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Thread: R1200ST - to keep or not to keep - that is the question

  1. #1
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    R1200ST - to keep or not to keep - that is the question

    I've enjoyed these discussion groups since I normally get so many experienced comments. Below is the history of my 2005 R1200ST which I like but has frustrated me recently and makes me somewhat nervous since I am planning to ride it from Vancouver BC to the Arctic Circle in Alaska this summer. So the question is should I continue to fix her or should I get a different bike. Below is a history I've written for a mechanic and I would like additional comments from this group.

    Let me know what you think.

    Mike T

    ***************


    Bike history - I purchased the bike second hand in Chicago IL in 2007 with 15,000 miles and it is only occasional used with 20,000 miles today. The only changes the original owner did was to add Moto touring lights and a new exhaust system. When I got the bike I added a wiring harness for a Gerbing heated suit and a harness for a Garmin GPS. The bike is always garaged, I do all the required maintenance and in late 2009 I had a full 20,000 mile tune up done.

    Normally the bike was very reliable but around 2010 I had a number of issues. I noticed the Moto touring lights had stopped working properly and were shutting off prematurely. They were wired to the turn signal cancellation switch which is a technique no longer used. I took the bike to a BMW mechanic who was an authorized Moto light distributor while living in Houston Texas but he could not properly fix it - the lights would continue to turn off by themselves. I continued to use the bike and then the starter failed and required replacing which I understand is not a common problem. A few months later I noticed the bike would not run completely through the diagnostic start up procedure and the brake failure light would stay on (blinking) which prevented the power brakes from working. Many sources said a weak battery could be a problem but my battery was new. I then took the bike to a racing mechanic who direct wired the touring lights to the ignition switch with an on/off toggle switch which allowed them to work properly and I no longer had the brake failure light staying on. Now just 4 to 6 months later after moving to the Philadelphia area I have the neutral light not working properly which is preventing the bike from starting and I'm told I need to replace the Gear Position Sensor by a dealer which is a major job (up to 10 hours of labor). All these problems came within an 18 to 24 month period and I wondered if there is/was a common electrical problem, if some of the people who worked on the bike maybe did not do the repairs properly or my bike is turning into a lemon.

    **************

  2. #2
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Lets see... someone mis-wired after market lights which originally worked but caused issues down the road. Eventually you had the lights re-wired (from the ignition switch?) which resolved your initial issues.

    Now you have a possibly failing gear indicator switch. You've rejected a chance to diagnose the switch (on an other thread) and instead will replace it without first determining that the switch is bad. Why? It might not need replacing. Also, if it does need replacing is it really that big of a deal? My version of the RepROM does not mention the need to remove the swing arm. I'm not familiar enough with the ST to know for sure. A friend changed his potentiometer on a GS without pulling the swing arm. He wrote "The potentiometer's thickness is 22 mm, or 5/8-of an inch. The two fasteners are male Torx. So, with some patience, the potentiometer can be swapped out without removing the swing arm. It's a tight job, with just a millimeter to spare. And having a stand upon which to raise the moto is extra nice as otherwise the job is a back breaker." Yeah, the ST might be different than the GS.

    As for not being able to start the bike... has your clutch switch also failed? You should be able to start the bike as long as the clutch is in and the side stand is up regardless of gear (or what the gear indicator switch reports).

    Do you need to do anything right away?

  3. #3
    Lifetime Member Ridealot's Avatar
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    So you have only put 5000 miles on in close to 6 years of owning the bike? I wouldn't call the bike a lemon
    Last edited by Ridealot; 11-26-2012 at 11:10 PM.
    Tom
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    '93 K1100LT w/Bushtec
    '03 F650CS '09 F650GS

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    Reply to my question

    Thanks for the reply.

    First to Tom. You think I'm not an avid rider but I have owned 9 motorcycles, have ridden in all 50 States and have traveled in 12 countries on motorcycles. I haven't put many miles on this bike because I have young children and don't have a lot of personal time these days. Don't be quick to judge.

    Now for Marc. I've not defaulted to changing the sensor but my check ( mostly unplugging the cables, cleaning them and retesting) has not made much progress, many of the forums I've visited have shown this has been a problem and the shop that the bike is going to will review this before replacing it - which is what we have agreed to. Your right about the description you had and the shops reply was it could be a minimum of 4 (taking the pipes and header off) or up to 10 if the back end has to come off. According to my Haynes manual the exhaust system has to come off and it's really tight. I have a hard time just unplugging the sensor but I'm hoping for the best. But I'm taking the bike on a challenging ride this summer and do not want any surprises. But I have to say she is getting me nervous. I'm planning to fix her again but I am going to put on adventure tires, crash bars and added a GPS system. I hope I don't regret it.

