Toady was oil change day for the Magic Carpet. It’s normally a pretty easy thing to do. But today was supposed to take longer because every other oil change I also do the final drive oil and the transmission oil. The final drive really isn’t that hard to either, it can just get messy if you’re not careful. For the final drive oil I had use one of my homemade tools to make the job easier! It’s the transmission oil that adds all the time. Plus since warm oil usually drains better, after doing the motor and final drive oil you need to take the bike for a quick ride to re-warm the transmission oil (or at least I do). To change the transmission oil you have to remove the skid plate, some bodywork, the driver’s right foot peg mount (the oil fill plug is behind it), and some funny looking exhaust bracket that blocks the oil drain plug. It’s like a puzzle taking it apart and putting it back together. But all the oils are changed and we’re good for another 6,000 miles on the motor oil and 12,000 miles on the final drive and transmission.
Maintenance & Repair
Back in June when we were returning home from a trip to North Carolina the front brake line on the K1200LT developed a small leak in the front brake line. We made it home with no issues but in the last few miles I began to notice a different feel in the front brake lever.
I ordered a new front brake line from BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta and it arrived this week. I spent the last 2 days doing my repair and cleaning up. Well, actually today was just spent putting the body panels back on the motorcycle. My plan was to replace the leaking line, then bleed the air out from the replacement and then flush the entire ABS system. Flushing the ABS system is a maintenance item that should periodically be done anyway. In the past I had flushed brakes but this would be my first time replacing a line and therefore intentionally introducing air into the system. To replace the line easily I was going to have to remove the fairing from the motorcycle, or the parts referred to as “Tupperware”. I’ve removed all these parts before during a 24,000 service so I wasn’t scared. Usually I have to remove the engine spoiler and lower fairing, but not this time. When you follow the directions in the Clymer’s manual it all goes smoothly. It was tempting to not remove the fairing but it was obvious removing it would make things easier.
First, you need to understand something about the brakes on this particular motorcycle. BMW uses a servo assisted integral ABS system. That’s a lot of big words but it means the braking system is power assisted like a car, the integral part means using the rear brake will also begin to add front brake, using the front brakes will also add rear brake and the system is an Anti-lock Braking System. It also has a front & rear control circuit (integral pump) and a front & rear wheel circuit (the calipers on the wheels).
Once I got the Magic Carpet naked the brake line replacement went pretty quickly. Then it was time for the bleeding and flushing. I got a lot of information from BMWLT.COM for the flushing. My assistant, Donna, helped me for this part as you really can’t reach the bleeder and the brake lever for all of the work. While bleeding & flushing the front, I accidentally let the funnel in the brake reservoir run dry. I regrouped and we bled the air out making a foam in the catch jar and then all was good. The old brake fluid in all 4 circuits had the color of iced tea so it really did need to be changed. All 4 circuits now have that nice, nearly clear DOT4 brake fluid now. So far I don’t appear to have any error codes appearing on the dashboard either! Of course there were some “gotcha” moments too. Some of the bleeders on the integral pump were a major pain to get to. And for some reason, the bleeders on the front and the rear brakes used 2 different size wrenches. The use of the brake funnel from Beemer Boneyard made this job a lot easier too.
Once the old hose was off, I looked for and found the suspected leak. I cut the hose open in both known good areas and the suspected problem area. The good area has a nice, round opening for the fluid to pass through and you could see the layers of rubber and braiding. The suspected bad area was brittle, clogged and all black. Oddly enough, I also think the bad area is where the Moto Lights had a short in the wiring and the wires had been zip tied to the brake line.
The job wasn’t as bad as I had feared but it’s not something I want to do all the time. I can see why the dealer gets so much money for a brake flush though!
I’ve had the Tupperware off a few times before so I have a system for keeping track of all the torx screws. But this time, when I put everything back together, I had 2 leftover torx screws. At least I’m not OCD enough to take everything apart to see where I missed putting them in.
I went down to the great folk at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta today to order the parts I need to replace my front brake line. Yes the front brake line has developed at least one leak and I need to replace it. But give it a break, it’s been out there on the front end of a motorcycle for 10 years and 66,000 miles. I’ll have to bleed the line and may as well flush the ABS system too. And that brake hose isn’t cheap either at $118.00!
The dealer had to order the long brake line as they didn’t have one in stock. The parts manager looks on the parts fiche online and tells me, “We’re in luck. There’s 57 in this country so it shouldn’t be a problem.” It should be here next week. Because I’ll be replacing that line I’ll have to remove the plastic body panels, known as Tupperware, to easily reach the top of the line. I guess I could start removing those pieces ahead of time.
