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Thread: Grabby brakes? 2010 R1200GS

  1. #1

    Grabby brakes? 2010 R1200GS

    I've only been riding for a couple of years. My first bike was a Suzuki Burgman 650. It is equipped with triple disc ABS brakes. Plenty of stopping power.

    I bought a 2010 R1200GS-adv a few months ago. The brakes are about the same design, with slightly bigger rotors. Oddly enough, they aren't remarkably different in size.

    One big difference between the two is the "grabbiness" of the brakes. At low speeds (below ABS speed), it takes very little pressure at all to hard stop the front wheel on the BMW. It is a very different feeling on the Suzuki, where it is easy to apply a little front brake coming to a stop at low speed and still maintain smooth control. In fact, on the Burgman (which weighs more than the GSA), I tend to need to apply some front brake coming to a stop. The BMW will stop fine on rear brake alone at low speeds.

    I have to admit, it is a little hard switching between the two and coming to an abrupt stop unexpectedly on the BMW can be a little disconcerting.

    People go on about how good the BMW brakes are, and I can't argue. Is this grabby character just part of that?

  2. #2
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Camas Valley Oregon
    I thought this was going to be about dirty brakes. (Grabby mis-spelled Grubby)
    If you apply gentle pressure to the hand brake does the bike slow down smoothly? If so there is probable not much wrong with it. If on the other hand it "pulses" and doesn't stop smoothly I'd see the dealer right soon.
    Last edited by MPMARTY; 04-22-2011 at 08:15 PM. Reason: spelling
    Marty - in the western Oregon mountains.'06RT, (gone '04RT, '86 Venture Royal, '81 Yamaha Virago920, '82Suzuki GS1100GK, '76 Suzuki GT750, Triumph 750 Bonneville, BSA Road Rocket 650, 61" Harley knucklehead)

  3. #3
    Didn't realize this was unique to hexheads/camheads.

    There's no pulsing in the brakes, or any other obvious signs of trouble or defect. They just seem real "grabby". The difference between the GSA and the Suzuki is very remarkable in terms of feel. Just one finger on the lever will result in an abrupt hard stop on the GSA, while on the Burgman, you can squeeze it pretty hard.

    Maybe it is because they're still very new or maybe my technique needs improvement.

  4. #4
    Proud Veteran SteveAikens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Clovis, NM
    Actually, "a few months ago" doesn't say much if you haven't been riding the bike much. How many miles have you put on the bike? Because of the year, I'd presume you bought it new. If so, and you don't have many miles on it, what you're experiencing is not uncommon. The brakes on the hexheads are pretty well known to be fairly touchy when new.

    Coming from a feet forward scooter to a big motorcycle, you're going to notice a big difference in braking in just the riding position. On the scooter, you're more "laid back" than you are on the GS, which has a more forward riding profile with your feet under and slightly behind you. Having that weight more forward is going to translate to a more aggressive braking "feel" and when combined with the better stoppers on the BMW, it's going to take a little getting used to.

    Give it some time and miles, you'll learn to control the new bike better as you ride and love it.

    Congrats on the new steed.
    Nom de Plume:
    Steve Aikens, Clovis, NM
    BMW MOA #6218
    IBA# 442

  5. #5
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Marion VA-In the middle of some of the best riding in the country.
    I think whether they are grabby or not depends on what you are accustomed to. After riding my R80RT a few years, I bought a CLC with servo assisted brakes that felt grabby until I got used to them. After riding the CLC a lot and getting used to the brakes, I got on my R80RT and wondered why it didn't want to stop without excessive effort. I have a car and truck that does the same thing to me.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  6. #6
    Touring Panpsychist Theo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Western MA
    I've found that the RT (and, I'm guessing, other BMWs) rewards the rider who gains finesse with its operation. I came from a cruiser and have felt like a bull in a china shop getting accustomed to the RT. My very patient SO can tell you about the times that I've grabbed the brakes while riding two-up. Thankfully, she had my back to smash into, stopping her from launching forward!