    I am not in a rush and plan to ship the bike in June of this year to the West Coast to start my trip from Vancouver to Alaska in July. But I have to make sure it is in good shape before I leave. Also you asked if I can pull in the clutch to start the bike. If the gear sensor is working yes you can pull in the clutch and the bike will start. But if the gear sensor is not working pulling in the clutch will not start the bike. So this can be a major problem.

    Mike T

  5. #5
    aterry1067
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    Hey Chap,
    I certainly envy the expected ride! It sounds like a great one! And I wish you the best of luck. I would agree that I would want the bike to be in top shape before I started out. But one thing I can't gather from your post is how much of your own maintenance you can do. If you don't normally work on your own bike, I would encourage you to do so before an Alaskan trip. I know you said you have traveled in 12 countries, but we don't know which ones. I haven't been to Alaska yet (a big YET), but I have several friends that have lived there for multiple years (mostly fellow Air Force airmen). From what I have heard, Alaska can be different country in it's own right, and, as I am sure you have researched, it can be very barren and desolate. That said, a simple breakdown can turn into a tragedy very fast; even in summer. If you haven't already done so, I would look at many of the forums and search for home-grown how-to's and on-the-fly repairs. While it may seem ridiculous, many can be life savers. For instance, a pair of ladies panty hose CAN be tied around a crank pulley and an alternator tight enough that the vehicle can be driven back to civilization for a proper repair. I am guessing this would work on a motorcycle with an over-drive alternator, but I know for a fact that it will work on a 4x4 jeep. :-) A can of black pepper can be used to seal up a cracked radiator.

    If it were me, I would want to know every nut and bolt on my bike before I set out on an Alaskan adventure. At bare minimum, I would carry a Haynes manual and a good tool set. Even brand new vehicles can break down. A good knowledge on the innards of the bike can go a long way to keeping even an old worn out bike on the road for a long time.

    Good luck and we look forward to a great ride report!
    :-)

  6. #6
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaparito01 View Post
    But if the gear sensor is not working pulling in the clutch will not start the bike. So this can be a major problem.
    I wasn't aware of that. My assumption was that the logic was "in neutral OR (clutch switch activated AND sidestand retracted)". Guess not.

  7. #7
    Ozzie Flyer
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    Quote Originally Posted by marchyman View Post
    I wasn't aware of that. My assumption was that the logic was "in neutral OR (clutch switch activated AND sidestand retracted)". Guess not.
    Are you sure that Marchyman is not right?
    Pulling in the clutch allows the motor to start in gear. Unless the clutch micro switch is broken.
    So not matter what gear it thinks it is in, pulling in the clutch should allow for a start
    regards
    regards
    Paul
    Ozzie Flyer
    BE KIND TO HUMANS... THEY BITE

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    Curmudgeon At Large Bobmws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marchyman View Post
    As for not being able to start the bike... has your clutch switch also failed? You should be able to start the bike as long as the clutch is in and the side stand is up regardless of gear (or what the gear indicator switch reports).

    Do you need to do anything right away?
    Quote Originally Posted by pch123 View Post
    Are you sure that Marchyman is not right?
    Pulling in the clutch allows the motor to start in gear. Unless the clutch micro switch is broken.
    So not matter what gear it thinks it is in, pulling in the clutch should allow for a start
    regards
    Or the sidestand switch has failed too.
    Bob Weis
    '04 K12RS - Hannigan Hack
    www.earplugco.com

  9. #9
    Registered User rickyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridealot View Post
    So you have only put 5000 miles on in close to 6 years of owning the bike? I wouldn't call the bike a lemon
    I agree the bike is not getting ridden enough. Bikes don't like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chaparito01 View Post
    I have the neutral light not working properly which is preventing the bike from starting and I'm told I need to replace the Gear Position Sensor by a dealer which is a major job (up to 10 hours of labor).
    My neutral light misbehaves in winter. Making sure the bike is actually in neutral and pulling in the clutch always starts it (knock on wood). Dealer told me the gear selector switch contacts get persnickety after a while.

    There have been enough things done to the bike by mechanics of maybe varying capabilities so don't be quick to blame the bike. The old bikes with the old electrics you could cobble, patch, bypass, etc. fairly reliably. On the modern generation of bikes those practices are more risky.
    Rick

    '06 BMW R1200RT
    '74 Moto-Guzzi 850-T

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by marchyman View Post
    I wasn't aware of that. My assumption was that the logic was "in neutral OR (clutch switch activated AND sidestand retracted)". Guess not.
    My 2010 GSA will start in any gear with clutch in and sidestand down. But, it dies when releasing the lever. Confusing till I realized the sidestand was down then it was just plain embarrassing!

