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Thread: '11 R1200RT will not Downshift at times

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    '11 R1200RT will not Downshift at times

    My '11 R1200 RT will sometimes fail to downshift. I have experienced this problem when shifting from 4th to 3rd and from 3rd to 2nd. This has happened only 3-4 times while riding in cold weather but with the engine fully warmed up. The RT has 6K miles and has had a easy life. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Last edited by deilenberger; 03-05-2014 at 08:14 PM. Reason: Added year to thread title

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    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Hi foyabbott (real name?)

    Welcome to the forums. I'll add the year of your RT to the thread title. See: http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthread.php?46055 when you have a chance.

    The cause of your problem..

    It only does it in cold weather?

    How cold?

    What gearbox oil is in it?

    If the oil is a single viscosity oil, you may want to consider trying something like 75W-90 or 75W-140. The "75W" is the important part. That's the cold flow number, and the lower the number the easier the oil will flow as it gets colder.

    Other than that - anything feel odd about the clutch? A dragging clutch can cause resistance to shifting. If you're still under warranty - I'd bring this to the attention of the dealer, and at least get it written up as a complaint in case something fails out of warranty.

    Best,
    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

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    Registered User wyman.winn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foyabbott View Post
    My '11 R1200 RT will sometimes fail to downshift. I have experienced this problem when shifting from 4th to 3rd and from 3rd to 2nd. This has happened only 3-4 times while riding in cold weather but with the engine fully warmed up. The RT has 6K miles and has had a easy life. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    foyabbott,

    please explain how is "fails to downshift".....

    i have a similar problem with my 2013 RT....when coming to a stop, for example, i pull the clutch and try to down shift...sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't shift....IF i blip the throttle the trans shifts properly.....i have asked the question here with no plausible answers and, YES, i have discussed this with my dealer...they say they will need the bike for a few weeks to figure it out...NOT!!!

    i have re-adjusted the throttle cables according to the REP-ROM and it is better, but not perfect....on the next service i will check the cables to the throttle bodies and the cable distribution box for crud....

    bike shifts flawlessly going up...

    wyman
    2013 R1200RT - Sassy - Fluid Grey Metallic
    2002 V-Strom DL1000 - sold
    2008 KLR650 - sold

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    Not enough info for a clear answer but I'm betting against the oil, the cables, etc. (unless ineptly serviced at home)

    Most likely this is technique but could be some sort of odd clutch system problem, a bent internal if abused or even a lose/poorly adjusted shifter mechanism. Would need to ride it for about a minute to tell.

    The bike tranny isn't a car- its got no synchromesh or equivalent and depends on bits staying in motion to effect gear changes smoothly- very very unlike driving a cage by most- whose methods are so bad they are utterly dependent on the synchros (or whatever is designed in to aid shifting) to avoid trashing the box. The bike box operates very much like a race box for cages. Crisp and quick get its done. Pulling the clutch and going slow, especially at stops, will not. This is nearly the exact opposite of what might be habit for those who grew up with "three on tree"

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    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Difficult downshifting is a classic symptom of light clutch drag. Possibilities include air in the hydraulic clutch circuit causing less than full release, and also a dry clutch hub spline. At this low mileage I'd believe that air in the clutch hydraulics is the most likely cause.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by foyabbott View Post
    My '11 R1200 RT will sometimes fail to downshift. I have experienced this problem when shifting from 4th to 3rd and from 3rd to 2nd. This has happened only 3-4 times while riding in cold weather but with the engine fully warmed up. The RT has 6K miles and has had a easy life. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Welcome to the forums! I'm curious as to the speed you are traveling at when this happens. If you are at a real slow speed- say 10MPH and try to drop 3 or 4 gears I'd say it's kind of a "reverse lug" on the engine. I think you could check if you went through a complete clutch cycle for each gear downshifted as dropping a number of gears with a single pull of the clutch can get things a bit "lashed up".
    OM
    "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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    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyman.winn View Post
    foyabbott,

    please explain how is "fails to downshift".....

    i have a similar problem with my 2013 RT....when coming to a stop, for example, i pull the clutch and try to down shift...sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't shift....IF i blip the throttle the trans shifts properly.....i have asked the question here with no plausible answers and, YES, i have discussed this with my dealer...they say they will need the bike for a few weeks to figure it out...NOT!!!

    i have re-adjusted the throttle cables according to the REP-ROM and it is better, but not perfect....on the next service i will check the cables to the throttle bodies and the cable distribution box for crud....

