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Thread: EWS emergency key issue

  1. #1
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    EWS emergency key issue

    Somehow I managed to lose the plastic emergency key that came with my GS. Dealer ordered me a new key based upon VIN (a pain, must be done in person with the vehicle title) but I can’t seem to get it to work. I have positioned the key against the upper front section of the rear fender but nothing activates on the dash; pressing the start button just results in blinking of the search indicator light. Is there any one specific point where the key head needs to be held against the fender, and if so-where is it? The picture in the manual is so poor quality that it’s hard to tell.

    I haven’t hooked on my GS911 yet but am hoping there’s functionality in it to test the new key, or to program the bike to accept it if that is necessary.

    Thx,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  2. #2
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    Devern - I found a manual which indicates that getting that emergency key close to a circular antenna and in contact with the rear-wheel cover is perhaps a key bit of information...

    You're correct in that the photo does not help much:

    Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 5.13.01 PM.png


    Please disregard the photo of the RT manual page.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by ExGMan; 06-29-2020 at 09:20 PM.
    John Gamel - BMW MOA Consumer Liaison
    2015 Ebony Metallic R1200RT
    MOA #153274
    "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Pogo/via Walt Kelly

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    Somehow I managed to lose the plastic emergency key that came with my GS. Dealer ordered me a new key based upon VIN (a pain, must be done in person with the vehicle title) but I can’t seem to get it to work. I have positioned the key against the upper front section of the rear fender but nothing activates on the dash; pressing the start button just results in blinking of the search indicator light. Is there any one specific point where the key head needs to be held against the fender, and if so-where is it? The picture in the manual is so poor quality that it’s hard to tell.

    I haven’t hooked on my GS911 yet but am hoping there’s functionality in it to test the new key, or to program the bike to accept it if that is necessary.

    Thx,
    DeVern
    Sir,

    I replaced a key as well, and performed the same steps. With the same results. I then pulled and replaced the battery, and was able to program they key and start the bike. For whatever reason, some of the remotes get old batteries and require replacement when you get it. Some remotes may require reprogramming.

  4. #4
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExGMan View Post
    Devern - I found a manual which indicates that getting that emergency key close to a circular antenna and in contact with the rear-wheel cover is perhaps a key bit of information...

    You're correct in that the photo does not help much:
    Yeah, the photo is useless. If I feel the inside of the fender I can find a circular depression that I suspect corresponds to the location of the EWS ring. Holding the plastic emergency key on that location, on either the inside or outside surface of the fender, does nothing- nothing lights up on the dash, pressing the start button just gets the “searching” blinks and no further activity. My GS911 recognizes the EWS control module, reports no faults, then informs me that no service functions are available for this module—even tho there is a link for service options.

    I’m quite disgusted with the entire EWS business and wish I had just a simple key to run the ignition. No bulky fob in my pocket, no batteries to run flat and leave me potentially stranded, no plastic spare key that is guaranteed to break if used to unlock the sticky seats on the GS, and a key that I can have cut at a good locksmith. This definitely feels like an “improvement” that is a giant step backward in reliability and ease of use.

    Thx,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  5. #5
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post

    I’m quite disgusted with the entire EWS business and wish I had just a simple key to run the ignition. No bulky fob in my pocket, no batteries to run flat and leave me potentially stranded,
    Thx,
    DeVern
    The regular keys still have to be paired to the bike.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  6. #6
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    The regular keys still have to be paired to the bike.
    If by “regular key” you mean the fob, yes—that has to be paired to the bike. None of my airheads, oilheads, or brick-k bikes needed anything beyond a simple key, cut at any locksmith, to get the bike underway. Then along comes EWS as the answer to a question that nobody asked, and we are left with bikes that can strand a rider because of a dead watch battery. And, bikes for which the rider plays hell trying to get a simple metal key cut so that the seat or luggage on the bike can be unlocked without risk of breaking the expensive fob. And BMW expects the fobs to be broken, as evidenced by their production of a fob repair kit for replacing a broken key section of the fob. Not a great design for a bike intended to be ridden into remote locations, IMHO. And as for getting a plain metal key for unlocking seats or luggage, the only option right now is to order one from BMW-a $29 key that any competent locksmith could cut for under $10 *if the blanks were available.* More on that later...

    So, I removed the battery from the fob to simulate a dead fob battery. I can find NO location on the rear fender, either outside or inside, that allows the bike to be powered on and started. Not at all a confidence-inspiring result and one that has me putting the plastic key back on the shelf until I or my dealer can actually demonstrate a successful startup with a dead fob battery. GS owners who haven’t tried that test themselves, or at least tried out their plastic emergency key, may be in for a rude surprise someday in the outback.

    Back to the metal keys... it is quite clear that trying to use the plastic emergency key to unlock the seat and access the “tool kit” is going to result in a broken key. A week or so ago I took my fob to a local locksmith, a really sharp operation that has previously disassembled and repaired BMW lock sets and cut keys, including the SS Neiman blanks, with excellent results. He looked at the fob and said he could definitely cut me a plain metal key for the seat lock *IF* he could get a blank. He researched the blank and found there are four different blanks that would be suitable, none of which were available to him through his regular channels. Those four blanks are:
    BW9EHP
    BW9FH
    BW9MH
    BW9TE

    So if you’re lucky enough to locate one of those blanks, any competent locksmith who cuts keys for newer cars can cut you a plain spare key for seat and luggage locks.

