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Thread: Advice Requested: Thinking About Replacing 1150RT with Hex or Cam Head

  1. #1
    Registered User 2dflier's Avatar
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    Advice Requested: Thinking About Replacing 1150RT with Hex or Cam Head

    I have a 95K mile '04 R1150RT I'm considering replacing but am seriously conflicted about what to replace it with.

    I love the RT for the boxer cadence at cruising speed and all the things it does so well but am less than thrilled by the prospect of trading the devil I know for the devil I don't. Including final drive and trans rebuilds, a clutch replacement, and misc other stuff I have almost as much repair money in this bike during my 33K mile custodianship as I paid for it 4 years ago. I didn't do my homework before and rather not repeat that mistake.

    Some who make their living repairing these things advise staying away from '05 and newer but I'd really like to leave servo brakes and clutch splines behind - including 40K mile lube intervals. Pulling the trans was great fun the first two times but it's not something I want to get good at.

    It's reassuring to read that hex heads seem to have left clutch spline issues behind but less reassuring that they traded them for FD issues - however overblown that might be. I've read cam head FD are improved but have also read that '09s are the last of the good boxers. So I don't know what to believe.

    Some are probably reading this and thinking I bought a relatively high mileage bike for a decent price and should quit complaining about having to dump some money into it. Fair enough. I didn't do my homework. Besides, given all that's been fixed this bike should go another 90K with good maintenance and a bit of luck. Certainly keeping this bike is an option, but where's the fun in that?

    What I'd like to do is understand the relative strengths and weaknesses and durability concerns of the hex and cam heads compared to each other and the 1150s. The reality is my stretch budget will probably only support a 30ish K mile cam head so whatever I look at I need to know what to look for and what I might be getting myself into.

    Thanks
    May the road rise to meet you...

  2. #2
    Krmugin
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    I did what you are considering. My mechanic recommended a camhead, and I purchased a 2012 demo. I wanted to wait for the wethead to come out, but didn't.

    The camhead is a dramatically better engine than my 04 was. It has automatic choke now, and runs smoother and better than the 1150. All. Day. Long. I shift about 1000 RPM higher than I did on the 1150 because the engine is just smoother. The 2012 has cruise control, and I use it more than I thought I would. Long ish days are much more fun. I don't notice until I'm riding with my GF, and her bike doesn't have cruise control. She is always shaking her arm out at stoplights, and I don't need to.

    The camhead final drives are better, and don't seem to have the same problems that the hexheads do. I'm not sure the shims on the DOHC motors are necessarily better, but they lost a bunch of space under the valve covers with the dual cams and needed to make it up somewhere. The DOHC motor is much smoother.

    The only problem I had was a leaky rear seal that was repaired under warranty. Other than that, 32K miles and counting. T

    I'm kind of glad I haven't taken a test ride on the wethead, especially since the no-ride order was lifted. I fear that my fat butt will notice the extra horsepower... The only downside to the wethead that I'm aware of is that the clutch, while now also wet, costs as much to replace as the dry clutches do... oh, and it has a stator instead of an alternator.

    I felt that I was in a great predicament, because I had a great bike in the 1150 that I really liked, and found a much better bike in the 2012. Kind of a win-win. I'd buy another 2012 in a heartbeat.

    Can you test-ride the different bikes and compare a little for yourself?

  3. #3
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    Definitely go with a camhead--they were the best sorted of the oilhead lineage. For the GSA's those were 2010-2013, while the GS's were 2010-2012.

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    Registered User 2dflier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krmugin View Post
    Can you test-ride the different bikes and compare a little for yourself?
    Thanks for the response. Depending on how far I want to go there's a variety of used hex and cam heads to ride. Hex heads are close. Cam heads are a few hours away. I'd like to limit the search to a model and year range. A wet head will be quite awhile if ever in my budget. I demo'd a GS and was surprised by the difference in character. It seemed to spin up a whole lot quicker and easier.
    May the road rise to meet you...

  5. #5
    Having had many bikes and three Beemers, I can say the camhead is light years ahead of my old RS 2000 model. My 2011 R and now 2011 RT are relatively easy to do normal maintenance like change plugs, filters, sync throttle bodies, change oil, etc.. I do valve checks but haven't had to replace any shims on my bikes as they have both been spot on. (but are low mileage too). The brakes are fantastic. Riding behind my barn door RT yesterday at 44 degrees with heated grips and cruise on for awhile let me appreciate it all the more.
    'I'm funky now in every way".
    2011 R1200RT
    2015 Ducati Multistrada
    2013 Honda CRF250L

  6. #6
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Having had two of the hex/cam heads, and one '04 R1150RS - the '07 R1200R and the '12 R1200R have it all over the R1150RS. Smoother doesn't come close to describing the engine difference. Between the hex and cam - I feel little difference, but I do like the camhead. The '07 took me 96,000 miles without trouble (or reardrives, splines, etc.. etc.. and the new owner has it over 100,000 with no problems) and I'm counting on the '12 to do the same. Consider the R1200R - it had the camhead engine until 2014 (and the same basic bike is still being made as the R-Nine-T.. tarted up a bit..) and is very easy to maintain since there isn't all that plastic stuff in the way that other models have.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  7. #7
    Registered User 2dflier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deilenberger View Post
    Having had two of the hex/cam heads, and one '04 R1150RS - the '07 R1200R and the '12 R1200R have it all over the R1150RS. Smoother doesn't come close to describing the engine difference. Between the hex and cam - I feel little difference, but I do like the camhead. The '07 took me 96,000 miles without trouble (or reardrives, splines, etc.. etc.. and the new owner has it over 100,000 with no problems) and I'm counting on the '12 to do the same. Consider the R1200R - it had the camhead engine until 2014 (and the same basic bike is still being made as the R-Nine-T.. tarted up a bit..) and is very easy to maintain since there isn't all that plastic stuff in the way that other models have.
    Thanks for the direct comparison. I need to hear the success stories as well as the horror stories. The R model - especially looking like this one - is gorgeous and what a bike ought to look like. But, much as I'd love to ditch the plastic, the bike is my primary transportation so I really want the weather protection. I also want to do some LD stuff. But damn, that sure is tempting...

