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Thread: R1200GS Electronics and Water

  1. #1

    R1200GS Electronics and Water

    I tried searching for this topic but I couldn't really find anything so I'm hoping the news is good, and that it's not a topic that is beat to death that I missed. This last weekend was my first real ride in the dirt and had a pretty large water crossing. For those Texas riders it was the James River crossing in Mason, TX. It's probably 100 yards wide and during the crossing the water was up to my shins while on the pegs, so pretty deep as well. While I was at the edge of the crossing, heart in my throat, the only fear I had was what would happen to the electronics if I sink the bike. If the bike took a nap while trying to cross, it would have been "in the water". I get and know what the deal is with the intake sucking in water, but I don't know how fragile the electronics are. Are they fairly water resistant or would I be out the gauge cluster/headlight and both grip electronics (turn signal buttons, horn, ESA, ABS, grip heaters, etc) if they got submerged? I don't know how often that crossing will be in my life, but for future rides I would like to have an idea of who fragile those are. Obviously don't drop it is key but calculated risk and all that... The bike is a 2011 R1200GS I picked up a few weeks ago and I'm loving every minute of it. Growing up riding dirt bikes I forget that this thing is a bit more expensive and fragile than the dirt bike if it goes down.....

  2. #2
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Ah, the James Rivers sketchy are not alone in thoughts or having done a touchdown.
    There are times to just go back the other way! Its just so dang wide when it's running above what I consider passable...and I am not as young or bold as I once was, especially on the big GS. I have friends who want me to guide them out there...but I have also suggested to not do it on particular days.

    Had a bud bring his submarine 05 GS to me several years back after his riding buds on smaller bikes and more sense stayed on the dry road and filmed his wipeout on his GS. The video was on Two Wheeled Texans for some time.

    I drained about 10 qts of gravy out of the engine, took a few flushes and filters to clear it. The bike was parked out in the sun for a week after removing seat,tank, and muffler. The muffler still had water in it.I removed bulbs from headlight and tail/ blinkers and waited for all the condensation to go away.

    Short story is he rode that bike for many more miles with no major issues.
    You see folks go thru some really deep crossings and never have an issue, I'm in the camp the bikes sure are heavy on tech these days and what was cool on a 2002 GS isn't as much on a newer model when you start submerging things.

    Welcome to the forum BTW and enjoy the bike

    Good luck and be grateful it's not salt water...a huge game changer
    Steve Henson-Mod Team and club tire changer

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

  3. #3
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Spring Lake NJ, USA
    Contrary to Steve's friend's experience - a local club member dumped his R1150GS in a stream during an organized ride. The engine ingested water, bent a connecting rod and was totaled by the insurance company. It was later seen being sold on ebay.. (hope no one here bought it.) The bent connecting rod made for a rather lot of vibration, even at idle.

    IMHO - a GS is about 350lbs more weight than I'd like to take off-road, but that's just me I guess. They certainly sell enough of them based on the dual-sport image (although the vast majority in our club have never seen more than some gravel and puddles in a parking lot..)
    Don Eilenberger
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  4. #4
    I have taken my 2011 R1200GSA thru a few water crossings. But I limit it to water not higher than my pegs or I turn around.
    I have not dropped it but I am glad to read from Don that the insurance company covered it.

    I do some preventative maintenance after a trip with water crossings to make sure no water can start corrosion in the bearings and FD area.

    After the trip I will drop the FD to check for water getting passed the boot. I believe a rough crossing can allow water in even with a properly seated boot. Seeing the pictures of the rusted shafts on this forum convinced me to do this after trips. I have sprayed some anti corrosion around ithe shaft also.
    Seek Fun. "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain--and most fools do" BF
    2009 K1300GT,
    2011 R1200GSA
    2014 Kawasaki DTracker; 2016 Honda NC700 DCT

  5. #5
    That's a good point about the water on the final drive. I've heard some horror stories about some of the older 1200 models where the boot would let in tons of water, but it seemed like I wasn't seeing the issue on laterish models (2008ish and on I think). There was even a Touratech part to fix the issue of the leaky boot on those early 1200's. I had the same practice with my Jeep, if the differentials got fully submerged then I would open them up and change the fluid. It sounds like it would be a good idea to do that with the final drive.

