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Thread: Are the newer BMW's going to last?

  1. #1
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
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    Are the newer BMW's going to last?

    A decade ago, after a few years of riding 1980 Honda CB750's, I knew I was ready for a better bike but something not too expensive. I had fallen in with BMW riders - some promoted airheads, some the early K-bikes. I learned that the airheads required more frequent service, the K's considerably less. As a non-mechanic, that would have sealed the deal even if I didn't like the K's better - and I did.

    Correct me if I am wrong about any of the following:

    Airheads do require fairly frequent service, but a decent "shade tree" mechanic can do almost everything. Parts are still available and fairly cheap. The real problem areas on some models have been resolved with more modern components. They last a long time in both years and miles if they are regularly (but cheaply) looked after.

    The early K-bikes (before '91 or '92) would soon need front fork seals, a new rear shock, a new saddle, and most likely a replacement for the final drive spline. The latter was the"biggie," but still for well under $1000. Then you just ride her for 300-400K miles, doing the regular maintenance stuff and fixing the occasional problem. Maybe adjust the valves every 50K miles. That was the story on 1987 K75 until it died in a crash.

    My current '92 K100RS and friend's GS1150 have one thing in common, non-functioning ABS. My friend took his bike to the local dealer and paid $300 to be told he needed a $2000 part. He tried to buy it used from someone in England and got ripped off. I'm still waiting for a local repair shop owned by a guy I trust to get the download for his latest gizmo so he can really read the problem. ABS is good on a car and should be even better on a bike the rare times you need it. (Cars skid, bikes fall over.) But spending $2000 on a bike probably worth no more than $4000 if perfect? I"ve had two Subaru cars with ABS, used it seriously twice, combined mileage about 500K, and no problems with either car. I ride without ABS protection.

    The final drive issue with R bikes seems to be huge. Unless I'm wrong, nobody has come up with a permanent fix which they did with the early K bikes.

    Which brings me to the real question about the "latest and greatest" accessories available on modern BMW's. I mean things like electric windshields, traction control, heated grips and seats, tire pressure monitors, etc. Do you think they will still be working for many years after your bike is out of waurantee? Or do you plan to buy insurance that will cover what all seem to be very expensive repairs or replacements?

    Musing about it in this post, perhaps I'm better off to fix the ABS once I get it diagnosed, get a new rear shock for my low mileage bike, and otherwise just keeping the known problems which will surely crop up fixed. It might actually be both cheaper and problem free than buying a newish or even new bike.

    Your thoughts?
    Doug
    1992 K100RS

  2. #2
    RK Ryder
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    Your thoughts are similar to mine. At a dealer workshop a couple of winters ago, there was a replacement part on the counter that the head tech told us to look at but not to touch. He didn't want any of us to have to replace that $4000 item. A couple of independent beemer mechanics told me years ago that some of the parts for the newer sophisticated bikes did not make economical sense for owners to replace. With this information in mind, when I needed a bike last year when the K, decided to sit out the summer, I restricted my looking to the R1100s. In time I'm certain that all will be well, but for now, I'm waiting and watching for all the glitches to be eliminated.
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Treasurer of the Forest City Motorrad Club #159
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  3. #3
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Actually, I disagree with some of this. Just as an example, there is a readily available fix for Oilhead final drive issues that appears to work every time. Have a true professional perfectionist like Tom Cutter disassemble the drive and reassemble it very precisely to BMW specifications. Then always use the specified lubricant and change it per specifications.

    There is no doubt (and I have heard highly placed BMW execs admit it) that BMW has had quality control issues with a number of the parts and assemblies on their motorcycles. They say they have addressed or are addressing these issues. Time will tell.

    That said, we all tend to be a bit neanderthal when we think of the good old bikes. I heard more squawking about this new thing called CANBUS even though CANBUS had been in use on cars since 1984.

    For the record my K75 was a first year model. My F650 was a first year model. Voni's R1100RS was a first year model. All fine bikes with no significant issues in a huge number of miles.

    I am not afraid of a new bike with 3 years and/or 36,000 miles to sort things out.

    I would be afraid of a 2-1/2 year old very low mileage bike where the warranty will run out soon with little time, and still at low miles to make sure defects are found.

