Earlier today the Magic Carpet gave us not one, but two “slow” starts. You know what I mean, when the battery is weak an turns the starter slow. But later in the morning it started just fine. One slow start might be an anomaly but two in the same morning is definitely a warning. The battery was a Panasonic AGM style and was four and a half years old. The motorcycle is plugged into a Battery Tender whenever parked in the garage and it’s said this procedure greatly enhances battery longevity. But tomorrow I’m leaving for a few days in Florida with my Dad and then a week after getting back we’re heading to Maggie Valley, NC. Donna told me that she’d feel better if I went ahead and got a new battery. I thought about it and she was right. I didn’t want to stop for gas or to rest and end up having to call roadside assistance from the BMWMOA and then figuring if the dealer in Marietta, GA, Jacksonville, FL or Daytona Beach, FL was closest should the battery decide to ruin my plans. I decided to get the Odyssey PC680 battery that comes highly recommended. I got the battery at BatteriePlus where they had it in stock. It was kind of ironic that last Saturday the battery in the car went belly up too.
Maintenance & Repair
Back on the twenty-fifth of May the Magic Carpet developed a leaking rear brake line that was later tracked down to being the hose from the rear master cylinder to the metal brake line going to the ABS unit. On the twelfth of June we went to the dealer fully expecting to have to order the offending part. Well we got lucky and they actually had the part. I got the repair under way on the thirteenth of June. Yes on Friday the thirteenth! I removed the body work that hadn’t already been removed to locate the leak, removed the old brake line and then managed to get the new line in. The hard part was getting the new line in! There was absolutely NO pressure on the rear brake pedal. But by opening the system, I knew I had introduced air into it and it needed to be bled. I was beat and done for the day. On the fifteenth I tried bleeding the system no avail (I later found I wasn’t patient enough). I was flustered and asked for help on bmwlt.com for what to do. An experienced “wrencher” on the K1200LT suggesting back flushing the line using the #3 bleeder with a syringe and a piece of tubing to fill it. I already had those from my last brake repair! It still wouldn’t bleed. I took a few days off from the project because it was frustrating me. Then another “wrencher” suggested that at this point since all I wanted to do was get the air out, was to connect the tubing to each of the 3 rear bleeders from the ABS unit back into the brake reservoir so that the air would come out and I would just recycle the brake fluid. I would worry about a more thorough bleed and flush after this. I now had pressure on the brake pedal! It took a lot of time to get that air out too. That was on Saturday the 21st. We had decided that if I didn’t get this done by Monday we were sending the bike to the dealer to let them figure it out.
Now it’s time to explain a BMW servo assisted (power brakes like a car) integral ABS (adding “braking system” to ABS would be redundant, like VIN number) unit in layman’s terms as easily as possible. The integral part means that pressing the rear brake pedal will not only give you rear brake but will add front braking with pushing harder. When pulling the front brake lever you will also get rear braking as you pull harder.
- There are a total of 4 circuits.
- The front wheel circuit goes from the ABS unit to the two front calipers.
- The front brake lever is for the front control circuit from the lever to the ABS unit.
- The foot pedal is the rear control circuit going from pedal to the ABS unit.
- The rear wheel circuit goes from the ABS unit to the rear caliper.
- There are 6 bleed valves on the ABS unit (3 for the front and three for the back), one bleed valve on each of the front calipers and two bleed valves on the rear caliper.
- The reservoir for the rear brakes feeds both the ABS unit and the rear caliper
- The reservoir for the front brakes feeds only the front calipers while the master cylinder on the handle bar supplies only the ABS unit.
- All lines meet at the ABS unit in the middle.
Confused yet? A diagram really helps though. For the home mechanic to do this it really is a two person job.
Yesterday, on Sunday, we bled and then flushed not only the rear system but the front system as well. I figured since I was in there I’d do them all. It’s also much easier to do the control circuits on the ABS module with the battery removed from the motorcycle. To do the wheel circuits you need the battery installed because the ignition has to be on (but bike not running) because you need the servos the flush from the bleeders on the calipers. As expected it took some time to do the rear control circuit. Donna was my “beautiful assistant” manipulating the brake pedal and brake lever for me. The front control circuit went quick and the fluid didn’t even look that dark but now the whole system has new DOT4 brake fluid. While the Magic Carpet was still naked, I took her for a short test ride and got no brake warning lights or leaks. I put the brakes through a workout, even intentionally activating the ABS a few times. I got her home and then put all her clothes (body work) back on. I did lose 3 torx screws for the body work in all this though, but that’s no big deal.
Now it’s time to start riding again!
We headed down to BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta today to order the brake line I need to replace. I’ve found that quite often brake lines may not be in stock and need to be ordered, taking about a week to get. Can you really expect a dealer to stock the individual brake lines for the models of motorcycles they’ve made even in the past 10 years? I was fully expecting to have to order the part. There was a little computer trouble at the parts counter when the guy helping me unexpectedly says “Hey! It says we have one in stock!” He goes in the back and a few minutes later comes out with the brake line and the miscellaneous washers to go along with it.
