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Thread: ABS problem R1200GS and other musings

  1. #1

    ABS problem R1200GS and other musings

    Like to share with you guys and gals a problem I had with my R1200GS. Spent months and many $ preparing Shadowfax for my retirement inauguration trip to Montana from Blue Ridge VA. The fateful morning arrived, loaded her up, kissed darling wife goodbye and made it as far as the stop sign at the end on my street. ABS "brake failure" and no power assist. Back to the garage for a look-see. Had fleeting thoughts about catching a dealer on the way out, but silly boy, this is a BMW not a Harley, and dealerships are scarce in the heartland. Since I had an appointment to make on the Crow Indian reservation (mission trip) darling wife helped me remount on my unserviced and bug-splatted Battle Star ElectraGlide and off I went. 4,500 miles round trip without a hitch and had it serviced in Billings MT at a HD dealer very close to where I was staying. While waiting, the Sales Manager let me chose any bike I wanted for a test ride. Got a Ulysses XT very dirty on an awesome unpaved butte dirt road and all the manager wanted was to make sure I had a good time. I can't remember the last time a similar perk was extended to me at a BMW dealer, like never. I also recalled all the dealerships I had in Mississippi (last residence), like none.

    Got back and found out that when I installed a Bob's BMW wrist rest, I had a slight misalignment of the hand guard. It was touching ever so lightly on the front brake lever and would not let the initial start up sequence clear the ABS fault. The garage door was down when I was checking it and I noticed the brake light was on. If the garage door was up I wouldn't have noticed and probably hauled it by truck to the nearest dealer where their one mechanic at great expense would hopefully discover the problem.

    Lessons learned:

    Check the bike out thoroughly after each do-hickey you install, no matter how insignificant it may appear.

    Don't do above or add anything new immediately before a big trip.

    Check your hand guards alignments occasionally to ensure you have proper clearance with the levers.

    I don't know, after 35 years being a BMW Owner (my BMWMOA # is 25696) I am ready to throw in the towel and you may see a 2005 R1200GS ABS in the Flea Market or e-Bay soon. Over complex, expensive, sparse or no dealer support. No, I am not going back to R100 airheads as I experienced quite enough Bing carburetion quirks to last a lifetime. Even with all its faults the Buell is starting to look better as a cross country single up dirt road machine. Maybe I am just mighty disappointed with the whole BMW experience.

  2. #2
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by Capt_Curmudgeon View Post
    Lessons learned:

    Check the bike out thoroughly after each do-hickey you install, no matter how insignificant it may appear.

    Don't do above or add anything new immediately before a big trip.

    Check your hand guards alignments occasionally to ensure you have proper clearance with the levers
    This happens a lot to folks ...even after a gentle drop the lever can engage due to touching the guards on the GS

    Sorry you had that happen at all, even worse as you are rolling away on a trip. Hope you get the bike you want...even if it's not a BMW...
    Steve Henson-Mod Team and SABMWRA Prez

    Be decisive, right or wrong.The road of life is paved with
    flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision~unknown

  3. #3
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    I had a similar HD experience;

    Never owned a HD and a BMW guy for 35 years now, #13233. I test rode some new HDs in Laughlin,NV a few years back and all they did was give me the keys and say have a great time. Alone, go anywhere! I was surprised I did not get the guided tour, funeral procession follow me, kind of ride....They just gave me a new bike, I came back in an hour and they gave me another, off I went again. Very uncommon in bike shops anywhere!....Randy PS; Keep your hopes up for BMW, because it gets better with more miles on the newer ones. They are complex, piles of crap in too many ways for me too. GSA1200 at 34000 now, and its better than the beginning by far. Its broke in and I've learned a LOT about the machine and its quirks...Its a clearly 20-30000m breakin for these things. Best Wishes and keep rid'in, anything you choose

  4. #4
    Thanks for the encouragement guys. I did not mention that during the trip I saw only two bikes broke down and abandoned on the side of the road, but both were F series Beemers. I may seem to obsess over the dealership issue but I do all my touring single bike either solo or with DW. Back when I had airheads all you needed was routine maintenance, the very adequate tool kit under the seat, some basic skills and just about every problem that surfaced was fixable on the side of the road. I do not have that same confidence now and 500+ miles from help is not comforting. Ewan and Charley can go Long Way Round and Down but they also had two support trucks to accompany them.

    That said, when all is functioning I do not believe I have ridden a better all around bike than the R1200GS. It's ride and performance is stunning I think.

  5. #5
    K Bikes Complex by Choice cjack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Urbana, IL
    The new style handprotectors introduced in '08 I think will not foul the levers.
    R1200GS LC Rallye
    Jack Hawley MOA and RA #224, KE9UW ("Chuck")

  6. #6
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Camas Valley Oregon
    That's an interesting perspective on BMW vs HD dealerships.
    The HD dealer here in Roseburg Oregon went out of business this year.
    I have not one but two BMW dealerships within an hours ride of me and chose the one I bought my first RT from in Eugene.

    Each time I go in for service I'm offered my choice of any bike in their store to ride around while they service mine or if the work cannot be performed in a few hours they allow me to ride home some seventy miles and come back with their bike when mine is ready.

    I will say that on trips through Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Colorado I stop at HD dealers as I can't seem to find any BMW dealers near where I need to blow out the bugs with compressed air from my oil cooler. These HD dealers are always friendly and most helpful. I just can't justify a seven hundred pound bike with only sixty some odd horsepower and small horses at that.

  7. #7
    Roger that on the 700 lb - 60 HP HD, except you are being overly kind. A tour ready ElectraGlide goes closer to 800 lbs, and once you throw in luggage and a regulation size wife you have some serious weight to contend with. Fortunately it handles much better than it deserves in the parking lot and the very low seat height helps out. What baffles me about HD is the weight of the accessories: any kind of rack or bolt on must be made out of solid pig iron, heavily chromed of course.

    Darling wife and I looked into a R1200RT for our retirement two-up tourer but she balked at the seat height. I can get into it OK but not-so-good knees makes an over 30 inch seat (higher for pillion of course) difficult for her to climb on. We still may do it though. I think a Ural would be perfect but she has nixed that idea.

    You are also right about the adequate dealer availability on East and Left Coasts; it's what's not in between that gives me pause.

  8. #8

    Lookee here what came in the mail today!

    Well, BMW sent me a letter, a stickie and a manual insert warning me that the handguard may interferfere with the brake circuit. Exactly a week late for me.


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