Friday, December 30, 2005

36,700 miles

La Paz, Bolivia

Replace rear tire

Again, 150/17/R17 rear tires were not available in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador or Peru. I was unwilling to pay another $400 to have a tire shipped from the United States (or $800 to ship from Chile!) So, I opted to try an undersized rear tire that should serve to get me to Santiago, Chile, where the correct specification tires are available.

1 ea. Rear tire, Pirelli MT60 140/80 R17 $65.00

(Price includes shipping from Jaime Medina in Sucre, Bolivia. )

Labor, mounting of tire at Sucoser, La Paz: $3.00

Grand total: $68.00!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

36,700 miles

La Paz, Bolivia

Right valve cover leaking

Temporary patch from Cusco failed. Replacement parts ordered from BMW of SF, to ship DHL.

Rear tire punctured

I checked the rear tire and found it flat again. This time I looked closely and found a tiny hole. Probing with a knife, I discovered a very thin two-inch nail. Tried plugging the hole but after destroying one insertion tool and 5 plugs, I gave up.

The failure of the BMW tire repair kit is concerning. I had brought two kits along, but thus far my experience is they are useless on steel-belted Metzeler Tourance tires. I’m left with only one plug.

Tire to be replaced here in La Paz.

Monday, December 19, 2005

36,225 miles

Cusco, Peru

Accident repairs

A low-speed fall (in rock) forced the BMW engine guard into the cylinder head, damaging the valve cover. In this picture, the guard has been pulled forward again, the broken plastic valve cover guard ("safety bar") removed, and a crack in the valve cover (lower right) has been repaired with epoxy. (The seal failed within two days.)

The plastic valve cover guards are easily broken with the slightest impact. At $50.49 each, I've have already replaced both sides, and the current ones are broken! They are inadequate to protect the valve covers.

I will try to replace parts in Santiago, Chile.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

36,200 miles

Puerto Malaga, Peru

Accident (low speed) - dropped bike after exiting river

BMW engine guard pushed into right head, damaging cooling fins
Plastic valve cover guard broken
Cracked right valve cover
Bent one valve cover bolt, damaging rubber and metal grommets
Cockpit assembly mounting frame bent
Right side gas tank cowling forward fasteners snapped
Plastic windshield mounts broken
Windshield slightly damaged
Right front indicator lens broken

Note: The stock BMW engine guard provides little protection if bike is in motion when it falls. There is little support against impact from the front. It is effective if the bike topples from a stationary position. Not a great design.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

35,600 miles

 Puerto Malaga, Peru

Near Puquia, Peru

Speedometer failure

Speedo reads 0 to 20 mph, when bike is moving 45+.

Odometer not affected.

(The next day, the speedo was working properly.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

35,085 miles

Portachuelo de Llanganuco, Peru

Lima, Peru

Replace front tire

(after 15,893 miles)

1 ea. Front tire, Metzeler "Tourance" 110/80VR19 $153.95

Tax: $9.24
Shipping from Vermont: $323.26

Total: $486.45!

(I avoided additional VAT by asking Frank's Motorcycle Sales in Vermont to list the value of the tire at $63.19.)

(The 110/80VR19, or equivalent, was non-stock in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Delivery time was quoted in "weeks". To ship a single Metzeler tire from Williamson-Balfour BMW in Santiago to Lima, Peru would cost $800! It is outrageous for a BMW dealer to fail to stock these tires. In Ecuador, I tried to buy a tire off one of the half dozen or so new R1200GSs the dealer had. "You can then order a tire to replace it," I said. They wouldn't do it.)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

33,950 miles

Near Antamina, Peru

MotoPower Honda, Lima, Peru

Oil service (self-service)

Except oil, all parts from my stock

1 ea. Oil filter #11427673541 $0.00
1 ea. Oil filter crush washer $0.00
4 ea. Spark plugs #12127677560 $0.00
1 st. Rear brake pads #34212335465 $0.00
4 qt. Mobil 20W50 engine oil $13.42

Shop labor (brake pads): $3.00

Intermittent brake lamp failure

1 ea. Brake lamp #3216922114 (from stock) $0.00

(Brake lamp failure results from lack of splash guard. Grit and moisture more likely to get inside rear brake lamp assembly, fouling contacts.)

Total: $16.42

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

31,000 miles

Darien, Panama

Bavarian Motor, Panama City, Panama

Splash guard breaks again (due to vibration, unrelated to fall)

Top bolt snapped. Removed and discarded. Will not replace.

Left pannier damaged in fall.

Repaired at no charge.

