about changing them out, either, and has told me that the new drive has an additional 2 year warranty. Good enough for me.

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OK, let me be fair. I did have two failures within about 33 days. However, that was almost 13k miles later in that span of time. BMW gave me absolutely no hassles about changing them out, either, and has told me that the new drive has an additional 2 year warranty. Good enough for me.

 

Just curious. Did each have the same type of failure? Mine failed on my RT in July -- it was splines on axle tube and fange, not bearings.

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