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Thanks for the re-assurance guys. I'm struggling as to whether I'm going ahead with this or not. This appears to be the right bike for the kind of riding that I do (that, and it's so pleasing to the eye).

The question is... "does properly setting the preload result in the longevity that should be expected"? Is there any anecdotal, or otherwise, information that points to evidence that this potential problem can be corrected with proper assembly, and an extended service life of the unit be gained?

I'm hoping that CharleyVT might shed some light on the success rate that he has had after many rebuilds.

Thanks again folks, oh... and G'Day!
FS
 

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Discussion Starter #42 (Edited)
FatStrat said:
...The question is... "does properly setting the preload result in the longevity that should be expected"? Is there any anecdotal, or otherwise, information that points to evidence that this potential problem can be corrected with proper assembly, and an extended service life of the unit be gained?.....
Okay, here we go again, but since you asked.....:histerica

My well considered conclusion is that K1200LT final drive failures are a result of assembly and/or manufacturing errors, not a failure of the basic design of the drive.

In my opinion a preemptive rebuild makes the most sense for early model bikes, 99-03 since those are the bikes that had most of the crown wheel bearing failures. 2005s are worth looking into because of the incidence of the spun tapered roller bearing in this year group. Also, once I started routinely looking for the creeping input pinion needle bearing race, I realized that is a fairly common finding, but doesn't result in catastrophic failure that often and not until relatively high mileage; this isn't a problem that I would open a drive to look for specifically, but any time a final is opened the creeping input pinion needle bearing race should be checked for.

My personal experience with rebuild success isn't as good an indication of the value of a preemptive rebuild as is the information that was garnered over several years from good folks on this board who are professional mechanics or mechanical engineers and in some cases were both professional mechanics and mechanical engineers during their careers. The mechanical engineers were unanimous in one central fact: excess pre-load on the crown wheel bearing will lead to premature failure. This information combined with my observation that virtually all final drives with failed crown wheel bearings were found to have excess pre-load led to the conclusion that excess pre-load was the central factor in premature failure.

I should try to recall all the folks who contributed to this effort over the years. The problem with a list like this is that some folks will be left out, so with the caveat that this list is not all inclusive, and apologies to those omitted, here some of the contributors to the effort to understand final drive failures, in no particular order: dshealy, dman, realwing, saddleman, jzeiler, K100Dennis, neil_peterson. Thanks to all those who took the time so share their knowledge and experience in thoughtful posts on the subject.

(To those lesser contributors, the shoot from the hip gunsmith who was going to build a better bearing in his gun shop, and all other "better bearing" builders, to those who would convert the K1200LT to chain drive, etc., thanks for the entertainment. :histerica )

Of the 50 or so final drives I have rebuilt, I know of only one that went on to fail again. It was off an RT, not a K1200LT. While I don't know why this final drive went on to a repeat crown wheel bearing failure I would not interpret it as an indication that proper rebuild does not improve the future longevity of a drive. I suspect I must have done something to damage the bearing during assembly; the rebuild of this particular drive is lost in my memory, but during my learning curve I had occasion to get a crown wheel bearing jammed in the cover due to misalignment during final assembly and this could have caused micro-stress to the bearing setting the stage for failure. The rider of that RT was understanding, stated that he was an Iron Butt rider and rode his bikes hard, however, I do not think riding habits caused the repeat failure; when rebuilding this RT final drive the second time, the pre-load setting did not need changing.

In my opinion, if a K1200LT final drive preemptive rebuild didn't cost time or money, it would always be worth doing; consider it like maintenance work in aviation. Rather than the "don't fix what isn't broken" approach, in the case of early model K1200LTs I consider a preemptive rebuild to be preventative maintenance.

The decision to rebuild is like buying any insurance policy, what do you consider your risks are? If you always ride close to home your risk is different than if you are planning a long trip where a vacation could be ruined by loss of days, money, and hassle.

No doubt there are brands and models of motorcycles out there with better reliability reputations, but remember that the vast majority of K1200LTs are problem free. People post where there are problems, not when things are going fine. And for those of us who love the K1200LT, there still is nothing out there that compares in comfort and performance in a long distance touring motorcycle. The K1200LT is a classic and remarkable work of engineering, and it still has no peer in its class.

Hope this helps in your decision making.

Addendum: If you have found a low mileage 2005, at the right price I say jump on it. ;)
If I found a 2005 locally with low mileage, I'd consider upgrading my 2000 to an 05.
 

