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2018 R1200rt Engine noise and hard shift


cyclenut

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I'm a very experienced motorcycle rider, mechanic and have owned several BMW's prior to my latest purchase of a 2018 r1200rt 6 weeks ago with 3500 miles on it. To my total disgust, I in my entire riding experience have never had a nosier bike with what sounds like cam chain slap, valve clatter and vibration thru the handlebars as this bike. Additionally the bike is hard to shift going into 2nd & 3rd as if the clutch isn't fully engaged. I bought the bike from a dealer with 3500 miles on it and it still has a year of factory warranty left and paid top price for what I thought would be a major improvement over my 2013 oilhead .

 

After riding it 300 miles, taking it to two different BMW dealers and paying them to check it out and getting the standard "it's normal" as both a very experienced rider and mechanic, cannot accept this to be OK.

From some of what I read, others have experienced this same issue in "some" of the bikes (after it's warm at low speed/idle it sounds like a can of bolts) rattling around) and I am trying to get some feedback from others that will help me determine if I should try to fight it out or just take a loss and get rid of it?

 

SO disheartening and definitely the last BMW I will own. 

 

Appreciate the feedback!

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16 hours ago, cyclenut said:

I'm a very experienced motorcycle rider, mechanic and have owned several BMW's prior to my latest purchase of a 2018 r1200rt 6 weeks ago with 3500 miles on it. To my total disgust, I in my entire riding experience have never had a nosier bike with what sounds like cam chain slap, valve clatter and vibration thru the handlebars as this bike. Additionally the bike is hard to shift going into 2nd & 3rd as if the clutch isn't fully engaged. I bought the bike from a dealer with 3500 miles on it and it still has a year of factory warranty left and paid top price for what I thought would be a major improvement over my 2013 oilhead .

 

After riding it 300 miles, taking it to two different BMW dealers and paying them to check it out and getting the standard "it's normal" as both a very experienced rider and mechanic, cannot accept this to be OK.

From some of what I read, others have experienced this same issue in "some" of the bikes (after it's warm at low speed/idle it sounds like a can of bolts) rattling around) and I am trying to get some feedback from others that will help me determine if I should try to fight it out or just take a loss and get rid of it?

 

SO disheartening and definitely the last BMW I will own. 

 

Appreciate the feedback!

Evening  cyclenut

 

If you are an experienced mechanic then just identify the root cause of the noise or noises then get your dealer to repair or replace what you have have positively  identified as the cause. If the dealer won't help you then get BMW involved (see if you can get a BMW rep to meet you with the motorcycle at the the dealer).  Might not be easy with the Covid thing going on.

 

Some of those newer boxers are fairly noisy at lower speeds, it seems to be more RT related than GS related (at least on the few that I have ridden & listened to).    I have a friend with a 2017 that I would consider having a noisy engine (doesn't bother him a bit). I did some services on it a while back  so rode it with the plastics removed and  to me it sounded quieter with the plastics removed than with them on so possibly some of the engine noise is reflective. 

 

I really don't know what to tell you as some riders get paranoid when they hear engine noises & others just  ride on then address things as they come. 

 

By your opening post I sense that you will never be happy with that particular BMW due to the engine being louder than you will accept so your best option might be to just re-sell it (or trade it back in) while it is still worth a decent amount of money.  

 

Another suggestion is to grab an oil sample then send it to Blackstone Labs for analysis, if it comes back normal then you don't have much leverage with BMW to get them to do anything (so just re-sell it). On the other hand, IF the oil sample shows something going on in the oil sample then you can possibly  get BMW involved to address that (or take legal action) 

 

BTW, your 2013 wasn't an oilhead it was a camhead.

 

  

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My 2018 is very noisy especially after last bike, a GTL, sometimes when it is very hot sounds like there is someone with a hammer going at it inside. It smooths out and quiets down around 3k and over. There is slight vibration in the bars 4k and over. The vibration is similar to past bikes - K100RT, K1100LT and K1200LT. My 2018 RT shifts fine. I have gotten used to using the shift assist which makes shifts around 4k butter smooth. I had to get used to NOT having to preload shifter like every other BMW I have had.

With its faults I prefer it over the GTL, it took awhile to get used to the difference between them but I prefer riding the RT.

 

Gary

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I have been told by several dealers that it is a normal noise.

I have submitted the following videos below to BMW Motorrad and  my dealer.

Some guys claim the noise is caused by the “unloaders” mounted on the exhaust cam. 

