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Discussion Starter #1
We all know of the problems of Final Drive failures on BMWs. The number of failures I have heard about is 4% (not my number). You'd think it would be much higher, after all the postings we've seen here. 4% is way too high anyway, in my opinion...

The burning question is, just how many HAVE there been? We can't tell!

Now, there is a simple way to ID yourself as one of the 4%, AND let your BMW Brethren know. Feel free to use this small image in your signature to proudly (?) mark yourself, and show the world! :eek:

 

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I helped you with that. :D
 

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And if you link the image in your signiture to this thread (as I think I have now managed to do), people will know what it is all about.

Although I have been unlucky and am on my 4th bearing, I do think people will talk more of problems than "had a good ride today and nothing went wrong", which I am sure is more often the case with this excellent bike.
 

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I think you are wrong

hallzee said:
We all know of the problems of Final Drive failures on BMWs. The number of failures I have heard about is 4% (not my number). You'd think it would be much higher, after all the postings we've seen here. 4% is way too high anyway, in my opinion...

The burning question is, just how many HAVE there been? We can't tell!

Now, there is a simple way to ID yourself as one of the 4%, AND let your BMW Brethren know. Feel free to use this small image in your signature to proudly (?) mark yourself, and show the world! :eek:

Without proper figures, I personally feel that to promote a number like 4% is wrong. I have heard figures from 1%-4% and all are anecdotal, not number / study generated. I feel that there is a problem and that BMW is not publicly acknowledging it, but to use a figure not accurate causes us to loose credibility.

Sometimes you have to exaggerate information to be heard and if this is your reason, I apologize up front. If you are trying to create controversy, you are going down the right path.
 

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This thread is proof that the hardest thing for people to give up is their suffering. Indeed, they need to flaunt it like a badge.
 

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rmg08057 said:
This thread is proof that the hardest thing for people to give up is their suffering. Indeed, they need to flaunt it like a badge.
I am not agreeing with the idea due to any 'suffering', merely a way of maybe showing how rare the problem actually is. Rare though it is, it is potentially serious. My bearings went at very low speeds. I would hate it to happen to anyone at a high speed.
We can't burry our heads and say it never happens, it does. Just rarely.
Its not a massive financial problem (not like replacing an ABS unit every couple years) so I don't see how it is 'suffering'.
If you only come across a handful of sigs with the logo, you can be assured that it is pretty uncommon.
Maybe the 4% bit should be dropped though.
Anyone got icons for an ABS unit and clutch drip ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
dandiver said:
Without proper figures, I personally feel that to promote a number like 4% is wrong. I have heard figures from 1%-4% and all are anecdotal, not number / study generated. I feel that there is a problem and that BMW is not publicly acknowledging it, but to use a figure not accurate causes us to loose credibility.

Sometimes you have to exaggerate information to be heard and if this is your reason, I apologize up front. If you are trying to create controversy, you are going down the right path.
I thought I said in my post that I was quite unsure of the accuracy of claiming 4%. I personally think that is a little high - but I have never had a FD fail on me in over 100,000 BMW miles. Now, if I'd had (or end up having) a FD failure, I may be inclined to believe 4%, given the volume of threads on the topic.

Not trying to create controversy. I would however like to know what the number really is; most likely we'll never really know. I thought this would be a little tongue-in-cheek way of poking a little fun at the subject. I mean, a week doesn't go by that there isn't some sort of post on this subject.

I personally don't worry about FD failure. If it happens, I'll deal with it, and keep on riding my LT. I will of course, attach the Icon to my signature!
 

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My Signature

Can't figure out how to get the rear end included as a part of my signature... Can you help with a little more instructions?
__________________
 

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RaffyK said:
Just a little research in archives ...

here

This was on the old bulletin board.
Raffy:

Did anyone endeavor to perform a statistical analysis of the responses?
 

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bibleman said:
Raffy:

Did anyone endeavor to perform a statistical analysis of the responses?
John Mckinley posted the attached on 9/4/04 - pretty sure this was the last analysis performed.
 

