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Removing the ABS on an 02 RT

Sam Taylor

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I thought I'd start this post to help anyone who is, by choice or circumstance, considering an "ABS-ectomy" on his or her 1150. There's alot of information on this board already but, as I was reading up on it, it's sometimes nice to find current information.


My r1150RT has about 84,000 miles, and had had intermittent troubles with the brakes for about 5000 of them. They never failed, but I would get warning lights (4Hz) from time to time. Whistling past the graveyard, I would "reboot" the bike, jiggle the rear brake light switch, charge the battery, etc...and sometimes the lights would go away. Cheap fix, good for me!


Well, when I took it in for its big service at a local independent BMW mechanic, we read the fault codes and confirmed the bad news: the rear servo motor was toast.


So I was confronted with the Cold Equations: a new unit was $2200 plus labor. Rebuilt units were hard to find. The bike is worth, what, $4500? (it's in great shape, but it IS 11 years old and has been ridden "in all weathers".)


So I took the plunge and had the ABS removed.


I was reluctant because I am not an ABS luddite, in fact I had learned to really like my servo-assisted (and as it was an early 02, it was REALLY assisted) brakes.


But I rationalized it this way: 95% of the risk of riding a bike stars when you throw your leg over the seat. The other 5% comes from either bad habits, bad training, or, yes, the unexpected. That last is where ABS makes a difference.


In fact, my habits had deteriorated due to the linked system. I'd gotten lazy, using the rear brake more than I should knowing the front was activated too. When I would borrow, rent, or steal another bike without this feature, I was being a bad breaker, and I knew it.


So the devil was removed. As often reported, the bike still brakes fine, though it does require actual "effort" instead of just sneezing on the brake levers. The bike IS noticeably lighter and maneuvers better in tight spots and during parking routines, like backing it in to the garage.


The battery is happier. I didn't realize how much power that unit took, and it was always on when the bike was on. My aftermarket voltmeter gives me another half-volt at all times.


Speaking of always-on, I elected to spend the $80 extra and install normally off brake light switches. I know I could have used a relay to reverse the logic of the original switches, but in for a penny, in for a pound.... I'm glad I did it this way.


Finally, the process IS totally reversible should I ever go mad and decide to bring her back to spec. But I won't: as many have said, I wish I'd done this the day after the warranty expired. Plus I almost look forward to my next, simple, brake flush and bleed.


Just my 2 cents.



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Thanks Sam, I have been chewing over doing this for a while and when I get back home to the bike (2001 1150RT, 45k miles) next month I will do it. My ABS has been misbehaving with warning lights and once even actually failed, resulting in a frustrating two weeks in France. Of course as soon as I get it near a dealer it behaves all innocent and does what it is supposed to.


Now you mention it I think I like the idea of the brake switch swap rather than adding relays - more stuff to go wrong.


I rather like the idea of losing a bit of weight off the bike too. I'll probably take the radio out at the same time and lose even more. Next stop will be to lose a bit myself!


All the best, and thanks again,



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Pat - if you want to do this be sure to a) inform your insurance company (mine had no problem) and b) remove all trace of the ABS - wheel speed sensor rings, sensors etc, otherwise the MoT man will want to see the correct ABS light sequence at startup. You will need to get a set of washers/shims to fit under the brake mounting bolts where the speed sensor ring now is.


With you living in God's own county - James Sherlock will do an ABS removal for £160.



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FWIW, I tried the modulemaster approach.


One, it was uncertain at best. Nothing against them, but the time involved in sending the unit to them for a hopeful repair, then the return trip, then the installation, then--worst--the ongoing unease; it was just not worth it.


For two, it wasn't all that cheap. Not as cheap as me, anyway.


Life is short. Maybe shorter with no ABS, but I wanted to ride.

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Thanks for the heads-up on Sherlocks, Andy. And the MOT and Insurance angles. These things are never as easy as you'd first think, which is why a forum full of experience like this is so brilliant.

Cheers, Pat

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You'll find the attached link interesting...



Seems as though 'ol Chris H. has an issue with some of the engineering on different models of BMW's. :dopeslap: He offers sevice, if your in the NH.area. He's also made many youtube videos on different repairs for beemer's. I have no affliation with Affordable Beemer Services.


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9.8 lbs, according to my scale.


I'd watched Chris's vid before I did this and it helped.


Still, I wouldn't remove it until you have to. But then I would without a second thought.

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Sam, is the braking effort/force with the servo removed better than the "residual" braking available when the servo is still in place but not working? Thanx.

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Sam, is the braking effort/force with the servo removed better than the "residual" braking available when the servo is still in place but not working? Thanx.


The braking effort is slightly heavier than with servo, but not much. no where near as weak as residual braking. the upside is much better feel. fitting braided hoses also helps with feel.



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Thanks Andy. For the Group - just spoke with ModuleMaster and they're NOT rebuilding the integral ABS ('04 in my case)servos at this time; hopefully by years' end (they have parts being manufactured). They'll give you $75 for your core, though :)

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Just to clarify, the braking effort after the -ectomy is just like on any normal non-ABS bike. If that is normal these days. The brakes themselves are excellent and the bike stops quickly and predictably. The effort is linear.


The "residual" brakes were the scary ones when the ABS was in but off. Virtually worthless. What I had before my removal, though, was apparent ABS but the rear pump was failing/had failed. Somehow the linkage between front and rear masked this--to me, at least. If the lights had not come on I would not have known there was a problem.


Maybe I should have just removed the warning bulbs...not. I really like it the way it is now.



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