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Thread: R1200RT 2013 front caliper leak

  1. #1
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    R1200RT 2013 front caliper leak

    Hi all --

    I have my 90th anniversary 2013 R1200RT sitting in the garage on a battery tender and lightly covered with a cotton fitted bed sheet... much like I have done each horrible winter with all my previous bikes. It has around 1,500 miles on it and had its first service at 600. It's on the center stand and a piece of wood holds up the front fork so neither tire is on the ground all winter.

    I noticed a leak on the floor of my garage directly under the front caliper one day so I placed a piece of white paper under it so the next time I could tell what the color of the fluid is. I have included some (rather poor) pictures here plus a stock photo with an arrow pointing to where the drip happens from. The big spot is about 5" in diameter and clear in color with a little blue/green on the edges. I touched the paper to the caliper to generate the smaller drip just to verify the fluid color.

    I went through the bike with a flashlight carefully and cannot see any fluids coming from the fork seal or anywhere higher-up dripping down onto the caliper so I fear it must be coming from the caliper itself. I checked the reservoir and it appears completely full. I also squeezed the brakes and found no leaking. I felt all around the caliper and lines but my fingers came back dry... it's as if the drip is coming from inside the caliper itself somehow. I might be crazy but the leak appears to happen after a really cold snap, for example it was perfectly dry until the temperature dropped to 5F.

    Any ideas?
    Thanks,
    -Dave
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  2. #2
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    Is the brake fluid level down at all in the reservoir? I realize it may be hard to tell with such a small amount. Sounds like you may possibly have a defective piston seal in the caliper. Bikes really don't like to sit, in my experience. Seals dry out, shrink, etc.

    Sent from my DROID4 using Tapatalk
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    2012 Super Tenere
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  3. #3
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Hi Dave good to see you on. I'll bump you up a notch to Hexhead/Camhead so you can get better results.
    Gayr
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
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  4. #4
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
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    If it were mine, I'd not worry about it. I'd take it to the selling dealer and file a warrenty claim. I'm not sure a leak at the caliper would reduce the level in the brake fluid up on the handlebars as it might draw from the abs system instead.
    Last edited by mpmarty; 01-13-2014 at 01:49 AM. Reason: spelling
    Marty - in the western Oregon mountains.'06RT, (gone '04RT, '86 Venture Royal, '81 Yamaha Virago920, '82Suzuki GS1100GK, '76 Suzuki GT750, Triumph 750 Bonneville, BSA Road Rocket 650, 61" Harley knucklehead)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave View Post
    Hi all --

    I have my 90th anniversary 2013 R1200RT sitting in the garage on a battery tender and lightly covered with a cotton fitted bed sheet... much like I have done each horrible winter with all my previous bikes. It has around 1,500 miles on it and had its first service at 600. It's on the center stand and a piece of wood holds up the front fork so neither tire is on the ground all winter.

    Any ideas?
    Thanks,
    -Dave
    Dave,
    I also have a 90 anniversary R1200RT with almost 6,000 miles and that heading drew my attention to this thread thinking I might be looking at future trouble. The first picture showed your front tire and rim. The 90th anniversary edition of the R1200RT comes with aluminum forged rims and street tires, not nobby. I don't know what you think you purchased but it is not the 2013 90th Anniversary R1200RT. Somethings weird here.
    Sickticket

  6. #6
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sickticket View Post
    I don't know what you think you purchased but it is not the 2013 90th Anniversary R1200RT. Somethings weird here.
    Sickticket
    Did you read his text? He wrote "... plus a stock photo with an arrow pointing to where the drip happens from." I took that to mean "here's a picture I found on the net marked up to show where I think the drip is coming from".

  7. #7
    Registered User kenlavine's Avatar
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    I have the same exact bike parked in my garage in the same manner although my garage stays above 35F.

    I would attribute the seep of fluid to the extreme cold temperature.

  8. #8
    Registered User toooldtocare's Avatar
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    At 5 degrees it should not be leaking. Having parked cars and motorcycles in much colder temps over the past many decades, I have never had the problem you are having. I would have it checked out by your dealer.

    Wayne

  9. #9
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    It shouldn't be a problem on a new bike, but I'd offer experience that brake systems can indeed fail in cold weather. Range Rover and VW master cylinders for me.
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  10. #10
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    Cold (normal near freezing temps) doesn't cause leaks and seeps. If it did, there would be corpses all over public roads from the resulting crashes caused by brake failures.

    Anyway, brake fluid itself isn't blue (except for one odd one not used by BMW Motorad) but it can pick up contamination that might make it look that way.

    If its dripping off the bottom of the caliper, check bleeder screw and hose attachments to caliper for tightness- don't be a gorilla but put a wrench on them to be sure.

    If the above are good there are only 2 other sources (assuming its not running down the brake line from above which is improbable if you can't see or feel it).

    1) Its not brake fluid at all but some contaminant off the road- a blob of something you hit- or even condensate running off or leftover from washing the bike or running through water
    2) Its brake fluid coming past the piston seals.

    Both are unlikely but possible. Piston seals are very forgiving and rarely fail especially on new stuff, but if grit got in somehow or a piece of metal debris from manufacturing got into the seal, its possible.

    Anyway, as long as there is obvious fluid in the reservoir you're in no immediate danger. Not at all likely if its a small leak that it will suddenly become a big one.

    If you're having trouble still with the ID of fluid and source, get some experienced help- your dealer or anyone else you know who has experience with brake repairs. A caliper rebuild is a simple thing to do if you have the parts as is a caliper replacement should it be needed. Brake leaks need to be fixed, not tolerated.

  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone...

    I wiped everything down very well. I inspected the entire front section and found no fluids anywhere at all, everything is dry. I cleaned and dried the front caliper completed and went back to the bike each day since and it's still dry, even after compressing the front brake handle very hard many times over and over.

    My best guess here is that this must be some kind of condensation -- the front caliper is the first real solid metal part closest to the garage door, lowest to the ground, lowest to the cover sheet. It's quite possible that the freezing air condenses onto that particular part more rapidly on extremely cold days and what drips off is a combination of residual grime and the washing fluid I wiped the bike down with when I put it to sleep.

    There are two variables here:
    1. I've never left a bike in my garage during such extreme cold. I don't know where you live but here in NY we've had a few days of unusually low temperatures. This is new to me.
    2. This is the first time I've used a cotton fitted bed sheet instead of a commercially purchase dust cover. I'm told using a regular cotton sheet will breath so it should be fine in the garage, but now I'm not so sure.

    -Dave

  12. #12
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Much of this has been commented on, but:

    1. Find the exact source of the leak - no guessing - find it.

    2. Clean the caliper and everything near it. I would use soap and water for this chore in this case.

    3. If it is a brake system leak it will leak more under pressure. So with the bike parked pull the front brake lever rather hard and wrap it in the pulled position with a bungee cord to keep pressure on the system.

    4. Now systematically look for the leak.

    5. Hose/line? Fitting? Seam between caliper halves? Seal at the piston?

    Go from there.
    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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