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dandiver said:
Without proper figures, I personally feel that to promote a number like 4% is wrong. I have heard figures from 1%-4% and all are anecdotal, not number / study generated. I feel that there is a problem and that BMW is not publicly acknowledging it, but to use a figure not accurate causes us to loose credibility.

Sometimes you have to exaggerate information to be heard and if this is your reason, I apologize up front. If you are trying to create controversy, you are going down the right path.
The 4% number that has been used on this forum for about 5 years has some basis in fact, but further explanation is necessary. In 2002 at the Curve Cowboy Reunion in Santa Fe, I moderated a question and answer session with the area rep for BMW, Tom Lawrence. That year we had a number (I believe it was 3) of failures of rear drives on bikes attending that event. I informed Tom of the failures and of our member's concerns and he promised to do some research prior to the BMW Q&A at that event. Tom provided two key data points: 1)The number of LT's sold in the US as of a certain date and 2) The number of total warranty claims referencing the rear drive as of that same date. The number of Lts sold at that time were in the mid 7000s and the umber of warranty claims was in the high 200s. I could find the exact numbers at home in my meeting notes. The number of filed warranty claims was just shy of 4% of the number of bikes sold as of that date. It seems to me the number was about 3.8%.

Here is the rub - warranty claims doesn't necessarily mean drive failures. As Tom explained it could be seal seepage, complaints about noise, driveline lash or any number of other complaints including failure. To say that BMW had experienced nearly a 4% failure rate would require that every warranty claim represented a failure. That simply is not the case. My non-scientific polling of several dealers after the fact indicated that only about half of the claims they made referencing the rear drive on the LT were for failure, the other half were not failure related. Many people, coming off of chain or belt drive motorcycles complain about driveline lash on shaft-driven motorcycles.

My personal feeling is that for the model years 1999-2001 the actual number of in-warranty rear drive failures was actually on the order of 1-2%. That is just my own feeling from having discussed this with 3 BMW area reps a couple of BMW marketing types and quite a few dealers. The odds of a 1999-2001 LT going 100,000 miles without the drive failing seem to be fairly slim, but there have been some. There also seemed to be a drop off of failures after BMW introduced the first bearing change for the 2002 model year, but there is absolutely no way to verify that or quantify the failure rates as I will outline next. Now 5 years after that CCR in Santa Fe we have even less ability to determine the actual failure rate for the following reasons:
  • Since that date we have never been provided with any data regarding the number of total units sold in the US.
  • We have never been given any data regarding specific numbers of in-warranty failures.
  • Any data we generate from polling has no relevance to the failure ratio without knowing the number of bikes sold in the US.

I speak with the service department of BMW of Denver on a very regular basis, and they were the supporting dealer at CCR 2004 in Breckenridge, CO. They say there have been very few failures of drives beginning with the 2002 model year. They have never seen a second failure on a bearing they have replaced, following the specific methodology for field replacement of the bearing and setup of the rear drive after bearing replacement. I am aware that some dealers do not follow the specific replacement and setup procedure and have had failures of replacement bearings.

There are a number of things we have learned from our polling - there is no absolute predictor of what year model might fail, at what mileage it might fail or any way to determine impending failure.

So, what does one do? I recommend riding it and enjoying yourself as much as possible because no amount of worrying, complaining or anything else you do will have no effect on whether you might or might not experience a failure. I have a total of nearly 100,000 trouble-free miles on 3 LTs, while others have seen rear drive failures before 10,000 miles. The new style rear drives are arguably much better than the older style used on the LT, but Joe Paulsey had one fail on his GT and there have been a handful of reported failures on R1200GS models. For what it is worth, Honda has seen a few failures in the drive units on all of its shaft-drive motorcycles. The new R1200s have been very reliable, but my new GS had a ring antenna failure in the middle of the Yukon Territory last month. After nearly 200,000 miles without a single failure on BMW motorcycles, I suppose I was due. What does a failure, in the middle of nowhere, on a brand new BMW do to my trust in the machine - absolutely nothing, I still absolutely love and appreciate the capabilities of that bike. I finished my trip without giving a second thought to potential failure. We ride these things because we enjoy them. To me, worrying about what might happen takes away from that joy. I am certainly not in denial, I was aware of the potential for ring antenna failure on the R1200GS, well before I left on a long journey last month. I am proactive about addressing the areas of potential problems whenever it is practical. I just choose to deal with problems as they occur, rather than hand-wringing about the possibility of failure. To that end, my sig line, which has been the tag line for this community since we started it - Just Ride It! - is how I roll.

