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Thread: Keyless Ride new FOB initial sync, and low FOB battery engine start procedures

  1. #1
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    Jul 2020
    SF Bay Area, CA

    Keyless Ride new FOB initial sync, and low FOB battery engine start procedures

    This post covers the following for the RT with Keyless Ride:
    • You ordered a new Keyless Ride FOB and need to do the initial sync/programing with your bike
    • The battery in your FOB is dead and you do not have the emergency key

    The post is about the two topics above as the steps solve both issues. This is all based on what I discovered on a 2016 R1200RT.

    New FOB sync: You ordered a new FOB from the dealer by proving the VIN and a copy of your ID. The FOB was then created for your bike and you have the new FOB, but you need to do an initial synchronization with your bike in order for it to work. In the envelope with the new key FOB is a set of instructions for any Keyless Ride bike, but not specific to RT/GT/GS. We are going to follow the directions that came with the new FOB, and add some steps that are specific to the RT.

    The FOB has a passive RFID kind of chip in it (like the emergency key) along with the battery powered transmitter. The initial sync involves using the passive chip, so it has to be close to the Keyless Ride antenna so the chip gets enough radio wave energy to run and send its signal back. The FOB needs to get closer to the antenna to work.

    The Keyless Ride antennal is behind the dash in the beak of the bike. The antenna is in different locations on the GT (I believe between the gas cap and ignition switch) and GS (I believe under the rear fender). The parts counter person told me I would need to remove the beak of the RT in order to get close enough to the Keyless Ride antenna. I first tried the “Battery of radio-operated key is drained, emergency key is not available” procedure of removing the right speaker and pushing the key up behind the dash. That did not get the FOB close enough for the passive chip to work. I also tried with the emergency key in that location to see if the placement was in range, and the emergency key didn’t work there either, hence using the following procedure for both new FOB sync as well as using the passive part of the FOB if the transmitter doesn’t work and you don’t have the emergency key:

    Using your T25 driver (from under your seat):
    • Remove the windscreen
    • Remove the plastic thing under the windscreen (no screws)
    • Remove the two screws (#3 in the diagram) at the top of the windshield adjustment cover (part # 46637728788). In that diagram, parts 1 & 2 will come off as one piece.
    • The bottom part of that piece (as in closer to the headlights) is held in by plastic pushpin things through rubber grommets - like other parts of the bike you have dealt with. Pull up on that bottom part to free the piece. The piece will include the GPS mount, so just position the piece out of the way since the GPS mount is still wired in. (see image below)



    • The engine is off and the ignition is off and has been off for one or more minutes.

    • Get your old FOB, cell phone, emergency key, and anything else that might transmit or interfere with things away from the bike so the old/existing FOB is out of range of the bike.

    • Open the metal key part of the new FOB. Holding the metal key, position the new FOB against the Keyless Ride antenna.




    • Push the ignition on button.

    • The ignition should go on, and you will see the “key with question mark” light. That is OK. You do not need to start the engine.

    • Turn off the ignition. You can remove the FOB from the antenna.

    • Wait one or more minutes.

    • Try turning on the ignition using the FOB as you normally would with the transmitter working, like in your shirt pocket, etc.

    • The ignition should turn on without the “key with question mark” light and you should be ready for reassembly.

    When putting the piece back on with the pushpins, I used a little liquid silicon on the pins to allow them to go back in easier. Do not use petroleum-based lubricants since they will attack the plastic and rubber. If in doubt, don’t apply anything and just reassemble.

    At this point, you should be ready to ride!

    The directions with the key describe a procedure with the engine off and not pushing any buttons on the FOB, and this worked for me. There are other posts about how to get the new FOB working that involve doing the sync with the engine running and pushing the BMW button on the key FOB. These other procedures may also work, but with my FOB purchased in 2020 that costs over $330 USD, this is what worked for me.

    I saw a YouTube video of doing the sync on a 2015 RT by removing the windshield and holding the new FOB against the windshield adjustment cover and using the emergency key at the same time on the dash. That procedure didn’t work for me. The emergency key did not register when placed on the outside of the front of the bike, so on my bike, I believe that placement of the key is out of range for the passive chip. On my bike, the wire for the GPS mount is long and bundled up under the mount, and I think that bundled part ends up sitting near the Keyless Ride antenna, so maybe that is blocking part of the signal from reaching the outside of the front of the bike with sufficient strength to be effective. The interesting part is in the video, I noticed the two screws are removed from the piece we remove here. Maybe the antenna is in a different position on the 2015?

    Do not unscrew the GPS mount as a shortcut to get under the dash. The screws are held in place with nylon insert lock nuts, so you will probably loosen it and not be able to remove it and not be able to tighten it back up without removing the piece I removed.

