Saturday, December 09, 2006

72,762 miles

BMW of San Francisco

Major (12,000-mile) service

1 ea. Oil filter #11-42-7-673-541 $13.46
1 ea. O-Ring #07-11-9-904-950 $2.70
2 ea. Gasket #11-12-7-673-087 $11.66
2 ea. Gasket #11-12-7-673-086 $30.60
1 ea. Air filter #13-71-7-672-552 $17.55
4 ea. Spark Plugs #12-12-7-671-301 $46.64
4 qt. 20W/50 engine oil #07-51-0-412-040 $19.64
1 ea. Brake fluid $3.95

Labor: $250.00

(Did not replace alternator belt, since that was replaced at 56k)

Replace battery

1 ea. Battery #61-21-7-661-896 $96.30

Labor: $10.00

Renew final drive fluid

1 ea. O-Ring #07-11-9-905-198 $1.35
1 ea. O-Ring #33-11-7-695-219 $1.13

Labor: $70.00

Accessory purchase

Since the BMW tire repair kit fails to work on Metzeler Tourance tires, I decided to try a heavier-duty repair kit.

1 ea. Tubeless tire plug kit #150213 $29.66

Tax: $23.02

Total: $623.71

Louder than normal gearbox noise?

According to technician, this could be worn clutch plates rattling - considered normal with this kind of wear. (Clutch would later fail.)

Work deferred

When cold, starter pinion remains engaged momentarily after starter button is released. Replacing clutch and flywheel (which will probably be required soon) may remedy this.

Apparently drive shaft is showing some rust (from water in housing at some point), and u-joints are no longer tight. Technician recommends replacing drive shaft.

Front strut is leaking fluid, and is losing its dampening

Saturday, December 02, 2006

72,560 miles

Santa Rosa, California

Battery failing to hold charge

Had to jump-start the bike after stopping in town. Nights have been in the 30s lately. Though I have a trickle charger, I haven't used it (that is, until now.)

I'll try using it as a battery tender and see how much more life I can get out of this battery (now two years old.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

72,410 miles

Santa Rosa, California

Flat rear tire - change wheels (self-service)

Rear tire punctured by a nail. Using the BMW repair kit, was unable to plug the Metzeler Tourance tire. (I've gone through two or three BMW repair kits now, including at least 8 plugs, and have been unable to repair a Tourance with this kit! The plugs always tear when trying to insert them, and two of the insertion tools broke!)

Fortunately, I have a set of spoked wheels mounted with tires that still have decent tread.

So, I replaced the cast alloy wheels with the spoked wheels, and transfered the front brake discs over. Curiously, the front brakes, which had been screeching during slow braking, now operate quietly.

November 27th marked two years since I took delivery of the bike.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

70,938 miles

Santa Rosa, California

Replace rear brake pads (self-service)

1 st. Rear brake pads #34212335465 (from my stock) $0.00

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

68,884 miles

Tail of the Dragon

Alamosa, Colorado

Front spring strut seal failure

Will need to replace strut at next service

Thursday, October 19, 2006

66,970 miles

Cambridge, Ohio

Brake lamp failure

This is caused by corrosion and dirt build-up on lamp and contacts. Without rear splash guard (which I have not replaced since having two of them break off), brake lamp housing collects excessive moisture, dust and mud. I thought this contamination was entering around the lens, but now realize the back of the housing is not sealed, but is open to the elements. Seems like a lousy design.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

65,500 miles

Canadian Border near Derby Line, VT

Battery discharged

Running with an electric vest and heated grips proved too much for the battery. About a 10-minute wait in line at the border. Idled with these accessories on, resulting in nearly complete discharge of the battery. (Shut down to talk to the customs officer. Trying to re-start, it barely turned over.)(Occurred again in Quebec City.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

65,171 miles

Frank's Motorcycle Sales, Essex Center, VT

Oil service

1 ea. Oil filter #11427673541 $14.95
1 ea. Seal #07119963252 $0.50
4 qt. 20W50 engine oil #07511467605 $19.80

Labor: $27.50
Chemical charge: $3.00
Tax: $2.12

Total: $67.87

Saturday, September 23, 2006

64,450 miles

(This is what I rode the Tail of the Dragon on!)

