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Thread: Feeling light at speed

  1. #1

    Feeling light at speed

    Hi folks, I’m new to BMW and an ‘18 R1200RT. I’ve got around 500 miles on the clock now and last Friday took a ride up the Maine coast, hotter than blazes (106 degrees on the pike) but everything seemed fine until I got on the Maine Turnpike to head south. At speeds a bit north of 65-70 the bike seems to lighten up and feels a bit “squirrely”. I can’t say it moves around but it just feels odd and does not inspire confidence. My 09 Ducati 1100S Mulitstrada started to hunker down at these speeds and felt like it would hold the road no matter what I did. It was absolutely on rails.
    Tire pressures are good, I’m riding one up, with side cases and the ESA is set to Normal and Ride Mode to Road. Moving the windscreen up or down has no apparent effect.
    Has anyone encountered this before? Is it something that is a characteristic of the bike that I have to get used to? The bike will be in of service soon and I’ll speak to the dealer then and have them test ride it, but I’m wondering if this is a one off or me.

    Thanks

    Brian

  2. #2
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    No help, but my 2018 RT feels solid all the way to 125 MPH, fastest I have had it.
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

  3. #3
    Registered User alegerlotz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gt40guy View Post
    Hi folks, I’m new to BMW and an ‘18 R1200RT. I’ve got around 500 miles on the clock now and last Friday took a ride up the Maine coast, hotter than blazes (106 degrees on the pike) but everything seemed fine until I got on the Maine Turnpike to head south. At speeds a bit north of 65-70 the bike seems to lighten up and feels a bit “squirrely”. I can’t say it moves around but it just feels odd and does not inspire confidence. My 09 Ducati 1100S Mulitstrada started to hunker down at these speeds and felt like it would hold the road no matter what I did. It was absolutely on rails.
    Tire pressures are good, I’m riding one up, with side cases and the ESA is set to Normal and Ride Mode to Road. Moving the windscreen up or down has no apparent effect.
    Has anyone encountered this before? Is it something that is a characteristic of the bike that I have to get used to? The bike will be in of service soon and I’ll speak to the dealer then and have them test ride it, but I’m wondering if this is a one off or me.
    At 106 degrees F, your actual tire pressure is going to be about 4 psi higher than what is shown on the display of your bike (because of the &*%$#@! correction to pressure at 68 degrees F). So depending on what you used to determine that the tires are good, they may be much higher than expected, which will make the bike feel twitchy. The tires themselves may be a contributing factor as well... Some people love michelin PR3 and PR4 tires. Personally, I am not a fan and experienced that "light" feeling when riding on the highways of New Hampshire and Mass with them, especially in a cross wind.

    I seriously doubt that is it anything wrong with your bike, especially given that it is new. I'd double check the tire pressures with a known good/accurate gauge and slow down a bit if it is still bothering you.
    Last edited by alegerlotz; 07-22-2019 at 05:35 PM. Reason: typo correction
    2016 R1200RT
    2007 KTM 450 XC-W (10/17 - 5/18)
    2005 R1200RT (2/2015 - 12/2016)
    1985 Yamaha XJ 700 Maxim (7/1989 - 9/1991)

  4. #4
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    I'd check the tire pressure with a quality gauge if you haven't. How was the road surface, any tar snake? On my 14 I only know I'm doing eighty plus because the speedometer and GPS tell me so.

    Jay

  5. #5
    Addicted to curves azgman's Avatar
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    What tires are you running?
    MOA #107139
    RA #28511

  6. #6
    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
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    On my very first ride, I felt that "squirrelly" effect on an urban interstate with fairly heavy traffic. For a while I thought maybe the top box was the culprit, but removing it disproved that theory. I did not think about it much as the next year or so of riding was nearly all rural two lane highways with similar or even higher speeds, but nearly no traffic, and the bike always felt solid. Eventually I had a trip that required an entire day of busy interstate, and the feeling returned at times. I finally isolated it to buffeting from semi-trailers. Sometimes they were close, sometimes they were a thousand feet ahead, sometimes they had no effect, but it never happened without a trailer present. I attribute the difference in "affecting" distance to the speed and direction of the prevailing winds. Stay loose on the bars and don't fight it, maybe speed up a bit to get ahead and reduce the duration of the buffeting. Mine is an '06 RT, so the wethead aerodynamics may be different.
    Larry
    2006 R1200RT

  7. #7
    All good inputs folks, thanks. For reference the bike is running the Michelins and I can see where the pressures could have been elevated because of the temperature of the pavement. I did not notice any tram-lining on the pavement seams and there were no pavement snakes but we were in and out of a bunch of 18 wheelers and RVs, traffic was heavy until we dropped down into Portsmouth, NH. I tend to hug the tank with my knees and stay loose on the bars.