Right pannier smashed in fall.

Temporarily repaired at no charge. (Wire and epoxy patch.)

Right front turn signal lens broken in fall.

Replaced at no charge.

1 st. Front brake pads (for spares) #34117671780 $90.02
1 qt. 20W50 engine oil $4.45

Tax: $4.82

Total: $101.09

Read more about it at

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Managua, Nicaragua

Splash Guard bolts worked loose

I checked fasteners around the bike and found the mudguard loose. The top bolt (attaching to the rear brake) seems to be the main culprit. I torqued them all, but we'll see if they remain so.

Monday, September 05, 2005

26,550 miles

Matamoros, Mexico

South of Matamoros, Mexico

Failure to start - fuel pump regulator (electronics) failure

Required towing the bike about 20 miles to near U.S.-Mexico border (for which I paid $50), then pushing loaded bike another 3 miles across to U.S. Customs.

From the U.S. side, called BMW "Roadside Assistance". They reported no towing companies that could tow motorcycles in the Brownsville area. The nearest is San Antonio. I would be responsible for towing charges to the Austin BMW shop, above the policy's $100 coverage. (The towing cost quoted: $1,000!)

Had to push the bike another 5 miles, to a relatively safe location at a hotel.

Lester at "Frank's" says this failure is due to a design flaw. He has seen this problem numerous times: water accumulates under the fuel pump electronics module and eventually short-circuits the unit. He has resorted to modifying the assemblies on his customers' bikes to eliminate the problem. Lester said he has repeatedly brought this to the attention of BMW engineers.

Electronics module covered under warranty. (Shipping and handling were not.) Parts sent via Fed Ex from "Frank's" in Vermont. Replaced fuel pump regulator (self-service).

Read more about it at

Fuel pump regulator #16147676324 No charge (warranty)
O-ring #16147687166 $0.45

Special handling charge: $25.00
FedEx shipping: $78.50
Towing: $50.00
Taxi: $25.00

Total: $178.95 (plus two days' extra hotel charges - all because of a bad 45-cent o-ring!)

The fuel pump electronics that failed soon after crossing into Mexico

Sunday, September 04, 2005

26,493 miles

Change air filter

1 ea. Air filter (from my stock) #13717672552 $0.00

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

25,930 miles

Lone Star BMW Triumph, Austin, Texas

Perform 6,000 mile service

Labor (2.39 hours) $143.40
Oil filter #11427673541 $12.83
Seal #07119963252 $0.32
20W50 oil (40) #07511467605 $14.00
Shop supplies $3.00

Replace rear tire

Labor (0.75 hours) $45.00
Tourance 150/70VR17 #11011279 $165.00
Tire disposal fee $2.00
D-15 valve #36311454963 $2.97

Tire life: 11,207 miles

Replace rear brake pads

Labor (.25 hours) $15.00
Rear pads #34212335465 $64.66
Rear pads (spare set) #34212335465 $64.66

Replace low beam

Labor (.16 hours) $9.60
Xenon H7 55W #62040 $19.99

Parts & supplies

20W50 oil (spare quart) #07511467608 $3.98
H7 head lamp (2 spares) #63217160781 $19.08
Bulb 12V5/21W clear (spare) #07119978384 $2.23

Tax $37.30

Total: $625.17

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

25,925 miles

Low beam failure.

Replaced bulb (from stock)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

22,819 miles

Large "EWS" warning.

Turning key off and on, eliminated the warning. (This was the third or fourth time the warning has come on - on previous occasions, it required multiple computer check cycles to clear the warning.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

22,735 miles

Frank’s Motorcycle Sales & Service, Essex Center, VT

Charcoal canister inlet (or outlet) nipple snapped off. Possible clearance issue.

According to Lester (owner) it's a design flaw. He's seen this numerous times.

Carbon canister #16131464924 $0.00 (Warranty)
Rubber supports (2) #52531232904 $0.00 (Warranty)

Fuel gauge reading erratically - replace fuel pump.

Fuel pump assembly # 16147684348 $0.00 (Warranty)

Monday, July 18, 2005

19,192 miles

Frank’s Motorcycle Sales & Service, Essex Center, VT

Perform Major Service (24,000-mile) per BMW 0317 - R1200GS Schedule

Adjusted valves, checked brakes, check fluids and tires, test rode

Oil filter #11427673541 $12.10
Seal #07119963252 $0.50
Gasket #11127673087 $5.00
20W50 oil (4) #07511467605 $15.00
Synthetic Gear Oil 75W140 #07510395257 $14.95
DOT 4 Brake Fluid (2) $8.04
Spark plugs (4) #12127677560 $35.60
Air filter element #13717672552 $15.40

Replace front tire

Metzeler Tourance 110/80VR19 $153.95
D-15 valve #36311454963 $2.80
10 gram wheel weight #36311451959 $2.32

Tire life: 13,365 miles

Brake light failure warning.