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Hi, Bob. In my humble opinion, I believe you are over-thinking this.You do hear a lot about FD problems, but that's because the people talking about it on this forum are ones that either have the problem, or ones that are helping the guys that have the problem. The reality is that the highest rate I've seen here is a 4% failure rate, and that was in the early models. Your model comes after the initial bloom of failures, so its probably way less than that. Of course, there's always a risk of something going wrong. The only bike that never has a problem is one that never leaves the garage. But give me 96% or better odds of having no problems on a low mileage '05 bike that is heads and shoulders above any other bike out there of its type (again, my humble opinion!), and I'll take that every time - the reward far out-weighs the risk.
 

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CharlieVT said:
Okay, here we go again, but since you asked.....:histerica

My well considered conclusion is that K1200LT final drive failures are a result of assembly and/or manufacturing errors, not a failure of the basic design of the drive.

In my opinion a preemptive rebuild makes the most sense for early model bikes, 99-03 since those are the bikes that had most of the crown wheel bearing failures. 2005s are worth looking into because of the incidence of the spun tapered roller bearing in this year group. Also, once I started routinely looking for the creeping input pinion needle bearing race, I realized that is a fairly common finding, but doesn't result in catastrophic failure that often and not until relatively high mileage; this isn't a problem that I would open a drive to look for specifically, but any time a final is opened the creeping input pinion needle bearing race should be checked for.

My personal experience with rebuild success isn't as good an indication of the value of a preemptive rebuild as is the information that was garnered over several years from good folks on this board who are professional mechanics or mechanical engineers and in some cases were both professional mechanics and mechanical engineers during their careers. The mechanical engineers were unanimous in one central fact: excess pre-load on the crown wheel bearing will lead to premature failure. This information combined with my observation that virtually all final drives with failed crown wheel bearings were found to have excess pre-load led to the conclusion that excess pre-load was the central factor in premature failure.

I should try to recall all the folks who contributed to this effort over the years. The problem with a list like this is that some folks will be left out, so with the caveat that this list is not all inclusive, and apologies to those omitted, here some of the contributors to the effort to understand final drive failures, in no particular order: dshealy, dman, realwing, saddleman, jzeiler, K100Dennis, neil_peterson. Thanks to all those who took the time so share their knowledge and experience in thoughtful posts on the subject.

(To those lesser contributors, the shoot from the hip gunsmith who was going to build a better bearing in his gun shop, and all other "better bearing" builders, to those who would convert the K1200LT to chain drive, etc., thanks for the entertainment. :histerica )

Of the 50 or so final drives I have rebuilt, I know of only one that went on to fail again. It was off an RT, not a K1200LT. While I don't know why this final drive went on to a repeat crown wheel bearing failure I would not interpret it as an indication that proper rebuild does not improve the future longevity of a drive. I suspect I must have done something to damage the bearing during assembly; the rebuild of this particular drive is lost in my memory, but during my learning curve I had occasion to get a crown wheel bearing jammed in the cover due to misalignment during final assembly and this could have caused micro-stress to the bearing setting the stage for failure. The rider of that RT was understanding, stated that he was an Iron Butt rider and rode his bikes hard, however, I do not think riding habits caused the repeat failure; when rebuilding this RT final drive the second time, the pre-load setting did not need changing.

In my opinion, if a K1200LT final drive preemptive rebuild didn't cost time or money, it would always be worth doing; consider it like maintenance work in aviation. Rather than the "don't fix what isn't broken" approach, in the case of early model K1200LTs I consider a preemptive rebuild to be preventative maintenance.

The decision to rebuild is like buying any insurance policy, what do you consider your risks are? If you always ride close to home your risk is different than if you are planning a long trip where a vacation could be ruined by loss of days, money, and hassle.

No doubt there are brands and models of motorcycles out there with better reliability reputations, but remember that the vast majority of K1200LTs are problem free. People post where there are problems, not when things are going fine. And for those of us who love the K1200LT, there still is nothing out there that compares in comfort and performance in a long distance touring motorcycle. The K1200LT is a classic and remarkable work of engineering, and it still has no peer in its class.

Hope this helps in your decision making.

Addendum: If you have found a low mileage 2005, at the right price I say jump on it. ;)
If I found a 2005 locally with low mileage, I'd consider upgrading my 2000 to an 05.

Thank you Charley for your in depth reply. The fact that only one FD that you rebuilt failed a second time speaks volumes. I interpret that as "you got something right that the factory got wrong".

Jim Snyder,
You're probably right that I'm over thinking this thing. At this stage of my life, this is probably going to be the last motorcycle that I will be buying. I want to get it right.
I've gotten alot of info from this forum lurking about. I've been scouring this place for two weeks with every free moment to get a feel of how you guys view your bikes. As a collective, it appears as though the overwhelming majority appreciate the machine.

