K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 10 Old Oct 31st, 2017, 5:27 pm Thread Starter
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K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

First of all this is just to inform you of a potential fault in the braking system of the 2012 K1600GT. BMW HQ has taken their stance and my insurance has covered my totaled bike. Quite frankly since they refuse to acknowledge the incident and my years of experience I could never ride another BMW. I offer this only for your information and I would greatly appreciate if anyone could explain to me how a total brake failure could even happen.
I apologize for the length of this but will explain exactly what happened.
It started with intermittent cruise control failures and later started seeing anti skid caution lights. Im mechanically aware and the forums led me towards a wheel sensor issue. I cleaned and checked both for chafing wires but found nothing obvious.
I knew the dealer could computer analyze and tell me which one. Their first test pointed to a low voltage issue and since the previous owner had an after market battery I bit and purchased a new one. No other faults were showing so its possible.
I didnt get 3 miles away before the anti skid flashed again. I turned around and went back as the dealer is a long distance from my home. They reluctantly retested after I insisted and yes it showed a bad front sensor. Not in stock but agreed I could order and install myself. No problem at least I knew which one.
I stop for gas and knowing that the system resets and self tests after power up Im thinking about the possibility of a short in the wire. I pull out on a 4 lane local street and the 1st time it flashes I pop the brake hard enough to squat the front of the bike but not lock it up. The light goes out. 10-15 seconds it flashes I pop the brake and again it goes out. Im about 45 MPH and I see a red light up ahead. As it flashes I pop the brake and it goes out and Im slowing for the light. The 4th pop Im only 20 yards from a big utility trailer at the stop light and I got nothing. The lever is nothing but air. I went for the rear brake but hit the trailer maybe doing 10 mph.
Didnt even scratch the trailer but bent my front rim and broke the steering pinion dropping my front end enough that the pipes were touching the ground.
At first I felt I had instigated it but called the dealer never expecting them to believe me. I was going to price parts. I trailered it there as they gave me hope that they had seen HQ cover strange things and possibly the pump could have failed.
I just want yall to know it happened. Im 63 and have many long years of riding experience. I understand no hydraulic system is supposed to allow this short of a leak but there was no leak. I had my hand on the lever continuously as I was popping it to slow down. The crazy part was after impact and the bike shut down I talked with the guy and then tried to assess the damage. The lever was normal.
Obviously I doubted myself but I know what happened.
Please be careful and can anyone explain this?
John
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post #2 of 10 Old Nov 1st, 2017, 12:11 am
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

I'm glad your were not injured. I'm thinking other things, when was the last time you bled the brakes? Was it done with ABS actuation in the process? What is the meaning of "poped the brake"? Somewhere there is a reason for brake failure. There is a very nice 2018 Goldwing out there now. The early K1600's have a number of problems, this is the first I have heard of this one.
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post #3 of 10 Old Nov 1st, 2017, 5:01 am
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

I would suggest you post this thread on the K1600.com forum, a sister forum to this one, as you would get much more feedback there. I've never heard of this type of problem on the K1600, as they are pretty reliable. The early bikes had switchgear issues, and water pumps that had a minor weep, both addressed under warranty. The later bikes don't have these issues.
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post #4 of 10 Old Nov 1st, 2017, 8:10 am
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

First, I'm sorry this happened to you, and to your bike. It sounds like you weren't hurt, which is a blessing.

Second, That's one hell of a first and only post here...

Third, I'm sorry that BMW isn't giving you the response you expect. That part sucks, too.

But fourth, you had multiple brake failure warnings, knew for a fact that there was a bad wheel speed sensor, and still rode the bike as normal. It completely sucks to grab for the brakes only to find nothing, but with knowing you had a failed sensor and the brake warning lamps screaming at you, you shoulda been much more paranoid, leaving so much extra stopping distance, or maybe even just leaving the bike parked until it was properly sorted.

And fifth, I always use both front and rear brakes. I know they're Part-Integral and will self-proportion between front and rear, but I still trust my own experience and coordination for situations just like this.

I've been following the Slant/6 bikes since before they were released, and this is the first time I've ever heard of a complete brake failure on any of them. Some of the K12LT's with the Power Integral brakes could have brake fade or failure issues if the battery voltage dropped too low, but they also gave you multiple warnings that something just wasn't right.

I hope you get back on two wheels soon, whatever you choose to ride going forward.
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post #5 of 10 Old Nov 1st, 2017, 4:54 pm
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

Golly!

Glad you weren't hurt and glad your insurance will step up to the plate.

Recently had a battery issue with my '03LT but rode it anyway. My mother is Dutch so I try to squeeze every bit of value out of everything. Did experience a brake "incident" with a bad/low battery. Wasn't expecting it but when it happened I knew what it was and acted accordingly. Went to stop for a light, pulled in the clutch to down shift and applied brakes at the same time. Engine stopped running and had no power assist and the "pedal" (mostly front brake lever) felt real odd. I let out the clutch, the engine came back to life and a second later I had normal brakes again. Did not see any warning lights at any time before, during or after that incident.
Immediately replaced the battery and all seems normal again.

