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Joe Frickin' Friday

The foibles of other (non-BMW) brands?

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Joe Frickin' Friday

I've owned two motorcycles so far, both BMW RTs.  The first, a '99 R1100RT, exhibited the common weak points:

 

  • failed final drive at  70K miles
  • snapped foot lever off of centerstand at 100K miles
  • failed HES at 110K miles (maybe because Shawn and I took it out and put it in his bike to get him back on the road for the same problem???)
  • ate gearbox input shaft at 125K miles
  • Paralever ate a few sets of pivot bearings over the years

 

The second, an '09 R1200RT, had similar issues:

 

  • fuel pump controller died at 8K miles
  • rear wheel/rotor spider recalled for replacement
  • fuel pump under recall for replacement
  • throttle body plastic pulley cracks at 50K miles

 

Several years ago there was a model of RT (possibly other bikes too) that were recalled due to a serious rear suspension issue, something like the end of the shock absorber breaking?

 

Now I see that the latest R1250RT is having brake issues.  

 

What do you folks know about sport-touring bikes from other manufacturers?  What does the FJR-1300 do as it racks up the miles?  How about the ZX-14?  Other bikes that fill the same niche as BMW's RT?

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Calugo

There's currently a recall on FJR1300's for a transmission issue that involves serious down time to repair and Ducati has issued a recall on the new Multistrada V4 which requires an engine replacement. Kawasaki's flagship H2SXSE has a ECU recall and while not yet a recall some owners are experiencing failed rear wheel bearings due to not enough grease being added prior to the bike leaving the factory. If you visit other bike forums you'll discover all of them have issues.

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realshelby

While the first year of the Wethead did have some suspension issues...... And some later models came with Hayes calipers that leaked. 

 

So far the Wethead and the Shifthead have proven to be superior to previous generation Boxers. And I don't mean by a little bit. I will say these have proven to be less troublesome than their Japanese and European competition. No longer do you assume you will need to repair a final drive. Work on ignition components. Install a new clutch. My ONLY concern is that the alternator would ever fail. But even that isn't common. 

The FJR is and has not been as good as some think Japanese bikes are. The C14 isn't all that well liked even by Kawasaki enthusiasts! I would say they are going to have more trouble than current BMW RT's. Finally. It took a long time till I could say that!

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BrianT
8 hours ago, Calugo said:

There's currently a recall on FJR1300's for a transmission issue that involves serious down time to repair and Ducati has issued a recall on the new Multistrada V4 which requires an engine replacement. Kawasaki's flagship H2SXSE has a ECU recall and while not yet a recall some owners are experiencing failed rear wheel bearings due to not enough grease being added prior to the bike leaving the factory. If you visit other bike forums you'll discover all of them have issues.

Other than the aforementioned transmission recall, my FJR has been bulletproof.  The recall had to do with the 2nd gear breaking due to the wrong hardening or something.  Mine had no issues but Yamaha is replacing the second gear on all the current model style FJR's just in case.  Took about 2 weeks at my dealer.  Mine was the 8th bike they've done it on and so far they only saw 1 actual failure at my dealer.  It is a pretty significant job to replace so if you look at a used FJR, make sure its already been replaced.

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Groanup

If you're talking Kawasaki, don't leave out the Versys. My V1K has about 25k trouble free miles on it. No recalls I'm aware of so far. I just replaced the original chain and sprockets. Didn't really need it, but I wanted to change the gearing anyway. Oil and filters every 7500 miles. Tires about the same (except that damn Pirelli...) It's kinda tall, so not great for short inseams.

Don't let them fool you. It looks like it might be an ADV bike, but it's a sport-tourer with no business being off road. I know for a fact it will make it to the charcoal kilns in Death Valley though. 

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The Fabricator

Retired Yamaha Kawasaki mechanic 2016.

Prior years FJR [don't remember years. 'Use or loose it' memory cells.] Wiring harness burn out behind the steering head.  Recall.

Some had some problem with valves that required cylinder head removal.  Didn't come through my shop. Not sure if recall.

But I WILL COMMENT valve service yielded SHOCKING bills and MUCH technician loathing for both bikes.  

Imagine removing all cam bearings, cam chain tensioner, cam shaft to change ONE shim.   The working space under the frame of the Kaw C14 is about 3 inches.

Folded over valve cover gaskets because it's so hard to see.  Spark plugs down deep holes.

I hated 4 cylinder bike valve adjustments.

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mickeym3

Know my FJR1300 had the valve issue which ultimately resulted in about two months of downtime (was commuting in the PNW so that about shot the good season). Rode a VStrom a year and while trouble free it never captured my love. One Camhead RT was flawless then went through the Wethead RT shock recall (which BMW handled far better than most manufacturers would have).  Wethead GSA was flawless, short stint on Honda AT was uninspiring before coming back to BMW.  Don’t think I’ll be wandering away from the brand again. 

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Cap
12 hours ago, BrianT said:

... FJR has been bulletproof. ...

That has been my experience as well.  I do some wrenching on 2 FJR's for my riding buddies.  The transmission recall only affects the later 6-speed models.  There is also a brake-switch recall on some later models, but it's a minor issue and a quick fix.  Early models (~2005) shed a lot of heat on the rider -- but there are some workarounds, and the later models have mostly solved the issue.  As an aside, the fix for the transmission recall includes  reprogramming of the ECU in 2nd gear to reduce power.  