    What is the anti-corrosion stuff you are spraying on there? Do you just open the boot and spray it in there on the splines/shaft area or do you take a good portion of the FD apart? I'm all about the preventative stuff with this thing because problems tend to spiral into crazy $$$$$$. So I would rather be over cautious with preventative stuff to keep it from becoming a painful issue later.

    I have been impressed with the off-road abilities of this thing since I've had it. My first ride with it I had it on some short trails that had sand, steep rocky hills, and mud. It took it all with ease. Before last weekend it was just me alone putting/cruising dirt roads and trails. However last weekend I actually road it pretty hard with a group of smaller dual sport guys and kept up just fine and we were blasting through some of the areas. I grew up riding dirt bikes up in the Adirondacks and I get the limitations of the 1200GS being as heavy/expensive as it is. However it is ridiculously capable, especially once you get use to the weight.

  6. #6
    There are excellent descriptions in the DIY section and I have the Haynes manual.
    I simply remove the rear wheel and speed sensor and swing the FD down. (Drain the FD oil first or it all comes out of the speed sensor hole as it swings down).
    This is also a confidence check of the u-joints to make certain they are free and smooth.
    I use Honda Moly Lube on the splines and spray wd40 to displace any moisture. This past August after a trip I also sparayed some basic anti-corrsion on the shaft. I do not remember the brand.
    I let it all dry and put it back together with new FD oil and seals. I have the Haynes manual for my bike which lists the torques etc.
    It takes less than 1 Hr after the first time doing it.
    I also spray a little wd40 to displace water from around the outside bearings of the FD at the end of a wet day. This may be a little over kill but I do not want a failed FD for a long time.
    Seek Fun. "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain--and most fools do" BF
    2009 K1300GT,
    2011 R1200GSA
    2014 Kawasaki DTracker; 2016 Honda NC700 DCT

  7. #7
    roamingbeemer: Thanks for the run down of what you have been doing with keeping the FD in as good condition as it can stay in after running through deep water. I've poked around and like you said it seems pretty simple to do. Thanks again.

  8. #8
    Registered User Woodbutcher's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, that's a crossing I usually go around on any bike. But I've done shorter ones that deep. If you don't drop it then final drive and drive shaft at the attention areas. Make sure the swing arm drains so the U-joints and shaft don't rust as much. Then I'd be tempted to change the fluid in the final drive. And as mentioned, lube the splines.

    Dropping it brings up everything mentioned above. Intake on a Hex/Camhead is on the right so if you drop it on that side you better be quick with the kill switch or risk sucking in water. If you suspect water, pull the air filter and see if the filter or air box are wet. If so, time to pull a spark plug on each side before you crank it. And get the water out of the exhaust. And plan on a couple of oil changes to get the water out of the engine. All stuff you'd do on any submerged bike.

    Oh, and I can't remember off the top of my head how the tank breather hose is routed, but pulling the charcoal canister can change that. But that can lead to water in the gas tank if the hose is on the water while running (some air has to go in to replace fuel as it is burned or you have a vacuum).

    And I'm sure we've all missed some stuff so more suggestions will follow.

    Are you heading to the Roll the Bones rally by Lake Whitney this weekend? Listed on ADVrider and Two Wheeled Texans.
    Austin, TX
    Two Wheeled Texans
    2009 R1200GSA 2013 K1600GT

  9. #9
    I have a feeling that will be the only attempt for me to cross it. It's cool but the risk to killing things is way too high. To add to the risk I still haven't changed over from the street tires it was sold with, so I made the crossing on a 1200GS with street tires . The ride was with the Texas Adventure Riders Austin group and was my first outing with them. I have a picture of me crossing below, so people unfamiliar with the awesomeness of the James River crossing can see it. I have a few more protection items I need before I do something like roll the bones. I have a hard time not getting in dirt bike mode when I'm in the dirt with it, which means the bikes going down at some point and when that happens I want to have a bit more protection.


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