Bob's BMW, Jessup, MD

Replace rear tire (off bike)

1 ea. Rear tire, Metzeler Tourance 150/70VR17 $164.95
1 ea. Valve stem, rubber #3631653064 $3.79

Supplies: $2.03
Labor: $40.50

Parts purchase:

1 st. Rear brake pads (for back-up) #34212335465 $61.39
1 ea. Vacuum nipple cap #13547694924 $1.39

Tax: $11.58

Total: $285.63

Replace original Dunlop Trailmax tire that came with the bike. Ran it for 4,000 miles before replacing cast wheels with spoked wheels (for the "Americas Trip"). Remounted cast wheels for this trip and ran this tire another 5,150 miles, for a total of 9,150 miles on the Dunlop.

New skin!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

62,500 miles

Tail of the Dragon

Natchez, Mississippi

Replace front brake pads (self-service)

1 st. Front brake pads (2 pair) #34117671780 (from my stock) $0.00

43,303 miles on old set.

Old brake pads had begun to squeal during light braking. Inspected old pads - not completely worn. New pads did not eliminate the noise. Apparently this is due to vibration between brake pad backing plate and housing. (I'm told lithium grease will help reduce this, however I did not have any available at the time.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

59,235 miles

Santa Rosa, CA

Change out wheels and tires (self-service)

Front brake discs are warped, so I remounted the original cast front wheel with original discs and original Dunlop Trailmax tire and the original rear wheel/tire (also Dunlop Trailmax) assembly. (These had been used for the first 4,000 miles. For the "Americas Trip", I replaced them with spoked wheels, Metzeler Tourance tires, and a complete front disc assembly.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

58,000 miles (approximately)

Santa Rosa, CA

Starter Bendix gear occasionally fails to disengage

Signs that the starter may soon need replacement. On cold start-ups, the starter continues to engage after the engine has started firing.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

56,735 miles

BMW of San Francisco

Replace instrument cluster (warranty)

This should solve the intermittent speedometer failure. Apparently, BMW has recently distributed a bulletin pertaining to this issue.

1 ea. Instrument cluster #62-11-7-700-751 $0.00

The new cluster features a slightly different LCD configuration.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

56,138 miles

BMW of San Francisco

Major (12,000-mile) service

1 ea. Oil filter #11-42-7-673-541 $13.46
1 ea. O-Ring #07-11-9-904-950 $2.70
2 ea. Gasket #11-12-7-673-087 $8.10
2 ea. Gasket #11-12-7-673-086 $30.60
1 ea. Air filter #13-71-7-672-552 $17.55
2 ea. O-ring #13-31-7-659-110 $5.40
1 ea. Alternator belt #12-31-7-681-841 $16.20
4 ea. 20W/50 oil $14.00
1 ea. Brake fluid $3.95
0.8 ea. Synthetic gear oil $4.40

Parts: $94.01
Labor: $375.00
Supplies: $22.35

Replace speedometer (warranty)

This is to remedy the previously-reported occasional failure of the speedometer

1 ea. Instrument cluster #62-11-7-700-751 (Special order)

Technician's note: renew instrument cluster as per bulletin.

Check clutch life

The day before service, while exiting a freeway, tried to engage the clutch and the gears created quite a racket. The clutch did not seem operational. Persisted for several blocks until I stopped the bike. When I resumed, everything seemed normal. Driving to BMW of SF this morning, everything seemed normal.

Technician's note: "clutch feels fine." Mechanics not sure what could have caused it. One said a pebble might have gotten kicked into transmission (is there an opening?)

Low beam failure (not the bulb - I tried several spares)

Discovered pilot bulb burned out, but no apparent problem with low beam!

1 ea. Bulb #63-21-7-160-797 $1.30

White smoke on start-up (occasionally)(check valves)

Technician says this is "considered "normal".

Louder than normal gearbox noise?

Considered "normal" movement of shafts, according to technician.

(LATER NOTE: I think this was likely the loosened clutch plate and input shaft splines, which later self-destructed.)

Misfiring on deceleration (and downhill slopes)

Technician says the Major Service should take care of this.

Replace two broken turn signal lenses

2 ea. Lens #63-13-7-667-767 $17.50 (why are these SO expensive?)
2 ea. Screws #63-13-7-654-275 $1.90

Check rear drive for unusual play - possible contributor to excessive rear brake pad wear? (Other riders have pointed to excess play in the rear drive as the cause of excess brake pad wear.)

Technician's comment: "rear drive is tight."

Perform sensor line recall

1 ea. Case holder #34-51-7-695-906 $0.00
1 ea. Screw, 4x10 #07-11-9-900-439 $0.00

Perform brake banjo recall

1 ea. Hollow bolt #34-32-7-702-422 $0.00
2 ea. Seal ring #07-11-9-963-072 $0.00

Replace seat holding straps

(These flimsy rubber straps that hold the seat height adjusting bars in place showed signs of aging and cracking, even when the bike was brand new!)