    YMMV
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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  4. #4
    Registered User f14rio's Avatar
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    life is short

    just get it . it will be fine. 2% of bikes have problems. people put these problems on forums and the other 98% don't sleep well.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Enemy fighters at 2 o'clock!...Roger, What should i do until then?"

    2010 r1200r, 2009 harley crossbones, 2008 triumph/sidecar, 1970 norton commando 750

  5. #5
    PlaneGeek
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    Quote Originally Posted by f14rio View Post
    just get it . it will be fine. 2% of bikes have problems. people put these problems on forums and the other 98% don't sleep well.
    Amen! Some one recently put an editorial in ON about where should have the inovation ended? Never start with shaft drive? No inline 4? No ABS?

    Time to put our grown up panties on boys and girls and get out and ride!

    I commute 18K a year on my RT and LOVE it! I totally look forward to the next decade riding it!

  6. #6
    hack'd chiba13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCKRIDER View Post
    The early K-bikes (before '91 or '92) would soon need front fork seals, a new rear shock, a new saddle, and most likely a replacement for the final drive spline.
    These things could happen to any bike, though, so I don't see why they're special or specific to early K's. I've done fork seals on plenty of bikes, replaced saddles & shocks, and done all sorts of final drive maint work - shaft, chain & belt. It happens, it's part of owning a bike IMO.

    Any time I get a new bike, by which I mean a used bike, even a BMW, I go over it and do all the basic maintenance tasks. On a BMW that includes checking/lubing the splines.

    Does that make them problem bikes? Not if you ask me. I've heard a lot about problems with R-bike final drives... and yet never had a problem with them. Then again, my newest BMW is a '98

    As far as your ABS problems, the brakes still work even if the ABS doesn't. You can fix the ABS for far less than $2k if you're patient, watch the parts breakers & have a few basic tools. You might need access to the magic BMW computer, but taking it in to have a used ABS unit reset shouldn't cost more than an hour's labor.

    --chiba
    --
    - '05 R1200GS - '98 K1200RS + Hannigan Classic sidecar -

  7. #7
    Boxer Rebellion! TexasT's Avatar
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    I second that Amen!

    Quote Originally Posted by PlaneGeek View Post
    Amen! Some one recently put an editorial in ON about where should have the inovation ended? Never start with shaft drive? No inline 4? No ABS?

    Time to put our grown up panties on boys and girls and get out and ride!

    I commute 18K a year on my RT and LOVE it! I totally look forward to the next decade riding it!
    My '07 R1200R has 161k miles on it and still works like it's brand spanking new! No issues whatsoever. And that ABS has certainly saved my 6 more than once!

    I had the great mechanics at the local BMW shop in Austin take a look at it before my summer trip, and all they really had to do was change the fluids and slap on some new rubber! Wonderful machine! I'd match my Roadster with any other bike out there as an example of near-perfect engineering!

    I too look forward to riding this BMW well into the next decade!

    T
    '07 R1200R - She has 174,550 miles and counting, though I only did the last 24k!
    Still lookin' for my dream bike, a beautiful R1200C...

    "It ain't braggin' if you can do it!" Dizzy Dean, '34 Gas House Gang

  8. #8
    Registered User ALIENHITCHHIKER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by f14rio View Post
    just get it . it will be fine. 2% of bikes have problems. people put these problems on forums and the other 98% don't sleep well.
    This is one smart guy. Good looking too.

    Steve
    Current Hottie: '00 R1100RT
    Old Flames: FY K100RT, '80 XS850 with Vetter Quicksilver, '67 Bonnie, '66 Honda 90

  9. #9
    05K1200S
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    I can see Doug's point. BMW was always considered to be bulletproof and cutting edge technology (maybe more so by those who didn't own one). I own a 2005 K1200S, and there are issues with durability. With modern chains or belts, do we really need shaft drive? Once this was considered a strong point, now it's something that needs to be watched. The fuel gauge strip has gone bad 4 times, I don't bother getting it fixed anymore (it needs to be done at a dealer because of calibration). Is this improvement? The cam chain tensioners are starting to become issues on these bikes, and now BMW is saying that you shouldn't use the new and improved one if the bike has over a certain amount of miles. The fuel injection leaves a stumble at around 3000 RPM, and numerous updates don't fix it. It seems the only fix is to install a non OEM power commander.
    This bike wasn't cheap to buy, and it looks like it may not be cheap to own either!
    I know there are many here who have had hundreds of thousands of miles trouble free, and don't like to read this and will feel offended. I hope your luck continues.
    Tom

  10. #10
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    I don't feel offended. The bikes are not perfect. Never have been. And that's the point... I think too many folks look back at the older bikes through memories of the great times they had on the road. They forget about failed diode boards, failed rotors, failed light switches, tranny spline lubes that may or may not have been needed, carbs that left the bike breathless at altitude, etc.

