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  1. #1

    '03 vs '04?

    Long story but I just purchased 2 R1150RT's. One is an '03 with 16 K miles in great condition with a solid service history. The other is an '04 with 29K miles in great condition also with a solid service history.

    Other than the obvious ie. color, mileage, etc, are there any failure points, techinical reasons, maintenance reasons to favor one over the other?

    I did not intend to buy 2 but now I have to decide....any input or advice will be appreciated! Thanks.

  2. #2
    Registered User PAS's Avatar
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    I can only add the 04 is a dual plug motor that was supposed to eliminate any surging, but that also gives you one more coil to worry about. They both have the whizzy brakes that need special attention service wise. I own an 03 with 26K on it.

  3. #3
    Just learning about each....the 04 has servo assist brakes.....apparently the 03 does not. Both have the ABS ring on each wheel so I assume both are ABS equipped.

    The fuse setup on the 03 does not mention ABS while the 04 has fuse(s) for ABS functions which confused me as I thought ABS required electrical capacity.

    I have noticed the 03 surges at or under 3K rpm but the 04 does not....did not know the dual spark was the fix. I can live with the surging.

    I much prefer reliability....and ease of maintenance unless there clear advantages.

    If the 03 definitely has ABS, it seems that the 03 is favored? Being new to these bikes I don't want to live with a hasty decision.

    All opinion/advice will be greatly appreciated!

  4. #4
    Pepperfool GSAddict's Avatar
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    AFAIK Both bikes of that vintage should have servo brakes.
    Providing the ABS system are operational, you should hear a servo motor actuate when pulling the brake lever or pushing the pedal.
    Last edited by GSAddict; 09-17-2017 at 09:56 PM.
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  5. #5
    The 03 came with servo brakes... it was not an option. It may be that the servo unit failed, was removed and the brakes are now manual. A common modification. ABS is integral with the servo unit... if the servo is gone so is the ABS. The sensors are usually left installed out of convenience of not having to remove them.

  6. #6
    Now I am really concerned/confused... the 03 owners manual fuse description page makes no mention of ABS fuses, etc. The 04 manual on the fuse page does mention ABS. The 03 fuse box has 2 empty slots with no wiring prongs in spots where the 04 has fuses.

    I hear the servo motor on the 04 but not the 03.

    On both bikes the ABS warning lite flashes until the bike travels a few feet then goes out.

    Where should the servo motor be...and what does it look like?

  7. #7
    Registered User cap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAS View Post
    I can only add the 04 is a dual plug motor that was supposed to eliminate any surging, but that also gives you one more coil to worry about.
    I have an '04 RT with the dual-plugs. I recently (inadvertently) ran an entire multi-day tour of 3000+ miles using only the secondary plugs. I am a fan of the dual plugs. I have owned single-plug 1150's that did surge a lot, and I do like the smoothness of the dual-plug engine (When both plugs are firing!).

  8. #8
    Pepperfool GSAddict's Avatar
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    Dual spark was from 12/02
    Ref: Max fiche
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by GSAddict View Post
    Dual spark was from 12/02
    Ref: Max fiche
    It might be on the fiche that way but I've never seen a '03 with dual spark.

    Dual spark bikes don't surge. Single spark bikes might. I had an '02 that was almost unrideable. The '04 behaves like a good running old Airhead.

    both bikes have Servo assisted brakes. i believe that started in '02, but was improved slightly to be less sensitive by '04.

    proper maintenance on the servo brakes, bi-annual brake flushes is all you need to do. I love them personally.

    Many people are of the opinion that the '04 Oilhead's are one of BMW's better designs. IMHO too.

  10. #10
    Pepperfool GSAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPGR90s View Post
    It might be on the fiche that way but I've never seen a '03 with dual spark.

    .
    One of my regular clients has a 02/2003 RT1150 dual spark.
    Others I have serviced were dual after '02
    '
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    Need your R11xx Hall sensor rewired? PM me.

  11. #11
    Left Coast Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPGR90s View Post
    It might be on the fiche that way but I've never seen a '03 with dual spark. Dual spark bikes don't surge.
    My '03 R1100S is dual spark. Dual spark bikes don't surge as much as single plug motors.

    I had to replace both stick coils at about 60k miles..

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by RPGR90s View Post
    It might be on the fiche that way but I've never seen a '03 with dual spark.
    Some of the model year changeovers were very early in those years. Case in point, the '05 R1200GS that came out in January '04 or even earlier. I know the Oilheads were very early in '03 and/or /04.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by skrusich View Post
    Long story but I just purchased 2 R1150RT's. One is an '03 with 16 K miles in great condition with a solid service history. The other is an '04 with 29K miles in great condition also with a solid service history.

    Other than the obvious ie. color, mileage, etc, are there any failure points, techinical reasons, maintenance reasons to favor one over the other?

    I did not intend to buy 2 but now I have to decide....any input or advice will be appreciated! Thanks.
    My first BMW was a used 04RT I found on eBay (in 2010 ) for $7,000 with 17,000 on the odometer, in the 90,000 miles I put on it in five years the only major repair was the fuel pump at 57,000 miles , replaced the stick coils twice and the hall sensor once other than that just routine maintenance . The 04RT is a very reliable bike the only thing that's touchy was getting used to the fully integral brakes but once you knew how they worked they weren't a problem.