The bike now has 48,000 miles and has always performed fine, except for the noise during idle.

I guess that is why they make earplugs. :4317:

Valve or Motor noises 04/18/2018

Motor noises at 33K on 12/21/2019

 

As for changing gears from 2nd top 3rd or from 3rd to 4th. My solution is to either use the Shift Assist feature or preload and use very little clutch lever travel when upshifting. I have been told that all of the issues I have had with the transmission are related to me not being familiar with using a Wet Clutch. 

I did have a conversation with a fellow in Germany, who after changing dealers, found a service manager that changed the clutch and clutch basket under warranty and it cured his problems.

But you may find comfort it this statement from my dealers service manager: “Don’t worry, if it breaks it is covered by warranty”.

So either get used to it or sell. After all it is nothing but a fancy farm tractor.

 

 

 

 

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Something like the Ducatti clutch chatter? Some hate it, some love it.

I like the Duc chatter, haven't heard the BMW rattle. If I knew it didn't matter for performance or longevity, it wouldn't bother me, I'd just own it and ride it.

I ride an older, beat on Harley, it clicks, clacks, and whirs like it's got no oil at idle. I'm sure your Beemer has nothing on it for obnoxious noise.

Edit: I just listened to the video, that is a pretty good "knock" at idle. Smoothes out pretty well at speed. Still doesn't sound as bad as mine (115,000 miles so far). Like I said, if it is doing no harm, I'd just run it.

Or if it really bothers, sell it and get a nice smoothe 4 cylinder.

Goldwings are pretty quiet.................

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I must be lucky!  My '17RT lacks the "clatter" I hear on other videos and shifts smoothly.

For what it's worth info:

  • 2017 R1200RT with 28,000 miles
  • Valves and cam timing checked twice and a minor adjustment to right side cam timing made at 24,000 miles
  • Castrol Power1 4T 5W40 full synthetic m'cycle oil used since 1140 miles when I bought it
  • Oil level at middle of sight glass

Shifting:   This bike up-shifts smoothly in all gears with clutch use, and in up-shifts using shift assist pro it shifts smoothly from 2nd-to-3rd and upward while holding throttle position steady...1st-to-2nd shifts hard and will lurch the bike.  Down-shifts are smooth in all gears using the clutch, and down-shifts with shift assist pro are easy from 6th on down to 2nd IF throttle is fully-closed.  I don't use shift assist pro for any shifts between 1st and 2nd, up or down.

 

Attached is a sound-on video of my bike at cold startup.  It does sound like I need to pay close attention to the left cylinder valves at next checkup.  One valve was borderline at last check I believe.

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Hey, even a Dodge diesel PU isn't that noisy.  This comment from my better half but I thought it was appropriate. lol..lol..  No, I don't own a Dodge PU.

 

Man, if my FJR sounded like that it would find a new home,  just sayin'.  BMW's answer to this would probably be a gift certificate for a set of ear plugs.

 

Seriously, something like that would cause me to pass blood until it got fixed.  That can't be normal it just can't!

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When I bought my first BMW, a 2000 R1100RT OilHead, I also bought a set of ear plugs. 

The bikes work great and last, but every time I start use one without ear plugs, I think it will explode or something any moment. In the mean time I have learned to turn up the music.  LOL

And yes some of the new diesel trucks are quieter then my WetHead.

I use a stock wind shield.

Using the clutch less shift assist pro, I can upshift without grinding any gear and downshifts all the way to 1st gear are no problems. Sometimes, I can even shift from first into neutral as I slow down for a intersection, without using the clutch lever.

The grinding or mashing of gear teeth only happens on upshifts from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd or 3rd to 4th, while using the clutch, if I pull the lever more then a 1/4” from it’s resting position.

I don’t know what causes it. But after 48,000 miles, I am getting used to the bike. 

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22 hours ago, BamaJohn said:

I must be lucky!  My '17RT lacks the "clatter" I hear on other videos and shifts smoothly.

For what it's worth info:

  • 2017 R1200RT with 28,000 miles
  • Valves and cam timing checked twice and a minor adjustment to right side cam timing made at 24,000 miles
  • Castrol Power1 4T 5W40 full synthetic m'cycle oil used since 1140 miles when I bought it
  • Oil level at middle of sight glass

Shifting:   This bike up-shifts smoothly in all gears with clutch use, and in up-shifts using shift assist pro it shifts smoothly from 2nd-to-3rd and upward while holding throttle position steady...1st-to-2nd shifts hard and will lurch the bike.  Down-shifts are smooth in all gears using the clutch, and down-shifts with shift assist pro are easy from 6th on down to 2nd IF throttle is fully-closed.  I don't use shift assist pro for any shifts between 1st and 2nd, up or down.