  2. #2
    Registered User jandhumphreyme's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Central Maine
    Excellent post, thank you for your time in documenting your procedure, very helpful. I was very disappointed to hear that the procedure in the manual would not work with either key or fob.
    So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key

  3. #3
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Big Sky Country
    I am interested in hearing from other RT owners who have synched a fob or started their bike with a low fob battery/emergency key. Did they have to disassemble the dash to accomplish the synch or start? The R12GS/GSA certainly requires no such disassembly with the antenna under the pillion seat.
    Kevin Huddy
    Silver City, Montana
    MOA# 24,790 Ambassador

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by fueljava View Post
    This post covers the following for the RT with Keyless Ride:...
    This is a nice summary. Thanks for posting. I think it should be linked to the archive of DIY wisdom.

    I have done the procedure of activating a new fob for my 2017 RT. I have a couple of comments that I can add to your list. First, I found that I could remove the two screws labeled "3" in your image. And then, without removing any of the panels, I had enough flexibility to create a gap in the bodywork to insert the key close to the antenna. Before doing that, I tried just resting the new fob on the ledge by the GPS mount, and found that the fob was not close enough to work. Second, I was confused by the symbols on the display while performing the procedure. There is a key symbol, and it sometimes shows a question mark symbol, and as I recall, sometimes 2 question marks. The point here is that the symbols are not really any help to provide feedback on the success of the process. Rather as you describe, you need to execute the full procedure, and then turn everything off and remove your other keys from the area, and test the new fob to see if it works.


  5. #5
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    SW Iowa
    Good instructions.

    Did I understand that the plastic emergency key will not work on a RT unless you disassemble the dash area?
    2022 R1250RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2016 R1200RS, 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  6. #6
    Registered User
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    Jul 2020
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    Good instructions.

    Did I understand that the plastic emergency key will not work on a RT unless you disassemble the dash area?
    Sorry the emergency key works as documented by sliding it into the space in the dash as shown in the manual. I was using it to test different positions for the RFID to pick up since I knew the emergency key worked. The better test would have been to take the battery out of the working FOB and test with that.

    This works:
    Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 8.36.37 AM.png

    Cap: I recall reading your post about making room in the dash to fit the key under. That is good to keep in mind too. For me, once I removed the speaker, I just kept going.

  7. #7
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Calgary, Alberta
    So the takeaway is that you need to know where the antenna is, on your waterboxer. On the RS, you can actually feel it, on the underside of the back fender.

  8. #8
    Registered User r0ckrat's Avatar
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    Jul 2020
    Long Beach, CA
    And on the 2015+ R, it's under the back of the rider's seat.

  9. #9
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Nice job Fueljava.
    Added to the “Tag Cloud” for easy searching.
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
    Mod Squad
    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200

  10. #10
    Registered User gsinnc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Charlotte, NC
    When I bought my extra fob I brought it in when I had the GS in for service and the dealer synched it for free. I am sure it only took a very short time to do it.
    Ed Apelian
    Motorcycling is my passion because golf is far too dangerous!
    2018 R1200GS - Light White !
    2016 R1200RT- Platinum Bronze

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Castro Valley Ca.

    Fob Procedure

    I've done several bikes by removing the #3 screws and sliding the fob into the space.
    Here is the "official" procedure.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2019

    Try a new battery first

    Great post!. I just synchronized a new key fob on my ‘18 RT without removing any body work or screws. Being lazy I figured I’d give it a go without doing anything and no luck.....However I replaced the battery and then placed the fob horizontally across the slot above the instrument cluster where you would pace the emergency key, hit the ignitions and it immediately synchronized and energized the bike. My brother has an RT and he advised that the fob eats batteries so I figured a replacement may be in order. It’s worth a try before breaking out the tools.


  13. #13
    Registered User brorke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Chesnee, SC
    Thanks fueljava! Just paired my new spare FOB (2019 RT) using your instructions. Tried the video method (that the seller sent me) and Brian's easy method and neither worked.
    Bill Rorke #200394
    Chesnee, SC
    2019 R1250 RT
    2009 R1200 GSA

  14. #14

    Keyless Ride FOB sync

    Quote Originally Posted by akbeemer View Post
    I am interested in hearing from other RT owners who have synched a fob or started their bike with a low fob battery/emergency key. Did they have to disassemble the dash to accomplish the synch or start? The R12GS/GSA certainly requires no such disassembly with the antenna under the pillion seat.

    I followed the above method and it worked great. Two things, first on my 2017 RT the cover also had two push pins that needed removing backing the pin out with a phillips head and prying it out. The only way to get at them was with the windscreen up. Then it worked fine. Second thing was my fob antenna was loose, just laying in the cavity. There is a circular clip that holds it, I tried to press it back on without luck. Then I noticed a small loom of wires preventing it from seating. I removed the loom from the clip that held them in place so that I could move them, popped it back into place, then re-secured the loom. If it had been properly mounted, I may have been able to do this without removing anything.
    Last edited by wbloom2314; 09-25-2022 at 10:31 PM. Reason: additional info

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