    I’m not trying to be a PITA here, just trying to get to a point where I can feel confident that a lost or dead fob is not going to leave me stranded. When I rode my airhead GS up the Dempster and out to Tuktoyaktuk I didn’t have such worries. Right now, I wouldn’t dream of taking this new GS on that same ride.

    Best,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  7. #7
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    If by “regular key” you mean the fob, yes—that has to be paired to the bike.
    No, I'm talking about a key for a bike that does not have the Keyless option.
    It's a normal looking key but it has a chip in it.
    Around 10 years ago a lot of riders were stranded when the bike would not recognize the chip.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  8. #8
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    No, I'm talking about a key for a bike that does not have the Keyless option.
    It's a normal looking key but it has a chip in it.
    Around 10 years ago a lot of riders were stranded when the bike would not recognize the chip.
    Ok, yes, my K13GT has such a key. But on those bikes BMW furnished two functional chipped keys and a chipped plastic emergency key, all of which worked by simply inserting the key into the ignition. No hunting for the magic g-spot on the bike, no batteries to go flat.

    Best,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  9. #9
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    Ok, yes, my K13GT has such a key. But on those bikes BMW furnished two functional chipped keys and a chipped plastic emergency key, all of which worked by simply inserting the key into the ignition. No hunting for the magic g-spot on the bike, no batteries to go flat.

    Best,
    DeVern
    Once you find the G-spot on your bike you can start the bike with a dead fob battery.
    The battery is only needed to extend the range of the fob.

    There's another thread for pairing a new fob on a RT but I can't find it.
    The RT has a different G-spot but the pairing procedure may be the same for your GS and emergency key.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  10. #10
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    Once you find the G-spot on your bike you can start the bike with a dead fob battery.
    The battery is only needed to extend the range of the fob.

    There's another thread for pairing a new fob on a RT but I can't find it.
    The RT has a different G-spot but the pairing procedure may be the same for your GS and emergency key.
    G-spot located, and both the unpowered fob and the plastic emergency key are able to activate and start the bike.

    But what a pain! The picture in the owner’s manual appears to show the key being held against the front side of the rear fender, at the height and location of the EWS ring. On my GS, that portion of the rear fender cannot be accessed from either side nor from the top with seat removed. I have to hold the fob or key against the INSIDE of the rear fender, against the circular depression I had identified as the probable location of the EWS ring. And even then, it wants to be down in that recessed ring before working reliably. That would be all kinds of fun after the bike has been slogged through some chloride-enriched mud... note to self, make sure that recess gets emptied and cleaned whenever the bike is washed.

    If BMW ever builds a spacecraft I want to see the access and ignition system they’d use...


    Thx,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  11. #11
    Registered User ExGMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    No, I'm talking about a key for a bike that does not have the Keyless option.
    It's a normal looking key but it has a chip in it.
    Around 10 years ago a lot of riders were stranded when the bike would not recognize the chip.
    That was a problem with the Hexheads I sort-of recall. There was a ring antenna around or near the place where the key was inserted. I think there was an actual NHTSA recall on the issue.
    John Gamel - BMW MOA Consumer Liaison
    2015 Ebony Metallic R1200RT
    MOA #153274
    "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Pogo/via Walt Kelly

  12. #12
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    G-spot located,
    I hope Debbie asks what was discussed on the forum today
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  13. #13
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    On the RS using the plastic key is easier, you just poke it between the seats. You do have to make sure the fat part of the key is inserted first.
    Correct Placement Plastic Key (1).jpg

    For a fob with a dead battery you need to remove the rear seat and lay the fob on the receiver.

    Each model seems to have a different location.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  14. #14
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    I hope Debbie asks what was discussed on the forum today
    Many ways that discussion could go, but you are soooooo on your own on that one!


    DeVern
    Last edited by GTRider; 07-01-2020 at 02:58 AM.
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  15. #15
    Registered User wbrownell9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    (snip)

    Back to the metal keys... it is quite clear that trying to use the plastic emergency key to unlock the seat and access the “tool kit” is going to result in a broken key.

    (snip)

    Best,
    DeVern
    Ask your dealer to order you a plain metal key, they can do that with just the VIN. I did it when I had my keyless RT and it was the first thing I did when I got my keyless GSA. It has no chip so it won't start the bike like the plastic key, but you'll be able to apply way more torque than with the flip-out key on the fob. You'll be able to lock/unlock the seats and remove the panniers without worrying about breaking it.

    So, yeah, you'll potentially end up carrying your big honkin' fob, the metal key, and the plastic key when you travel. That's certainly something to be said for the non-keyless setup, at worst you carry one "real" key and a spare. One good thing about the keyless, though - if you forget to turn off the ignition and walk away, the bike will turn itself off when the fob goes out of range, saving your battery. If a person with a regular (keyed) ignition were to just shut the bike off with the sidestand, forget to take the key, then spend all day wandering the vendors at a rally, then the auxiliary lights could run the battery down. Hypothetically.
    2020 R1250 GSA Low

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