Jump to content
Joe Frickin' Friday

TROUBLE ON THE ROAD: soft clutch. Help!

Recommended Posts

Joe Frickin' Friday

OK, Shawn and I arrived in Boulder this afternoon. Both bikes (R1200RT's, one 2008 and one 2009, about 15K miles each) are experiencing a weird soft clutch lever. Cruise on the highway for a while, and something happens to the clutch so that the friction zone moves much closer to the handlebar. Sit at a gas station for 15 minutes, and it seems to return mostly to normal, i.e. the friction zone is much farther from the handlebar. Hard to say for sure, but it doesn't seem like it ever returns completely to what it was before either of us left home.

 

Weather has been cold (40's, 50's), nothing horribly extreme.

 

Checked this evening, and the clutch hyd. fluid reservoirs on both bikes are pretty much full. Neither bike appears to be leaking fluid.

 

BMW dealers in Denver are closed tomorrow (Monday). I plan to call my dealer in Michigan tomorrow (BMWMSEM-Canton) and ask what's up, but I thought I should ping the collective here and ask what's going on. We're supposed to leave here on Tuesday to head for Torrey, and we're wondering if we should go ahead and do so, or if there's something definite going on that's likely to get worse and leave us in Blanding with no clutch action, and so we should stay here until one of the Denver dealers opens on Tuesday.

 

Anyone got any suggestions on what might be going on? What to check? How to fix?

 

Thanks for any info...

Share this post


Link to post
Firefight911

You have air in the line.

 

LINKY

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Calvin  (no socks)

Mitch, Phil gave up before I could fix his bike.... ;)

 

 

Two similar bikes and identical operational irregularities provide a unique opportunity. If it isn't collective obssional behaviour, we have a unique opportunity to finally solve the soft clutch issue.

 

 

One of you travellers must be the control in an experiment. I am thinking a vent in the cap is inoperative and the atmospheric pressure change from fluid temperature rise cant compensate for volumetric expansion/contraction. Loosen the cap on one bike and do a comparative analysis with the control bike. My 0.02...

Share this post


Link to post
Firefight911
Mitch, Phil gave up before I could fix his bike.... ;)

 

 

Two similar bikes and identical operational irregularities provide a unique opportunity. If it isn't collective obssional behaviour, we have a unique opportunity to finally solve the soft clutch issue.

 

 

One of you travelers must be the control in an experiment.

 

I did no such thing. Sheesh! :Cool:;) BMW wouldn't let me fix it even though I knew I could so they bought it back from me because THEY couldn't fix it.

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider

Morning Mitch

 

It does sound a bit like air in the system - maybe also coupled in with the atmospheric pressure change due to your present altitude. (assuming you are at altitude now or were anyhow)

 

I have heard of some of the old 1150’s changing clutch release point slightly at high altitudes but never a total failure. There have been quite a few 1200GS’s with air in the clutch system issues, also a campaign on them to re-route the clutch line, and a few 1200RT’s with soft clutch issues after long hiway travel with no de-clutching but so far no campaign on them (that I know of anyhow)

 

The hydraulic clutch system on the BMW’s is a sealed system but the sealing is only through a flexible rubber on top of the master cylinder fluid.

 

I have had my personal 1200RT at over 5,000 feet with no clutch issues but I have the clutch line routing tie strap cut loose and the clutch line re-routed to remove the air retaining loop. As I have it now any air that travels up the clutch line can freely travel all the way up into the master cylinder without getting trapped in the line.

 

If your clutch is operable enough to move on maybe just use the clutch often while traveling (that seems to keep the air entry problem at bay). Then see if it gets better at lower altitudes. If not, remove the L/H tupperware and (cut the tie strap) then try re-routing the clutch line to remove any air trapping loops. If you can get the bike tilted up nose high try that while pumping the heck out of the clutch as that might dislodge any trapped air and send it up the hose into the master cylinder.

 

Let us know how things progress on your trip.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Joe Frickin' Friday
It does sound a bit like air in the system - maybe also coupled in with the atmospheric pressure change due to your present altitude. (assuming you are at altitude now or were anyhow)

 

We're in Denver right now (5280 feet), but I first noticed symptoms yesterday just west of Omaha (elevation about 1800 feet). Possible for altitude to have an effect that rapidly? Michigan is about 900 feet elevation.

 

If not, remove the L/H tupperware and (cut the tie strap) then try re-routing the clutch line to remove any air trapping loops. If you can get the bike tilted up nose high try that while pumping the heck out of the clutch as that might dislodge any trapped air and send it up the hose into the master cylinder.

 

Today was just supposed to be a casual day ride, returning here tonight, so we can give up part of today's ride to work on the bikes. I'd really like to get my bike back to normal, and I know Shawn feels the same way about his. If it's as easy as pulling the left T-ware and snipping a zip-tie to reroute the hose, we'll definitely monkey with it this morning.