    Thanks again for giving me something to work with. Next stop is a quality pressure gauge.
    Regards
    Brian

  8. #8
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gt40guy View Post
    Next stop is a quality pressure gauge...
    I bought one from our local indie, and checked it out against a couple of his shop gauges.
    Rinty

  9. #9
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    Gotta ask what tires did it come with?
    Mine came with Metzler, never happy with them
    Second set of PR4’s happy with the result
    None of them like tar snakes

    Jim

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gt40guy View Post
    All good inputs folks, thanks. For reference the bike is running the Michelins and I can see where the pressures could have been elevated because of the temperature of the pavement. I did not notice any tram-lining on the pavement seams and there were no pavement snakes but we were in and out of a bunch of 18 wheelers and RVs, traffic was heavy until we dropped down into Portsmouth, NH. I tend to hug the tank with my knees and stay loose on the bars.

    Thanks again for giving me something to work with. Next stop is a quality pressure gauge.
    Regards
    Brian
    Brian, in the summer of '16 I took my new '16 RT from Big Pine CA to St George UT, leaving early in the morning. When I left Big Pine CA the temp was around 52F. For the last 3h of this day ride the temp was 111-112.9 upon arrival in St. George UT. I had Michelin PR4GT on the bike stock. PSI read my set 42F/36R the entire trip--remarkably competent temperature-compensated displayed output. I had no squirrelly behavior whatsoever the entire way. Of course the purpose of temperature-compensation is to provide you with realtime information about the VOLUME of air in the tire. IOW, you can be 100% confident you're not losing air when pressures reported remain stable, and after all, isn't that what TPMS needs to tell you, whether it's time to pull over and inspect for a small puncture or what have you?

    I have a high quality pressure gauge made by the German company Flaig. I religiously checked pressures a few times a month w/ cold tires, adjusted to an ambient temp of 68F according to the prescribed formula. I did this for a good two years when I had an F800GT w/ the same TPMS system the RT employs. I took me that long to realize this did not offer anything useful over just depending on the TPMS itself, which is what I've done ever since those first two years after resuming riding some 6y ago now. When I add air now I use a bicycle pump w/ its own gauge, or my compressor which also has a gauge. I pump pressure up one PSI or so over desired, then after the tire is road warmed (about 1-2m depending on conditions, which is how long TPMS takes to display correct pressures) on my first stop I will bleed off a bit of air leaving the ignition on (use the kill switch IOW to stop the engine but leave the electronics on, including TPMS display), and dial in the desired pressure, taking care not to over-bleed. This, believe it or not, is what BMW implies you should do when you add air w/ a 3rd party gauge. IOW, they comfortable telling you to depend on TPMS displayed pressures.

    Now all of this obviously begs a big question: you're on the road at 106F or 112 or whatever you were riding thru and you know absolute tire pressure has risen of course, probably by 4-5 PSI or what have you. Are you going to pull over to get your manual gauge out and deflate down to 42/36 (or whatever you aim for at 68F standardized temperature)? Well you could, but then as soon as the tire cools you're going pretty dang low. Not very practical, and I have yet to hear one story of anyone who has ever done this. So, what role exactly is your $20-$60 pressure gauge playing in this scenario? How do you know the gauge is any more accurate than your temp compensated displayed values? I'd be willing to bet many people don't even do the temperature compensation calculation correctly or consider it at all when they manually set pressures, then report that their TPMS is off. I think it's an amazingly useful technology and wouldn't want a bike w/o it, including its temperature compensation aspect.

  11. #11
    Registered User roger 04 rt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gt40guy View Post
    Hi folks, I’m new to BMW and an ‘18 R1200RT. I’ve got around 500 miles on the clock now and last Friday took a ride up the Maine coast, hotter than blazes (106 degrees on the pike) but everything seemed fine until I got on the Maine Turnpike to head south. At speeds a bit north of 65-70 the bike seems to lighten up and feels a bit “squirrely”. I can’t say it moves around but it just feels odd and does not inspire confidence. My 09 Ducati 1100S Mulitstrada started to hunker down at these speeds and felt like it would hold the road no matter what I did. It was absolutely on rails.
    Tire pressures are good, I’m riding one up, with side cases and the ESA is set to Normal and Ride Mode to Road. Moving the windscreen up or down has no apparent effect.
    Has anyone encountered this before? Is it something that is a characteristic of the bike that I have to get used to? The bike will be in of service soon and I’ll speak to the dealer then and have them test ride it, but I’m wondering if this is a one off or me.