Well...armed with this knowledge...just as soon as I finish this post, I'm off to negotiate a deal on a "Pristine" 05 LT. Wish me luck!

Thanks to all,

FS
 

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jmsnyder01 said:
Hi, Bob. In my humble opinion, I believe you are over-thinking this.You do hear a lot about FD problems, but that's because the people talking about it on this forum are ones that either have the problem, or ones that are helping the guys that have the problem. The reality is that the highest rate I've seen here is a 4% failure rate, and that was in the early models. Your model comes after the initial bloom of failures, so its probably way less than that. Of course, there's always a risk of something going wrong. The only bike that never has a problem is one that never leaves the garage. But give me 96% or better odds of having no problems on a low mileage '05 bike that is heads and shoulders above any other bike out there of its type (again, my humble opinion!), and I'll take that every time - the reward far out-weighs the risk.
I agree with you on most points. I don't let the risk of FD failure diminish my enjoyment of my 07 LT, even though it has been leaking oil from the FD boot for a year now. I will probably pull the FD this winter and take a look at it.

I place no credibility in the 4% number. It has been a while since I saw the origin of that number, but I recall thinking of the time that it was not based on much fact. I think only BMW knows what the failure rate really is/was. Regardless of the real number, the fact that we know about so many failures from this forum, from Iron Butt results, etc., clearly shows that this was a serious problem for BMW and LT owners.
 

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I am resurrecting this thread instead of starting yet another FD failure thread. I am concerned that my FD on my 2000 LT is heading down the path to failure and I was hoping that some of the experts could chime in and tell me if I am panicking needlessly or whether I should be removing it and sending it off for repair.

This FD oil change was done at ~37,100 miles and the fluid is just under 5,000 miles old. The first pic is the glop of stuff that was on the magnetic plug, there were no 'shavings' of any kind, just this silty, sludge of particles too small for my eye to resolve and my fingers to feel. Apparently I am not smart enough to get my pictures in the text so you'll have to view the attachments :( - See pic titled "5k drain magnet sludge".

Next is the fluid removed and placed in a clear glass container held up the the light of day to demonstrate opacity: see pic titled "5k fluid in jar".

I put a magnet on the side of the jar to let it set and attract any metal that was in the fluid, here is a pic some time later with a light shining on the other side of the jar showing the glob that had collected at the magnet: see pic titled "5k fluid accumulation"

and here it is removed from the side of the jar on my finger, same as the sludge that was on the drain magnet: see pic titled "5k accumulated sludge"

These pictures were about 500 miles later when I changed the FD fluid again just to see what was going on, same stuff just significantly less (obviously since 10% of the mileage): see pics titled "500mi drain plug" and "500mi drain on finger".

and a comparison of the 2 side by side, 500 miles on left, ~5,000 miles on right: see pic titled "500mi to 5k compare".

Finally, yet another piece of the happenings down in FD land, I am collecting an unknown (but suspected FD fluid) on the front lower arm thing on the FD, leaking out of the boot. I pulled back the boot to see which way it is coming from (those pictures didn't really come out well at all), and I am fairly confident that it is creeping forward from the direction of the FD, the shaft side that goes to the transmission was as dry as stale bread but there was a little residue on the FD side of the joint: see pic titled "Accumulating oil".

So hopefully I did not provide too much info but enough to provide for a reasonable diagnosis over the internet. The bike currently has 39,500 on the clock, was going to do another fluid change to add to this but I am so busy that hasn't happened yet so this is the info I have available.

Am I gonna live doc?!?
 

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Steve,


I see nothing in your text or photos that makes me think your drive is on the way out. A magnetic paste or suspended magnetic fuzz in the oil is quite normal for a low mileage drive.

If it was dark and the sediment that was not magnetic it would indicate a taper bearing spinning on the spigot. If there were shiny flakes on the magnet it would indicate a large ball bearing failure was imminent.

Now for the oil in the boot. It could be the pinion seal leaking but that is fairly benign and can be tolerated until it "flows" out. Best way to check for sure is to remove the drive from the swing arm for a better look.

All I see is normal gear wear. We will see what Curtis has to say.
 

