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2004 K1200GT - Ahhh, the clutch


Ya know how in many cultures there's some sort of formal rite of passage, where a young man or woman undergoes some challenging test and thereby passes into adulthood? For us, I'd venture that this is the clutch job.

And, I'm facing it.

It's very early days for the failure progression in my bike, but the signs are there with 34k mi on the clock. So, I'm girding up my loins to do some wrenching that'll greatly enlarge my experience. Translation: I'm wading into deep water, and I know it.

For several weeks now, I've been perusing the forums and YouTube videos, studying the Clymer, and availing myself of the wealth of information, experience, and good will that never ceases to amaze me. I've reached out directly to several high-profile members or content creators. I've created lists - spreadsheets of tools, shop equipment, lubricants, etc. Now I know what Staburags is... And I've started ordering this stuff. With several multi-day rides still planned this season, I anticipate beginning the job in mid-November, combining it with the 36k mi service that'll be due by then.

Meanwhile, I'm now getting down to making purchasing decisions for the parts themselves. And here, I have two questions:

(1) Do I order the full set of clutch replacement parts, including the 'hard' parts that may not actually need to be replaced? Or do I order the 'minimum' set of parts that will definitely need replacement and wait until I get in there and see what's what? The decision is complicated by considerations of the project's timeframe. I'm fairly certain I'll end up ordering from one of two UK-based suppliers - recommended by a prominent forum member - because the price difference compared to US-based sources is just ridiculous. Even accounting for the internat'l shipping cost, looks like I'll save well over 50% of the parts cost of $1,332 that my local dealer quoted. (And yes, these suppliers are selling genuine OEM BMW clutch parts.) That's great, but it means that if I don't go all-in on the up-front parts ordering, then tear down the bike and see that yes, the hard parts (e.g., diaphragm spring, pressure plate, housing cover (aka pressure ring)) DO need to be replaced... well, then, the 2nd round of international ordering will add some weeks to the disaster that my garage will become.

How have the Elders here managed this issue? Be safe and order the whole shebang? Or take it one step at a time and save whatever money you can?

(2) There are alternatives out there for the clutch (friction) plate itself. I can certainly go with the OEM (Sachs) replacement. Or, I can try to go upscale. Seibenrock (some doubt out there, apparently, that these are still available for flying brick engines). Oil resistant? Ceramic, if I wanna go a little crazy? One of the two UK suppliers offers a buy-up replacement made by Newfren that's advertised as 'oil proof.' Newfren doesn't seem to be a well-recognized aftermarket option for BMW bikes, but their website shows a Model F1497 for the K41 variant of the K12GT. It comes in two flavors - clearly different form the thumbnail photos - but without any description of the differences. There's the 'K' version and the 'KW' version, and it looks like the UK supplier offers the latter.

So... opinions? Is 'oil proof' really a big benefit - or, is it even a real thing? Anyone have any experience with the Newfren friction plate? Is ceramic just completely over the top, and are there even any ceramic options out there for the K-brick single-dry-plate clutch? I've read forum comments like, "the OEM Sachs clutch will go 100k miles, so why bother with anything else?" BUT... well, I must be fairly hard on it, or the previous owner was (had 11.6k mi on the clock when I bought it in 2019), because 34k mi is fairly young for a clutch to start its death throes. Isn't it...??

And a 3rd question: I've been told that the OEM O-ring is likely the root cause of the leakage/slippage, and that I'll definitely want to replace it. I've also read that the material that OEM part was made from is inferior to Viton, and that it's recommended to swap in a Viton replacement. Can anyone tell me a make/model and source for the Viton version?

BTW, I'm also assuming that I'll be replacing the rear main seal and probably the tranny input and output seals. For those, my ordering options appear to be limited, with the best I've found being Max BMW. Anyone have other supplier recommendations?
What about the clutch slave cylinder? Many people suggest that this be replaced, too, since you're deep in there anyway and it'll go, eventually. Thoughts....?

And finally... just for grins:
-- Dealership quote for the job: $3,423.76. Less than 10 hrs of labor.
-- Advice of the lead shop mechanic: "Ride it until it explodes." Meaning, it's not worth fixing, so enjoy it while it lasts. :eek

My brother just had his 07GT clutch replaced with a Barnett at 36K [ roughly ]. The mechanic charged him 1100.00 for clutch and labor. Done in a day but the guy is a master BMW mechanic.
My brother just had his 07GT clutch replaced with a Barnett at 36K [ roughly ]. The mechanic charged him 1100.00 for clutch and labor. Done in a day but the guy is a master BMW mechanic.

The 04 is a different engine and clutch.
The 04 has a dry clutch and you need to pull the transmission to get at it.
RE the OP’s questions:

1). Even at your low mileage there is a good chance you’ll find some dishing of the pressure plate and housing cover. Installing just the new friction disc can then result in grabbiness or other inconsistencies. That’s why BMW recommends always replacing the “clutch pack”, which is all three pieces. You have identified a less expensive overseas source, but you do have another option—that of sending your original clutch pack to Southland Clutch in San Diego, CA. Their service remachines the OEM pressure plate and cover plate to true, calculates how much material was removed, and relines the friction disc with thicker material to make up the difference, all at a very reasonable price. Naturally, this requires a careful inspection of the splines on your OEM friction disc to assure they are worth rebuilding. I have used Southland before and been happy with the results. Whichever way you go, be sure to remark the balance points on carrier, pressure plate, and cover with fresh paint or an engraving tool (my preference).

2)Certainly can’t go wrong with a new OEM disc, but as you note there are options. Beemer Boneyard is usually a good source, but I see they are temporarily out of stock on brick-k clutch parts. I have used the Siebenrock oil-resistant disc with good results but didn’t find the extra $$ for the ceramic disc appealing or necessary.

3). You are correct, the real problem is usually the o-ring and not the seal, but do both “while you’re in there.” That o-ring does need to be Viton, which will take the heat much better. Supposedly, BMW switch to Viton in the replacement parts channel but the newer o-rings are black, not brown, so I have no way to verify that change. I always order my Viton bits in brown so they are easily recognizable. So, you can order the BMW ring (11 21 1 460 467) and have a good local hydraulic repair shop match it in a Viton, or just order the correct size Viton ring (19mm x 4mm) from Allorings.com or other vendors. Allorings handles the FKM Viton rings in the correct size—I use the 75 durometer hardness.

4. Be aware there is another potential source of oil contamination, which is brake fluid leaking from the slave cylinder and working forward along the clutch pushrod, potentially damaging the input shaft seal. Make sure your pushrod is the newer style, with the groove for the felt seal, and while the trans is out create a relief drain for any future slave leakage. You can do that by drilling a 3mm hole in the bottom of the recess holding the slave, or by filing a v-notch on the bottom lip of the mounting face the slave mates to.

It’s a big job but one worth doing right, in which case you should be good to go for the next 100k or so. Good luck!

Have a look at Euro Motoelectrics for parts https://www.euromotoelectrics.com/

I've used them for years, never a disappointment. Good quality and better price than dealer, no international shipping.

Replace everything but the clutch housing, you'll thank yourself later.