 

Will let you know how this goes. Thanks for all the advice so far, folks. :wave:

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider

Morning again Mitch

 

How many miles/or/time did you ride straight without using the clutch? How about your friend?

 

I have preventively re-routed the clutch hose on my 1200RT before having any issues so have no real “A” for an A/B comparison. I also use my clutch a lot even on the hiway as I am a trans downshifting type rider.

 

You are in a perfect position to see IF re-routing that hose makes a notable difference on the RT.

 

You might also take one bike and slightly open the fluid cover/rubber fluid membrane to let the air pressure neutralize. (careful if you are at altitude it might have some pressure trapped)

 

WOW! We have a chance to learn something useful here.

 

Added: If you call your dealer have them read (or send you) Clutch hose reroute; campaign 0021010000, OR bulletin#: 2100110(002) for the GS.

 

 

Edited by dirtrider

Share this post


Link to post
Natche
:lurk:

Share this post


Link to post
NewBlue

If it is in fact a condition caused by air in the system, re-routing the clutch line could help the air from being trapped (self bleed) but it does not solve the main problem of how and why the air is entering.

Past posts on this condition seem to show it happening in clusters. Is it longer distance traveled, elevation, heat, combination of all?

Don't know but they all seem to relate to the slave cylinder.

 

Seems BMW doesn't have good luck with "lifetime" fluid use.

Share this post


Link to post
BerndM

I've had my 05 RT up to just under 10,000 feet elevation with no clutch issues whatsoever.

The fact that this is happening to 2 identical bikes at the same time makes it sound like a design glitch, doesn't it?

Looking forward to a logical explanation when it comes.

Regards

Bernd

 

Share this post


Link to post
Skywagon

For what it's worth..When I lived in CA at Sea Level, I use to ride up in the Sierra's at 8000-11000 for hours on end. Never noticed a clutch lever issue and like Dirt...I am a downshifter often.

 

Any chance there was a recent fluid change and you didn't get the fitting in the back tight...or perhaps a leaking speed bleeder?

Edited by Skywagon

Share this post


Link to post
OoPEZoO

:lurk:

 

Definitely interesting. At least you have lots of open miles to play with it. I'm would also leave one bike unchouched and monkey with the other to see if you can get any sort of a change.

Share this post


Link to post
Firefight911

Just an added point -

 

DO NOT USE BRAKE FLUID!!!! These systems use mineral oil ONLY!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
bobbybob

The only suggestions I have are these.

 

1) If it gets too close to the grip, adjust the clutch lever to "3" (away from the grip) on the adjuster knob to give you some more space. That should, in effect, depress the piston further into the cylinder and open the clutch further.

 

2) Theres also a slotted adjuster screw on my '07 RT that has some orange colored paint on it, that appears it would adjust the amount of travel of the piston into the master cylinder.

Edited by bobbybob

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider
2) Theres also a slotted adjuster screw on my '07 RT that has some orange colored paint on it, that appears it would adjust the amount of travel of the piston into the master cylinder.

 

Be VERY CAREFUL with this one as that controls the piston to lever position. If that is adjusted to a point that it won’t let the piston fully return that will prevent new fluid from entering the take-up-port hole, it will also trap pressure in the clutch system and act like partially pulled clutch handle.

Share this post


Link to post
Joe Frickin' Friday

Heat is not the issue. Symptoms were first noticed on Saturday and Sunday, when ambient temps were in the 40's/50s.

 

Seems cruising at high speeds for long distances was bringing it about; we typically cruised 60-90 minutes at a time, 82-83 MPH.

 

If we were at home, maybe we'd be willing to experiment, but as we're in the middle of a trip, we just wanted to fix it. This morning we pulled the left T-ware, and put the bikes on centerstands on top of a stack of 2x4s so we could get the nose way up and the tail way down; that, along with rerouting the hose down by the slave cylinder (to eliminate the high spot), seemed to make things better. I feel like mine's still not 100%, but it's much improved, and hopefully won't get worse (now that the high spot's gone). Went for a ride today up to Estes Park, bikes seemed OK.

 

We'll see what transpires over the rest of the trip. I'm still bothered that air gets into the system at all; that shouldn't be happening. But for now at least, we feel comfortable leaving here for Torrey tomorrow.

 

Thanks for all the input, folks.

Share this post


Link to post
russell_bynum
Heat is not the issue. Symptoms were first noticed on Saturday and Sunday, when ambient temps were in the 40's/50s.

 

Seems cruising at high speeds for long distances was bringing it about; we typically cruised 60-90 minutes at a time, 82-83 MPH.

