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Newbie help humbly requested


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Hi Fellas,

Ok, after saving my pennies, cajoling the SO, and watching Craigslist obsessively, it looks like I may have found the bike I've been looking for. I had made the decision that I was going to wait until I found the 'perfect' 2004 R1150RT and buy it without delay. I may have found it with one caveat: 63k miles, and he's done all his own maintenance. The seller is asking 5200.00 for a bike that is bone-stock and pristine. He claims most the miles have been commuting miles (California) and it has always been garage-kept. All the pics I'm seeing give me no reason to believe there's anything badly wrong with it, save for a cross-threaded cowling bolt on the lower right side.


So, the question: Since he's done all his own maintenance, what should I be looking for when I go see it? (It's about a 150 mile drive each way). I want to make sure he has done everything that needs to be done as well as spot any red flags that could indicated poor care.


Bonus question: Thoughts on the price?


As always, thanks


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I'd remove the starter & see what the clutch/transmission input shaft spline backlash looks like. Easy to do, but don't put it back together until someone knowledgeable has looked at it.


And of course figure on a flush of the brake fluids.

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One doing their own maintenance is not red flag in & of itself. We here in fact encourage such activities, as evidenced by the preponderance of tech days.


To your questions. Ask for pertinent receipts, a log of maintenance dates, & so forth. Specifically ask about the clutch spline lube. This is called for, if memory serves correctly, at the 48k service. If at 63k it hasn't been done, factor that in. Not necessarily a deal killer, but it is a priority.


With the bike on the center stand, grab the rear wheel at 3 & 9, then again at 6 & 12. Try to wiggle it back & forth. A little play at 3 & 9 is normal. Any play over a millimeter or two at 6 & 12 is a sure sign the final drive is on it's way out. If it moves just a tiny bit, you're okay. If you hear a clunk, walk away. FD's are the high side of $1800. Listen close for odd sounds, although that may be subjective depending on your experience with BMW boxers.


If all that is covered, the price seems fair. Good luck, & I hope it works out in your favor.

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Welcome to the forum.

Stock isn't necessarily great in all respects.

The stock seat is really uncomfortable.

Shocks could be on the way out.

The forks do not pressurize, but do contain oil. The fork seals may be worn/leaky.

Brake lines likely on the way out.

Find out when the last brake flush was done.

Last time the battery was replaced?

Make sure the grip heaters are working.

Find out when the fuel filter was last replaced.

+1 on the starter.

Check just inside the exhaust, to see if there is a crack in the weld of the inner pipe to the exhaust cap. This is where all stock exhausts eventually fail.

Hopefully, the seller has a maintenance list, so you can see how consistent oil changes and valve adjustments were done.

What condition are the tires in?

Asking price may be a tad high.

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Thanks for the comments thus far. Rich, the tires are within 2k of needing to be replaced. His original ask was 5400 and he offered to split the diff on the tires with me.


Can I get some more detail on the starter issue? What does this indicate?

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A follow-up question as well....


There's another bike that has similar miles and is a little less money, BUT....It was a PD bike that was converted back to 'civvie' configuration with new plastic, back seat, etc. It was also painted a BMW color that I don't know whether or not was stock to that year - it looks kinda like an 'Anthracite Gray'.


Is this anything to be concerned with? Does it affect value?

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The RT-P will still have a lower gearing which is good for slow speed maneuvers but worse gas mileage (another current discussion on the board here is about getting 35mpg instead of 40 or better). Many of them also become a wiring nightmare if the extra wiring for the lights wasn't removed properly. Last thing is that their clutches and drive train may have been abused by the type of riding police do. Personally, I'd avoid it and go with a regular RT that someone kept an eye on and knew well enough to work on himself.



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I am not nearly as mechanically inclined as many on this forum, but I live very near you. So if the bike is in the area and you would like me to take a look, I might be able to check it out with you. You can send me a PM if interested.


If it is in very good condition, that is actually a very good price for an '04 in this area. For no real good reason, I check out the prices in the local Craigslist fairly often. They are usually listed, and I suspect sell, for considerably more than that.


I recently had to have my final drive worked on, as the bearings were starting to get destroyed. Perhaps that bike will be fine, but I would be prepared for that possibility. It isn't cheap. Definitely do the 9-3, 12-6 check as described.