 

Attached is a sound-on video of my bike at cold startup.  It does sound like I need to pay close attention to the left cylinder valves at next checkup.  One valve was borderline at last check I believe.

That's a sweet sounding BMW to my ears!  

 

 

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Motorhead1977

Guess I'm lucky. I came to the 2018 RT from a GL1800 which is the gold standard of smooth quiet and powerful. My RT is quiet making no excessive noise and shifts very smoothly.  It's not Goldwing quiet but then nothing else is. 

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I've been riding for a few (dozen) years myself I hate to admit (hey, I started young!!) and consider myself pretty tricky on a back road when there's no cops around lol... and I have some of the same issues with my bike. (2016 RT - 18k miles)

Engine is just noisy in general. At start ups the cam chain sounds make my KTM blush, and on the road it just has all manner of strange tippy/tappy/rattly sounds coming from it. The shifting is crunchy 50% of the time when I'm not in the perfect RPM range (early shifting or hammering on it it shifts great) and the power shifter is pretty much garbage unless you're going way too fast for being in traffic.

That said, man I really like this bike!

I just did a full service on it with the help of some more experienced friends and it really made a big difference in how well the engine is running. New plugs, oil, adjusted the cam phasing, engine timing, checked the valves (tappy valves are happy valves!), air filter, rear drive oil... and it's still just as noisy... but it's running like a different bike now.

 

BTW - that bike in the video sounds great - for a BMW - so you can baseline against that.

 

Best of luck! :18::beer:

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On 11/13/2020 at 5:12 AM, Bernie said:

I have been told by several dealers that it is a normal noise.

I have submitted the following videos below to BMW Motorrad and  my dealer.

Some guys claim the noise is caused by the “unloaders” mounted on the exhaust cam. 

The bike now has 48,000 miles and has always performed fine, except for the noise during idle.

I guess that is why they make earplugs. :4317:

Valve or Motor noises 04/18/2018

Motor noises at 33K on 12/21/2019

 

As for changing gears from 2nd top 3rd or from 3rd to 4th. My solution is to either use the Shift Assist feature or preload and use very little clutch lever travel when upshifting. I have been told that all of the issues I have had with the transmission are related to me not being familiar with using a Wet Clutch. 

I did have a conversation with a fellow in Germany, who after changing dealers, found a service manager that changed the clutch and clutch basket under warranty and it cured his problems.

But you may find comfort it this statement from my dealers service manager: “Don’t worry, if it breaks it is covered by warranty”.

So either get used to it or sell. After all it is nothing but a fancy farm tractor.

 

Wow! That's loud! I did listen to a guy who drove off in a 1250RT for a test drive and it certainly sounded louder on a cold engine. But if you noticed - its exhaust headers are bigger in diameter. It doesn't explain the noise from yours however as it is a 1200RT. Mine sounds like BamaJohn's in the video. Certain in that they say every RT has its own character.

 

As to the original post - sometimes my RT sounds like a bucket of bolts and does these awful upshifts. I've never figured out one thing that may contribute to it but then it seems to disappear and not come back for a while.

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Both of my videos where recorded with a the bike being Hot, after an extended ride.

The video that BamaJohn recorded was with a cold motor. My bike sounds much nicer when the motor is cold.

It also shifts a lot better when cold. 

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On 11/18/2020 at 4:40 AM, Bernie said:

Both of my videos where recorded with a the bike being Hot, after an extended ride.

The video that BamaJohn recorded was with a cold motor. My bike sounds much nicer when the motor is cold.

It also shifts a lot better when cold. 

 

I just don't think there is THAT much difference when cold vs. hot. But in your video it is certainly louder that what I am used to. 

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On 11/18/2020 at 3:40 AM, Bernie said:

Both of my videos where recorded with a the bike being Hot, after an extended ride.

The video that BamaJohn recorded was with a cold motor. My bike sounds much nicer when the motor is cold.

It also shifts a lot better when cold. 