 

My primary complaint about the FJR (and the Kawasaki Concours 1400) is that they are somewhat ponderous.  The RT is very nimble, and switching to an FJR is like riding a freight train.  They have a lot of power, and it takes awhile to get the fire burning, and then it takes some planning to get them to turn.  At least, that's how it seems to me after riding a wethead RT.  My R1150RT was similarly less nimble, without the power of the FJR.  So, perhaps if you are coming off an oilhead RT, you would find the FJR to be a comfortable transition with a lot more power.

 

Cap

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JamesW

I can't resist.  I bought my first non-BMW bike in '16 a used '10 FJR which, thank heavens, has the 5 speed transmission so no trans problems.  Neighbor has a '15 FJR (last year before the recalled 6 speed model) with only about 3K miles he wants to sell.  Personally, I would not own a generation 3 FJR (2013-present) because imo Yamaha began cheapening the bike in too many ways to mention here.

 

Long and short is I'm thinking, just thinking, about selling my FJR and just sticking with BMW and my '93 RSL.  Not particularly interested in a new BMW mainly because of age as in me. I should also mention that my FJR is mint condition with only 14K miles that I've owned since '16 beginning with less than 1K miles and won't need a valve clearance check until 26K, thank god.  I've also learned that while there is a Yamaha dealer virtually on every street corner most, at least in my neck of the woods, are totally unfamiliar with the FJR and I wouldn't trust them to lay a hand on my bike no way so I do my own maintenance.  Just removing the body panels is a b#@ch compared to any BMW I've owned beginning with my still missed '77 R75/7 bought new '76.  I'm not impressed with Japanese bikes or cars for that matter.  That said of all the Japanese bikes I do still favor the FJR as it does have some good points and when the tach hits around 6K revs it's like a rocket launch.  Doesn't handle bad either at 640 lbs.  Got to watch it going over a speed bump especially with a passenger on board because of the rear shock mount, grrrrrr.

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BobW03

I will speak to the Kawasaki Concours as I had a 94 C-10 but switched to an 03RT vs the C-14. The older Concours-1000 was in production from 86-2006 with the same engine, tranny and rear end. In 94 the bodywork changed slightly and only colors changed each year. It was considered a 'parts bin bike' as almost every thing was sourced from another model except the bodywork. The biggest problem with that and possibly the newer 1400 was being top-heavy. The club actually created 'Connie Droppers anonymous' for people to confess dropping their bikes. But lots of mileage stickers for 100 to 250k miles on those bikes. It was carbureted so hydro lock was a concern if you had a leaking petcock. And the crossover exhaust pipe will eventually rot and impossible to find replacement now.  The gas tank was metal and the lowest point will rot if not fully drained periodically.

 

The 1400 came out as an 07 but listed as an 08 by mama Kaw. Again the took the Ninja 1400 and wrapped some plastic and added bags. The first year had some issues with the panniers not locking in place and Kaw fixed that issue. Minor changes over the years but again a solid engine and drivetrain.

 

Yes maintenance on either generation was a pain with removing all the panels, etc.

 

There is a vendor in Kentucky who has made a business selling add-ons and upgrades to both gens of 'Connie'.

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Ponch
On 4/6/2021 at 10:04 AM, Joe Frickin' Friday said:

I've owned two motorcycles so far, both BMW RTs.  The first, a '99 R1100RT, exhibited the common weak points:

 

  • failed final drive at  70K miles
  • snapped foot lever off of centerstand at 100K miles
  • failed HES at 110K miles (maybe because Shawn and I took it out and put it in his bike to get him back on the road for the same problem???)
  • ate gearbox input shaft at 125K miles
  • Paralever ate a few sets of pivot bearings over the years

 

The second, an '09 R1200RT, had similar issues:

 

  • fuel pump controller died at 8K miles
  • rear wheel/rotor spider recalled for replacement
  • fuel pump under recall for replacement
  • throttle body plastic pulley cracks at 50K miles

 

Several years ago there was a model of RT (possibly other bikes too) that were recalled due to a serious rear suspension issue, something like the end of the shock absorber breaking?

 

Now I see that the latest R1250RT is having brake issues.  

 

What do you folks know about sport-touring bikes from other manufacturers?  What does the FJR-1300 do as it racks up the miles?  How about the ZX-14?  Other bikes that fill the same niche as BMW's RT?

 

At least yours went to 50K before breaking. Mine were a lot sooner. 2015, but I live in AZ where the heat is hard on plastic. BMW was like, that's the first we heard of it, but when I put in a complaint to the government safety agencies, there were other complaints. I think it's too costly to do a recall and that's their justification. If the cost of the liabilities exceeded that, they'd act. So the weird thing is, then why the fuel strip extension? The cracked throttle bodies is worse. The cracked TBs really pissed me off. Now there's a thread about cam wear on 1200 LCs and 1250s on the MOA forum. While some things aren't widespread, I think BMW can do a lot better considering the cost of the bike. I think even HD is more reliable. Kawasaki, hands down more reliable. 

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MikeB60

HD has issues as well with some of the newer models. Compsators, oil migration between the trans and the primary to name a few.  Ask @60Aviator about the oil migration issue but in general they are reliable. The guy I bought my house from has a 2014 Ultra that has over 100,000 miles without major issues. Our parking lot at work is full of Harleys that are trouble free. 

 

German vehicles and plastic is definitely an issue. I have owned VWs and any underhood plastic is subject to break if you touch it.  BMW car forum are full of issues with plastic as well. Too bad they used plastic on such a key component in the R1200 series. 

 

While there are some isolated issues,  I think the wetheads and shift cams have proved to be reliable. You can throw the 2013 and newer K1600s in that basket as well. The newer BMW are complex beasts there are bound to be some issues, as for me, I'll roll the dice they are still fantastic machines. 

Edited by MikeB60
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