 

If we were at home, maybe we'd be willing to experiment, but as we're in the middle of a trip, we just wanted to fix it. This morning we pulled the left T-ware, and put the bikes on centerstands on top of a stack of 2x4s so we could get the nose way up and the tail way down; that, along with rerouting the hose down by the slave cylinder (to eliminate the high spot), seemed to make things better. I feel like mine's still not 100%, but it's much improved, and hopefully won't get worse (now that the high spot's gone). Went for a ride today up to Estes Park, bikes seemed OK.

 

We'll see what transpires over the rest of the trip. I'm still bothered that air gets into the system at all; that shouldn't be happening. But for now at least, we feel comfortable leaving here for Torrey tomorrow.

 

Thanks for all the input, folks.

 

I'm going to go copyright the name "MojoClutch". You can buy it back from me for $10,000 when you develop a product to fix whatever the problem turns out to be.

 

:grin:

 

 

 

Glad you guys got it sorted. A friend of mine had the same thing happen on an 1150GS on an Alaska trip. The bike worked fine for ages...never been down, etc...but as he started to climb, he had the same issue as you...resolved by bleeding the circuit.

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider

Evening Mitch

 

Well that sounds promising for your trip to continue.

 

Did you call the dealer? If so what did they tell you? (let me guess, never heard of that problem)

 

--Now that you have the hose re-routed maybe try setting your clutch lever to max distance to give the slave cylinder the max displacement possible then pulling the lever all the way to the grip, then allowing it to SNAP back as fast as possible. Do that few times to see if that will displace enough fluid fast enough to move all the air back up the hose.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
KDeline

Sadly boys welcome to MY R1200 world.

 

On the road you could buy a syringe and tubing to fit the bleed nipple. Some high end bicycle shops have them for their hydraluic brakes. Using the syringe and hose, open and pull most of the fluid out of the reservoir. Purge all air from syringe and hose, attach to bleed nipple, open and push fluid back up the system. This will get all the air out. If you can find new mineral oil that would be better to use, but in a pinch this will work. DAMHIK. There is only a very small amount used in the whole system, whats in the reservoir is about the same amount that is in the line. Hope you don't need to try this, and good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
OoPEZoO
I'm still bothered that air gets into the system at all; that shouldn't be happening.

 

100% agreed. How the hell is air getting into a "sealed" system. Hope they did a better job with the brake system.

 

Ken.....I remember your nightmare of a mess, and it was the first thing that popped into my mind. I also remember reading about 2-3 other GSA's on ADV with the same issue. This is the first I recall reading about it on an RT, but it certainly looks like something isn't right.

Share this post


Link to post
Lone_RT_rider
This morning we pulled the left T-ware, and put the bikes on centerstands on top of a stack of 2x4s so we could get the nose way up and the tail way down; that, along with rerouting the hose down by the slave cylinder (to eliminate the high spot), seemed to make things better.

 

Here's a picture or our high performance repairs in progress. :)

 

SDC11532-L.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
NewBlue

Interesting, not sure why, but interesting.

 

KDeline's reverse bleed method is also the procedure on the BMW repair disc.

I think you'll have better results doing it that way.

 

Best of Luck

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider

 

Afternoon Mitch

 

Hopefully you are well along on your trip by now and running along trouble free.

 

Here is just a little follow up so you have a better working knowledge on the 1200 clutch hydraulic system in case you continue to have issues.

 

Here is a picture of the 1200 slave cyl area showing both the hose attachment and bleed screw. As you can see they are at the very same height and darn near in the same place on the slave cylinder.

 

This also means that as long as you have enough slave piston movement it will self bleed while riding & using the clutch. That is as long as the hose doesn’t have any air retaining loops or high spots in it & there is not excessive pressure above the fluid in the master cylinder.

 

The only thing that can keep it from self bleeding (assuming enough slave piston displacement) is excess positive pressure above the fluid in the master cylinder.

 

If you continue to have issues maybe open the master cylinder cover and let the pressure neutralize. As long as you don’t ride it too far and lose ALL the clutch slave cylinder piston movement it will self bleed for you as you ride & use the clutch.

 

 

1200SlaveCyl.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
FlyingFinn

 

SDC11532-L.jpg

 

Sorry for the hijack, hope you guys got it all sorted out. But...

 

That picture will go into the history books as "how do I make an RT to wheelie" :grin:

 

--

Mikko

Share this post


Link to post
RedMac

Dirtrider,

Now you have me thinking.. (I like to be proactive). Is there normally a loop on the RT? If so, I assume I should probably reroute the hose yes??

 

thanks

M

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider

Evening Mike

 

Not necessarily a loop but there are high spots that can trap some air.