Bernie made me think more about this, and I realized that I come home from a ride and ride into my workshop, put down the side stand (which kills the engine), get off and then take off my helmet...so I don't listen to the bike when the engine's hot.   So today I rode 100 miles and when I rode into my workshop I left the engine running and took this video with sound....Bernie:  My engine is louder when hot too!  :D

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On 11/13/2020 at 5:12 AM, Bernie said:

I have been told by several dealers that it is a normal noise.

I have submitted the following videos below to BMW Motorrad and  my dealer.

Some guys claim the noise is caused by the “unloaders” mounted on the exhaust cam. 

The bike now has 48,000 miles and has always performed fine, except for the noise during idle.

I guess that is why they make earplugs. :4317:

Valve or Motor noises 04/18/2018

Motor noises at 33K on 12/21/2019

 

As for changing gears from 2nd top 3rd or from 3rd to 4th. My solution is to either use the Shift Assist feature or preload and use very little clutch lever travel when upshifting. I have been told that all of the issues I have had with the transmission are related to me not being familiar with using a Wet Clutch. 

I did have a conversation with a fellow in Germany, who after changing dealers, found a service manager that changed the clutch and clutch basket under warranty and it cured his problems.

But you may find comfort it this statement from my dealers service manager: “Don’t worry, if it breaks it is covered by warranty”.

So either get used to it or sell. After all it is nothing but a fancy farm tractor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On first start of the day my '18 RT runs pretty smooth....no loud(to me) clatter but as the engine warms the engine noise at stop lights, etc is very concerning, once I'm at speed noise seems to not be there.

When I bought the bike it had a little over 6K on it and now almost 11K, I gotta figure if something was going to let go it would have by now. On the change of oil I see nothing that would tell me something disastrous is about to happen......  I mean I can feel the vibration in the handle bars....Very much like the vid clip above labeled

04/18/2018

 

I'm to the point that I'm back riding my LT more

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Cyclenut I foresee a Honda Goldwing with DCT in your future. Welcome to the boxer world -  either you love them or hate them. My bike has sounded like that for the past 64,000 miles. Runs like a scalded cat and did smooth out a touch after about 10,000 miles. Honestly I think you are just going to be spinning your wheels trying to fine something that probably isn't there. I would say move on.

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If you have done a valve check and inspected how light the decompression unloader spring is,I think you might feel as I do,that a lot of the “rattle” is that unloader cam flopping around. I’m sure that’s not 100% of the wethead noise but I bet it’s a lot. I’ve been tempted to temporarily remove the unloaders to test my theory but not sure if the starter could still spin it over without them. 

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Motorhead1977

Holy crap that's loud. Sounds like a solid lifter Harley I owned many long times ago (minus the too loud exhaust LoL). I used to refer to it as sounding like a sewing machine.

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John Ranalletta

When I inquired about the noisy clatter, I was told it was caused by the fuel injectors.  Still makes the noise but runs fine.  All services completed by dealer on the GS.

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22 hours ago, Bernie said:

It hasn't gotten any worse in the last 48K+ miles, so it must be normal.

Besides at speed you can't hear. Or just turn up the radio volume.

 

LOL:4322:

.......that's my solution

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  • 3 months later...
EyeBike528
On 11/12/2020 at 3:35 PM, gary45 said:

My 2018 is very noisy especially after last bike, a GTL, sometimes when it is very hot sounds like there is someone with a hammer going at it inside. It smooths out and quiets down around 3k and over. There is slight vibration in the bars 4k and over. The vibration is similar to past bikes - K100RT, K1100LT and K1200LT. My 2018 RT shifts fine. I have gotten used to using the shift assist which makes shifts around 4k butter smooth. I had to get used to NOT having to preload shifter like every other BMW I have had.

With its faults I prefer it over the GTL, it took awhile to get used to the difference between them but I prefer riding the RT.

 

Gary

G, is that low hammer sound enough vibration that it rattles your jaw bone, and is worse especially during deceleration?  I'm experiencing the same as Cyclenut. Thanks!

Edited by EyeBike528
mis named in erata
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On 2/27/2021 at 9:02 PM, EyeBike528 said:

G, is that low hammer sound enough vibration that it rattles your jaw bone, and is worse especially during deceleration?  I'm experiencing the same as Cyclenut. Thanks!

Do not feel it, happens just above idle when hot sometimes. The only slight vibration I feel is on the highway around 4500 in 6th. It is a very noisy motor especially coming from a GTL like I did, easy to let your imagination assume something is wrong with it.

