Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions... - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 3:41 am Thread Starter
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Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

I think up to now ignorance has been bliss for me with regards to the Final Drive failure issues that LTs face. Iím not technical (and to be honest Ė a bit lazy too) and find myself putting fuel in the LT and servicing a little over once a year (I didnít use to do lots of kms/miles, although Iíve just started commuting to work which is about 45mins of daily riding to get 12 km (8 miles) round trip (mainly dealing with stop-start traffic). I save about $1200 a year (A$1 = US$1 at the moment), but not sure if the added servicing and parts will end up costing me a lot more in the long run (and Iím only saving about 5-10mins each way relative to public transport).

Iíll post my questions first and if youíre interested you can keep reading for context.

1. Should I stop riding to work everyday because:

a) Iím increasing the risk of a Final Drive failure

b) All the additional servicing and parts require will end up costing me what it save me (plus I expose myself to the increased risk of an accident purely by virtue of the increased time on the road).

2. Should I do one last service on my 2003 LT (in Dec 2012) and try and sell it before it gives me any expensive clutch/ final drive failure issues. (I might buy another LT in about 3 years time when my daughters are old enough (8 yrs) and tall enough (feet must touch footpegs) for them to pillion legally in Australia.

3. Should I try and at least do an oil change between now and Dec 2012 (Iíve put on about 6000km since my last service in May 2011)?

4. Do I need to do more than a simple oil change before the cheap Dec 2012 service?

5. While Iím doing the simple oil change, is there anything else I should / might as well do at the same time (considering Iím not a mechanically minded person)?

6. Should I just pay 50% more and get the LT serviced ASAP by the BMW dealership?

7. I just joined up with a local riding group and I love riding with them. Now that Iíve been made aware of the potential Final Drive failure, Iím wondering if I should cut back and save the kms prior to Final Drive failure for a big trip.

8. Iím looking to do a 1000km (700 miles) trip (over 3 days and 2 nights) in just over a week's time (29 Sept Ė 1 Oct 2012). Would you recommend that I give it a miss and do rides closer to home because I donít want to risk a Final Drive/ clutch failure that could spoil the whole experience.

9. Is the Final Drive failure risk increased by fast starts where the torque puts the strain on the final drive or is it long distances (multiple revolutions) or high speeds (revolutions with increased friction)? I guess what Iím trying to understand is what can I do to reduce the risk of Final Drive failure?

10. As I understand it frequent clutching in and out (stop-start traffic and riding twisties) are likely to wear out a clutch more quickly because of the increase instances of half-clutching rather than long journeys where most of the trip is spent in 5th gear. Is my understanding correct?

11. I cleaned the shaft about three weeks ago. It was dirty/ grimy but Iím pretty sure the seal is not leaking because itís still clean three weeks later. Should I be concerned that it was grimy in the first place.

12. My rear wheel (rim) is dirty and grimy and Iím thinking of getting some degreaser and giving it a good clean (I cleaned the front wheel which was also quite grimy but used a spray that is formulated for a waterless wash, it didnít clean it completely but took of 80% of the dirt and grime). Iím thinking of using a degreaser on the rear wheel rim and the front wheel rim to bring it back to as clean as possible. Is degreaser a good or bad idea from a safety point of view as well as the potential effect on the rubber of the tyres? Is there another product I should be considering to use to clean the front and rear rims?

Now for the context/ backgroundÖ

When I put the bike in for the last service in May 2011 (at 45,000km) I told my mechanic (who is not a BMW dealer but specialises in BMW bikes) that I thought the clutch was not biting as well as I thought it should. He checked it out and said that the clutch was ok. The bike has now done 51,000km (30,000 miles) and I can definitely feel the clutch needs something done (whether itís just a simple cable tightening or a full blow clutch replacement I donít know) because when starting from a stop, I can feel the full power not transmitting and after Iíve fully released the clutch I feel the bite still kicking in (and Iím not doing jack rabbit starts, just normal albeit a bit faster than the rest of the traffic so I can stay ahead of them). A friend if mine who rides an LT said the LT clutches are known to fail and need replacing at about the 50,000km mark and cost about $4000 (a lot of that is spent on labour removing the Tupperware Ė to illustrated the point, my last service at 45,000km costed about $1000 Ė think it included a new front tyre and the labour was about half the cost).

I tried booking it in for a service two weeks ago and the earliest I can get it in is Dec 2012. If I send it to the BMW dealership, itíll cost about 50% more.