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The one huge, expensive, and nearly unsolveable problem on that bike is a clutch spline failure. It seems like you get a good one or a bad one. A good one will typiclly last the life of the bike. A bad one will cost you multi-thousands of dollars every 30K miles. If the bike has gone 63K with no issues it's probably a good one.


With that out of the way, the other question is how much you like to tinker. That bike will require some tinkering, as would any bike at that age and with those miles. It's not particularly difficult and there are volumes of reference material on the net. Most people (on this board anyway) find it enjoyable. You can do almost anything with a basic set of tools.

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As for removing the starter. Since it requires a moderate amount of disassembly, I as a seller would not do it.


Checking the outward and obvious signs is one thing, but expecting a seller to dismantle his/her bike, based on something the potential buyer read on the internet, is going overboard. Even if this is done you can't see much of anything and an untrained eye would have difficulty assessing what he is looking at in any case.


I would put much more faith in the knowledge of the seller. I trust my own BS sensor when dealing with purchases of this type. I generally feel I have a pretty good read on the seller after talking with them for a while.


As for the splines themselves...While damage can mean the bike is doomed (I have recent first hand knowledge of this.) the reality is that the jury is still out on whether regular spline lubing is worth it. I never lubed mine and I had 175,000 miles on it when I decided to dismantle and part it out. Even at this point, I feel I probably could have reached 200,000.


Factor in how many miles you will likely ride in a year. If you are putting on say 8,000, you will get many years of service out of the bike and may be ready to move on to a different bike in five years.



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All I can say is wow. This site is full of very knowedgeable and willing to help people. Good information guys.


Jeff, I would take Kevin up on his generous offer. If the bike is solid with no major issues as described above, I think the price is fair. If it doesn't work out, I know where there is a pristine 2005 1150RT with 17,000 miles for sale. :)

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Thanks for the comments thus far. Rich, the tires are within 2k of needing to be replaced. His original ask was 5400 and he offered to split the diff on the tires with me.


Can I get some more detail on the starter issue? What does this indicate?


Early oilhead starter internal magnets were glued in and have a tendency to come unglued, destroying starter internals. Starter can be removed by taking off the left footpeg, but this probably would be outside of a seller's willingness.


The other starter issue, is grime on the starter gear. Check the maintenance record to see if the starter has ever been sreviced. If not, you can pick up a new starter housing from euromotoelectrics for around $40. I'd factor that service in.


Both issues will surface as the starter pinion is unable to retract and will make funky noises during starting. My magnet issue also show extra voltage draw, tripping an ABS fault.


Low Voltage: When the RT is firs started, your ABS will be flashing. As you start moving, the ABS will cycle and the ABS light should go out. If the ABS lights don't turn off, you either have low voltage, or an ABS issue. This is a 'feature' on the oilheads that will tell you when your batter is going.


One other note: Check for any signs of the bike being tipped over. The rear part of the footpeg frames can become cracked behind the passenger pegs.



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I agree with what's been said here but would add a couple of comments:


1) There are many RT's out there with way lower miles on them for not much more money. If you can swing it, I would look for one of them. It doesn't necessarily have to be right near you. Motorcycle transporters ship bikes pretty reasonably or you can do a fly in/ride home. I myself have bought four bikes this way over the years. It's a bit of a leap of faith but so is buying any used bike. Haven't been burned yet.


2) I would stay away from PD bikes. They can be lower priced and even have low miles but they may have led an abnormally hard life. You don't have any way of knowing how many hours they've been left to idle during duty hours at various scenes and so forth.


As a seller I'd never start dismantling a bike for a prospective buyer based on a suspicion and as a buyer I'd never ask anyone to do it.

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Colorado + BMW = fun.


BMW + owner service + records/receipts = :thumbsup:


No records/receipts = ?

Not a deal killer, but use BS detector.


Hard to believe but some BMW owners are cheap and skip or skimp

wrt service schedule (annual or mileage or both as basis).



I sold a '96 RT w/over 100k for $4200 in '08.


Oilhead RT's will $$ plateau and hold value, IMO, esp '04.


RTP is a roll of the dice.

Most OK, some?

Being converted and painted a big $$ saver.


Good luck.

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I don't have anything to add, as far as looking at the bike...


Whenever I am purchasing something like this from a private party, I try to view the item at the seller's residence. I find it useful to look around and assess the general state of the rest of his possessions. Just look around while you're talking with him and note the condition of his home, other vehicles, his kids, the dog, whatever. You might decide he's trustworthy, or full of beans... Just a thought.

