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Thread: U-Joint Failure - R1200R 2007 33K mlles

  1. #1
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    U-Joint Failure - R1200R 2007 33K mlles

    I bought the bike at 10K in 2010. Since then, it has lived inside and been maintained as BMW directs by Ted Porter's Beemershop.

    I rode to Death Valley last weekend. On Sunday morning, about five miles up the hill from Stovepipe Wells at 7:45 a.m., something let go in the drivetrain: felt like I was running over tar snakes (brrp, brrp, brrp, etc.). Bevel box wasn't leaking, and the rear wheel had no play on any axis. The wheel turned (noisily) in the correct direction, but would only go a bit in reverse before locking. The noise seemed to come from the driveshaft. The bike was ridden (very gently) down to the hill to Stovepipe, a better place to load it on the truck that had taken my friend's KTM dirt bike into the valley.

    The bike went by truck back home, and this morning up to Ted's shop. Once the rear drive was removed from the swingarm, the problem was evident:



    The u-joint was clearly deceased. I didn't see surface corrosion on the pieces, and Ted didn't think the joint had died from moisture. He said the pieces seemed (looked? smelled?) as though the joint had gotten extremely hot before it failed; he described a failure mode where the needle bearings get loose, and the moving bearing beats on the opening in the u-joint trunnions until the trunnion or the crosspiece fractures. This seemed a reasonable explanation of what I saw. As needle bearings live long lives in terrible conditions (open to the elements) in automobile driveshafts, this failure suggests BMW uses bearings bought to a price, not quality.

    Fortunately, I'd stopped the bike quickly enough that the swingarm wasn't significantly damaged; there was only a small abrasion to the lip that retains the rubber bellows:



    Ted says they see this failure on Hexheads often enough not to be surprised, and said he doesn't know if these failures are caused by more power, or cheaper bearings, or something else. In any event, this driveshaft is not repairable even if parts were available...and they're not. Instead, one must replace the whole driveshaft.

    A new driveshaft is about $800. I've heard there was a running change in the driveshaft about 2009. Hoping that newer parts might be sturdier, and wanting to avoid the uncertainty of a used part, I'll spring for a new one.
    Last edited by dbrick; 03-13-2014 at 03:51 AM.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  2. #2
    Instigator cele0001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbrick View Post
    I bought the bike at 10K in 2010. Since then, it has lived inside and been maintained as BMW directs by Ted Porter's Beemershop.

    I rode to Death Valley last weekend. On Sunday morning, about five miles up the hill from Stovepipe Wells at 7:45 a.m., something let go in the drivetrain: felt like I was running over tar snakes (brrp, brrp, brrp, etc.). Bevel box wasn't leaking, and the rear wheel had no play on any axis. The wheel turned (noisily) in the correct direction, but would only go a bit in reverse before locking. The noise seemed to come from the driveshaft. The bike was ridden (very gently) down to the hill to Stovepipe, a better place to load it on the truck that had taken my friend's KTM dirt bike into the valley.

    The bike went by truck back home, and this morning up to Ted's shop. Once the rear drive was removed from the swingarm, the problem was evident:



    The u-joint was clearly deceased. I didn't see surface corrosion on the pieces, and Ted didn?t think the joint had died from moisture. He said the pieces seemed (looked? smelled?) as though the joint had gotten extremely hot before it failed; he described a failure mode where the needle bearings get loose, and the moving bearing beats on the opening in the u-joint trunnions until the trunnion or the crosspiece fractures. This seemed a reasonable explanation of what I saw. As needle bearings live long lives in terrible conditions (open to the elements) in automobile driveshafts, this failure suggests BMW uses bearings bought to a price, not quality.

    Fortunately, I?d stopped the bike quickly enough that the swingarm wasn?t significantly damaged; there was only a small abrasion to the lip that retains the rubber bellows:



    Ted says they see this failure on Hexheads often enough not to be surprised, and said he doesn?t know if these failures are caused by more power, or cheaper bearings, or something else. In any event, this driveshaft is not repairable even if parts were available...and they're not. Instead, one must replace the whole driveshaft.

    A new driveshaft is about $800. I?ve heard there was a running change in the driveshaft about 2009. Hoping that newer parts might be sturdier, and wanting to avoid the uncertainty of a used part, I?ll spring for a new one.
    Drive shaft failure stories scare the crap out me, since there is usually no warning and what will happen once it lets go is a gamble (with life possibly). I am assuming there was no warning in your case either.
    I want to be unique, just like everybody else.

  3. #3
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Nope, no warning. And I'm pretty easy on machinery.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  4. #4
    Registered User natrab's Avatar
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    My friend had the same thing happen. Once it's burned up, it's hard to tell if there was rust inside the joints. I remember seeing a little rust before when we had serviced it though.

    Check ebay for a new shaft. I see one on there now for an R1200RT (which I think should be the same): http://www.ebay.com/itm/07-BMW-R1200...d9dfe1&vxp=mtr

    After that, I highly recommend you do your own final drive service and make sure to get that rubber boot on right and grease it to keep water out. You can also have serviceable U-joints put on your shaft (we had my friend's u-joints repaired by Bruno in Canada, and there's another shop that can do it for around $250 here in the states), so you can make sure the grease inside the bearings is good by injecting it in yourself every 24k miles or so.