4 ea. Holding strap #52-53-7-653-537 $11.88

Tax: $12.66

Total: $546.60

Credit for returned parts never used on my trip

1 ea. Clutch lever #32-72-7-691-637 <$33.53>
1 ea. Mirror #51-16-7-667-717 <$29.48>
1 ea. Brake lever #32-72-7-691-636 <$33.53>

Tax: <$8.21>

Total credit: <$104.75>

Friday, June 02, 2006

54,800 miles

Possible valve problem

This morning (and also a few days ago), there was a cloud of bluish-white smoke coming out of the exhaust when first starting the engine in the morning. Suspect a worn valve guide or stuck valve.

I'll take the bike in for full service next week.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A "Conversation" with BMW Motorrad USA

Ushuaia, Argentina

Following my "Americas Trip", I thought it would be useful to contact BMW Motorrad USA to discuss issues I experienced with the new bike. Below is the full extent of the "conversation". (As the webmaster assured, no one contacted me to discuss these issues.)

-----Original Message-----

Sent: 5/15/2006 12:00:00 AM
Subject: [bmw-admin] [visitor-feedback] Message from site visitor

Timothy Campion sent the following message from the site:

I just completed an eleven-month 46,000-mile ride around the Americas, from Prudhoe
Bay to Tierra del Fuego.

I was riding a 2005 R1200GS.

I would like to discuss my experiences, both good and bad, as it relates to this machine.

Who would be the appropriate contact?


Timothy Campion
Kenwood, CA

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2006 2:07 PM
Subject: RE: [bmw-admin] [visitor-feedback] Message from site visitor

Dear Mr. Campion,

Thank you for contacting BMW Motorrad USA. We appreciate your interest in providing a testimonial of your adventures.

If you would like to submit your story, please visit We look forward to hearing your story. Please note that these submissions are reviewed by BMW Motorrad USA management.

If you have any further questions, please respond to this e-mail or contact the Customer Relations and Services Department at 1-800-831-1117 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1-800-831-1117      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time.


BMW Motorrad USA

-----Original Message-----

Sent: 5/15/2006 12:00:00 AM
Subject: [bmw-admin] [visitor-feedback] Message from site visitor [1-393814275]

It is part testimonial, part critique and feedback loop for engineers and designers.

Numerous issues plagued me early on:

Clutch failure
Output shaft seal failure
Clutch seal failure
Rear drive seal failure
Premature brake pad and disc failures (front and rear)
Rear mudguard failure (twice before removing altogether)
Fuel pump control unit failure
Speedometer failure
Electronics anomalies
Front fender design flaw (resulting in numerous falls!)
And more...

That said, the bike is still an awesome and outstanding machine!

But it is not such a simple story, or testimonial. I would appreciate having access to someone who would actually "listen" and respond. I am certain future riders would benefit.


Timothy Campion

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2006 2:58 PM
Subject: RE: [bmw-admin] [visitor-feedback] Message from site visitor

Dear Mr. Campion,

You may submit your details via this email string. I'll be happy to forward it on for review. While I cannot guarantee that someone will call you to discuss these matters personally, I can guarantee that your feedback will be heard.

BMW Motorrad USA

-----Original Message-----

Sent: 5/22/2006 12:00:00 AM
Subject: [bmw-admin] [visitor-feedback] Message from site visitor [1-393814275]

Thank you for the opportunity to submit this feedback.

Please see the following link where I have detailed all the service and
repairs for my R1200GS during a 46,000-mile Prudhoe Bay to Tierra del Fuego

The following items are noteworthy for a new motorcycle:

6,000 miles: output shaft seal and clutch failure (replace both)

10,613 miles: rear mudguard sheared off from vibration (replaced, and that
one too failed at 31,000 miles.)

18,310 miles: clutch slave cylinder seal failed

19,192 miles: front brake discs warped (these discs had been installed new at 4,000 miles, when I changed the bike over to spoked wheels for the journey.)

22,735 miles: fuel gauge failure (fuel pump assembly replaced)

26,550 miles: fuel pump regulator failed (in Mexico. Pushed bike back to U.S.!)

31,000 miles; Rear mud guard sheared off again (weakness in mounting configuration)

35,600 miles: speedometer failure

37,700 mile: rear drive seal fails

38,420 miles: rear drive and brake rotor failed (rotor cupped)

38,420 miles: front discs warped again (for several thousand miles)

Quite a list, and several $1,000s more than I would hope to spend on a new bike!

The good news is that the R1200GS is a real work horse. I traveled fully-loaded for 11 months, through all kinds of weather and terrain.