B D R
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post #6 of 10 Old Nov 1st, 2017, 6:48 pm
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

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Originally Posted by Skyjohn View Post
Quite frankly since they refuse to acknowledge the incident and my years of experience I could never ride another BMW. John
Great no injuries I guess! I do agree w/ meese I would be parking that bad boy until critical functions are fully restored.

John, go play w/ Yamaha's FJR1300-ES. Maybe you already have but if not they're very reliable perhaps better than K1600GT and are much cheaper. Different machine but ultimately great for the same riding environments K1600GT does well in. Plus, inexpensive extended warranty coverage and dealer support all over. Long service intervals. On our 9K mile trip last summer we needed to change oil around Roanoke Valley area. I'm on a '16 RT and my brother is on a '15 FJR which he always says is his favorite bike of all time, previously was 2002 K1200RS, and another ~400,000 miles on other BMW's, mainly RTs. We stopped at a BMW shop there and they would not honor our request to allow us to change oil somewhere on site, parking lot etc, and we assured them we had methods that would guarantee zero spill. The said no way. So on to the Yamaha shop and they said sure no problem here are some rags if you need them the the used oil goes here.

It was a close match for me between RTLC and FJR and in the end I liked the total riding experience better on the RTLC, but clearly the engine/transmission/FD on the Yamaha is rock solid. I was surprised to see Honda go single-sided swing arm for 2018 GW. It is easy to think having the axle connect both sides of the frame it is going to be more robust in terms of stability from all the various forces involved compared to single-sided.
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post #7 of 10 Old Nov 2nd, 2017, 10:02 am
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

How is it possible that an electrical failure could cause a total brake failure on any motor vehicle? The brake systems are hydraulic and with the exception of the ABS system and so forth, an electrical system failure should not cause a total brake failure (no stopping). I just don't understand how this is possible unless there is a loss of hydraulic fluid in the system. Low hydraulic pressure could be caused by an electrical system failure (pump or the like) but one would still have some braking power.

I routinely move my bikes around all the time with the ignition off which confirms that they are independent of the electrical system. Seems to me this would be a safety feature that would be built into any motor vehicle.

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post #8 of 10 Old Nov 2nd, 2017, 12:19 pm
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

I am going to venture into something they call a SWAG. Seriously Wild Ass Guess. I am not very familiar with the ABS on the k1600GT but know the fundamentals. This might have been a combination failure. With the bad/intermittent front sensor and a bad modulator in conjunction. If the sensor failed at the same time as the modulator possibly locking up in the modulated position, the brake handle might go soft or go much closer to the handle. I am not sure the modulator can fail in that particular way though. If the ABS thought the front had locked up or was sliding, it would engage the modulator. If the modulator had failed like mentioned, it would take a few squeezes to regain pressure enough to stop.

Other than being with some of the others on here about being more cautions with a known brake issue, you said the brake lever was nothing but air. Does that mean the lever went all the way to the bars or just didn't stop when you felt pressure expecting normal braking? With no apparent leak of fluid, the modulator is the only thing that could alter brake line pressure.

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post #9 of 10 Old Jan 26th, 2018, 10:46 am
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

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Originally Posted by bmwcoolk1200 View Post
I am going to venture into something they call a SWAG. Seriously Wild Ass Guess. I am not very familiar with the ABS on the k1600GT but know the fundamentals. This might have been a combination failure. With the bad/intermittent front sensor and a bad modulator in conjunction. If the sensor failed at the same time as the modulator possibly locking up in the modulated position, the brake handle might go soft or go much closer to the handle. I am not sure the modulator can fail in that particular way though. If the ABS thought the front had locked up or was sliding, it would engage the modulator. If the modulator had failed like mentioned, it would take a few squeezes to regain pressure enough to stop.

Other than being with some of the others on here about being more cautions with a known brake issue, you said the brake lever was nothing but air. Does that mean the lever went all the way to the bars or just didn't stop when you felt pressure expecting normal braking? With no apparent leak of fluid, the modulator is the only thing that could alter brake line pressure.
+1 on the SWAG. I'm under the impression the later LT's, 1600's are all 'brake by wire'...if the pump ain't runnin you aint stoppin real well. Maybe this was a non running pump & something else & wallah no brakes. Thankfully you were not hurt!
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post #10 of 10 Old Sep 23rd, 2018, 9:08 pm
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Re: K1600GT TOTAL BRAKE FAIL

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Originally Posted by WillH View Post
How is it possible that an electrical failure could cause a total brake failure on any motor vehicle? The brake systems are hydraulic and with the exception of the ABS system and so forth, an electrical system failure should not cause a total brake failure (no stopping). I just don't understand how this is possible unless there is a loss of hydraulic fluid in the system. Low hydraulic pressure could be caused by an electrical system failure (pump or the like) but one would still have some braking power.

I routinely move my bikes around all the time with the ignition off which confirms that they are independent of the electrical system. Seems to me this would be a safety feature that would be built into any motor vehicle.
My SWAG: on ABS vehicles, brake fluid is routed through the ABS solenoid... and this solenoid is electrically controlled. No?
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