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Skywagon

Two things to know and not worry about on boxers....they rattle like heck and above 4000RPM they vibrate.  They just do.  Not sure why but they do.  I listen to Bernie's links and  Bama's video.  They sound just like mine.  DR once posted why the vibration.  I can't do justice to his post but basically two pistons hammering in unison.  I'm not sure you will ever get use to it.  I am on my 4th boxer engine.  Growing up around various engines (dad was a Chevy Dealer) that rattle still gets my attention. If I heard that on his cars, I would remove the valve cover and tighten down the lifters until that noise stopped.  It's cause me to check the oil more than once.  I pretty much ignore it now after having owned boxers since 2000.

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Paul De

Not going to claim they all do that. I would suggest that if you want to ride an RT Waterhead, then try a few more examples to see if yours is not typical. Or sell it as it will not make you smile with every ride. I’ve ridden a few Gold Wings for a few thousand miles and they are the standard of quiet and smooth, but they still do have their own sound.   I never bought one because they lacked that visceral thing I want from the motorcycles I own. Definitely I’m not into the bone shaking visceral feel like a 60’s Brit twin, or a solid engine mount Hawg, but I want the bike to let me know it is doing it’s thing.

 

My Oilhead RT by no means was Gold Wing quiet, but it was very quiet, and the feedback that BMW marketing got from that vintage was their RT lacked a visceral quality, it was too much a gentleman in a tuxedo.  So in the Waterhead redesign, the RT got more power, louder exhaust, some mass centralization, better suspension and more responsive steering.  It sure isn’t just another evolutionary step from the time tested format, it is a different motorcyle from previous RTs in every way. 


I can see how some who really liked it being the gentleman in a tuxedo may not find the Waterhead to their liking, but I am smitten with the rouge in a tuxedo the RT has become. And when I  ride my Waterhead frisky the last thought on my mind is that it isn’t quite like my Oilhead, all that extra thrust and noise is drowned out by the laughing in my full face helmet.

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It’s called “Character”. Twins of all makes vibrate and make noises. That’s one of the reasons to wear ear plugs or turn up the radio. I know I was one of the complainers, but after all these miles it hasn’t exploded, I figured it will be okay. 
😂

My OilHead and HexHead where quieter when hot, but always made a lot of mechanical noises. 
 

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BamaJohn
33 minutes ago, Bernie said:

It’s called “Character”. Twins of all makes vibrate and make noises. That’s one of the reasons to wear ear plugs or turn up the radio. I know I was one of the complainers, but after all these miles it hasn’t exploded, I figured it will be okay. 
😂

My OilHead and HexHead where quieter when hot, but always made a lot of mechanical noises. 
 

 

34 minutes ago, Bernie said:

It’s called “Character”. Twins of all makes vibrate and make noises. That’s one of the reasons to wear ear plugs or turn up the radio. I know I was one of the complainers, but after all these miles it hasn’t exploded, I figured it will be okay. 
😂

My OilHead and HexHead where quieter when hot, but always made a lot of mechanical noises. 
 

You're not complaining Bernie, just adding to the discussion.  I think we all love our boxers...I know I do!   And the weather's getting warmer now, so let's "RIDE & GRIN!"

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  • 2 weeks later...
alegerlotz

That engine with only 3500 miles on it is very tight.

 

I have to say that around 27000 miles my bike "changed".  The engine smoothed out as if it is finally broken in.  I do my own work, so I've been checking things like the cam surfaces and timing during services, etc... and the bike has been trouble free.

 

The other thing is, the more I ride it with some revs and enthusiasm, the better it seems to run.

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  • 2 months later...
Ironrider

I just got done with repairing & rewinding the stator on my 2014 rt and of course required removal and a partial disassemble of the motor. My motor too makes a slight rattle noise when warm and when the clutch is pulled in, the noise gets a bit quieter. I suspected it was the gear fit ( backlash) between the the crankshaft gear and the clutch basket gear. I have the equipment to accuratly measure this and mine had .0005" backlash. This only increases as the engine warms up due to thermal expansion of the aluminum engine cases. The spec is basically zero clearance to around .001" backlash. Zero would be the quiet ones and .001" would be  more noisy when at operating temp at low rpms. BMW makes 3 different sized gears for the Clutch basket to control this backlash to a minimum. Mine has the middle sized gear and the larger one would probably get rid of the backlash rattle. A proper fit will cause gear whine when cold but become quiet when warmed up. 

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