Please understand than none of what I have written above, should in any way imply that I do not believe BMW had/has a problem of a higher than acceptable statistical chance of failure with the LT rear drive units. Nor do I fault anyone who feels like the risk of failure is greater than they are willing to bear. I am also concerned about the potential for injury in the perfect storm of a rear drive failure, causing a breach of the seal, dumping gear oil on the rear tire, while in a high speed turn. It hasn't happened, but it certainly could. That said, the risk of failure is not so great as to offset my desire to ride the motorcycles. Some say we enjoy a dangerous activity when we ride. I choose not to think of motorcycles as inherently dangerous, they are just unforgiving, much like aircraft. Be proactive in your maintenance, be predictive in your riding, be protective in your riding apparel - then enjoy the heck out of your motorcycle. The fact that we ride motorcycles at all probably makes us one per-centers.
 

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randy said:
Now 5 years after that CCR in Santa Fe we have even less ability to determine the actual failure rate for the following reasons:
  • Since that date we have never been provided with any data regarding the number of total units sold in the US.
  • We have never been given any data regarding specific numbers of in-warranty failures.
  • Any data we generate from polling has no relevance to the failure ratio without knowing the number of bikes sold in the US.
Good read, Randy. And just a thought to add, in relation to "the number of bikes sold in the US." In fact, wouldn't we also like to know what's happening to the 'over the pond' LT inventory, and their final drive failure experience. We don't hear of failures occuring there to the extent we do here (realizing the LT forum membership is predominantly skewed to the US). At any rate, lack of their data increases the likelihood that we will never determine the actual failure rate. Again, just a thought.
 

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Dick said:
Good read, Randy. And just a thought to add, in relation to "the number of bikes sold in the US." In fact, wouldn't we also like to know what's happening to the 'over the pond' LT inventory, and their final drive failure experience. We don't hear of failures occuring there to the extent we do here (realizing the LT forum membership is predominantly skewed to the US). At any rate, lack of their data increases the likelihood that we will never determine the actual failure rate. Again, just a thought.
This is very true, Dick. There have been some suggestions that the US and Australia experience a higher failure rate than European bikes, leading to conjecture that it is possible the bearings are somehow stressed in shipment to the US and Australia. The simple fact is that no matter what, without direct data from BMW, all we can do is guess.

I also believe the US data is all we could hope to get since BMW Motorrad USA is the warranty provider for bikes sold here, not BMW A.G. and would probably not be privy to the data outside of the US.
 

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Thanks Randy

I really do appreciate the time you took to reply and supply information as to where the figures came from. A simple thanks does not seem appropriate and I hope that maybe your information can be stored someplace for further review as I'm sure the question will come up again.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
+1 Randy! That's why I made that silly little graphic. We'll never know what the percentage of failures are, until we know exactly how many LTs have been sold, and how many FDs have failed. With all the posts on the subject, you'd think that an LT has a 50/50 chance of failure!

I was trying to illustrate that it's probably not as bad as some would think; which of course is just my guess since I have never had a failure. I don't wish to make a flippant remark, but if my LT has a FD failure after tens of thousands of miles, I'll deal with it, and move on.

Things break on performance vehicles...

Plenty of Newbies get on this site, and say, "Holy Sh**, what have I gotten myself into?" when they read about the negatives. I know I did - but between my 2 BMWs, I have over 100,000 "never been stranded before" miles. I decided that riding and worrying about something breaking was just stupid - so I don't do it any more.
 

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I think the statistics for RD failures are skewed due to the data only including warranty claims versus bikes sold. I think the failure rate is higher than 4% because of the number of failures that occur outside the warranty period, thus not included in the statistical base.
 
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