And, for the past 15,000 miles it has required no repairs, other than tires and brake pads.

By the way: this bike really eats up rear brake pads (every 6 to 8,000 miles.) Other riders claim this is due to a loose rear drive that causes a slight shimmy in the rear end, resulting in the pads riding the disc more than they should.

I know the fuel pump regulator has been addressed in a recall. That was a nasty one: I was stranded in Mexico when it failed, forced to have the bike hauled to near the border, then PUSHED the bike eight miles (in summer heat) across the border into Brownsville, TX.

And even then, BMW Roadside Assistance could offer no assistance in the Brownsville area. The nearest service was in San Antonio, a towing cost of over $1,000!)(Needless to say, I repaired it myself in Brownsville, with parts shipped in at my expense.)

Another MAJOR problem for the R1200GS is (was?) the lack of front tires in Central and South America. I finally found them in Santiago, Chile, after beginning my search in Panama! (I had one flown from the U.S. to Peru for about $350 in shipping costs!) Dealers simply don't (or at least, didn't) stock them!

I would be very interested in feedback on these issues.


Timothy Campion
Kenwood, California

The full story of my journey can be found at:

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 6:30 AM
Subject: RE: [bmw-admin] [visitor-feedback] Message from site visitor [1-393814275]

Dear Mr. Campion,

Thank you for the detailed feedback. I will forward this information to the engineering department here at BMW Motorrad USA.

BMW Motorrad USA

Thursday, May 18, 2006

54,250 miles

Top box falls off

Within months of purchasing my bike, I began the practice of strapping the top box in place for added security. Despite the added security of a nylon strap, I lost the top box after hitting a small bump. The box, containing my laptop computer, bounced down the road.

At the California Adventure Rally last year, I spoke with another GS rider who said he had lost three top boxes! (That is why I began strapping the box in addition to latching it in place.)

Top box is now unusable. (New one is approximately $530!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

53,000 miles

Speedometer failure (intermittent)

Speedometer continues to fail intermittently. It usually will recover after a re-start, or even after a period of continuous riding.

Friday, March 31, 2006

51,255 miles

Southwest sandstorm

BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas, Nevada

Oil change

Oil filter #11427673541 (from my stock) $0.00
20W50 Oil (3 @ $4.94, 1 from my stock) $14.82

Replace air filter

1 ea. Air filter element #13717672552 $21.84

Replace rear brake pads

1 st. Rear brake pads #34212335465 (from my stock) $0.00

Labor (for brakes, filters): $80.00

Replace front and rear tires

1 ea. Front tire, Metzeler Tourance 110/80VR19 $140.51
1 ea. Rear tire, Metzeler Tourance 150/70VR17 $147.57
2 ea. Wheel weights $18.14
2 ea. D-15 valve #36311454963 (1 from my stock) $4.00

Labor: $80.00

Front tire life: 16,170 miles
Rear tire life: 7,280 miles

(The Brazilian "Pirelli" proved to be a much better value than I first thought!)

Recall: replace fuel pump electronics seal

1 ea. Seal #16147694717 $0.00

Recall: reprogram for "flat battery"

Shop supplies: $4.80
Hazardous materials: $4.00
Sales tax: $27.61

Total: $543.92

Monday, February 27, 2006

46,275 miles

Santiago, Chile

Replace rear tire

After the 6,500 miles run to Ushuaia and back, the rear tire (Tourance) was shot. Ruta 40 in Argentina gave it a pounding! West of Buenos Aires, Argentina, I picked up a small nail but left it in the tire, as I had no way to patch it. (All my repair kits were used up!) I topped off the air as I crept back to Santiago, Chile. I later discovered the tire had numerous tiny air leaks!

Bimota, Santiago

Re-installed Pirelli MT60 (from La Paz)

Labor: $38.00

Repair neutral sensor

Adjusted sensor (linked to clutch lever) to allow ignition while in gear

Labor: $10.00

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

45,270 miles

Cordasco Motohaus (BMW), Buenos Aires

Parts purchased

1 ea. Oil filter #11427673541 $25.70
4 ea. Spark plugs #12127677560 $86.67!
1 L Castrol 20W50 engine oil $4.00

Total: $116.37

(Also picked up a set of rear brake pads left for me by another rider who had borrowed a set from me. He paid $98.70 for the replacements!)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

43,575 miles

Argentina's Ruta 3

Can only start bike in neutral

Various plastic dust caps falling off

(Illustrated in pre-trip photo above)

Speedometer continues to function intermittently

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What I call the R1200GS's "Achille's Heel": inadequate clearance between front tire and fender will allow mud buildup within minutes, with a resulting locking of front wheel and loss of control. Stopping to clear the mud usually required 15 minutes of work. After cleaning, it was good for about another three or four minutes of riding. (This photo was along Argentina's Ruta 40. Virtually identical conditions were encountered in Panama's Darien Province.)