And as I write this the current temperature here in this part of Georgia is 102 degrees (F) as reported by The Weather Channel but my home weather station is saying 100.1. This is Georgia after all, not Arizona!
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Apparently some people have thought this was a complaint about BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta. IT IS NOT! The front brake line on my 10 year old motorcycle has developed a leak. I went to buy a new one. They didn’t have it so they ordered it for me. The 4th of July holiday will add another day to the delivery. No big deal. The folk at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta have been great in any dealings I have had with them. In the past, I’ve even been told “Before you bring it in why don’t you try this….” and “this” worked.
Other motorcyclists may say “I’d ride a BMW if they had a dealer network like (insert your brand choice here) did in case I ran into trouble on the road.” True, BMW doesn’t have the dealer network that other motorcycles do but read on about the network that exists between owners and dealers.
Mike & Wendy, who we’re meeting on Monday while they’re travelling, had a mechanical problem in Memphis, TN earlier today. His shock had failed and was leaking on his 1985 K100RT. He said it was like riding a pogo stick when they’d hit a bump. He called to ask me if I could post a message for him on the message forum of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMW MOA) asking members to contact him if they could help out with ideas or suggestions on a repair or locating a replacement shock. I posted the message. I then checked the BMW Motorcycles web site for dealers near where he was. I found one in Memphis and after that the closest ones were in Nashville and Chattanooga. I called Mike back with the information and he had already called the dealer in Memphis with no luck. I then called my local dealer, BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta to see if maybe they had a shock in stock for a 27-year-old motorcycle. Our plan was I would pick up the shock, they would detour on their trip and take smooth interstates to us, getting here tonight. Mike and I would then spend tomorrow putting the shock on. Here is where the impressive part starts. BMW of Atlanta checked and did not have the shock. But they didn’t stop there and checked the dealer network for inventory for it. Again they could not find the BMW OEM part in stock at a dealer in the U.S.. They asked if he’d be interested in a used part and gave some suggestions and phone numbers of shops that may have them. Wait, it gets better. When you join the BMW MOA you get something called the “Anonymous Book” which is a book that members can have themselves placed in to offer assistance to members. The book is listed by state, city and phone number only and then codes of the assistance you can offer. The assistance can range from meeting for coffee and conversation to major repairs. I called Mike with the news I had about the part. He had used his Anonymous Book and gotten in touch with a BMW MOA member who then contacted another member. The first member was coming with a trailer to take the bike to another member who was going to take the shock off his own motorcycle and put it on Mike’s! Yes that’s right, taking the shock off his own motorcycle to put it on someone’s he’d never met so that they could get back on the road! I’m not saying that owning a BMW Motorcycle is better than owning any other motorcycle. I’m not saying that being a member of the BMW MOA is better than being a member of another motorcycle organization. In fact, I’d hope that other organizations would help in any way they could too.
Mike called later and said that in about 45 minutes they’d be back on the road. From the time of his first phone call to me to getting the shock and getting on the road was only about 2 1/2 hours!
I will never consider NOT renewing membership in the BMW MOA.
The top case (trunk) of the K1200LT has a fold down mirror with a light. Behind that fold down mirror is also a compartment to keep small items like the owner’s manuals, insurance card, small books or other small things. For quite some time one of the plastic hinges has been broken on the left side (marked by the arrow in the attached picture). I’ve tried gluing it several times and it always breaks again. The glue that lasted the longest was 3M Plastic Automotive Trim Adhesive and it still broke. Today I decided to try a little bit of “Redneck Engineering” and fixed it with some small piano hinges. It was simple. Mark and drill my holes with a Dremel, cut the sharp protruding ends of the screws with a small cutting wheel on the Dremel, file them smooth and cover them. It really was an easy fix. The cutting part was cool because it made lots of sparks! I was thinking about painting the hinges black but Donna said they look fine just the way they are.
Well due to circumstances outside our control the tire installation had gotten delayed. I had taken the wheel off the motorcycle so I could take it to the shop to get the tire installed. I decided to check my rear brake pads while I was back there and found that I was in dire need of new brake pads. Because my regular tire shop was still closed due to an emergency I just went ahead and ordered a new tire and brake pads from Motorcycle Superstore. The damaged tire was a Metzeler ME 880 Marathon but I replaced it with a Bridgestone Battleax BT020. Granted the Metzeler will normally give you more miles while the Bridgestone is considered to be a sportier tire and better on wet roads but the Metzeler is now about $90.00 more than the Bridgestone! Yesterday I took the tire and wheel over to Ken’s Motorcycle Tires and had the wheel installed. This morning, I put the wheel back on and installed the new brakes pads. The Magic Carpet is ready to hit the road again!
