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R1100RT Downshift from 5th to 4th, Now NO gears but 5th


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1st post here, hopefully someone knows what my problem is with the transmission.

1996 R1100RT with 86,xxx miles.

I was on the freeway in 5th gear at 60, downshifted to 4th to merge and hit neutral. Downshifted again and still neutral.

From that point on the only gear that works is 5th.

There was no unusual noise, and in 1-4th even at 0 mph, I can let out the clutch and nothing, no grinding or anything. Linkage looks tight. 5th gear still works, just a pain to start out riding the clutch.

Is my trans toast and time to part out or sell?

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Ever the optimist, and assuming that you can shift back and forth between 5th and a (false) neutral, I'd take a look at the shift linkage and make sure that a) nothing has got stuck in there to prevent full travel of the shifter arm that comes out of the tranny, or b) play hasn't built up preventing the shift lever from moving that far enough to engage fourth. There is a double rose joint and intermediate link in there that can all wear. I thought I'd had a transmission shifting problem a while back that turned out to be a bent wire bale on the sidestand that subtly interfered with the shifter travel.


You can probably remove the link and test the shifting through the gears with channel locks or vise grips (gently now) on the shifter shaft while the bike is on the center stand or a lift.


Failing the above you're probably looking at upgrading your transmission to a later (and I hear better or at least more robust) one.


Good luck

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Evening gpracer1


There are number of possibilities on your problem. It could be as simple as the little shift lever on the transmission has come loose so the foot lever won't move the trans shift drum (so check the external shifter parts & linkage for a loose pinch bolt or something has worked loose.


If all OK on the external shift parts then there is a possibility that your shift drum (inside the trans) is causing the problem (BMW had a few service bulletins on the shift drum & related internal parts causing the trans to stay stuck in one gear. (like this-- due to machining imperfections, the selector shaft assembly does not move properly. As a result, the selector drum inside the gearbox cannot rotate and gear changes cannot take place).


About all you can do is inspect the shifting parts that you can get to & eliminate those as the problem.

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Do you actually "feel" the clunks as you click up and down 1 thru 4 gears? How about the neutral light, when does that come on as you click thru the gears?

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Thanks for the replies.

The linkage is good.

I can watch the numbers change on the dash, and the neutral light will come on when between 1st and second gear.

There is no real resistance and no clunk when going up or down the gears.


What other models or years of trans will bolt in?


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What other models or years of trans will bolt in?


Afternoon gpracer1



It sure sounds like the shift drum is spinning but not doing any shift fork movement.


On the transmissions that will bolt in.-- About any 1100 5 speed will BOLT IN but you should probably stick to the M-94 or M-97 to keep the gearing the same.


Of the two (M-94 or M-97 the M-97 is probably the best but a very late M-94 isn't too bad.


The M-97 went into production 1100 bikes as of April 1996.


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Check youtube. I saw a good video From Chris Harris showing assembly of a boxer gear box. Don't recall the model but I think it was a 6-speed.

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I'm guessing no way to access anything in this trans without completely pulling it......


Morning gpracer1



Not really, even if you could access the insides the parts to repair are probably more expensive than a good used trans.


There were a few BMW service bulletins on the shift drum, out-of-spec shift drum, poor welds on the shift drum, etc with some BMW updated parts to repair but those would be very expensive.


If I was doing that job I would remove the trans, then split it open, then assess the damage. Then maybe find a low mileage trans with external case damage (for parts) or other external problems OR find a good used low mileage M-97 trans to install.

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Gpracer, I have a 95 R1100RS and had a 5th gear problem also. My problem was an occasional re-shift in 5th but I could still operate normally otherwise.


There are some folks who will rebuild your transmission and do all the labor but the price for that is around $1800. You may also be able to send off the transmission for a rebuild.


As D.R. suggested, the used transmission is a good way to go if you want to do it yourself and that's what I did. There are several available out there, and doing the job lets you get to know your bike really well. I found one from a 98 R1100RT with low miles and it looks like it's going to work well for me.


There is the possibility that you open your old transmission, find the problem and address it, but unless you do this for a living, there will be some uncertainty and that uncertainty is a little scary when you consider the labor involved to get to the transmission. And as suggested above, even the parts can be expensive.


If you decide to sell it as-is, you're not going to get very much for it in its current condition, so you don't have much to lose by trying to replace the tranny. And if all goes well, you'll be on the road again!

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  • 4 months later...

Well for an update.....I just sold the 1100rt for $1300 as is with two side bags.

Bought a 2003 r1150rt with 64k for $2500 from a friend with little kids, can't ride anymore.


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