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Starting problem with R1200GS


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I have a R1200GS that refused to start after work yesterday afternoon. It is 3 months old, with nearly 2000km on the clock. It made the regular starting sound, but just wouldn't take. I thumbed the starter numerous times, never for more than 2 or 3 seconds at a time. I then switched off the ignition, flipped out the kickstand, climbed off the bike, turned the ignition back on, waited for the checks to be complete, then thumbed the starter again. It roared to life and I rode home.


A happy ending. Only, now my euphoria over owning a "reliable" motorcycle (I have owned and used nothing but bikes for transport for 16 years) is quickly changed to the nagging paranioa I have had to endure with the Japanese counterparts. Anyone ever experience anything similar?


I was a little flustered, as all my other bikes had switches I could flick to reserve, or a choke I could try, but this one leaves me feeling pretty helpless. I didn't know where to look. The owner's manual doesn't even have a troubleshooting section. No doubt, BMW don't think there'll be trouble. ;)


Is it too soon to have a dealer check it out? Or is it too stupid not to? The problem with these intermittent issues is that they always say "it worked fine when we tried it", or is that not how BMW do it? I am new to BMW, so I don't know. My experiences with the Japanese bikes and dealers (no offense intended) has been dreadful, with parts taking 3 or 4 months to get here (South Africa). Thus, I am somewhat loathe to surrender my new prize possession to a dealer for so long.


Any advice would be appreciated. I went for this model precisely because I wanted reliabilty. I didn't expect problems so soon! I hope it's nothing, but now I have to resist the urge to run to the garage and see if it starts. I did that twice last night already. Yes, I'm a sad, anal, case, but I love my bikes. smile.gif


Thanks for your time,



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Might well be a sticky sidestand switch. Your cycling of the system could have knocked it back into operation. It's relatively accessable so you should be able to inspect it with the bike on the main stand.

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Some of them will stall immediately if you have it on the center stand with the side stand also down. When rear wheel spin is detected (even in neutral), it thinks the bike is moving and kills it because of the side stand down.

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It sounds more like a PCM boot error and when you keyed it off it did a reset. Not am uncommon anomaly.

Just make sure your not holding or activating a brake switch or moving the throttle before it runs it`s sequence boot. Not to say you did but check yourself and watch the sequence, note anything out of the norm if it happens again. If it does take it to the Stealer for repairs.

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Your dealer should have the equipment to check for and read any fault codes. This should take only a few minutes. Might be worth your time.


Oh, and big twins can be reluctant to start when cold sometimes. Your 2-3 second attempts are a bit brief to conclude there is a problem. Don't be afraid to hold the starter button on for up to 10 seconds, but no longer.

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Yes the 3 to 4 seconds are short and could contribute to the problem when the engine fails to start. Repeated attempts like that will cause fuel to puddle in the cylinder when cold and cause a hard start issue. Just thumb it until it starts within the 10 second rule and see if it happens again.

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I am sorry to hear you are having problems with the GS---I have had three somewhat similiar problems-and they are the result of corrosion in the fuel pump control located on the left upper part of your tank--engine fires (residual fuel in injectors) then you could spin it till hell freezes over with no results--have them check this out as there was a recall on the early models--good luck

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Thanks for all the replies! smile.gif


I have read about cold start problems recently, but I am living in South Africa, in our summer, so it's certainly not even close to cold. I had ridden the bike for 90 minutes, between 13h00 and 14h30, and it refused to start at 18h00, just 3 and a half hours later. I figured this wasn't in the same category, really, but it could be.


Thanks for the 10 second rule, I was scared to hold the starter for so long. I will check on that sidestand switch, and monitor my behaviour. The thing is, I had no problems for the first 1900km, and I'm a creature of habit, I don't think my start routine has changed any. I'm a bit concerned that this is a new issue. The sidestand switch or ECU problem sounds possible.


Oh yes, I didn't want to mention this before, as it will make me sound like a real idiot, but there is something else. A few weeks back, my dog got hold of my nice new, leather-encased key, and gave it a chew. The key looked allright, just a few toothmarks, but the leather cover was destroyed. It has seemed fine since then, until now. I suppose it's possible the key has some internal damage that is starting to manifest now? I'll try the spare, wallet key and see if it helps any in these situations. We only get 2 keys here, a master and that thin wallet key. I'm not sure about elsewhere - the manual says we should get 3).


It's great to have all the help. It took two attempts to start this morning (although I let go on the first attempt after 3 seconds again), so I'll be watching it closely. I'll apply the 10 second rule and take it in for a check if it continues to struggle (before some cold weather comes!).


Thanks to everyone who replied, I appreciate every one of them.

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If it was an issue with the key the bike wouldn't recognize it at all and wouldn't even crank. So the dog is off the hook this time.

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