    For me, it took a full season of riding to grow accustomed to the RT. Key changes I needed to make were:

    (1) learning to cover the brake with two fingers instead of four and gently flexing the joints of my fingers to apply pressure rather than grabbing with my whole hand force;

    (2) preloading the shifter before upshifting, and completing the shift by gently pressing up and with a quick stab of the clutch and an equally quick throttle modulation.

    Nothing beats practice; in this case, you may want to find a large (clean) parking lot and try practicing stopping smoothly. Get it up to about 30 mph and then come to a smooth stop. After you have done this successfully about 20 to 30 times in a row, you'll find gently stopping is easy. Note that if you ride two-up, you also want to try this exercise with your pillion.

    Once you have mastered gently braking, go back to the parking lot and practice emergency braking. This is a terribly important skill (IMHO) that should be second-nature to accomplish. On the road, the times you may need to emergency brake will not allow you to think about HOW to emergency brake; it must be executed immediately! Having the muscle memory to allow you to do this without undue consideration may be the difference between a close call and....

    Being a teacher, I love learning...and I am ALWAYS learning on the RT!


    2009 R1200RT, 2007 Shadow Aero 750 (sold)
    2012 MINI Countryman S, 2004 MINI Cooper S JCW, 2000 BMW 328i

  7. #7
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Spring Lake NJ, USA

    I've added the year/model of your bike to the thread title. This is helpful because people with the same bike may be drawn into the thread, and in this case - brakes are quite different depending on the year of the GS (pre'07 had servo-assisted brakes)..

    Please consider doing this yourself on future postings to the tech forums - it's good for you (people might look) and good for others searching for the same info in the future.

    Thanks for your cooperation!
    Don Eilenberger
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  8. #8
    I was hesitant to mention my Burgman 650, people see "scooter" and think 100cc vespa, but the Burgman 650 is a very big bike. I actually weighs more than a R1200-GSA! Braking technique on the Burgman is pretty much standard, except that the rear brake is on the left grip.

    The GSA is still pretty new, due to weather and some other disruptive events, I've only managed about 700 miles on it so far.

    Applying the brakes at speed works fine. The brakes on the GSA are powerful and smooth. They aren't locking up or activating the ABS. It's those last few feet where the grabbiness is felt. With mild pressure, it has a tendency to jerk to a hard stop. I can do this with just 1-finger on the lever. I can only apply the slightest whisper of front brake pressure.

    On the Burgman, which again, has ABS double discs in front and single disc in the rear, I can apply a fairly firm amount of pressure on the front brake without any hint of a abrupt lock on the front wheel.

    The Burgman has a few thousand miles on it. At 700 miles, I would think that the brakes would be fully bedded in on the BMW, but maybe it needs more time?

    Technique question:

    On the Burgman, I find I need to apply some front brake, coming to the final few feet of a stop. From speed, it's both brakes, to final stop is mostly rear with a bit of front brake to stop it exactly where I want it. Just using the rear brake coming to the final bit of a stop doesn't really stop it where I want it.

    For the BMW, should I not even apply any front brake coming to the final part of a stop? Is that rear brake only territory? Unlike the Burgman, it will stop fine on rear brake alone.

  9. #9
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Camas Valley Oregon
    Learn to use both. Using the rear only is giving up more than half of your braking ability. Get out on a big empty parking lot and work on braking and other skill sets.
    Marty - in the western Oregon mountains.'06RT, (gone '04RT, '86 Venture Royal, '81 Yamaha Virago920, '82Suzuki GS1100GK, '76 Suzuki GT750, Triumph 750 Bonneville, BSA Road Rocket 650, 61" Harley knucklehead)

  10. #10

    Capt Crash

    This will sound silly to many of us 'old hands' who have been riding for many a year and know everything - yeah right - but in preps for taking the Lee Parks course in June, I have been looking at and reading a lot of stuff - Hough, Parks, Palladino, Code and the like. Unlike Hilda, I am still a bit intimidated by Heidi. But that is another story for another time. During this review stuff, I happened across a series of vids on youtube by Capt Crash. I know, Capt Crash? As you might guess, they are a bit campy, but actually do contain some really good info. Here is the youtube channel link - and here is his home page link -
    Gear Up and Ride Safe
    Jim Rogers
    2010 R12GSA aka Heidi
    Yorktown, Va

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