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Malthound, There have been lots of good replies, and I think it's worth a 150 mile drive for a look-see, with having your BS detector cranked up to maximum sensitivity as the key factor in making a decision.


Here are my experiences from a 99 RT purchased in 2008 with approximately the same mileage:


Left fork seal started leaking within 1000 miles; if the bike has been sitting, there could be seal issues. Take a white paper towel, and rub it around the fork tube; if it comes off with more than a trace of grime, a leaky seal may be the culprit.


If it has the OEM shocks, prepare to replace them or have them rebuilt. $700-$1500 depending on which route you go.


Ask the seller if the swingarm pivot bearings have been replaced (these are needle bearings at the REAR of the swingarm, just ahead of the FD). Less than $100 if you do the work yourself.


At ~100,000 miles, I replaced the clutch (labor intensive, $1500-$2000 if you have a dealer do it, ~$800 in parts if you do it yourself). Replaced the rubber brakelines with Spiegler SS lines; ~$200, not too difficult to do, except for the bleeding part (fluid, not blood). All three discs were below minimum thickness spec, and I replaced them with rotors from Beemer Boneyard (~$600).


I mention these costs because, depending on how long you depend to keep the bike, you may be in for $2000 - $5000 in additional expenses for "normal" wear and tear maintenance over the next 40,000 miles. I'm probably a little more obsessive about preventive motorcycle maintenance than I am with a car because the consequences of a failure are potentially more serious.

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The original mention of the starter was not referring to any starter problems (although starter problems do develop on some bikes over time - you can tell there is a problem if the bike is slow to turn over, or it funky sounds occur when starting). Removing the starter was mentioned in regard to checking the spline condition through the starter hole. In reality, you can't see diddly that way, unless you were to see rust on the transmission splines, which is so rare it is not worth mentioning. If the bike has a spline problem the first sign is usually a loss of forward motion.

A few people have had troubles with splines - mostly on the 2002 bikes, and mostly around 40k or less. As mentioned, a spline lube is not part of the BMW maintenance schedule, but some people do pull the bike apart to check/lube them on some schedule (maybe at 40k, and 20k thereafter) but very few people actually ever lube the splines. I am tempting fate on my '98 RS, because the spline problem isn't very prevalent on those bikes (even with 180k on it). My 2002 RT is the only one I worry about... and very little at that.

Police bikes = clutches. The Man spends a lot of time dragging that clutch. They usually last less than 20k in service. Wiring is an unknown hornets nest sometimes.


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Wow guys,

I really appreciate the comments. I've pretty much decided against the XPD bike for the aforementioned reasons. The other bike is still a question mark, but based on two separate conversations with the seller, I may hold out for a lower-mileage unit with some service records. He seems like a really nice guy, and not really prone to the BS in the deliberate sense, it's just that he seemed a bit in the dark when I asked about any issues outside of standard maintenance such as the 6-12 check for the final drive and no real knowledge of the starter or clutch issues you've all mentioned. Not a killer in and of itself, just everything adding up, including my lack of experience is leading me to err on the side of caution.


Once again, I appreciate the comments, and I'll continue to follow up with more annoying questions until I decide upon a purchase, at which point I'll have even more annoyingly stupid questions on how to maintain the durn thing. I'm really looking forward to this.

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Patience is a virtue when hunting for a used bike, and it's only January 19, so should have more opportunities if you wait. Re this seller (or any other who claims to have done his own maintenance), it would be prudent to ask what he has done in the way of maintenance. Changing the engine oil every 6000 miles, FD & Trans every 24,000 are really only the tip of the iceberg. I'm not saying that BMWs are high-maintenance, just that any vehicle with more than 50,000 miles needs more attention to details to prevent little issues from turning into big problems.


The 99 RT that I bought at 64,000 miles, had complete service records, but without those I wouldn't have touched it, since I didn't know much about BMWs at the time.


However, since I bought it, I have done all my own maintenance, and I have maintained a spreadsheet for every single thing that I have done to it, from fluid changes to light bulb replacements, to more major things like a clutch replacement, and in most cases I have kept receipts, so there shouldn't be any gray issues, should I decide to sell it at some future date. Whether a dealer or the owner does the maintenance, the important thing is the paper trail.