    bike shifts flawlessly going up...

    wyman
    Wyman,

    If I understand this - this only happens on coming to a stop? Not too unusual on a BMW transmission (I noticed your other bikes are ones which likely have wet clutches.) The cause on a BMW is the dry clutch. When disengaged it FULLY disengages the transmission from the engine. If you wait too long before putting it into 1st gear - the gears have time to stop spinning in the gearbox, and the shift-dogs may butt up against one another - not allowing the gear to move (and keeping you out of 1st gear.) Blipping the throttle as you pull in the clutch and go through neutral will spin up the gears and it will then shift fine.

    The fix isn't throttle cables - it's learning the BMW 1st gear shift technique. Mine is - shift into 1st while the bike is still moving at least 5MPH. If I take it out of gear at a long light, and when I pull in the clutch it doesn't want to go into gear - I release the clutch partially while it's in neutral (spinning up the gears) and try it again - it always goes into gear then (sometimes with a bit of a klunk.)

    It becomes 2nd nature to do this after 20 or so years of riding BMWs.. and you won't even think about it.

    Oh - why did I mention wet clutch bikes? A wet clutch ALWAYS has some force being transmitted through it via the drag of the oil between the multiple plates. It means there is some twist force on the gears even with the clutch fully pulled in, so the gears tend to mate very smoothly from neutral.

    HTH,
    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

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    Registered User wyman.winn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deilenberger View Post
    Wyman,

    If I understand this - this only happens on coming to a stop? Not too unusual on a BMW transmission (I noticed your other bikes are ones which likely have wet clutches.) The cause on a BMW is the dry clutch. When disengaged it FULLY disengages the transmission from the engine. If you wait too long before putting it into 1st gear - the gears have time to stop spinning in the gearbox, and the shift-dogs may butt up against one another - not allowing the gear to move (and keeping you out of 1st gear.) Blipping the throttle as you pull in the clutch and go through neutral will spin up the gears and it will then shift fine.

    The fix isn't throttle cables - it's learning the BMW 1st gear shift technique. Mine is - shift into 1st while the bike is still moving at least 5MPH. If I take it out of gear at a long light, and when I pull in the clutch it doesn't want to go into gear - I release the clutch partially while it's in neutral (spinning up the gears) and try it again - it always goes into gear then (sometimes with a bit of a klunk.)

    It becomes 2nd nature to do this after 20 or so years of riding BMWs.. and you won't even think about it.

    Oh - why did I mention wet clutch bikes? A wet clutch ALWAYS has some force being transmitted through it via the drag of the oil between the multiple plates. It means there is some twist force on the gears even with the clutch fully pulled in, so the gears tend to mate very smoothly from neutral.

    HTH,
    PM sent....thanks
    2013 R1200RT - Sassy - Fluid Grey Metallic
    2002 V-Strom DL1000 - sold
    2008 KLR650 - sold

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    Insatiable Cruiser rtwiz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyman.winn View Post
    foyabbott,

    please explain how is "fails to downshift".....

    i have a similar problem with my 2013 RT....when coming to a stop, for example, i pull the clutch and try to down shift...sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't shift....IF i blip the throttle the trans shifts properly.....i have asked the question here with no plausible answers and, YES, i have discussed this with my dealer...they say they will need the bike for a few weeks to figure it out...NOT!!!

    i have re-adjusted the throttle cables according to the REP-ROM and it is better, but not perfect....on the next service i will check the cables to the throttle bodies and the cable distribution box for crud....

    bike shifts flawlessly going up...

    wyman

    Wyman:

    You're issue is that you can't downshift to first gear when you come to a stop in neutral with clutch pulled in for a while and then push down on the gearshift pedal.

    If the gear you want is stopped so the teeth are not aligned with the gear you're in, it will not engage because the engagement gear is stopped. To "fix" this, just let go of of the clutch lever, in neutral, then pull in again and immediately shift into 1st.

    The '05 and newer bikes have drag built in to the spinning gear when you pull in on the clutch. This allows faster shifting between gears when you're running along, but has this small side effect of the spinning side slowing down quickly when you pull the clutch.

    You don't have to blip the throttle, just release in neutral, grab the lever again an IMMEDIATELY shift to first and go. Once you adapt to this, it becomes second nature. When I changed from oil-head to hex-head, I noticed this immediately. Dealer told me about this. I think BMW told dealers about this change when it was made and they were training for the "new" hex-head bikes, but most have forgotten these little details by now.