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Hi everyone, i'm new to this forum
and to make along story short, i just had my first FD bearing failure.
and the way it's designed i doubt it would be the last,
so my questione is , has anybody thought about puttin a tapered rollerbearing
instead of the groved ballbearing on the crownwheel side.
i've been diggin in several FD on varius kind of cars and they all got tapered bearings
on both sides of the FD. so after open this one and see a single grove ballbearing
made me suspicius
i have already ordered new bearings ,
but i also ordered a tapered bearing. and i will try to make it work,
and if not, i'll go back to the standard bearings

so if anyone knows anything about why it's designed the way it is
and recomend me not to try a tapered bearing, because??

by the way the bike is a 2000 modell and done 45000 miles
 

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If you take the time and do your research here you will find that the design is fine but were missassembled at the factory with too much preload. This occurred mostly up to about mid 2002.

Yes others have looked at a taper bearing but this one is actually over designed for the loads. Also setting a proper preload for a large taper would be difficult at best given the case design.

The preload is there for the small taper bearing and if done correctly will not affect the large bearing. If done incorrectly too much preload will take out the large ball bearing. We have members here that have collectively re-build over 75 of these and the root cause for big bearing failure has always been over shimming by a factor of 2x. There are a couple of other failure modes such as the taper bearing spinning on the spindle, race creep on the pinion gear roller bearing, but they are rare.
 

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Just in case anyone (besides me) cares, to provide an update on my post #46 above, I drained the fluid that was in there at the time I made that post after about 1,000 miles of use and there was absolutely nothing to report. I would have posted a pic to show everyone but just go pour some brand new gear oil in a jar and you will see the same thing; nothing on the plug magnet either, and I mean nothing. Whatever was getting ground up in there is ground up and gone.

I refilled with Redline in order to try to diagnose the buildup of oil on my paralever arm, the thinking being red colored oil collecting in the boot and on the arm means it's coming from the back, gear oil color it's coming from the front. Well, that effort has been unsuccessful. I have 2,000 on the redline and so far there is nothing seeping whereas before I was collecting crud and oil residue in a few hundred miles. At the risk of starting an oil thread this could be the first time replacing dino with synthetic has stopped a leak rather than creating one :stir:

Before anyone asks, the rear was not previously overfilled, used the same baby bottle marked for the fillup so the quantity is equal in all fills. A cautionary note about the baby bottle refill method, if you have a baby, check with your wife before you commandeer a bottle for use to avoid the wrath that ensues from using the wrong bottle :eek:
 

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copperstatetour said:
Just in case anyone (besides me) cares, to provide an update on my post #46 above, I drained the fluid that was in there at the time I made that post after about 1,000 miles of use and there was absolutely nothing to report. I would have posted a pic to show everyone but just go pour some brand new gear oil in a jar and you will see the same thing; nothing on the plug magnet either, and I mean nothing. Whatever was getting ground up in there is ground up and gone.
Yup looks normal to me. :D Nice garage floor coating. :)
 

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Just left on holidays last Friday. Drove 5 hrs to Edmonton Alberta with my 2009 LT. IT HAS 27, 000 MILES Sounded like I had a flat tire Stopped to look and back wheel was covered in oil. Is that slapping noise I heard typical of a rear drive failure? Currently left it at the local dealer.
Garth
 

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jzeiler said:
If you take the time and do your research here you will find that the design is fine but were missassembled at the factory with too much preload. This occurred mostly up to about mid 2002.
Up to about mid 2002 Model year or manufacture year. Because 2003 bikes were actually made in 2002.

Just wondering if I need to be proactive and buy a 2004+ FD to have around just in case.
 

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timgray said:
Up to about mid 2002 Model year or manufacture year. Because 2003 bikes were actually made in 2002.
Not necessarily. My 2003 was built in 06/2003. Look at the nameplate for the build date.

I've also been pondering if I should do anything pre-emptively, but since I only have 14k miles on the clock I think I'll just ride on.
 

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There are some 2005 & newer years that have self destructed in less than 10,000 miles.
 

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I'm an R1200GS (2009, 40kMi) guy, but this LT forum seems to talk much more intelligently about FD issues than any of the GS sites.
My drive gave up the ghost 2 weeks ago. I pulled the FD apart and the grooved roller bearing cage was completely gone. There were only 15 balls (not sure what's standard on this bike). Crown and pinion gears look very good.
So I did all the disassembly and inspection, ordered the parts (all bearings, seals, o-rings; $280) and ready to reassemble. I just don't trust myself (or my local dealer - a little too pompous for my liking) to give me a better result than the original factory build.
CharlieVT (or others) - can you recommend a shop? I'm in CO but willing to ship it to a reputable mechanic.

One other question while I'm at it. My FD has a sealed bearing. Oil changes help lube the needle bearing and gears, but no impact on the grooved roller. Is the LT bearing open (i.e. lubed by the FD oil)? I would see no fuzz on my magnet if the bearing starts to degrade. At least not until the bearing fails and tears open the bearing seals.
 

