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Reality Check: 1996 R1100RT


hcmiller92

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I need to vent a bit about reality vs. perception about the quality/problems with R1100RTs.

 

Yesterday, I picked up my new-to-me-last-fall 1996 R1100RT at my dealer’s, Max BMW, in Troy, NY after its 42k check. I bought this bike from them last October with 40,200 miles. I immediately signed into this web forum to get with other folks to learn from their experiences with the bike and to find out about the peculiarities/problems with this model. I wasn’t on for long before I felt I had made a huge mistake, concerned at the thoughts of the inevitability of a blown final drive, input splined shaft disintegration, surging and a number of other supposedly “common” problems with this bike. I was starting to believe BMW make junk bikes and were simply bought by folks because of the prestige value of the marque. All of those beliefs have now changed.

 

Paranoid, I approached service manager, Tony, and asked him how it went: “fine, everything done.” He showed me the checklist and the bill. $431 for all parts and labor (mostly labor), including all the adjustments, checks and fluid changes, including a flush of the brakes. Yea, I could have done most of the stuff myself, but when he told me that next time I’d need a new fuel filter and that was going to cost me 1.25 hours of labor – and realizing it would take me 4 – I’m not so concerned about the cost to have them do the service work. My time is worth something and I’d rather be riding (last year was my first year riding and I logged 15,000 miles, starting with a Honda 250 and graduating upward).

 

More important than anything else, Tony gave me the reassurance to have confidence in this bike - and in BMW motorcycles - as well-designed and well built (and I know many here disagree with that assessment). I asked him about all the issues I’ve seen posted here in the forum and, while he’s heard of all of them, he indicated they were really in exceptional cases or in specific runs of a model, not a common problem across the model. In terms of reliability and durability, he said he’s seen R11s with 200k on the clock that have needed no major work. His own bike is a 1987 K-bike and has 400,000 miles, again with no major problems (I realize this is a different machine than ours).

 

Overall, I am absolutely in love with this bike and have a newfound confidence (ignorance is bliss?) about it. I know one can say that the dealer “is going to say those things and not tell you the horror stories” but I’ve got to say that I have tremendous confidence in Max BMW, that they EARNED after I bought the bike, discovered some switch problems and they replaced them for FREE (about $600 worth of work, in fact), even though our deal was to split costs. They also give me a loaner whenever I bring the bike in for service. Last fall, that was a brand new R1200ST with 25 miles on the clock. I kept it two days and put 200 miles on it while they made the repairs previously noted. These guys host forums every weekend, let you ride any bike you want, always treat you courteously, know their equipment, have fresh-brewed gourmet coffee and treat you the way you get treated when you walk into an expensive men’s clothing store. I know I’m paying for that service – but not excessively. My Kawasaki dealer charges just as much on my Kawasaki and they add a touch of sleaze to the transaction, too boot. At age 54, I guess I want a little of that pampering.

 

I’m very happy I bought this motorcycle and that I bought it from Max. I have no affiliation with them other than as a paying customer.

 

Curt

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All bikes have their strong and weak points, including the 1996 RT. Remember that people come to this forum looking for help with problems so naturally you will read about a lot of them, but with proper maintenance the vast majority of BMW bikes will run to very high miles with no serious problems.

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I have the same paranoia about my 2000 RT-P. Didn't want to take it far from home the first few times I rode it because of what I had read. But I have had it for 4 mo and 6K miles and the things seems solid. I always thought that my 2004 Honda with the extended warranty would be rock solid and the BMW would have problems, but my VFR has been in the shop twice with failures and the BMW (w/ twice as many miles) has had 0 issues during that same time. I agree with the first poster that these huge driveline issues seem to be the minority.

 

But, of course, now that I have said THAT......

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I think the problem with any DB such as this is that you only ever see the bikes that have had the problems. This is because a post that says "my bike is faultless, please help me" is silly. There is no doubt that failures do happen. Some would argue that they happen too often for a bike with BMWs rep. I do not like the quality of paint finish on the metalwork on the bikes. I know that this is largely out of BMWs hands because of Euro legislation regarding use of water-based paints and I shall be re-painting some of it with solvent based paints.

My clutch wore out in 30K miles - my fault not the bikes, whilst in there I checked the splines - and like the majority of these bikes they were just dandy.

All mechanical devices will have failures, BMW are no exception. I do not believe they are any worse in this respect to any other brand and are better than many.