    Lastly, I had a horrible experience with Ted's Beemers with my '06 RT. I really wouldn't use them for newer bikes as at least one of the guys working there doesn't do a stellar job. The one thing Ted told me and that I took to heart was that there's almost nothing you can't do for these bikes yourself with a few tools and resources.
    Nate R
    2013 R1200RT 90th - "Tyr" - Purchased 12/13/2013 brand new!
    2007 R1200S - "Sexy Beast"
    2006 R1200RT "Wōden" - 84k - Retired and sold

  5. #5
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    What is the shop that can do it here?
    2000 R1100RT / 1987 K75C (RIP) / Santa Clarita, CA

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    Registered User wvpc's Avatar
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    Driveshaft sevice procedure write-up???

    I wonder if a service procedure write-up exists to prevent this problem?
    12 R1200 RT
    83 R100 RT

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wvpc View Post
    I wonder if a service procedure write-up exists to prevent this problem?
    There is none. These are "lubricated for life" and non serviceable, unless you have a shop modify them with a removable nipple.

    What amazes me is that the owner did not feel vibrations in the bike way before this failure. The u-joint was obviously seized and that would make the driveshaft run very wobbly and tight . I've had several u-joints fail on my early cars and there was always a vibration to indicate the problem. This is such antiquated technology, BMW should get out of the industrial revolution and use something higher tech, like CV joints for instance ?

  8. #8
    Registered User leehopp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesInCA View Post
    What is the shop that can do it here?
    Machine Service, Inc.
    http://www.machineservice.com/
    Lee
    Wilsonville, OR
    '03 R1150RT, 95K mi

  9. #9
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpw1200 View Post
    There is none. These are "lubricated for life" and non serviceable, unless you have a shop modify them with a removable nipple.

    What amazes me is that the owner did not feel vibrations in the bike way before this failure. The u-joint was obviously seized and that would make the driveshaft run very wobbly and tight . I've had several u-joints fail on my early cars and there was always a vibration to indicate the problem. This is such antiquated technology, BMW should get out of the industrial revolution and use something higher tech, like CV joints for instance ?
    Not the same model, but Voni's R1100RS spit its driveshaft - it looked about the same as this one - and it gave no early warning whatsoever. I had ridden the bike that morning and felt nothing. Voni was riding it when it broke and felt nothing in advance. I was very surprised, but given that we both had ridden the bike at highway speed in the 15 or 20 miles prior to the failure the lack of warning was indeed the case.

    I agree about CV joints. Or maybe they should just use chains. Or belts.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  10. #10
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Sorry to read about your ride ending issue...glad you faired well.

    My bro-in-laws '07 shaft gave out around that same mileage...he is very gentle on the equipment. Felt a slight vibration moments before it broke.
    Another member who bought my '05 GS has also lost a shaft...I believe he now has the serviceable u-joints.

    I have a similar picture of a 1150GSA driveshaft in my shop right now...it waited 101K and also no vibration felt by owner until he felt it bang. On this one the front joint failed and really beat up the housing at the mounting point with the tranny. Enough to warrant a replacement. The burnt/hot metal smell was very evident at teardown as well...that joint got very hot.

    Only possible help is to have the serviceable u-joints installed and hope for the best. The price doesn't drop on them...the 1150 is also around $800 new.
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
    It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away-D.Dillon/G. Strait

  11. #11
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpw1200 View Post
    The u-joint was obviously seized and that would make the driveshaft run very wobbly and tight
    I don't think it seized; I think one of the u-joint's four trunnion bearings failed. With a failed but-still-moving bearing the u-joint would still turn, but would vibrate (the "brrp brrp brrp" I heard and felt) and soon fracture.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by leehopp View Post
    Machine Service, Inc.
    http://www.machineservice.com/
    Thanks! Will they perform the replacement? They appear to be oriented toward sales of new shafts and components to commercial markets.
    2000 R1100RT / 1987 K75C (RIP) / Santa Clarita, CA

  13. #13
    On the Road MIKEFIGIELSKI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbrick View Post
    A new driveshaft is about $800. I've heard there was a running change in the driveshaft about 2009. Hoping that newer parts might be sturdier, and wanting to avoid the uncertainty of a used part, I'll spring for a new one.
    I think the newer version of the driveshaft (from 1/08) is different as the output shaft on the transmissions were a larger diameter starting with the 1/08 build date. Might want to check before ordering. I don't think the newer shaft will fit on your transmission.
    Mike

  14. #14
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Thanks, Mike. If the gearbox output shaft is a different size, then certainly an 08-up driveshaft won't fit.

    It's also possible (hope springs ethernal...) that in addition to providing a driveshaft with different bearings on 2008 and later bikes, BMW also modified the earlier-model part to include the larger bearings. I don't have any way to research whether or not the part number shown for a 2007 bike has been changed; I mentioned the issue to Ted, and trust that they'll source an updated shaft if they're available.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  15. #15
    Registered User ratze's Avatar
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    WOW, this is a terrifing wake up call. ive had my drivshaft out this winter and it just dident feel right, notchy i guess would be the word iam looking for. looks like ill be going back in, BB does not have one. i do know a drivshaft specialst in detroit. honestly, when i made my assesment of my drivshaft i figured it had 10k left on the clock. wont be taking any chances,,,, sorry about your ride.
    The pursuit of reality at all cost.

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