    Last edited by rtwiz; 03-15-2014 at 03:09 AM.

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    Insatiable Cruiser rtwiz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foyabbott View Post
    My '11 R1200 RT will sometimes fail to downshift. I have experienced this problem when shifting from 4th to 3rd and from 3rd to 2nd. This has happened only 3-4 times while riding in cold weather but with the engine fully warmed up. The RT has 6K miles and has had a easy life. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    foy...

    I've found that real BMW brand full synthetic multi-weight gear oil works better in these transmissions. It's the only BMW brand fluid that I will not substitute with anything else. Great stuff. It's expensive, but the bike doesn't require a lot of it and we don't need to change that often, so it's a small price to pay for better shifts and less gear noise.

    In cold weather (how cold?), they can definitely be a little more challenging, but full synthetic oil works better in cold temps. Maybe you're already using it?

    That said, my '05 RT has 78K on it. Has missed the occasional downshift or upshift now and then. Still running very strong. After years with this bike, I've decided that the cause of missed shifts is my own lazy foot and not pressing the gearshift down quite far enough, sometimes in haste, but usually when I'm doing a relaxing ride. Maybe I need new boots?

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    Registered User wyman.winn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deilenberger View Post
    Wyman,

    If I understand this - this only happens on coming to a stop? Not too unusual on a BMW transmission (I noticed your other bikes are ones which likely have wet clutches.) The cause on a BMW is the dry clutch. When disengaged it FULLY disengages the transmission from the engine. If you wait too long before putting it into 1st gear - the gears have time to stop spinning in the gearbox, and the shift-dogs may butt up against one another - not allowing the gear to move (and keeping you out of 1st gear.) Blipping the throttle as you pull in the clutch and go through neutral will spin up the gears and it will then shift fine.

    The fix isn't throttle cables - it's learning the BMW 1st gear shift technique. Mine is - shift into 1st while the bike is still moving at least 5MPH. If I take it out of gear at a long light, and when I pull in the clutch it doesn't want to go into gear - I release the clutch partially while it's in neutral (spinning up the gears) and try it again - it always goes into gear then (sometimes with a bit of a klunk.)

    It becomes 2nd nature to do this after 20 or so years of riding BMWs.. and you won't even think about it.

    Oh - why did I mention wet clutch bikes? A wet clutch ALWAYS has some force being transmitted through it via the drag of the oil between the multiple plates. It means there is some twist force on the gears even with the clutch fully pulled in, so the gears tend to mate very smoothly from neutral.

    HTH,
    well, it looks as though the shifting problem may be finally addressed.....

    on my way home from a surprise B-Day party in Mesa, AZ....stopped for fuel Sunday morning, RT was running great prior to this and for over 21,000miles!, entered the west bound onramp at 51st Street and Interstate 10 west and when shifting from 2nd to 3rd (and not really "on it" either, which is generally unusual for me!) at about 4000rpm....BANG, Screech..........no power to the rear wheel, came to a stop and shut down the motor.........put the trans in neutral and started the motor....motor sounded great, as usual, and no bad sounds.....BUT, when i pulled in the clutch lever...SCREECH!!!! and the bike will roll in any gear without pulling in the clutch lever......

    delivered Sassy, my RT, to the talented and caring folks at BMW Motorcycles of Long Beach, CA and she has an appointment tomorrow morning with a Tech and i hear a rep from BMW.....

    we will soon see what actually happened....and maybe, just maybe the downshifting problem will be solved....

    wyman
    2013 R1200RT - Sassy - Fluid Grey Metallic
    2002 V-Strom DL1000 - sold
    2008 KLR650 - sold

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    My 2012 RT has the same symptoms as Wyman's...rough downshifting from 3-2...almost as rough as 2-1. Upshifting however is smooth. This is similar to the 2009 GS I had, which I took to three different dealers complaining about, they all told me this is "normal".

    My belief is this rough shifting has a direct impact on the life of universal joints and final drives...as that shock has to be directly transmitted further down the drivetrain. My guess is that is what happened in Wyman's case, will be interesting to see what the tech finds. And yes I know that "they all do that" and "that is just the way BMWs shift", but I have also ridden other BMWs that shift nicely. In a conversation with the owner of a MC rental place when I was in San Francisco who has a lot of R series bikes in his fleet, he told me that it is the luck of the draw: it will either shift nice, or will not, and it will never change over the life of the bike. For that reason he buys one year old bikes for his fleet, so that he can evaluate how it shifts before adding it to the fleet.

