Author Topic: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?  (Read 2995 times)

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Offline knapdog

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BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
on: March 18, 2020, 03:14:41 PM
Due to "sabotaging" the Engine Overheating thread and going off topic by ranting about, in my opinion, the unreliability of BMW's ( my fault), I've started a new one...
I've taken the liberty of pasting the last post on the topic by "vsteel". I hope you don't mind.
My main qualm, having owned two newish RT's, was paint problems on my second one and the guy to whom I sold the first wanting to wring my neck, two days after selling it to him, due to starter motor failure!
In other words my suggestion would be to get extended warranties.
Here we go.....


*Originally Posted by vsteel [+]
I had a S1000XR and it has more teething problems than my other bikes.  I couldn't keep bulbs or brakes in the thing until I switched to aftermarket, OEM wouldn't last.   Don't forget the oil change indicator that you need to go to the dealer to turn off.   I won't have another BMW.

From others I have known with BMW bikes the reliability was built on the air heads,  the current machines are not helping that reputation.   When you look to quality keep in mind it can change over time.  I am sure everyone here has looked at a product on Amazon or some other online retailer and looked at the reviews and they have either risen greatly or fallen off of a cliff when the manufacture made a change, either for the good or the bad.   Most of the time it goes bad because the manufacturer tried to make the product cheaper or someone bought out the company and made changes.   In the modern world you are only as good as your last product and motorcycles made over about 7 years ago (sometimes less) mean nothing for today's quality.
Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 03:20:39 PM by knapdog
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Offline CaptainTrips

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #1 on: March 18, 2020, 05:02:01 PM
My sole experience with owning a BMW was a '96 R1100R oilhead that I bought well used 13 years ago as my reentry into motorcycling. It had significant miles on it but did not appear to have been abused. It was traded in on a Honda ST1100. At the time that I bought it, it was languishing in the corner of the Honda lot. They were asking $6900 for it. I was told that it needed a new clutch and that parts were on order. I offered them C$5000 as-is and told them I would buy the parts at their cost. The salesman took my verbal offer to the sales manager. He returned with a yellow sticky note with a price written on it: C$4500. I should have run out the door right then.

Over a couple of years, I ended up spending $4000 on that bike, mostly on parts (I did the work) much of which was to correct design deficiencies: including having the gear set recut to solve the infamous M94 gearbox popping out of 2nd gear problem and replacing all gearbox seals, added a relay to prevent the ABS system from faulting after cold startup, replacing the clutch, replaced the ignition switch (BMW said I had to buy a complete ignition assembly and new keys, but I found the switch at MotoBins) because the wiring harness was cinched too tightly and wires broke inside the insulation in the attached harness causing the bike to stall when I turned right, replaced the paralever needle bearings with proper bronze bushings, replaced tiny burnt-out bulbs in the instrument cluster, changed the bobbins on the front disks that were worn through, bled chunks of rubber out of the ABS bleeders because the rubber brake line liners had gotten brittle and cracked into bits, cleaning out the fuel tank because the lining had dissolved into brown goo due to exposure to Ethanol, etc. etc. I had the bike completely split in half and the gearbox out twice (once for the new clutch, and then again to send the gearbox across the country to the only guy in Canada who could undercut the gears and dogs properly.

And when I was all done, four years later, I sold that bike for $4500. The new owner was delighted. He got a nice bike.

P.S. ...and then I bought a Honda ST1300 - one of the best bikes I have ever owned before or since  :034:
Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 05:07:05 PM by CaptainTrips
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Offline knapdog

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #2 on: March 18, 2020, 05:09:37 PM
*Originally Posted by knapdog [+]
Due to "sabotaging" the Engine Overheating thread

Apologies. I did, of course, mean heat in the cockpit not overheating engines.
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Offline D16PJM

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #3 on: March 18, 2020, 08:45:56 PM
i have had a few BMWs and can say they are great bikes but were better built in the 90s and early 2000, the bevel boxes lasted longer and when doing the bearings the weight different between the old and newer bikes was considerable, as stated still good bikes but like all manufacturers built to a price now.

Also thanks to a couple of motorcycling buddies one being in film they are more popular than any other brand, would i buy one, Yes, i think most people know what they are getting, forums are always full of horror stories, very few people post i have had no problems with my bike this month threads.

Pete

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Offline CaptainTrips

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #4 on: March 18, 2020, 09:57:55 PM
I've said this before, but it is worth saying again: since BMW sells 10 times as many GS's as Triumph sells Tigers, it is worth remembering that means there are ten times as many owners to have problems. So even if the BMW problem % rate is the same or lower than Triumph's, they will have more owners with problems.

The problem with BMW is that they keep making their bikes more and more complex. Added complexity = more potential problems. It is innovation at all costs at BMW.

