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Worrying about & preventing overheating issues


Dans08

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First I'll say the BMW is the first air/oil cooled street bike I've owned. My previous bikes were water cooled.

 

I've read a lot of warnings about overheating and that the engine should not be allowed to sit and idle.

 

Is that a big concern? What can I expect if I'm riding and it's in the 80's and 90's and I'm sitting in stop and go traffic on the hiways? Can I expect overheating and at what point should I start to worry about over heating and cooking the oil?

 

Should I go though the trouble of adding a oil cooler fan because I do ride in these temps.

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Overheating in 80 or 90 degrees? Bwwwhaahaa.

 

Bring that thing out west and ride the deserts in 110+ and those are mild days.

 

Really, don't worry too much. Most of the concern is standing idle (garage with no air flow) when things get hot, usually effecting external plasic parts.

 

If in traffic and your bars peak out at the top for a longish duration and you can't move at all that's not too good.

 

Overall you won't experience that senario too often.

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You'll have no issues at all until triple-digit temps, and only then in heavy stop-and-go traffic (in which case even most water-cooled bikes I've owned have had trouble.)

 

Really, these bikes just aren't known for overheating. In most cases if you can take the heat they can.

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If this is the first air/oil cooled bike, it may also be the first dry clutch bike. I bet you'll need to address this issue more than engine temp. Avoid slipping the clutch. You'll smell it when you do. Gotta drive it like an old VW bug. Luckily the bike has plenty of torque and need not be slipped like hi rev fours like you might be used to.

 

Bob

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I don't let mine idle. It's probably not as much a problem on a oilhead but, I just don't. On the airheads somewhere I've read not to let them idle over a minute. U should see the looks I get at the signal from a police car watching for the orange. I do the same in stop and go traffic. If I'm on a down hill slope in stop and go traffic I just coast. I own a 1978 R80 and an 04RT.

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This kind of stuff is what I was hoping to hear.

Bob, your right, this is my first dry clutch. My Goldwings were wet clutch and slipping the clutch was no big deal. I'll have to remember not to slip the clutch on the RT.

 

Really, I have been worrying about riding this coming summer for fear of the bike overheating. I think it was in my manual that said to shut the bike off as soon as I stop to park because it is not good to let it idle. You guys gave me peace of mind, I no longer going to worry about it.

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Worry not.....!

Most of us Texas folks ride in 90 plus degree temps in the summer (even triple digits!) and never experience a problem. I do run synthetics (which helps with heat dissipation and can handle higher internal temps) but have only ever had the RID near the red bar once and that was when I was in IL. If you are concerned about commuting, check on your lane splitting laws (a great way to keep moving when the cagers are stuck in jams).

 

The main warning on heat is having the bike idle for LONG periods without any air circulation. e.g. Starting it up early in the a.m. and leaving it on high idle while you have breakfast, doing a TBS on a hot motor, without a fan blowing on it and having a beer break!

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Dan, BMW motorcycles never overheated until they put an oil temperature gauge on them.. Just don’t pay any attention to the oil temperature gauge & you won’t have any problems.. Remember the oil temp gauge shows the temperature of the oil leaving the engine just before it goes through the oil cooler not the temperature of the oil in the sump or going to the bearings.. The oil is used to cool the back of the cylinder heads so it had better be hot leaving the engine on a hot day or it isn’t picking up engine heat & taking it to the oil cooler..

 

Just listen to your engine when in stop & go traffic on a hot day,, as long as it sounds normal you are OK,, if that engine starts to get too hot it will start to sound very mechanical & rattly/noisy with lots of engine trashy noise..

 

Twisty

 

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my RID temp has only gone up 1 bar while sitting in stop/go in florida during the summer. don't waste the time worrying about overheating...too many other things to worry about like the idiot in the cage on your arse! have fun.

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Really, I have been worrying about riding this coming summer for fear of the bike overheating. I think it was in my manual that said to shut the bike off as soon as I stop to park because it is not good to let it idle. You guys gave me peace of mind, I no longer going to worry about it.

 

The warnings about not idling to excess concern the heat from the exhaust melting/burning plastic items, and apply most seriously to not idling with the fast idle lever up. The oil really takes quite a while to get above normal, and there is a lot of built in safety before the internals overheat. The exhaust and the external plastics (Including the oil window) are the things the warnings refer to, and then mostly in reference to not leaving the fast idle on. Not that you will need it, but, Good Luck!

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I've got a RT-P and never heard or seen the aux oil cooler fan come on in 5 years of ownership and 30,000 mi. Never seen the RID temp go up more than half either.

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Last summer on a 65 degree F evening, I did an experienced rider safety course. Towards the end of the evening, the temp guage was up on my 1100 RT and an 1150 RT doing the course. My guage was two bars from the top, and I could feel more heat than usual radiating from the bike.

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It's good to hear folks have no substantive issues with their Beemers getting hot. I have a 96 RT that it seems must get hotter than most when stopped. Winter or summer the oil temp generally does fine while moving, gets to halfway and that's where it stays, unless I'm at a long red light in winter, then it goes up one more bar, 2 in summer. When stuck in a 2 mile long traffic jam in Yellowstone Park (buffalo in the road), the gauge went quickly to 8 and was 'feeling' hot. I was concerned both for the heat and the clutch. A compadre on his Connie had no issues. I'd get to a pull-off and shut down, he'd continue stop-and-go until the next pull-off then call me up (Chatterbox) and I'd run in the oncoming lane to the next pull-off and shut down. My commute for the most part is 15 fast miles so there's usually no issue, but when there's an accident and it's stop and go, mostly stop, the temp rises faster than I'd like. But moving even slowly helps. When a coworkers FJR13 battery died at work, I was helping him with a jump. I was working in the area of the battery with the seat off and watching the temp gauge so as not to overheat. The RT was at only 3 bars as it had not been cranked but a few minutes and was at low idle, he asked if the pipes were suppose to look like 'that' (the orange glow). Quickly shut it down. So I was mistakenly depending on the temp gauge to tell me when things were getting too hot. The relationship between the temp gauge and the pipes overheating is not fast enough to be worthwhile as by the temp gauge things were fine, by the pipes, it was obviously not (he got cranked in short order).