I thought of doing an oil check and change on my own but it looks like I have to remove the skid plate off the bottom of the bike and I donít have a lift or anything like that, I only have the centre stand to work with (like I said, Iím not mechanically minded, so I only own a screwdriver and an allen key set). I tried twisting the top/oil cap where the oil goes in (under the right wing) just to see the colour and level of the oil and the cap seems stuck and Iím not sure I should use a pair of pliers but Iím guessing the plier teeth might damage the oil cap.

The most pressing questions on my mind are 1, 2, 7 and 8.

If youíve made it this far, thanks for reading. Appreciate any advice you might have. Donít feel like you have to answer every question. Happy for you to list your answers by question number.

Also I'm happy to call USA or any country to talk about my questions because I appreaciate that there are many here. Just give me a number and the best time to call (your time) and I'll gladly do so.
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post #2 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 4:16 am
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

Just like you I am a bit lazy at times Rather that answering all of your questions let me share my very simple philosophy based on 40 years in the automotive service business, and 11 years of LT ownership.

It is ALWAYS cheaper in the long run to hold on to a decent vehicle that you have had for a while. If it breaks, fix it and keep going. You may have noticed that I said decent vehicle that you had for a while. If you buy a used vehicle and it turns out to be someone else's previous headache, get rid of it quickly. The cost of depreciation and taxes usually outweighs the cost of repairs in the long run.

If you don't ride a lot, I would do an oil change once a year and do a complete service every other year. Spark plugs, air filter and fuel filter in my experience are good for at least 4 years and 50,000 miles. Off course if you are in a very dusty area and / or have problems with dirty gas you need to adjust the interval accordingly.

Sometimes knowing too much about what might break is a bad thing. I know a lot of folks here will disagree with my opinions and thats ok. I am just sharing what has, and does work for me.


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post #3 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 4:21 am
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

Hi Joseph, as I said in some threads before "some Guy's have it all". Have on my Lt here over the pond about 90k km no trouble, in the states little more then 22K mi no problem.

To your questions.

-1, Use your Bike as often you can, sure would be healthier on longer tracks but it shouldn't do any harm.
-2, Is one of the most important points, keep your bike clean and do it your self, you can see and find some small things they are not working well or break down within the next 100 mi so do it your self. Service at least once a Year Oil change not only engine, trany and FD also. Every two Years the other liquids too. Here in first place Brake fluid primary and secondary circuit.
Is not my speaking is my Maintainer with a 30 Years skill on this kind of Bikes.
-7, Go with them as often you like, in general there is nothing wrong with your final drive, make your oil change and keep everything clean an I bet you wont have any trouble.
-8, Do your long run trip don't worry.

Your question to the Clutch. If U use the clutch as it should be used then it will hold for a very long long time, have some Kollegs with 200k km on the clock and still the first clutch. Dont start with 3000 rpm you can start between 1000 and 1500 rpm and you are at the same speed then the other once.

Enjoy your bike, use and maintain it right then will avoid a lot of failures and you will have a lot of fun with it.

Hope this help you.

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post #4 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 4:25 am
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

Hi Wolfgang, , hope you have had a nice trip home

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post #5 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 8:29 am
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

1st - I think every brand of motorcycle MAY bite you on the ass with an expensive repair

2nd - when insurance, maintenance, purchase price are all added up I do not see how you can save a dollar riding - you ride because you ENJOY it, there is no other reason

3rd - BMWs are great city bikes as well as great touring bikes

4th - dry clutch as in a car and operation the same - fully engaged "foot off pedal" within 3 feet of travel - do not need rpm, need enough power (throttle) to avoid stall until moving then open it up - practice getting into motion clutch out without throttle

2018 R1200RT
Past rides
2012 K1600GTL
2000 K1200LT
1992 K1100LT
2000 V Star 650/Velorex sidecar
1985 K100RT
1965 R60/2
1960 AJS 500 single
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post #6 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 10:56 am
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

Work your way up to 5th gear..

While in 5th open the throttle fully...

If the clutch slips then you're going to need a clutch replacement and some seals..Slave cylinder, Etc....

The clutch on an LT is VERY robust... Nothing short of an oil leak or abuse will wear it out...

You have this bike.. Why not keep it and put a few bucks into the maintenance and you'll know exactly where you are...

Most of these bikes go their entire existence without a clutch or final drive failure..

It's just that this forum is where the ones that do fail get talked about..

If you've got 60K on it and the final drive hasn't failed, Chances are it won't..

Regular service every year.. (oils) Full service every two years is what I do...

Good Luck


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post #7 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 11:09 am
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

Oil changes are easy and i do not have a lift, just put it on the center stand. My LT is my only vehicle and i use it to commute only 6 miles each way, five days a week. My thought is that you already have this wonderful bike and if you are not having any major issues then just ride and enjoy. If you want to take a long trip then do it and dont worry. The removal of the tupperware is not difficult at all, just time consuming, try the 5th gear test and see how the clutch is. If it isnt slipping then dont worry about it.
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post #8 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 11:32 am
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Talking Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

Just a thought or 2.