    Hopefully this is a thing that is behind us with the introduction of the new design clutch / transmission. I know the GS I test rode last year was certainly a HUGE improvement over all the BMWs I've owned, and was similar to other brands I've owned. My guess is universal joint and rear drive failures will decline dramatically as well, due to the elimination of driveline shock from clunky shifting.

    Wyman, please let us know what the tech finds.

    Jim
    Canton, OH

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimsk View Post
    My 2012 RT has the same symptoms as Wyman's...rough downshifting from 3-2...almost as rough as 2-1. Upshifting however is smooth. This is similar to the 2009 GS I had, which I took to three different dealers complaining about, they all told me this is "normal".

    My belief is this rough shifting has a direct impact on the life of universal joints and final drives...as that shock has to be directly transmitted further down the drivetrain. My guess is that is what happened in Wyman's case, will be interesting to see what the tech finds. And yes I know that "they all do that" and "that is just the way BMWs shift", but I have also ridden other BMWs that shift nicely. In a conversation with the owner of a MC rental place when I was in San Francisco who has a lot of R series bikes in his fleet, he told me that it is the luck of the draw: it will either shift nice, or will not, and it will never change over the life of the bike. For that reason he buys one year old bikes for his fleet, so that he can evaluate how it shifts before adding it to the fleet.

    Hopefully this is a thing that is behind us with the introduction of the new design clutch / transmission. I know the GS I test rode last year was certainly a HUGE improvement over all the BMWs I've owned, and was similar to other brands I've owned. My guess is universal joint and rear drive failures will decline dramatically as well, due to the elimination of driveline shock from clunky shifting.

    Wyman, please let us know what the tech finds.

    Jim
    Canton, OH
    Jim,

    thanks Jim, didn't really think i was imagining this problem.....

    yes, i will let the good folks here know what the problem was and hopefully, fingers crossed, the shifting problem will be solved with the bigger issue....

    wyman
    2013 R1200RT - Sassy - Fluid Grey Metallic
    2002 V-Strom DL1000 - sold
    2008 KLR650 - sold

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    I was always taught to preload the gear with your toe then engage it with a quick flip, no need to pull the clutch in all the way.
    Oh, and my dealer also told me if I'm in neutral at a light to cycle the clutch twice to get it into first. Works well.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk

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    Registered User wyman.winn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimsk View Post
    My 2012 RT has the same symptoms as Wyman's...rough downshifting from 3-2...almost as rough as 2-1. Upshifting however is smooth. This is similar to the 2009 GS I had, which I took to three different dealers complaining about, they all told me this is "normal".

    My belief is this rough shifting has a direct impact on the life of universal joints and final drives...as that shock has to be directly transmitted further down the drivetrain. My guess is that is what happened in Wyman's case, will be interesting to see what the tech finds. And yes I know that "they all do that" and "that is just the way BMWs shift", but I have also ridden other BMWs that shift nicely. In a conversation with the owner of a MC rental place when I was in San Francisco who has a lot of R series bikes in his fleet, he told me that it is the luck of the draw: it will either shift nice, or will not, and it will never change over the life of the bike. For that reason he buys one year old bikes for his fleet, so that he can evaluate how it shifts before adding it to the fleet.

    Hopefully this is a thing that is behind us with the introduction of the new design clutch / transmission. I know the GS I test rode last year was certainly a HUGE improvement over all the BMWs I've owned, and was similar to other brands I've owned. My guess is universal joint and rear drive failures will decline dramatically as well, due to the elimination of driveline shock from clunky shifting.

    Wyman, please let us know what the tech finds.

    Jim
    Canton, OH
    update....

    BMW Motorcycles of Long Beach just informed me that the female splines on the clutch friction disk have been sheared off and the input shaft splines have been damaged....other than that the motor and trans are good.....they will replace the friction disk and trans input shaft and the bike should be good to go probably next week if there is an input shaft in the US....

    maybe this failure was the cause of the poor down shifting....time will tell...

    will update when i get her back....

    thanks...

    wyman
    2013 R1200RT - Sassy - Fluid Grey Metallic
    2002 V-Strom DL1000 - sold
    2008 KLR650 - sold

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