Hi, Joe - lemme share this with ya. Ole Toad's (a '99 from Lone Star) rear drive bearing went out at 64K+ miles, with no prior indication. Fact is, all the fluids were changed at 57K and nothing indicated a problem. Long run to Gatlinburg and half way back home, it went. I'm pretty sure Lone Star put in the 17-ball bearing, butt at this moment, I'm not positive; and BMW did pick up the good-will warranty for the work.
Having said that, several other locals have had their bearing pre-emptively changed at the 50K+ mileage and *all* of 'em have said the 19-ball one that came out looked spankin' new. Grif, who just had Barbara's changed at roughly 50K, said the same thang. Munson's OEM bearing looked good - Dave Moore's looked good - I believe Monte Roger's looked good - soooo, I do think these guyz have a leetle more peace of mind now that they have the 17-ball unit and the failure reports on that particular bearing have seemed to indicate far fewer failures than the older 19-ball unit. Now that could be cuz of the lesser mileage to date, being racked up by the 17. Butt at any rate, these guyz don't talk about bearing failures as much as they used to!!!
Ole Toad is gonna have the current bearing (17 or 19) swapped sometime early next year, with 110K on the clock and 46K on the bearing. Butt even if we weren't gonna change it, I wouldn't worry 'bout it --- I quit worrying a long time ago 'bout it failing - I'm a 'make lemonade' type and there are too many other thangs that need undivided attention while on the road.
BTW - if you do decide to have your's changed, lemme know when and where and I'll come to meetcha over a cup or ?
Hank at Rhinewest would be a day trip for ya, while Lone Star may be a leetle harder to do a day-light turnaround. Either one, I'm still up for a handshake and a cup.
Take care, Joe - ride safe.