Contacts cleaned (absence of splash guard/mudguard is the cause)

Leaking transmission seal, behind clutch slave cylinder.

Replaced shaft seal.

Seal #2312765019 $0.00 (Warranty)
Labor (2.75 hours) $0.00 (Warranty)

Forward drive shaft boot is leaking

(Strap was not tensioned by previous technician. Service error.)

8-cable strap #61131377134 $0.95

Replace rear splash guard (mudguard) under warranty.

Top box is loose.

No action taken. (They have no solution for this.)

Front brakes are not smooth.

Discs are warped. Replace discs and pads (Not covered by warranty)

Front brake pads (2 sets) #34117671780 $158.50
Front brake disc (2) #34117676550 $370.00
Rear brake pads (1 set)(spares) #34212335465 $61.00

Labor (4.5 hours) $247.50

Total: $1,154.98

Sunday, July 17, 2005

19,150 miles

Waterbury, VT

Laundry List for Repair Shop

Items to be addressed at Frank's Motorcycle Sales in Essex Junction, VT
  • 6,000-mile service
  • Replace the front tire
  • Check the brakes, which are grabbing (rode Jeff's R1200GS to compare; his brakes are perfectly smooth)
  • Check out the loose top box
  • Repair the leaking potentiometer housing (which better be under warranty)
  • Check the leaking forward drive shaft boot
  • Replace the rear splash guard if under warranty (it should be)
  • Brake lamp failure
Too many things for an 8-month-old vehicle!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

18,310 miles

Erhard BMW Motorcycles, Canton, MI

Rear brakes squealing, front brakes grabbing

Replace rear brake pads (completely worn down to metal)(rotor still serviceable). Will service front brakes in Vermont.

Rear brake pads (1 set)(from my stock) #34212335465 $0.00
Labor: $32.00

1 ea. BMW clutch fluid #07-51-0-398-494 $7.50
Supplies: $1.60
Tax: $0.55

Total: $41.65

Leaking oil at boot from transmission to drive shaft.

Will have serviced in Vermont

Possible leak at rear of transmission at shift potentiometer.

Will have serviced in Vermont

Monday, July 11, 2005

18,000 miles


Gear oil leaking from drive shaft boot onto catalytic converter.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Minneapolis, MM

Top Box loose

Riding through downtown Minneapolis, my top box (which I had emptied out) was rattling around on its pedestal mount.

I called the local BMW shops to ask about repairing the top case and/or mounting system. They were not much help. "There's no bulletin and we haven't received any other complaints..."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

15,360 miles

Windshield rattle becoming progressively worse

Stock windshield mounts (plastic pins to which the screws attach) quickly wear out resulting in excessive windshield vibration and noise. An after-market "Touratech" replacement set (costing over $30) eliminates the problem.

Lewistown, Montana

I stopped at the "Ace Hardware" store and purchased four small rubber o-rings for $2.94. Larry Saenz at BMW of SF suggested using these as a fix for the windshield rattle that has grown progressively worse over recent weeks. Fitting an o-ring to the two plastic pins attaching the windshield to the lower swivel mount completely eliminated the rattle. Thanks, Larry! (And to BMW: you need to find a better solution!)

4 ea. O-rings $2.94

Saturday, June 25, 2005

14,723 miles

Blackfoot Motosports, Calgary, Alberta

Replace rear tire

(Customer-supplied. Purchased in Anchorage, Alaska and carried until Calgary)

1 ea. Metzeler Tourance 150/70HR17 $0.00
Labor: $40.00
Supplies: $4.00

Tire life: 8,896 miles

Additional parts

1 ea. Headlamp bulb, H7 #09471-12188-CDN (spare) $11.47

Tax: $3.88
Total: $59.35

Thursday, June 16, 2005

12,000 miles

The Motorcycle Shop, Anchorage, Alaska

12,000-Mile Service

Asked for a "12,000 mile service". The service manager asked me what I wanted them to do, "change the oil?"

"I guess..."

1 ea. Oil filter #11427673541 $14.95
1 ea. Crush washer $0.75
4 qt. BMW 10W40 engine oil #07511467607-1 $17.00

Supplies: $4.90
Labor: $70.00

Brake lamp failure

Replaced bulb, though the filaments had not burned out. The technician said "the computer is sensitive."