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Very generous caddis! I would take him up on it and buy lunch. I bought an 02 with 166k and was fortunate to have an honest, trustworthy seller who disclosed the issues and what it needed. Bike is on second Trans and both have perfect splines, the first one had other problem, included in the deal.

I'd say you are possibly looking at TB rebuild, maybe shocks, fork oil change, spline lube, maybe throttle cables, paralever (swingarm) bearings, maybe, depends if owner was a little bit ocd with maint.

But you won't have to do this stuff all at once, and they are easier to work on than rice burners.

Its a different class of bike and your gonna love it!

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  • 1 month later...


Did the snows melt in Boulder?

We followers of your January '13 thread are dying to know!


Furthermore, we need a pic!

Good Shifting to you,


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Update to all: A couple weeks ago I received my dream bike. Although I elected not to go for the one mentioned in this post, I found one on a national CL search that was pretty much a no-brainier for me. It's a 2004 R1150RT with, count 'em, 9300 miles. Absolutely mint condition and with dealer maintenance records. I found it at a dealer in Pensacola and put a deposit on it while making delivery arrangements. After the shipping costs it put the bike a bit north of my budget, but I couldn't be happier. Since I travel extensively for work, and have been away from home for several weeks, imagine my elation to find that the one day I was home ( actually, not home - we've been staying in the Reno area for the last few months helping my dad with some household things) the weather was beautiful and I was able to ride up to Lake Tahoe for a short while. I'm now back on another business trip and won't be able to ride again until I return, but I'm really looking forward to many great rides.


Not sure what the weather in Boulder is, haven't been there since November, but look forward to returning.


As for pics, there's nothing I'd like more than to be able to post some, but for the life of me, I just can't get them to post. I'm following the directions exactly,( I think) but no dice. Any help?



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Sounds exactly like my bike. The only thing my bike goes to the shop for is tires. Everytime the techs there ride the bike they comment on what good shape it is in. Start the bike, ride it. Does it idle smoothly at around 1100 rpm +- 50? My only concern is I think the price is low.



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"As for pics, there's nothing I'd like more than to be able to post some, but for the life of me, I just can't get them to post. I'm following the directions exactly,( I think) but no dice. Any help?"


Tell us what you're doing.

If you have uploaded to a host site it should be easy to click

on and copy the image then link in your post.

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Hey Jeff,

Nice going and glad I asked for our entire forum !

My boss just got back from Tahoe, and said the roads

were clear and dry!

Hopefully your Dad is doing better as well.

Going to experiment with a MS word document, and will try and insert a photo here for a trial run.

Let’s see if she flies!


Best of luck, and again, Congratulations!

(Whaaaa ... 9700 miles!)



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Tell us what you're doing.

If you have uploaded to a host site it should be easy to click

on and copy the image then link in your post.


I posted my pics to Fickr and then copied the link as per the instructions in the FAQ. It just posts the text, no picture. let's try it again so you can see exactly what I'm entering. Maybe I'm just a doofus.



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needs to end in jpeg or similar file


don't copy url, look around picture to the side above/below

should have a choice about sharing link

one will have around it


may ask if you want to post to a certain type of forum


good luck

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Afternoon Malthound


You need to use the correct link, the one you grabbed from Flicker was to send as a link & that one won't allow hot linking.



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Afternoon Malthound


Nope, not yet as that posted as a multi unusable link not as a picture..


It needs to end in .JPG


Try posting this link (should work)





Added: You should go over to the (Discussion Board Support) forum to practice until you get it working as that is the place to practice so the threads here don't get all messed up.






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Wow, all of the comments in here about how PD bikes are so mistreated makes me wonder when my RTP is going to explode! It's got about 109K, oughtta happen any minute now.


Actually, patrol motors are generally treated better than the average POV. They are ridden a LOT, so they don't get the problems which come from sitting around, and they are maintained at factory service intervals (if not more frequently) by factory-trained mechanics.


Motorcops take a LOT of pride in their mounts, and the slightest thing that goes wrong will be immediately noticed and rapidly corrected, because it's important to him (and it's still under warranty).


Contrast that to the rider who doesn't realize that a sound or handling characteristic is different this weekend than it was the last time he rode, or who figures that he'll get the oil change done when he gets around to it, or doesn't do a weekly inspection so doesn't spot that irregular wear on the tires.


Yes, patrol motors are ridden harder than most people ride, but they are rarely abused. If the miles, visible condition and price were the same, I would buy the RTP before the RT.

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