    Edit- recalling this post I tried starting the bike in gear with side stand down- no go! Then I realized that in the scenario I posted I had actually started the bike in neutral, clutch pulled, and side stand down and tried to put it in gear. Bottom line: red faced again!
    Last edited by DcnDog; 12-05-2012 at 03:32 AM. Reason: More embarrassing confession
    Dan

    2010 R1200GSA

  11. #11
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    Another reply

    Good feedback. I've enjoyed reading this.

    For the comments on maintenance. I use to do all my own maintenance on Harley's in the 90s but the Beamer with all the computers and electronics I've normally taken this to mechanics. I am traveling with a very experienced rider who is taking his 2002 R1150GS and rebuilds motorcycles as a hobby. We are taking repair books and tools which we normally do. I've ridden with him for 30 years. I've done a lot of research on ridding Alaska and will be taking a satellite phone and emergency supplies (space blanket, sleeping bag, tent, bear pepper spray, bike tow straps, etc) in case of breakdowns. I've reviewed many forums to make sure I've gotten the lessons learned from others. I have a 14 page plan to outline all the requirements and risks for the ridders that join me on the trip. Im pretty conservative with a venture like this. Right now there are only two of us.

    Now for Paul and his question on pulling the clutch. I did get into a situation where the gear selector did not work and the bike did not start with pulling the clutch. When I visited with the dealer they said that the bike will not start by pulling in the clutch when the selector goes out. I then tested this at my house and checked the kick stand (killed the bike when I put it down in gear) and the bike did start while in gear when the gear position sensor was working when I pulled in the clutch. This is what concerns me if the gear selection sensor acts up is that I will not be able to electric start the bike. I was told you could push start it but thats a chore and you need two people. I'm on a business trip now and will recheck starting the bike in gear with the kickstand up while the gear selector sensor is not working when I return home. I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure this is right.

    Thanks for the comments. Good discussion.

    Mike T

  12. #12
    aterry1067
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    Awesome! It sounds like you have your bases covered. I hope you have a great trip! I'm glad to hear that 1. you won't be traveling alone. 2. you have an experienced partner, a tool kit, and a tow strap. 3. you have a sat phone. I think you will be just fine. The bear spray is a good idea too. The bears really like the pepper seasoning before they eat you. Just kidding. You'll be fine.

    As far as the clutch, sidestand, gear selector switch, if I were home, for sure, I would replace the switch to ensure my bike was in the best possible working order. If the problem occurred while under way, I would simply bypass the switch by wiring the appropriate wires together. A micro-switch is a micro-switch..... a prox switch is a prox switch. They all work on the same principle, and with a wiring diagram, you can wire it up to bypass the safeguard if needed. It shouldn't be a show stopper for you.

    I bet you will have a great time, and I certainly look forward to my turn to ride in AK.

    Cheers!

  13. #13
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aterry1067 View Post
    As far as the clutch, sidestand, gear selector switch, if I were home, for sure, I would replace the switch to ensure my bike was in the best possible working order. If the problem occurred while under way, I would simply bypass the switch by wiring the appropriate wires together. A micro-switch is a micro-switch..... a prox switch is a prox switch. They all work on the same principle, and with a wiring diagram, you can wire it up to bypass the safeguard if needed. It shouldn't be a show stopper for you.
    The gear indicator is actually a potentiometer.. so wiring things together really won't work. You'd need to substitute a resistor of the correct value in place of it.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  14. #14
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    Take a GS911 with you to Alaska and a Fuel Pump Controller jumper wire. My FPC failed on a trip this summer. (2nd one) The GS911 told me exactly what the problem was.
    2013 Triumph Trophy
    2007 R1200RT Broken driveshaft @ 54,000 miles. Come on BMW!
    2000 R1100rt sold @ 72,000 Great Bike!
    Iron Butt #24605

  15. #15
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    Gear Potentiometer

    Just fixed gear indicator problem on my 2006 GS. Water shorts out lead to potentiometer. Pull lead, clean with contact cleaner and "push pull" lead on contact to clean any dirt. Pack with electroytic grease. If you get gear positions but not neutral and bike will not start with clutch in, it is a code in computer that can be cleared with a GS 911. That was my case.

    I did replace the potentiometer but probably didn't need to. I went ot Harbor Freight and purchased a set of toryx sockets for $8 and ground the back off the right size socket so that it would enter the screww with clearance. Then ground wrench flats on socket. Replacement took 30 minutes.

    Either way, there is a good chance that you will need to clear a fault in the computer. Find a buddy with a GS 911

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