1 ea. Bulb 12V21.5W #07119978384 $2.95

Additional Parts

1 ea. Rear tire, Metzeler Tourance 150/70HR17 $212.95

Total: $323.50 (no tax in Alaska!)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

10,613 miles

Deadhorse, Alaska

Along Dalton Highway, mudguard broke from vibration. One bolt snapped off, others worked loose.

Detached and discarded. (Probably advisable to use thread-lock on these bolts!)

Read more about my visit to Deadhorse at

Monday, May 30, 2005

8,314 miles

Clutch has "spongy" feel

Found the hand guard gets twisted and interferes with clutch operation. Straightened guard.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

6,200 miles

Santa Rosa, CA

Right front brake caliper detached – top bolt missing, bottom bolt loose

Bolt replaced, torques checked by BMW of Santa Rosa

Mechanic error. "Will bill to BMW of SF."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

5,827 miles

BMW of San Francisco

Transmission input shaft seal failure causes clutch failure

Mechanic's note: crankshaft gearbox is leaking oil and clutch is beginning to slip. Removed gearbox and found input shaft seal leaking. Renewed leaking seal and oil-fouled clutch. (Warranty)

1 ea. Shaft seal #23-12-7-667-733 $0.00
1 ea. Clutch plate #21-21-7-668-720 $0.00
1 ea. Cover #21-21-7-668-721 $0.00
1 ea. Pressure plate #21-21-7-668-719 $0.00
6 ea. Bolt #21-21-2-332-469 $0.00

Perform 6,000 mile service

2 ea. Gasket #11-12-7-673-087 $5.62
1 ea. Oil filter #11-42-7-673-541 $8.43
4 ea. #07-51-1-467-608A $9.84
4 qt. 20W50 engine oil $14.00 (oil billed twice?)
1 ea. Crush washer $0.40

Labor: $261.66

Change out tires

Remove Continental TKC80 tires and mount Metzeler "Tourance" tires, front and rear for "Americas Trip".

1 ea. Front tire, Metzeler Tourance 110/80/VR19 $130.86
1 ea. Rear tire, Metzeler Tourance 150/70/VR17 $158.91

Labor: $118.50

(Grant Johnson of "Horizons Unlimited" personally recommended the Tourance as the best tire for this journey. After only 2,000 miles, the TKC80s were sufficiently worn, they weren't worth keeping. Another reason to choose the Metzeler for a long journey.)

Tire disposal: $2.00
Preferred customer discount: $50.00
Tax: $27.89

Total: $688.11

(Loaner motorcycle provided at no charge.)

Additional parts and accessories for "Americas Trip"

2 ea. Spark plug #12-12-7-677-560 $15.36
2 ea. ASA bolt #07-12-9-904-798 $2.26
2 ea. Pin #46-54-7-684-716 $36.00
3 ea. Spoke #36-31-7-664-595 $4.47
3 ea. Spoke #36-31-7-664-594 $4.50
6 ea. Spoke nipple #36-31-1-452-727 $10.56
6 ea. Stud #07-11-9-904-003 $0.78
2 ea. Tire valve, D-15 #36-31-1-454-963 $3.48
2 ea. Screw #46-63-7-676-995 $11.30
1 st. Front brake pads #34-11-7-671-780 $71.33
1 ea. Front brake pad mounting set #34-11-7-660-850 $14.85
1 st. Rear brake pads #34-21-2-335-465 $54.90
1 ea. Mounting #34-21-7-671-876 $16.83
1 ea. Power socket adapter #99-99-0-000-058-6 $21.21 (for computer and Airman tire pump)

Tax: $22.78

Total parts and accessories: $290.61

(Prices reflect 10% discount.)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

4,000 miles

California Adventure Rally, Ballarat, CA

BMW of San Francisco

Install spoke wheel and disc brake assemblies with Continental TKC-80 tires

1 ea. Front Wheel #36-33-7-664-711 $639.00
1 ea. Rear Wheel #36-11-7-664-731 $706.50
2 ea. Front brake disc #34-1 1-7-876-550 $333.00
1 ea. Sensor ring #34-52-7-687-325 $46.13
10 ea. Thrust washer #34-11-7-661-877 $39.90
10 ea. Washer #34-11-2-314-888 $16.60
10 ea. Pulley #34-1 1-2-335-745 $54.70
10 ea. Bolt #34-11-2-330-619 $14.20
1 ea. Rear brake disc #3421-7-664-102 $173.70*
5 ea. Bolt #34-21-2-331-275 $5.65
5 ea. Wheel bolt #36-31-7-668-389 $23.80
4 ea. Wheel weights $8.00
1 ea. Front tire, Continental TKC8O 110/80/19 $101.11
1 ea. Rear tire, Continental TKC8O tire 150/70/17 $128.31