 

So I'm not as pleased with the ability (or lack) of this machine to keep cool as others may be and will try as much as possible not to get caught in major traffic where I have to pull off to cool down. I have a dual CHT gauge that I'm trying to figure out how to get the thermocouples in the plug wells. It worked great on my Triumph (now gone) and would like to have it on the RT just to have some idea how the plugs/heads are doing rather than just depending on the oil temp.

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A precaution some people take is to use synthetic oil which is known for greater resistance to heat before breakdown. That can give some peace of mind.

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John, I never shut down in heavy traffic in hot weather.. Had the oil temp go to the top of the gauge a few times & even had the engine get rattley & noisy..

 

You ever know anyone that ruined a BMW boxer from sitting in traffic.. Me either.. Those engines are a real robust design.. I have a friend with a GS adventure & he takes that thing off road so it is so packed full of mud you can’t even see the engine.. He then runs that thing is deep sand & under load a up long sand hills at very low speeds with full camping gear & extra gas.. If anything was going to over heat & blow up it would be that bike,, he’s been doing that for a long time now & it still runs quiet while idling at a stop light..

 

Worst thing BMW ever did was put an oil temperature gauge on those darn things.. They need a temp light that comes on at a few degrees below the destruction temperature then all would be good.. Or do like Harley & shut a cylinder off for a few revolutions when it gets hot (cool intake air & no fuel cools them down real quick)

 

 

Twisty

 

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Twisty,

 

An interesting correlation of shutting cyl off. I am a VW TDI specialist. VW diesels shut off all fuel when you coast in gear. You could be running that thing to 1650 EGT and coast down a 1/4 mile ramp and be at 350 in 12-15 seconds. Amazing how pumping air cools the cyl and turbo down.

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As stated by 4wheeldog it was the plastics that were the major concern.

 

There was a time when R1100RTs overheating was a major topic on this forum right after the turn of the Century. At that time it was the plastics getting fried by the glowing exhaust pipes when sitting at a fast idle during warm-up. I did see quite a few R1100RTs that had the adjacent plastics next to the exhaust fried to a crisp.

 

At that time I converted my 2000 R1100RT exhaust system to a Remus Exhaust System which allowed a more unrestricted exhaust flow and cooler running exhaust pipes.

 

I’ve ridden my R1100RTs from sea level up to 12,000' MSL all across the U.S. in outside air temps ranging from below freezing to over 120 degrees F. In the last 8 years+ of riding my first and second RT I’ve seen my RID rise to where I became concerned only about 5 times, each time when stuck in stop and go traffic on a hot day. Each time the aux oil cooler fan would come on which is normal. As soon as I got air flowing the RID temps dropped to normal. I’ve only used synthetic oil starting at 3k miles on all my K and R bikes as synthetic oil does well in high temps.

 

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Welcome! Temps in CT are fine, as long as you're not idling it too long while at our techdaze. Look for one in Event Planning, should be April or May.

 

Also, check out the UNRally, being hosted this year by the NE folks in August, in Lancaster, NH.

 

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I do run synthetics (which helps with heat dissipation and can handle higher internal temps) but have only ever had the RID near the red bar once and that was when I was in IL.

 

I did had my RID hit the the red bar once, but I was stuck in a line of traffic where there was no wind flow and we sat nearly idle for 90 minutes. I did shut the bike off when I could, but we would creep every once in a while, so eventually it did hit the red. I have to say, I was a bit panicked about it. But once we started moving a bit the RID moved down the temperature gauge and all was well. During the next service nothing seemed amiss and haven't had any issues with the bike since that time.

 

Wayne

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John, I never shut down in heavy traffic in hot weather..

 

Twisty

 

This was a great observation. Not knowing exactly how far I can let it go, I tend to get concerned with the indicators. But the fact is, as pointed out, in my limited exposure to the community, I've never heard of a case of an oilhead (or airhead for that matter) letting go due to heat.

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I don't have an oil temperature gauge on my R, so it never gets hot :grin:. Seriously, the only time I have ever shut it down in heavy traffic was when I was stuck in a long, gentle downgrade on I 84 here in CT. I was just able to let it roll forward a few feet at a time for a while.

To paraphrase what so many others on this board have said: "Just ride it!" These engines are about as bullet-proof as you can get.

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You ever know anyone that ruined a BMW boxer from sitting in traffic.. Me either.. Those engines are a real robust design..

 

 

Twisty

 

The only cases I have heard of that could be heat related problems were cylinder/cylinder head stud threads pulling out of the block, seemingly after many overheating events. Amazing that you could have that problem without cooking the internals.

The only real immediate failure problems I have heard of are of unsupervised, fast idling boxers going up in flames when forgotten about until the oil window melts. (The oil window melts from the external heat of the exhaust, not from oil temp, near as I can tell). Why anyone would leave an unattended motorcycle running I will never understand, but going up in flames is possible if you are prone to that sort of thing.

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