    Quote Originally Posted by mutley View Post
    Riding behind my barn door RT yesterday at 44 degrees with heated grips and cruise on for awhile let me appreciate it all the more.

    May the road rise to meet you...

  8. #8
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Another vote for the Camhead, preferably '12 or '13.

    BMW continuously improves its products yearly and these have it all.

    Float rather than fuel strip.
    Reinforced fuel pump flange
    Steel rear wheel spider
    Best audio combination, i.e. Sirius and Bluetooth to your helmet.

    Compared to the very earliest Hexheads ...
    No whizzy brakes.
    Increased auxiliary electric plug capacity

    Only downside to the Camheads is that they lost the wiring for a second horn.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  9. #9
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    If you do your own maintenance the simplicity of the hexhead is hard to beat. No shims required for valve adjustments

  10. #10
    Registered User 2dflier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    Another vote for the Camhead, preferably '12 or '13.

    BMW continuously improves its products yearly and these have it all.

    Float rather than fuel strip.
    Reinforced fuel pump flange
    Steel rear wheel spider
    Best audio combination, i.e. Sirius and Bluetooth to your helmet.

    Compared to the very earliest Hexheads ...
    No whizzy brakes.
    Increased auxiliary electric plug capacity

    Only downside to the Camheads is that they lost the wiring for a second horn.
    Excellent summary. Thanks much.
    I don't know when they changed but I know the first hex heads also lacked FD drains.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffkruger View Post
    If you do your own maintenance the simplicity of the hexhead is hard to beat. No shims required for valve adjustments
    Good point. For the most part I do my own. Is the cam head adj that much more difficult? I thought they were generally more stable once worked in.
    May the road rise to meet you...

  11. #11
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    In the long run Camhead valve adjustment is less trouble simply because it's seldom needed.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  12. #12
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2dflier View Post
    Thanks for the direct comparison. I need to hear the success stories as well as the horror stories. The R model - especially looking like this one - is gorgeous and what a bike ought to look like. But, much as I'd love to ditch the plastic, the bike is my primary transportation so I really want the weather protection. I also want to do some LD stuff. But damn, that sure is tempting...

    They do just fine for LD stuff.. my '07 had been to Nova Scotia 3 times, from NJ to California, up the coast and back to NJ, and all over the east of the Mississippi in the 96,000 miles I owned it. Plus when I was working, it was my regular commuter (except from November-March when there is no daylight savings time in NJ - and the deer started jumping) for about 5 years. It never had more then a medium Cee-Bailey screen and BMW GS handguards on it. Rode it from 30F to 110F.

    Don't discount the R1200R for an all-round bike, IMHO it's the classic BMW twin - versatile, easy to ride and a good all-round bike. Lots of local NJ club members came to the same conclusion. Really a case of less is more.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  13. #13
    Registered User PCHRT's Avatar
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    Always sucks buying a dream bike only to have that feeling eroded by expensive repairs.



    I've had 3 pre-2007 RT's and have had no issues with any of them, other than one failing ESA rear pre-load motor. Granted I bought them with low miles. I for one don't mind the wizzy brakes and if they've been maintained shouldn't have a problem. There are a lot of bad stories because those are the ones that stand out and you 'hear' about. If you look at it from a numbers standpoint I'm willing to bet there are probably a lot more good stories out there that you just 'don't' hear about. They all have their problems, assemble the pro's and con's for each year engine model and add up the cost of ownership. for say worse case and make your choice.

    There is a HUGE difference from the 1150 to 1200 motor, based on just my hex-head exposure. More power, more torque and just a better responding bike. I LOVE the aesthetics of the 1150rt's, they are a work of art, while the 1200's carry a more chiseled appearance. Also for me the hex-head is just as easy to work on as the 1150 was and the servo brakes can be done by a back yard mechanic like me so there's not a lot to be afraid of other than if the unit does fail $$$.

    in either case look for a lower mile bike, if your budget can swing a cam-head, go for it. More newer and as others indicate mo betta. On the other hand I've been more than happy with my pre-07 hex-heads and you can still come across ones with low miles on them. Even those up to the 10 model year.

    Good luck and Enjoy the Ride!

  14. #14
    You need the "best seller" S1000RR for sure.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  15. #15
    Registered User 2dflier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCHRT View Post
    I for one don't mind the wizzy brakes and if they've been maintained shouldn't have a problem.
    I LOVE the aesthetics of the 1150rt's, they are a work of art...
    I don't have any real issues with the brakes other than their being an inelegant solution in search of a problem. I appreciate simplicity, which is probably why the R is so appealing. But yeah, the 1150RT still has one of the prettiest faces in motorcycling.

    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    You need the "best seller" S1000RR for sure.
    NO! One of the things the boxer does really well is keep me out of trouble. I like to say the 1150 lacks the sensory incentives that incite the inner hooligan - though I do miss the occasional hit of an I4 wickin up.
    May the road rise to meet you...

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