(I later concluded that reducing the tire pressure to about 20 pounds might have helped lessen the difficulty, but also reduces tire integrity and life.)


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

39,130 miles

Chile and Argentine

Various electronic problems over past few days

39,130 – Speedometer functions intermittently (needle slowly falls to zero, or near zero, even at sustained speeds)

39,353 – Brake failure warning, EWS and light failure – all bogus warnings?

39,440 – Speedometer stops again, then okay 100 miles later.

39,900 - Speedometer not working much of the day

Thursday, January 19, 2006

39,000 miles

Santiago, Chile

Replace rear tire

MX Racing Sport

1 ea. Rear tire, Metzeler "Tourance" 150/80VR17 $249.60

Mount tire


$40.00 for mounting at Bimota (expensive, but includes wash and espresso!)

(No balancing - told it's unnecessary for rear)

The Pirelli MT60, which still has plenty of tread, will be carried as a spare. I prefer the "Tourance" for its toughness and durability. (And it's also the correct specification for the R1200GS!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

38,750 miles

Ruta 40, Argentina

Genco S.A., Mendoza, Argentina

Parts purchase

Alternator belt $48.70 (for spare)

38,700 miles

Low speed shimmy in front end

It may be the load is causing this, but it is more pronounced now, even though the load has been reduced.

(This was later identified as a sign of a "cupped tire", though this tire had only about 3,600 miles on it.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

This area was the source of a number of problems: twice, the rear mud guard sheared off from vibration. After the second loss, I stopped riding with one. The rear axle outer seal (housed under the circular black dust cap) failed, and the rear brake disc was found to be "cupped" and required replacement.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

38,420 miles

Carretera Austral, Chile

Williamson Balfour Motors (Inchcape), Santiago, Chile

36,000-mile (60,000 Km) Service

Replace rear brake rotor (cupped)

Replace rear axle outer seal (warranty)

Front brake discs warped

Replace right Vario pannier (damaged in Panama

Outer differential seal not stocked. A non-BMW substitute was found, and was not charged.

Front brake discs were not available locally and would have to be ordered from Germany, so I declined the work.

Labor (10% discount)

Service $193.80
Change rear brake disc $44.80
Change brake and clutch fluids $29.80
Replace outer differential seal N/C (warranty)


Brake cleaner $10.50
Brake fluid DOT4 $23.52
20W/50 HXP motor oil (4) $36.00
75W/90 Synthetic oil (1) $36.00
Clutch fluid $10.00
Miscellaneous $10.00

Parts (20% discount)

Oil filter $22.34
Washer $0.78
Air filter $30.54
Alternator belt 4PK592 $38.34
Rear brake disk $573.25*
Exterior head gasket - left (valve cover) $37.94**
Internal head gasket (seal) $4.28**
Outer differential seal N/C (warranty)

* There is some confusion here (language barrier): the service manager originally said the brake rotor and the splined hub must be replaced. The final invoice only listed the disk. I have no idea if the hub was in fact replaced.

** Left side only. Right side gaskets replaced in La Paz.

Accessories (no discount)

Pannier $457.26 (no charge for changing tumblers)

Subtotal: $1,574.96
Discount: $168.52
Net: $1,406.45
IVA: $267.21

Total: $1,673.68

Read more about it at

Friday, January 06, 2006

37,700 miles

Chiloe, Chile

Agua Verde, Chile

Outer rear axle seal leaking

Significant leak, spraying oil on rear tire and wheel

(Must wait until Santiago to repair.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

36,700 miles

La Paz, Bolivia

Replacement parts received from BMW of San Francisco

4 ea. Valve cover screws 11-12-7-658-634 $19.60
1 ea. Right Turn Signal Lens 63-13-7-667-767 $7.99
1 st. Touratech windshield support 044-0380 $27.88
1 ea. Valve cover, right side 11-12-7-673-080 $130.05
1 ea. Valve cover safety bar 71-60-7-684-308 $50.49
1 ea. Valve cover gasket 11-12-7-673-086 $13.43
1 ea. Gasket 11-12-7-673-087 (charged, not received) $3.19

Tax: $22.01
DHL shipping: $258.95
Customs, duties and DHL La Paz fees: $105.34

Total: $638.94