While we were there Donna disappeared and then called me over to show me what she “fell in love with”. What she found was a 2014 K1600GTL Exclusive edition. Maybe I should’ve gone alone?
Our BMW K1200LT is a 2oo2 model. She was built to last. Two years ago we had a leaking front brake line that I replaced and then bled the brake system. A while back I wrote that it looked like there was another brake line leaking, this time the rear brake near the brake pedal. Today I started looking for the culprit and it is indeed the rear brake line near the master cylinder. Once I had removed the body panel so I could see better, I was able to push on the pedal and then get some brake fluid to collect at the ferrule where the hose goes into the master cylinder. That’s some leak. The brake reservoir was also sitting right on the minimum line too. No wonder I got a flashing brake warning light. So now I know what part I need to go to the BMW dealer and order and then replace. Then it’s time to flush the brakes again. At least I noticed it at home and not out on the road somewhere. I’d rather not have to check out the BMWMOA roadside assistance towing.
If you ride long enough, sooner or later something breaks down or needs repair, no matter how much preventative maintenance you do. Yesterday was one of those days. We had been out riding and I parked the Magic Carpet in the garage when I noticed 2 small clear drops on the floor under the right side and under the driver’s foot peg. Funny, we hadn’t ridden through any water. I came back in and put the motorcycle up on the center stand as I normally do. A while later I noticed 2 more drops under the foot peg while the motorcycle was on the center stand. Now I was really curious and felt the drops (no I didn’t taste them) and they were indeed clear and very slippery. Brake fluid was my immediate and apparently correct thought. The rear master cylinder (not reservoir) is mounted to the rear of the chrome plate that the driver’s right foot peg and the rear brake pedal are fastened to. You also remove this plate and move it out of the way when filling the transmission oil. I sat on the floor and undid the 3 allen bolts and 2 torx screws that held the plate in place and looked behind it. Sure enough it looked like there was fluid leaking from the brake line attached on top of the master cylinder. I couldn’t see much further without removing more bodywork and decided that was a chore for another day coming up soon. Now that I had a general idea of what was leaking I checked the parts fiche at Pandora’s European Motorsports in Chattanooga, TN for an idea of the cost of the line and any other parts needed. Let’s just say it could’ve been worse. In fact it’s not shocking at all. I’ve replaced a front brake line before so this is nothing new for me. As it was the last time, I’m hoping the hardest part will be flushing the servo assisted integral ABS brake system. Hopefully one day this week I’ll remove the body work and get in there to get a much better look to see exactly what needs to be fixed or replaced. I’m hoping that like the last time it will be a relatively easy fix.
There are three separate oil changes that periodically need to be performed on a BMW K1200LT. There’s motor oil, transmission oil and final drive oil. The motor oil service recommendation is every 6,000 miles with 20W50 while the transmission and final drive recommendations are every 12,000 miles with 90 weight GL5 gear oil. So guess what? I figured out some time ago that every other oil change all three oils get changed and today was one of those days. The motor oil and the final drive oil are a snap to do. But I hate doing the transmission oil. It’s just that it’s a pain to do with parts to remove and hard to get to. You usually end up getting the old oil on the floor because you can put the pan under it and have to fashion some sort of funnel. Mind you, BMW probably sells a nice, expensive part just to do this. Today I was prepared and put a very large piece of cardboard under the motorcycle and then put it up on the center stand. I fashioned a funnel out of one my empty oil bottles lengthwise and about ½” tall so that it was flexible enough to bend and thin enough to be able to reach the recessed drain bolt. This time it worked like a charm and I even get very little oil on the cardboard!
The motor oil would’ve been due during our upcoming trip and looking back on the mileage, the final drive and transmission probably right after the trip. But I may as well get all of my laying on the garage floor done in one day and keep with the every other change philosophy. I found no metal flakes on the magnetic drain plug for the final drive and only the dark sludge that’s expected. The magnet on the transmission drain plug also had no metal flakes or shavings (even though the manual says a few are acceptable), again another thing good sign. The gear oils were both still a dark golden color this time, yet another good sign.
Another service date out of the way!
Two things always bring up debate between motorcyclists and they are tires and oil.
It was time for a new rear tire on the Magic Carpet. My tire of choice for it is the Bridgestone BT020 Battleax (with the proper load rating of 79V for the K1200LT). So once again it was time to call Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock, Georgia. I don’t even shop around anymore. Ken usually comes pretty close to meeting any online prices and with the mounting discount on tires purchased from him along with the great personal service, you can’t beat it. Here’s a prime example:
- I called Tuesday and ordered the tire (he normally doesn’t have tires in his small shop for a BMW K1200LT) and was quoted a price of $151.14 for the tire. Because the rear wheel is so easy to remove on the K1200LT I was going to bring just the wheel in and was quoted a price of $10.00 to mount the tire. Yes, $10.00. Mounting when bringing in the motorcycle is approximately $40.00. The tax and fees pushed it to a whopping $14.81.