  14. #14
    Registered User tangoalpha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skrusich View Post
    Long story but I just purchased 2 R1150RT's. One is an '03 with 16 K miles in great condition with a solid service history. The other is an '04 with 29K miles in great condition also with a solid service history.

    Other than the obvious ie. color, mileage, etc, are there any failure points, techinical reasons, maintenance reasons to favor one over the other?

    I did not intend to buy 2 but now I have to decide....any input or advice will be appreciated! Thanks.
    First of all I see that you're new here, so let me be the first to welcome you to the BMW family and the Fraternal Order of Oilhead Owners. Just in case you haven't already figured it out...you now own an Oilhead. No wait, make that TWO Oilheads! Don't mind the bickering back and forth, we're like a big happy family that really cares about each other but argues at the dinner table over small matters. So anyway....welcome again to the family.

    Now to your post and the question you asked. To be perfectly upfront with you, I was somewhat lost on what you were trying to say. You stated that you bought the two bikes, which you did not intend on doing, but in the same breath you said that you now need to decide. Your follow-up post stated that you didn't know much about either bike and do not want to live with a hasty decision. So admittedly, I'm a bit lost on all of that. It sounds like to me if you were only intending on buying just the one bike, but ended up buying both, the hasty decision was already made (from how it sounds). So I'm not sure what it is you're still trying to decide upon. Are you planning on keeping the one bike and selling the other? Keeping both and keeping the second as a spare or as a parts bike? Maybe you could clarify that for us. From my perspective....you now own 2 really great bikes! I'd be curious how that all came about too. Was that a package deal? Same seller?

    As for the specifics of your question, yes, there are a couple weak points worth mentioning that you should be aware of. The Servo Assisted ABS Braking System is one that comes to mind for most owners. To me, it seems like it's a love/hate relationship for many. I personally love the whizzy brakes on my bike and I marvel at what an amazing piece of engineering the entire system is. Then again, my system works and has never failed me. I might have an entirely different opinion if I were looking at a $3,500-4,000 repair bill in order to fix a broken system. The braking system is linked between the front and rear brakes, so whenever you apply the front brakes, the rear brakes applied and vice versa. The ABS pump works like any other anti-lock braking system, except in that ours has those wonderful squealing servos. The purpose of those servos is to prime the hydraulic fluid pressure through the system so that when the brakes are applied, the braking response and pressure is boosted/amplified. The end result....VERY TOUCHY BRAKES! Don't stomp on them unless you'd like to reenact a scene from the movie Superman as you fly over the handlebars. The system need to be serviced as of others have said no less than once per year. That's a non-negotiable. Secondly, you should plan on replacing those brake lines and upgrading to steel braided hoses. Most folks prefer Spiegler. If you maintain your system as you should, it will last you many years to come. There are plenty of Oilhead RT owners with 70,80,90,100k+ miles on their bikes with functioning Servo Assisted ABS. With regard to your '03. Your bike was equipped with them. There wasn't an option to order the bike without them. They were only model years 2002-2004. If yours doesn't work, then it could have been removed. However....you noted that the ABS light goes out after the self check and the wheel begins spinning. Whoever somebody has removed their ABS system, from every account that I've read, the annoying ABS light remains on. As if the computer is looking for the missing ABS. Advice on how to turn the light off usually ends with a remark along the lines of..."remove the build or put tape over it." meaning that if your system was removed, then the light wouldn't go out. So my theory is that possibly, your ABS system is intact, the pump is working and that only your servos are dead or disconnected which is why you cannot hear them when you apply the brakes. Just a theory...I really have no idea whether that holds true or not, but gee....it sure does sound like a logical explanation, don't ya think?

    Next, final drive failure. Regardless of what bike you opt to keep/sell, if that's your plan, final drive failures were a problem for many owners. My bike had a complete final drive meltdown at 19,000 miles and had the FD replaced. The bike now has 25k miles on it. Now it's believed the cause of this had to do with over shimming and not necessarily poor BMW design. Unless you know that your FD was recently serviced, I would drain the oil, taking note of any metallic shavings. It least it's a starting point and you'll then be able to document what you saw and what the condition of the oil was upon changing it for the first time. I'd do the same with the crankcase and gearbox. Get a service manual and be sure that you know what the correct torque specs are when screwing back in the fill/drain plugs. Just to give you an idea...the R1150RT requires 23NM of torque for the fill/drain plug FD and the gearbox is 30NM. Buy a couple torque wrenches (3/8 and 1/2 if you don't already own them). They require crush washers which you will use in conjunction with the drain/fill plugs. Do not reuse old crush washers. Thrown them away! A good source for these and many other cheap parts is Beemerboneyard.com. As for me personally, I can't speak for others, but I will change my FD and Gearbox fluid every other oil change. So...every 10K miles. That's my plan of attack to try and head of any potential problems that might occur later down the line.

    Last thing....output shaft. It's another area that requires maintenance. Depending on your skill level, you may or may not want to tackle this on your own, but either way, you need to ensure that the spines on the output shaft are lubed regularly and properly. If you PM me I can send you a couple links and tell you about a couple sources that I used to help bring me up to speed on my bike. You now own two of these bikes, so learning how to properly maintain them is key. As they say...knowledge is power.
    "Der Bimmer ist wunderbar."

    Tango Alpha
    2002 R1150RT

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