Labor: $151.68

* December 2009 note: Being new to the GS, I worked with the parts department staff ordering the parts that would be needed to have a spare set of spoked wheels. I guess we assumed the rear wheel and brake disc were an assembly, like the front. When the service department actually changed out the wheels, there was no indication on the service order that the rear rotor was replaced. If done, it was totally unnecessary. At the time, I wasn't smart enough to ask "where's the extra rotor?" (which I should have expected to be attached to the spare rear wheel!) Oh, well. Live and learn.


1 ea. BMW tank-top bag #71-60-7-687-604 $256.50
1 ea. R1200GS repair manual CD #01-59-7-693-541 $112.50

(Prices reflect 10% discount on parts)

Install engine guard

1 ea. BMW engine guard $338.36
Labor: $98.00

Install auxiliary electrical socket

1 ea. Socket #71-60-7-685-121 $40.50
Labor: $49.00

Check intermittent non-start condition (key recognition issue?) and flat battery condition

Per technician: battery checks out good. Found software non-current. Updated software.

Check rear brake pedal play: too much play?

"Feels normal" per technician

Gear shifter sticks in 1st position

Technician thinks it’s part of normal break-in

Tax: $257.60
Total: $3,594.54

Additional parts and accessories for "Americas Trip"

2 ea. Headlight bulb, H7 #63-12-8-361-289 $$16.20
2 ea. Bulb, 12V10W #07-50-9-063-575 $2.22
1 ea. Bulb, Long Last #63-21-6-922-174 $2.70
1 ea. Spanner #71-11-1-112-893 $3.26
1 ea. Wrench #71-11-7-667-641 $8.71
1 ea. Wrench #07-11-9-999-117 $3.50
1 ea. Clutch lever #32-72-7-691-637 $33.53**
1 ea. Brake lever #32-72-7-691-636 $33.53**
1 ea. Mirror #51-16-7-667-717 $29.48**
1 ea. Shift lever #23-41-7-670-378 $63.00
2 ea. Air filter #13-71-7-672-552 $27.72
1 ea. Oil filler cover #11-12-7-677-368 $2.48
1 ea. O-ring, oil filler #07-11-9-904-950
1 ea. Oil filter #11-42-7-673-541 $10.13
2 ea. Spark plugs #12-12-7-677-560 $15.36
1 ea. BMW tire repair kit (spare) #71-11-2-332-083 $20.25
1 pk. Valve templates, 0.10mm #07135122 $2.99 (later found to be incorrect size)
1 pk. Valve templates, 0.20mm #07135124 $2.99 (later found to be incorrect size)
1 ea. M/C jumper cables #11095 $17.31
1 ea. BMW brake fluid, 12 oz. #81-22-0-142-156 $2.79
1 ea. BMW hypoid gear oil #07-51-1-467-611 $4.39
1 ea. Airman travel pump $27.00
1 ea. Tire tube, 19" $6.85 (in case of blowout in remote area)
1 ea. Tire tube, 17" $6.85
1 ea. BMW charging device #71-60-7-688-865 $103.50
4 qt. BMW 10W40 engine oil #07-51-1-467-607 $11.44

Tax: $44.46
Total parts and accessories: $568.31

(Parts, accessory and supply prices reflect 10% discount.)

**Items returned to BMW of San Francisco for partial credit following trip.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

3,365 miles

California Adventure Rally, Cerro Gordo, CA

BMW of San Francisco

Oil change

Removed "Syntec" synthetic oil, replaced with BMW 10W40 engine oil. The bike had been using excess oil, I thought: about a quart every thousand miles. I was told that, until the rings properly seat, this oil consumption is not unusual.

Having misunderstood the mechanic's recommendation, I had mistakenly topped off the engine with about two quarts of "Syntec" 20w50.

1 ea. Oil Filter #11-42-7-673-541 $10.13
1 ea. Crush washer $0.40
4 qt. BMW 10W40 engine oil (4 @ $3.50) $14.00

Labor: $49.00
Waste: $2.00
Tax: $2.09

Total: $77.62

Sunday, January 23, 2005

2,600 miles

Santa Rosa, California

Dead battery

Trying to start the bike in the morning, found battery was completely discharged. No obvious cause of the problem.

Removed battery and re-charged. Bike subsequently ran fine.