- On Wednesday they called that the tire was in and to set my appointment to have it mounted.
- On Thursday morning I went and had the tire installed. It took all of less than 15 minutes!
- Just out of curiosity when I got home, I checked 2 online retailers who normally have good tire prices and they did, $164.00 at one and $153.00 at the other. This was for the same tire. Ken charges significantly more to mount tires that are not purchased from him.
We put 14,674 miles on the Bridgestone that was just replaced. I knew there were some miles left on it but with an upcoming trip I figured it better to replace the tire now when I could instead of when I had to. Ken said there was maybe “1,000 to 1,500 miles left on it” but agreed riding local is one thing and on a long trip is another. Our trip looks to be about 1,100 miles at minimum and that’s just to the destinations with no extra riding. I think it was a wise choice to change it now. I mean what if I put another 4oo miles on it before the trip. Maybe we’ll see about breaking in the new tire this weekend.
That’s right, the Magic Carpet got it’s new front tire today!
I had intended on using Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock, GA but while they were closed on Monday, I checked some of the big online retailers and motorcycle shops. For a front Metzeler ME880 Marathon 120/70/B17 tire with a 58V rating for the BMW K1200LT I got prices ranging from $151.88 to $168.99 (prices in U.S. Dollars) and the low one added a $5 tire fee to that $151.88 price. I checked online to get an idea of what I’d be charged at Ken’s as his prices are usually just a few dollars above the online dealers but if I buy the tire somewhere else and bring it to him for mounting he charges more than if the tire were purchased there. So Wednesday I was shocked when I got a price of $144 from Ken’s for the tire! I ordered one up (he usually doesn’t stock the K1200LT tires).
This afternoon (Friday) Debby called from Ken’s to tell me my tire was in and to set up an appointment to have it mounted. Ken does installs on an appointment basis. “Can you come by at 3:30 this afternoon?” WOW! You bet I can! When I got there, I found the price of the tire was different. It was $143 instead of $144! Of course there was the mounting fee and the associated fees and taxes. My appointment was for 3:30 and by 3:55 I had my earplugs in and helmet on preparing to head for home!
It’s Ken’s 20th anniversary of being in business and he’s charging a flat $20 over cost on all tires to celebrate and thank customers. Thank you Ken!
And for the curious and Facebook oriented, Ken’s also has a Facebook page too.
I knew we were getting close to needing a new front tire. But I didn’t think we were this close! Before we went on our ride yesterday I checked the tires like I always do. The front tire was getting close to the end of its life but the wear bars had yet to come to the surface and still had some tread above them. In fact, in a picture I took with the flash when I put the LED bulbs in the motolights, you could see the tread from a distance. That was only 8 days ago! Imagine my shock when I went to plug the battery tender in and noticed the front tire looking like it does in this picture. Not only had we made it to the wear bars on the one side but we went way past them on yesterday’s ride. I guess when you approach the end, it goes really quick. The tire in the picture has 17,157 miles on it and is a Metzeler ME880 Marathon that is rated for the BMW K1200LT. The Magic Carpet is grounded until it gets a new front tire.
Metzeler and Bridgestone are the only tires made that are rated for the K1200LT. I’ve heard Avon makes tires but since they’re softer (and stickier) they wear out quicker so I have no interest in them. I’ve used the Bridgestone BT020 Battleax on the front before but only got about 8,000 miles out of it. So it looks like I’ll be calling Ken’s Motorcycle Tires in Woodstock this week to check prices and order a tire. Ken usually comes pretty close to matching online tire prices but offers a significant savings when mounting tires purchased from him. In other words, if I buy the tire online and bring it to him he charges more to mount it. It seems fair enough to me. I’ll check prices on the Metzeler and the always lower in price Bridgestone and weigh the mileage differences against the balance in the checkbook. It can be a complicated mathematical formula.
Today was oil change day for the Magic Carpet. It’s a little early but I’ll be headed out on the road to my Dad’s and it’ll come up due on the trip so I got it out-of-the-way before the trip. Today was the “easy” oil change in that it was just the motor oil. I still have to lay on the floor to do it though!
We also decided to get the Lifetime Map Updates for the Garmin Zumo 220 GPS. We got the GPS in September of 2011 and haven’t updated the maps since using the one free update from Garmin within 30 days of the purchase. We figured roads don’t really change all that much but it was time. Garmin offers a one time update for $49.99 or the lifetime updates for $89.00 so it really does make sense to get the lifetime updates. I had heard that Amazon has the lifetime update for less than Garmin. I found the lifetime update sold by Amazon for $58.03! You can guess where we got it from. The map is updating now as I type this.
The Magic Carpet should also reach 75,000 miles on the odometer this weekend while I’m headed to my Dad’s in Florida.