 

Add to the mix the concept of Durability as opposed to reliability. Yes you get failure of components - but they fix easily and go on. I had a cam-bearing fail on a Honda and the head was scrap - it had done 70,000 miles but the design wasn't durable. The fix was major component replacement, rather than minor.

 

I am about to set out on a 2000 mile tour on Saturday. My warranty has expired (we get 2 years unlimited mileage in the UK) and I am not in the least bit concerned.

Enjoy the bike. Depending on preference, either service it or get it serviced to schedule and it will just keep on going.

 

Andy thumbsup.gif

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DavidEBSmith

I was starting to believe BMW make junk bikes and were simply bought by folks because of the prestige value of the marque.

 

BMW makes fine bikes and they're simply bought by people who are goofballs. Get a BMW owner in a room with owners of other makes and he'll brag about the high miles on his bike, how he rode it from one end of the country to another without a hitch. Then get him in a room with other BMW owners and they'll all start whining about how BMW makes crappy bikes and they're totally unreliable and expensive and BMW doesn't treat their customers like the special people we are and the last real BMW was the K-bike, or the Airhead, or the /2, or the R32, depending on how old a geezer he is. And then after spending $20K on precision German engineering, they whine because an oil filter is $11 but they could get a POS Fram at Wal-mart for $3.99, and how it's crazy that BMW expects you to put on a brand-new 40-cent crush washer every time you change the oil, when everybody knows you can use them three or four times before they're crushed-out. Harley riders wear black leather so they can be rugged individualists just like all their riding buddies, BMW riders get spline lubes so they can fit into their clique.

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I'm certainly liking my bike ('99 RT). Max BMW is the real deal, I've been going to the original NH location for quite some time. A bunch of us rode out a couple of years back for the grand opening at that Albany (Troy?) NY store that you speak of. Last year I was out of commission (riding, at least) due to a bad surgery on my foot. When I popped in last week I didn't expect people to recognize me (or remember my name). Not true, those who were around a few years remembered me, what I ride, and what I last looked at.

 

This year I decided to do the service work myself. I have to admit the real reason I chose to do it was to save money (yes) but knowing that if I got stuck, I could call the Max BMW Ambulance and someone would come and pick up my bike and take it to the shop (there is no charge for this service within 100 miles of a Max store). So far I've avoided the ambulance. . .

 

I guess my point is that if conditions were different and you had a different dealer, you might not feel that great about BMW (if you had to shell out the $600 to fix the problem). Prior to my BMW, I had Hondas. I lived with the crappy service attitude of the local Honda dealer. Since I've had my bike and had such a positive experience with Max, I don't think I could switch to a different bike.

 

And my disclaimer is that I don't work for Max and I have NOT consumed any Max "free" beverage in the past 48 hours (so there's no "happy juice" behind my sermon here...)

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Harley riders wear black leather so they can be rugged individualists just like all their riding buddies, BMW riders get spline lubes so they can fit into their clique.

 

EB that's priceless! LMAO

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John Dickens

If you have a look at the Pan European or GL forums you'll find exactly the same story.

People just don't report on the positive side of life. Considering the number of Beemers out there the fault ratio is very small.

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I thought the same thing with my 96 RT...I put 40K miles on it in 2 years with nothing breaking, other than usual wear items, and none of them left me on the side of the road. My 2nd to 3rd gear was always "strange", my centerstand scraaaaaaped when things got hot and heavy grin.gif, but overall the bike ran and shifted smoother than it ever had up till I sold it last weekend. I expect the same from my new-to-me 03'GS1150, and if i should have issue's , I'll just fix them/

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While my current RT is a fine ride despite having had a rear diff failure, I would take my 96 RT back in a heartbeat if it was possible. It was a great bike!

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I wasn’t on for long before I felt I had made a huge mistake, concerned at the thoughts of the inevitability of a blown final drive, input splined shaft disintegration, surging and a number of other supposedly “common” problems with this bike. I was starting to believe BMW make junk bikes and were simply bought by folks because of the prestige value of the marque. All of those beliefs have now changed.

 

I had those same fears after picking up my "new-to-me" '96 a couple summers ago. I gained a lot of confidence in and respect for the bike after last year's trip (temps ranging from low 90's to low 30's, 5 straight days of rain and/or snow in 5,000+ miles.

 

Not to say, I don't have issues, but they are no longer in the front of my mind when I "saddle-up."

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my centerstand scraaaaaaped when things got hot and heavy

 

... and here I thought I was the only one who "customized" his centerstand via pavement-grinding!

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