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Thread: 2001 R1150 GS - Clutch / Transmission Failure at 14,500 miles

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    2001 R1150 GS - Clutch / Transmission Failure at 14,500 miles

    Today I headed out for a ride on a beautiful day in Michigan - one of few we've had this spring. I had the 6,000 interval service completed at my local BMW dealership at about 13,500 miles in March. Check oil every time I ride, and at every fill up - no issues with burning oil or leakage of any sort.

    I was at a stop sign, took off in 1st gear to cross the intersection, and as I went to shift to second, all I got was a bad whining toward the front of the bike - definitely not toward the rear hub. The transmission would not go into neutral unless turned off, then shifted easily. I tried restarting a couple of times and jostling the bike a bit to see if something was stuck, but just had the same whine, along with a bit of a hot oil smell. If I restarted in neutral everything was fine - engine running perfectly, no warning lights on.

    Fortunately I was about a mile from home so just pushed it on back - thankfully a level road. BMW comes to pick it up tomorrow for a diagnosis. I'm hopeful of a clutch but worry it is transmission. Most clutch failures I've had just free revved and didn't make a bad noise - but those weren't on BMW's. This bike has been babied since day one I purchased it with 11k miles from someone I knew - so I'm pretty disappointed in this type of failure at what I would see is low mileage. Was considering a new BMW - but after searching various threads, Quality doesn't seem the strong point I thought it was. Will update the situation once I hear the damages. I do have a good dealer locally so am hopeful.....

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    Just me rad's Avatar
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    You know you are on a 12 year old motorcycle? Such few miles on a BMW in that many years is not good for all the seals on the bike.

    Unless you heard a very loud "screeeeeeech", it is not the splines. I doubt it is the trans. With so little use I would guess it would be the rear main seal or clutch slave cylinder that failed and the resulting leak fouled the clutch plate.

    My best WAG, having not been there

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    Quote Originally Posted by rad View Post
    You know you are on a 12 year old motorcycle? Such few miles on a BMW in that many years is not good for all the seals on the bike.

    Unless you heard a very loud "screeeeeeech", it is not the splines. I doubt it is the trans. With so little use I would guess it would be the rear main seal or clutch slave cylinder that failed and the resulting leak fouled the clutch plate.

    My best WAG, having not been there
    Yes - definitely old, and I've put 3k on it last summer so it only averaged about 1k/ year. I did have various seals checked - but know that normal riding is better to make things last. No large Screeech - it does feel like the clutch plate could be fouled - not engaging - just spinning.

    I've done much of the work myself in the first phase of riding - from 1970-85 mostly small dirt bikes, then nothing until around 2005 and then had a Kawasaki KLR650 - still pretty simple. I switched to the GS to stop the vibration of the KLR numbing my hands/feet on longer rides - but worry that my basic skills might create more problems than I fix if I do the work myself. I looked at a bike my friend has, R90/6, which seems a lot more friendly to work on - may have to switch!

    Thanks - appreciate the thoughts.

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    Curmudgeon nrpetersen's Avatar
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    The suddenness of the problem probably means something broke - not a gradual oil seal leaking stuff onto the clutch. Stripped transmission input spline?
    Retired w 2005 K1200LT, 2000 R1100RT, & 1975 R90/6

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    Pistol Shooter headhog's Avatar
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    My best guess is your clutch disc is toast. A leaking slave cylinder for the hydraulic operated clutch is suspect. These slave cylinders have been a source of clutch failure. Another contributing factor is the low use this GS has seen in the last 12 years. Unfortunately seals and gaskets dry out from lack of use and fail. I don't suspect you will have any transmission problem, as a clutch failure will be expensive enough to repair.

    These are very good machines, but like all machines they need to be used regularly.

    Good luck and I hope you are back on the road soon.
    MSF Instructor
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    Registered User PAS's Avatar
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    An incident at that mileage would totally P---- me off! I have an 81 R100RT with 164k and have no fear of taking it on a tour. I also have an 03 R1150RT with 17K that keeps me wondering how far I will get before something fails. I dont get it!

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    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAS View Post
    An incident at that mileage would totally P---- me off! I have an 81 R100RT with 164k and have no fear of taking it on a tour. I also have an 03 R1150RT with 17K that keeps me wondering how far I will get before something fails. I dont get it!
    Well, I have an 03 R1150R with 170,000 miles that has never had an on-road breakdown. So it isn't in the pedigree.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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    Curmudgeon nrpetersen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Headhog View Post
    A leaking slave cylinder for the hydraulic operated clutch is suspect. These slave cylinders have been a source of clutch failure. Another contributing factor is the low use this GS has seen in the last 12 years. Unfortunately seals and gaskets dry out from lack of use and fail.
    I'm not sure I buy that "dry out" concept. Just because it has rarely been hot shouldn't reduce a seal's life, it should increase it. What gaskets would "dry out"?

    I think it is pretty much an old wives tale - maybe from the days of cork, leather water etc.
    Retired w 2005 K1200LT, 2000 R1100RT, & 1975 R90/6

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    Quote Originally Posted by PAS View Post
    An incident at that mileage would totally P---- me off! I have an 81 R100RT with 164k and have no fear of taking it on a tour. I also have an 03 R1150RT with 17K that keeps me wondering how far I will get before something fails. I dont get it!
    The great news is I was a mile from home - vs a 1,000 mile weekend route through the upper peninsula I'd planned for Friday. Maybe I can get it on the road by then. I'm pretty happy with the whole experience - including the reality of things breaking. Pushing a broken bike home is still better than sitting in an office. Funny thing is I really like this bike - kind of a quirky, ugly thing....but great at the same time.

    Thanks for the thoughts - I will post an update once I know more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NRPETERSEN View Post
    The suddenness of the problem probably means something broke - not a gradual oil seal leaking stuff onto the clutch. Stripped transmission input spline?
    no chance whatsoever. stripped input splines sound much like a bucket of bolts getting tossed by a cement mixer, as the clutch disc just floats all over the shaft, totally disconnected, but banging all kinds of things.
    i'm going with blown seal, leading to fouled clutch surface. rear main seal, clutch slave cylinder or trans input seal would be my guesses, probably in that order of likelihood. seals don't like to sit.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

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    Just me rad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerfish1100 View Post
    seals don't like to sit.

    That shows just how little you S owners know

    i-WLRgRrd-M.jpg

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    Registered User PAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Well, I have an 03 R1150R with 170,000 miles that has never had an on-road breakdown. So it isn't in the pedigree.
    I sure have read about a lot of spline, final drive and HES failures. Your lucky Paul. We know you stay on top of things.

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    Registered User roger 04 rt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAS View Post
    I sure have read about a lot of spline, final drive and HES failures. Your lucky Paul. We know you stay on top of things.
    This is an good thread, and I'm interested in hearing what the OP finds out.

    But PAS, I wonder if Paul is lucky or more like the protagonist in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" who stays in touch with his machines ...

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    Registered User PAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger 04 RT View Post
    This is an good thread, and I'm interested in hearing what the OP finds out.

    But PAS, I wonder if Paul is lucky or more like the protagonist in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" who stays in touch with his machines ...
    No doubt he stays in touch and I try to, but sometimes things happen quite unexpectedly. Especially at low mileage. That is one of the things I dont like about the RT, you cant see what is happening under all the tupperware. Such as minor leaks should they occur and doing a simple throttle body synch.

  15. #15
    Registered User GKman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerfish1100 View Post
    seals don't like to sit.
    I never saw one in a package with a USE BEFORE DATE like my Twinkies have.

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