 

I cut the tie strap(s) and rerouted the clutch line on my 1200RT. I moved it around and made the uphill run as straight as possible from the slave cylinder to the point that it turns uphill to go to the handle bars.

 

Thing is, I can’t say for certain that it eliminated any problems as I rerouted my clutch line early in the bikes life after reading the rerouting campaign for the 1200 GS. I haven’t ever had any soft clutch issues even after long high speed rides but as I mentioned above I am a chronic shifter & clutch user so seldom go more than a 100 miles or so without using the clutch.

 

I guess my take is: no harm in rerouting the clutch line to eliminate air trapping areas and it has been done on a lot of GS/GSA’s to cure the soft clutch issue, the routing just isn’t that much different between the RT and GS.

 

 

Added: you might wait to see how Mitch’s bike does on the remainder of his trip. He might be a good test subject as we know how it acted before the line re-route - lets see how it does on the remainder of the trip after line re-route.

Edited by dirtrider

Share this post


Link to post
RedMac

I can't say I've ever had any problems with mine, including a bunch of runs through the rocky mountains.

 

But I tend to be a bit anal about this. I carry an extra EWS ring now and recently added a fuel pump controller override cable to my tool/parts kit. If I can prevent something happening in advance, I'd certainly try that.

 

Now I'm curious, so next time I have the plastic off the bike I'll look over the clutch routing. I'm also curious to see how Mitch's bike does the rest of his trip.

 

Thanks for the advice and thoughts! Appreciated!

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
OoPEZoO

So did you two jokers get it fixed, kinda fixed, marginally fixed, or give up and trade them in on a matching set of Honda Ruckuses......or is it Ruckui? :grin::lurk:

Share this post


Link to post
KDeline

They got most of it back, said it was close to normal? Chime in boys.

Share this post


Link to post
OoPEZoO

Bunch of slackers......jeeees. :lurk:

Share this post


Link to post
Lone_RT_rider
Bunch of slackers......jeeees. :lurk:

 

Well, the other slacker is working hard to help his parents with things they need done around their home in the Denver area, so.... your stuck with this slacker who is still exhausted from doing 1925 miles in 37 hours. :)

 

I know that Mitch had said that his clutch is not quite all there yet. He said that it's working ok, but doesnt feel "normal" yet. My clutch feels better than it ever has and I will officially call it "fixed". I actually think that on setting 3 (all the way out) it has the same mechanical feel now as the cable clutch on the R1100RT.

 

I want to personally thank the collective knowledge of this board on making what could have been a disastrous trip into one that was almost perfect. Thanks for helping us fix this while "on the road". :)

 

Shawn

Share this post


Link to post
OoPEZoO
exhausted from doing 1925 miles in 37 hours. :)

 

Skirt :/

Share this post


Link to post
OoPEZoO

On a more serious note, that is good to know. Glad to hear you got it fixed up. Hopefully Mitch's will get fixed with a good bleed.

Share this post


Link to post
Lone_RT_rider
exhausted from doing 1925 miles in 37 hours. :)

 

Skirt :/

 

I guess that's what I get for moving closer to the good riding. I'm out of practice for these long rides! :grin:

Share this post


Link to post
Hall Vince

I have a question if I may....

 

I've often thought my clutch "biting point" was moving, Trying to get a matches revs to road speed before engaging fully the clutch, meant I occasionally missed it by miles.

I thought I must be imagining it but this thread has given me something else to look at next time I have the LH panel off.

 

Anyone else had a similar thought about their biting point varying on the clutch?

\v/

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider

Morning Vince

 

My 1200RT with the re-routed clutch line has a very consistent release point but it is not where I really like it (a bit too far from the grip).

 

If you are getting a bit of air trapped in your line that comes and goes that could change your release point as the air compresses, the fluid doesn’t. Air in the line would move the release point closer to the grip.

 

The other thing you could be fighting is if you ride two up or in hilly areas in that case the clutch might be heating a bit from needing to slip it to get moving. Then once riding for a while it could cool down and effect the release point.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Joe Frickin' Friday

In Iowa city now. Clutch feels normal, even after a full day of high speed slab droning. I guess eliminating the high spot in the line worked.

 

Bad news is rear tire is on cords. Waiting for Gina's to open tomOrrow...

 

Share this post


Link to post
dirtrider

Morning Mitch

 

Thanks for the “TEST” results. -- Have a safe (& fun) trip home.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Ponch
In Iowa city now. Clutch feels normal, even after a full day of high speed slab droning. I guess eliminating the high spot in the line worked.

 

Bad news is rear tire is on cords. Waiting for Gina's to open tomOrrow...

 

Damn...Had I know you were passing by, I would have visited.

Share this post


Link to post
CoarsegoldKid

Okay so now I must examine the clutch line for a high spot. I'm glad you got it going again.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...