    Thanks

    Brian
    I switch back and forth between a 2017 R1200 RT, a 2004 R1150RT (until recently) and an R1150GS. Without a doubt, the R1200 feels as you describe on highways with truck buffeting or gusty winds. As far as I (and the dealer) can tell there’s nothing wrong with the bike or tires, it just has much lighter controls. On the 1200, at almost any speed, I feel every painted line or crack running with the direction of travel, the R1150s don’t even flinch.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger 04 rt View Post
    I switch back and forth between a 2017 R1200 RT, a 2004 R1150RT (until recently) and an R1150GS. Without a doubt, the R1200 feels as you describe on highways with truck buffeting or gusty winds. As far as I (and the dealer) can tell there’s nothing wrong with the bike or tires, it just has much lighter controls. On the 1200, at almost any speed, I feel every painted line or crack running with the direction of travel, the R1150s don’t even flinch.
    If this light control feeling isn't desirable after awhile I recommend staying away from Pirelli Angel GT which after Michelins really made the bike feel twitchy to me--it took a good 400m to get used to them. Conti RA3 I found is perfect for RTW, and one of its attributes is that it does better in linear grooved pavement over other tires I've used.

  13. #13
    Registered User roger 04 rt's Avatar
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    Thanks for the insight on the Contis. A 2018RT I rode with Metzler Z8s seemed more like my 1150s.

  14. #14
    Registered User jandhumphreyme's Avatar
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    I purchased a 2018 RT with 458 miles on her, two weeks ago. Did a drive and ride to Altoona PA from my home in Pittsfield Maine, all interstates sadly. I'm coming off a 2011 R1200R, which is still in the garage BTW and will hopefully never need to find another home. My return ride was 665 miles 90+ temperatures, I did not experience what your describing with my bike. What I did notice is that the 2018 is much more nimble and responsive, she turns in much quicker, lighter steering inputs required, much more sportbike like than my '11R bike, she also go's like a spanked monkey when you wack the throttle. Some of this I attribute to brand new tires, 600 mile service just being completed, exact pressures, and the new bike experience. I noticed that switching between Dynamic and Road mode made quite a difference, with the Road mode set to "soft" being quite squishy, absorbing road bumps nicely.

    I'm sure the dealer will have some input for you, good luck, hope you enjoy your new ride.
    So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key

  15. #15
    Dress for fall & avoid it AlanColes's Avatar
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    Brain, see if your dealer has a demo RT with the same tires, or at least the same brand, on it, that you can take for a ride.

    If so have them set the tire pressure the same as your bike and see if the bike feels the same as yours.

    If it isn't than you've got something to discuss with your dealer.

    If both bikes feel/react similarly, then you'll know that it is just a matter of the R1200RT (especially the Wethead), being a good handling bike with slightly lighter controls than some are comfortable with until they get acclimatized to it.

    I have a Ducati ST3s, as well as several other bikes, and each handles and responds to conditions and inputs differently.

    First, I love the handling of the ST3s, it's handling is the closest to a sportbike of any touring bike I've ridden and an absolute hoot to make time with on back roads. By comparison I find the RTW to be noticeably different and at times, feels less planted. However, in my experience, this isn't actually a case of anything being wrong with the handling (I believe the RTW handles very well). I believe it is simply a difference of the bike having lighter controls that aren't as sharp as the ST3s and that this is a deliberate design feature that allows me to ride 500+ miles on the RT and feel noticeably less tired than if I do after a 500 mile day on the ST3s.

    I'm not dismissing what you have experienced to be just the light handling, simply suggesting that it would be a good idea to ride a dealer's demo bike to see if that might be the case, because if it isn't then you have something to discuss with your dealer. If they're quite similar then you can feel reassured that the bike is fine and simply lighter on the controls than you are accustomed to.

    As for tire pressure vs ambient temperature. Most people get it wrong. We've all heard the old saying, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and it applies to all of us. Outside of special circumstances (racing, etc.), the understood knowledge of setting your tire pressure when cold and leaving it, regardless of outside temperatures is proper.

    Yes, the hot tire pressure will be noticeably higher than with lower ambient temperatures, but that is by design. A tire generates more internal heat if it is under inflated and less internal heat if it is over inflated. When I was racing we recorded both cold and hot temperatures with a proper, quality, probe-style pyrometer. If the hot temps of the tires were below optimal we would remove air. It the hot pressure was above optimal we would add air.

    Virtually everyone gets this wrong. For street and highway riding, set your temperature cold (at specs or +2psi) and let your TPMS let you know if you have a leak.

    Try a demo bike and let us know the results.
    Regards, Alan - President BMWONS - BMWMOA/BMWRA/BMWONS/Airheads
    Current: 2019 R1250RT / '06 Ducati ST3s / '91 R100GS / '86 R80RT / '75 R90S / '73 850 & '70 750 Commando Prev: '14 R1200RT / '04 R1150RT / '81 Honda GL1100 / '77 Suzuki GS750 / '73 Norton 850 Commando

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