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GaryEm said:
Both on this Forum saddleman or jzeiler they do a great job.
Thanks for the plug Gary but the 09 GS has an EVO rear drive. I have not been in those ..yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #59
VinCris said:
I'm an R1200GS (2009, 40kMi) guy, but this LT forum seems to talk much more intelligently about FD issues than any of the GS sites....
I just don't trust myself (or my local dealer - a little too pompous for my liking) to give me a better result than the original factory build....
CharlieVT (or others) - can you recommend a shop? I'm in CO but willing to ship it to a reputable mechanic....
One other question while I'm at it. My FD has a sealed bearing. Oil changes help lube the needle bearing and gears, but no impact on the grooved roller. Is the LT bearing open (i.e. lubed by the FD oil)? I would see no fuzz on my magnet if the bearing starts to degrade. At least not until the bearing fails and tears open the bearing seals.
Earlier GS models did have a FD which used the same bearing and setup as the K1200LT as did some RT models. Anyone with experience with the K1200LT FD will be familiar with the FD of these earlier GS and RT models.

However, later model GS's use the Evo drive with the hole in it. I don't know much about the Evo drives except to say I've heard they've had their share of problems.

I think you are correct to suspect the ability and reliability of BMW service depts. That's not to say that there aren't some excellent BMW shops, it's just hard to know which one's will do a good job.

I'd suggest calling these shops and ask if they'll do your Evo final drive. By reputation, they do good work:

Anton Largiader at http://www.largiader.com/
or
Tom Cutter at http://www.rubberchickenracinggarage.com/index.html
 

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CharlieVT - thanks for pointing me to some repair shops. Sorry to hijack the LT thread with a GS post. I contacted a shop in Utah and go this interesting response. Hope it is a worthwhile contribution to the conversation.


You are completely correct about the oil changes having absolutely nothing to do with that external bearing failure. We have been repairing those rear drives regularly, particularly with the Salt Lake City Police units which we are contracted to repair and maintain.. Our hypothesis concerning those units failing at a rate very much higher than out civilian customers has to do with washing. The officers have the bikes inspected for cleanliness, so they were taking them to the high pressure car washes and spraying the wheels to clean them. On those bikes we were seeing that water was getting into the bearings past the seals, resulting in the expected failure in short order.
This leads us to believe that some of the bearings had bad seals or were not packed well when they were manufactured. We think (please read the think part--this is just what we see) that most of the failures are due to low quality bearing seals or that during the assembly of the final drives these bearings might be heated too much to make them easier to install and therefore compromising the seals.
The Police bikes fail earlier, in our thoughts, because of the frequency of the attack washing. But, if the bearing on a bike that does not get this washing abuse is still damaged or defective it will just take longer before the failure shows up. The Police units often failed before 12,000 miles, but we suspect about the same number of washings as a civilian unit might get in 50,000 or more miles.
If the seal is compromised, even correct washing or just riding in the rain could introduce enough water and debris into the bearing to eventually make it fail.
Thus far, as the officers have been trained to not aim the washing sprays right at the final drive, we have seen a dramatic decrease in failures. But, the 2005/2006 civilian models are starting to fail as the mileages are getting up there and, if we are correct, the seals are simply not keeping the bad stuff out and the good stuff in.
Thus far, we have not had a single repeat failure on a hex head final drive that we have repaired. But, to be completely fair, the time/mileage lapse from our repair may simply not be long enough to have it show up again.
Ugg, final drives on BMWs. We thought the oil head one was a problem; I am afraid the new one is going to be much worse
Ron



On Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM, Cris wrote:
Ron and friends,

The grooved ball bearing on my ’09 failed last week at 40Kmi. I pulled it apart, cleaned and inspected it, and ordered new parts (bearings, seals, o-rings). But, now as I get ready to reassemble I’m seeing all kinds of forum chatter about the cause of these failures – in particularly the odds of a repeat failure. There seems to be a consensus that the shimming and bearing pre-load are critical. I don’t trust myself to do the job right. BMW did something wrong the first time, so I’m hesitant to trust my local dealer, too. I’m not even sure yet what “right” is.
What are your credentials and experience doing rebuilds on the 2nd generation EVO final drives? And, what would you charge to reassemble including the shimming process? What would it be if I reassemble and just had you do the shimming? I’d also appreciate an estimate on the turn around time.
One last question: there’s a lot of talk about regular oil changes to prevent this failure. But the bearing is sealed and I don’t see how FD fluid would affect its life. Am I missing something? (Not arguing that fluid changes are a bad idea, just that they can’t contribute to bearing health.)
 
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