BTW, I spent 22 days on a R1200 GS two-up in Africa last year and loved the bike. I like the GS two-up a lot more than I like my TEX two-up. I would buy one -- IF -- I had the disposable income. But I don't...  :003:
Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 10:00:18 PM by CaptainTrips
"The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test."   --   Robert M. Pirsig

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Offline jannerman

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #5 on: March 19, 2020, 12:37:09 AM
*Originally Posted by CaptainTrips [+]
I've said this before, but it is worth saying again: since BMW sells 10 times as many GS's as Triumph sells Tigers, it is worth remembering that means there are ten times as many owners to have problems.

Absolutely right, and also sadly 10 times as many GS owners will have a trouble free experience with their bikes that we'll hear nothing about.

Let's not forget, there are plenty of long standing issues with the T1200 that have driven many of their owners half insane too.

I've got no experience at all of the GS, so my opinions of it are incredibly subjective... I don't like either the expense or the look of the thing. I parted with the cost of a kidney to buy the Tiger 1200 without even test riding a GS. Why? because it was easily the most comfortable bike I'd ever ridden (a GS would have cost a lot more for a similar spec), so I didn't feel the need to explore my options any further... and I'm still blissfully happy in my ignorance. The GS could be a far superior bike in every respect but I'm happy with what I've got for the price that I paid.

To me, the T1200 is a sumptuous armchair of a bike (I know that might sound mighty dull to some), I don't do the mega miles that a lot of you guys do (and I really envy you for), in fact, no doubt you'd all laugh at how little use mine gets .... but I do relish EVERY single ride on it. I suffer from a lot of lower back and joint pain, so a machine this comfortable is an absolute delight. If I didn't have something this cosseting I doubt I'd be riding anything at all these days.

Would I feel the same if I'd had a catalogue of issues with it? probably not, but I haven't, so it's all good for me!

And now I think I've hijacked this thread enough, good and bad experiences are to be had everywhere, so if you're having a good one... just enjoy it for what it is, whether it be on a Tiger, a GS or anything else :001:
Last Edit: March 19, 2020, 12:41:44 AM by jannerman

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Offline TotnesSteve

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #6 on: March 19, 2020, 05:36:48 PM
I had a 2005 Oilhead RT. I loved how the bike rode, albeit a bit slow and agricultural.

I had numerous expensive problems, but the one that stuck in my throat was the faulty ABS pump. A simple electromechanical pump. £1500 to you Sir. 25,000 miles? Yes, well, you didn't use it enough.

Ever heard of a Honda with a failed ABS pump? No, me neither.

The pump was a sealed unit. Couldn't be fixed. Except by Fred-in-a-shed in Essex, who took them apart and modded them (to remove the, erm, design defect). Made a handsome living from his (secret) method.

The new RT's sound and look fantastic and if money was no object, I would be tempted. But the self-flagellation that would follow if it failed expensively is enough to deter me.

Loving my Tex, just the way it is. No problems in 15,000 miles and two years.
--------
If not now, when?

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Offline anthonyp0808

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #7 on: April 02, 2020, 08:08:53 AM
I guess I am partly responsible for this thread as I am the Judas that traded my Explorer on a BMW R1250GS.

I own 3 BMW motorbikes (and have owned a couple of Triumphs)

1. A 2011 R1200R dual cam - Only two minor problems.  Some rust on fuel tank under fuller, easily fixed.  The fuel strip failed but this was due to me poking something into the fuel tank. $200 fix.  No on road issues
2. A 2015 R1200R LC - no issues
3. A 2019 R1250GS - One error code on TFT early on, which was know fuel pump calibration problem, fixed in 5 minutes while I waited at dealer. ZERO other issues.

On my Explorer XCa the instrument cluster failed in the first 1000 kms, which was fortunately replaced under warranty.  Also, the suspension kept re-calibrating which I never managed to resolve.

On the plus side, the BMW is MUCH easier to do regular services than the Triumph - I do most of the work on my R1200Rs myself.

The R1250GS has 3 years/30000km dealer "all-covered except tyres" servicing option, including initial service, for AU$1317 (i.e. 4 services including some more complex ones, spark plugs, valve clearance, brake fluid changes etc)

The R1250GS comes with 36 months - Valid worldwide, no mileage limit, all repairs done using original BMW Motorrad parts, and in Australia free Road side assist ANYWHERE in Oz (it's a big country and lots of remote places). 

The Triumph has a 24 months, unlimited mileage warranty.


OK I can hear it already - that's because BMWs are unreliable.  Or could it be because BMW have confidence in their reliability?
Last Edit: April 02, 2020, 08:31:35 AM by anthonyp0808
Anthony

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Offline NiK

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #8 on: April 02, 2020, 08:41:36 AM
This matter won't be settled in the absence of actual figures from the manufacturers.
All we see here is a collection of isolated cases that doesn't tell much about reliability.
BTW I'm wondering how on Earth did said manufacturer do to keep them figures secret. We, loyal customers, have the right to know methinks ;-)

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Offline organaphus

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Re: BMW motorcycles. Reliable or Unreliable?
Reply #9 on: April 02, 2020, 05:44:31 PM
In my experience, brand reliability is a difficult fact to prove. I have known people purchase the same bike at the same time, and have totally different experiences. One may prove perfectly reliable, the other, a complete nightmare.