As mentioned above, make sure your left hand is OFF of the clutch lever BEFORE you apply a heavy throttle. I have an '03 LT wtih 144,551 miles and still have the original clutch.

I's not cheaper to ride a bike than a car. It's just so much more fun. Since I ride a lot, I think tires are my biggest expense as I do my own maitenance and don't use a lift. I do take it to the dealer every other year to flush the ABS system. In between times I flush the wheel circuits every 3 months. It only takes a few minutes when you have the stuff to do it with.

If your FD doesn't have shinny flecks in the oil when you change it, then just ride and don't worry.

If you haven't been doing it, you should learn to regrease the balls in your shifter.(4 of them) That makes it shift easier and will prevent beakage. One of the balls on mine backed out and I tightened it back up when I did a regrease and thusly avoided breakage. I use white grease when I have it and plain bearing grease when I don't. Both work fine here in northern Missouri.
Hope I've given you some helpful advice.

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Bought used K1200LT number 3. This one is green/teal with 31,369(now 7/29/2018 54,143) miles and is an '02. The first 2 bikes made it to near 150,000 miles.
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Due to heart health, the Dr says not to ride under 40 degree air temp. Ugh! Now it is harder to get my 18000 miles a year in just in the summer. Guess that stopped my 20 degree rides now.
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Converted HD rider.
Love this LT bike and still waiting for my first speeding ticket. LOL
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Last edited by vernvernvern; Sep 20th, 2012 at 11:35 am. Reason: spelling
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post #9 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 12:52 pm
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

Bought mine with 92,000 km on it and the dealer said the clutch might be iffy. Ffwd a few years, just did the 180,000 km service, still the same clutch, and still the same comment from the dealer. Once its rolling, I can't get the clutch to slip no matter what gear/speed/throttle opening I use. Seems OK to me. Regular maintenance, tires, and one slave cylinder were the only issues in that time.

K1200LT (99)
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post #10 of 10 Old Sep 20th, 2012, 1:32 pm
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Re: Should I sell my 2003 K1200LT before troubles come? And 12 other questions...

here are my worthless ramblings:

1. No to both - unless you are looking for an excuse to not ride anymore, then yes.

2. No, I finally bought my LT after a couple years of indecisiveness, 1 month later (almost to the day) I got an infant and so I have even more years before he can ride with me than you, but I know that if I exercise it from time to time and maintain it that it will still be running great when I can finally start to use it for its intended purpose.

3, 4, & 5. Yes, if you are concerned about it, I would suggest that you change the fluid in the final drive and transmission at the same time. The final drive is super easy, easier than an oil change, the transmission is a little tougher. Make sure you inspect the drain plug magnet and look for evidence of a problem (take picture if you are unsure of condition and post as a question to this forum for expert opinion). My limited understanding is that the two places that you can get contamination on the clutch are from the clutch hydraulics or from the transmission fluid, someone will correct me if I am wrong. Measure the amount of fluid you take out of the tranny vs. how much you put in and see if there is a significant difference. Watch your sight glass on the clutch cylinder and keep an eye for any loss of fluid there. If neither of these proves an issue, then unless you or a previous owner abused the clutch you should be fine, and if that is the case you shouldn't sell it to some unsuspecting schmuck like me with a known bum clutch.

6. Not just no, but H-E-double-hockey sticks no, unless you just have more money than you want to keep. Service is not hard as stated above, just time consuming.

7 & 8. Nope, ride the bike and enjoy yourself.

10. As far as I know, if you use the clutch properly as described in previous threads stop and go is not a problem. After all, the clutch was designed to be used for hundreds of thousands of miles of various driving conditions.

11 & 12. Don't worry about the grime being there in the first place, if you haven't been cleaning it regularly it tends to build up, you drive on roads where other cars leak oils and stuff, which gets picked up and sprayed on your bike over the miles. I do prefer to keep a clean bike but at the moment mine are both just plain disgustingly filthy so I can't really preach here.

In short if you are looking for an excuse to not have a bike anymore, all of these are good excuses. Personally I can't imagine giving up my bike for a mass-transit ride but that is me. I know there is increased risk just from being on the road, but I also think there is a concurrent reduction because I keep my skills practiced and in common use. I see these weekend Harley riders and watch them and I am amazed that I don't see more accidents on the weekends. All in all make your decision based on what you want to do and ignore all these possible problems, after all it sounds like you could do the work yourself and it just might take a few months, you'll find it rewarding and save a bunch of money, and then you know that part is proper and fit.
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