    BMW was considered bulletproof when the competition was Triumph, Norton, and the early Japanese imports. Guess what! The Japanese caught up (and maybe surpassed) BMW. Triumph and Norton died and so far only Triumph has made a comeback.

    Today I think all major brands are equally reliable. Individual bikes are a different story. Some are great. Others break often. Yet there is one area where the other manufactures fall far behind BMW. Go to your favorite non-BMW dealer and ask for a part for you mid-70s bike. Chances are they not only don't have it, they can't get it. Well, except for Kawasaki which is probably still selling that mid-70s bike.

    I can still get most of the parts I need for my 45 year old BMW, in official BMW packaging with an official BMW part number. The dealer won't stock it, but he can order it when I give him the part number.

    I maintain both my old (R69S) and modern (R12GS) bikes. The GS is easier to work on and needs work far less frequently.

  11. #11
    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    Part of the $$ issue could be the proliferation of models. When I bought my K, part of my reasoning was that BMW kept the same model in production for 5-10 years, while jap bikes seemed to go through total makeovers yearly. The longer production runs allowed debugging, more aftermarket pieces, and mechanics could get familiar with a model. Now, not only are there a dizzying array of engines & types, they seem to change more often. Maybe it has to be to compete in the modern market, but if the dependability isn't there then it's hard to justify the higher entrance fee. IF I was in the market for a new ride, right now the 650 V-strom is at the top of the list.
    1987 K75S
    Original litter
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  12. #12
    Go Leafs Go CANADIANSTEVE's Avatar
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    I have my daily rider R100RS for 18 years now ... looking at the new six cylinder models does nothing for me, I begin to wonder if I am even considering a new BMW anymore ... maybe if something like the R1200R is still available. I wish to keep some mechanical feel to my motorcycle ... not so up on on all the electronics of more modern machines. That comes from growing up on 60's Nortons and Triumphs I suppose.
    steve now in CT
    moved from Toronto
    92 R100RS

  13. #13
    BUDDINGGEEZER
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    Quote Originally Posted by 35634 View Post
    Part of the $$ issue could be the proliferation of models. When I bought my K, part of my reasoning was that BMW kept the same model in production for 5-10 years, while jap bikes seemed to go through total makeovers yearly. The longer production runs allowed debugging, more aftermarket pieces, and mechanics could get familiar with a model. Now, not only are there a dizzying array of engines & types, they seem to change more often. Maybe it has to be to compete in the modern market, but if the dependability isn't there then it's hard to justify the higher entrance fee. IF I was in the market for a new ride, right now the 650 V-strom is at the top of the list.
    Kawasaki Concours C-10 1986-2006
    Honda ST1100 1991-2002
    Honda ST1300 2003-present

    All are know for their reliability. According to Motorcycle Consumer News used bike values the Honda ST1100 are higher than same year R1100RT.

    Ralph Sims

  14. #14
    Harrington
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    Buy a Honda XL 400 if you want something simple and bulletproof. Buy the new GTL if you want the latest technology.

  15. #15
    Registered User 88bmwjeff's Avatar
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    The question put "Are the new BMW's going to last?" The answer is yes, but like most other new vehicles, they will need to be serviced by trained technicians. The days of working on vehicles (cars and bikes) have passed given the amount of computer controlled systems. It seems like many people like to slam the newer bikes because of certain areas that are causing problems now which didn't in the past (e.g. final drives). It's odd that these people accept the flaws of the older bikes, but seem to have trouble excepting the flaws of the newer bikes. Our bikes (whatever the year and make) have flaws. They are not perfect. It may also be hard to accept that some of these bikes are lemons, but they are. Everything mass produced has lemons--it doesn't matter the manufacturer.

    So the best thing here to do is as a previous poster mentioned, go out and ride.
    Jeff in W.C.
    1988 R100 RT (the other woman)
    "I got my motorcycle jacket but I'm walking all the time." Joe Strummer

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