After a ride last weekend I happened to notice a 5/8″ cut in the tread of the rear Metzeler tire of the motorcycle. We probably ran something over in the road. Yesterday I gently stuck a toothpick in the cut and parts of it were nearly 1/4″ deep. Since the cut was in the groove of the tread, I couldn’t tell if it had gone through the tire. The next thing I did was put rubber cement on the cut. Well I got my answer when bubbles started to appear. It looked like a slow leak and a pressure check this morning confirmed it.
So this morning I called the local tire shop I use, Ken’s Motorcycle Tires and found they were closed until next Tuesday because of an out-of-state family emergency. Better to replace the tire than risk a tire failure. Ken’s can pretty much match any internet motorcycle tire price within just a few dollars and the discount on installation of tires purchased from him more than makes up any difference in tire price. So I’ll wait until next Tuesday to order a tire from him. I began shopping around on the internet for tires and found that the Metzeler was now nearly $90.00 more than the Bridgestone BT020 Battleax for our motorcycle! The Metzeler is a harder tire and will normally last longer in miles, but the Bridgestone is a slightly softer tire and is sticks to the road better. I’ve had the Bridgestone before and loved it, having put nearly 14,000 miles on it before replacing it only because a previous puncture repair had started to leak. I can buy 3 Bridgestones with change leftover for the price of 2 Metzelers!
So, no riding until at least next week.
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Sometimes a special tool is required when performing maintenance on your motorcycle. It doesn’t matter who makes your motorcycle, sooner or later you’ll need that “Left handed reverse nut turner for someone with only 9 toes”.
One of the things that needs to be done on the BMW K1200LT every 12,000 miles is changing the final drive (shaft) gear oil. It’s a pretty straight forward thing to do…..almost. You see, on our Suzuki C50T Boulevard the drain was on the bottom of the final drive and the fill hole was easily accessible on the side. The instructions were really simple. They were something like this: “Fill the drive with oil until it reaches the bottom of the fill hole.” That’s pretty easy and you can’t overfill it because if you do, your overfill ends up on the floor. BMW Motorrad is a bit different. The drain bolt is on the bottom as you’d expect but the fill opening is near the top and hard to reach because of the side cases. The manual calls for 230 ml of gear oil to fill the drive. Now, filling to the bottom of the opening would overfill buy a lot and risk damaging seals. How do you get 230ml in there from your fill bottle that won’t fit under there? Enter that little bit of MacGyver in all of us!
This tool making expedition will take us to your local dollar store to purchase a baby bottle. It doesn’t have to a fancy or expensive one, it just has to have metric measurements for millilters on one side. Carefully pick out the color you want to use. If you’re lucky they’ll have a bottle that matches the color of your motorcycle. When you get home, just cut a small portion of the nipple off at an angle (clicking on the thumbnail will enlarge the image). Go ahead and fill the bottle with the appropriate amount of gear oil (in my case 230 ml) and put the lid back on the bottle. The nipple is flexible so you can put it in the fill opening and simply turn the bottle upside down and let gravity do the rest of the work. If you don’t already know, gear oil is much thicker and moves slower than motor oil so you might be holding it just a few minutes. There you go! You’ve just filled your final drive with the specified amount of oil. Just remember to use this bottle only for gear oil and never fill it with baby formula to feed a baby! The baby won’t like the oil and the motorcycle won’t like the baby formula. Can you tell that I was rummaging around in the tool box and garage and got bored?
Well like the title says it’s a cold and rainy day.
Our K1200LT has a custom leather driver’s seat from Rick Meyer. The seat has some years of service and is still great. It is though, showing some wear in the spots where my thighs rub on it by the dye wearing of the seat. So I took advantage of weather and re-dyed the seat. It was pretty easy and looks pretty good. It also gave me a chance of using WordPress for Windows Phone to create and upload a post.
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An advantage to living in the south is the occasional warm winter day. Today was forecast to have a sunny afternoon and a temperature right at 70 degrees. So with no prior planning this afternoon we put on jackets and backed the motorcycle out of the garage for a nice winter’s day ride. It also gave me a chance to give the bike a shakedown ride after trying to track down an oil leak. We took a short 108 mile loop around north Georgia, going up to Canton and across to Dawsonville and back down. Along the way, the bike’s thermometer actually was showing 70 degrees for a while! When we got home I checked for the leak and saw some oil film which may have just been warmed up from where I wiped it down, but I saw no drops or evidence of any drops. Maybe it really was just tightening down some bolts and a faulty crush washer on the oil drain bolt.
And here’s a tip I got for this motorcycle from Bob Wooldridge of BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta. When changing the oil, fill up the filter, install it and then add 3 quarts of oil. That way you won’t overfill the crankcase because it’s difficult to see the clean oil in the sight glass. It works like a charm!