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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I'm a noob that just got a 2004 K1200LT from my uncle. I asked him if the FD had ever gone out on it and he told me he had it replaced after only 200 miles (he bought it new on'04). I thought that sounded wierd so today I called the dealer where he bought it to check on maintinance records etc. and they confirmed that they replaced his FD after the first 223 miles because it came from the factory with no oil. The tech said it was a first for him in over 32 years! Anyway- just a good story. Love the bike and thanks to all the tech info from you gurus!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That would be a shame! Do you think the new final drive they put on would have been one of the new "fixed" FD's?? Not sure when they started building FDs with the better bearing????
 

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Not bad for no oil, presuming it (the FD unit) would have been assembled with just lube here and there. I make it 179,500 wheel revs, which is 522,345 pinion revs and approximately 6.5 operating hours if the average speed was 55 Kph. great stuff that oil, makes all the difference ! Thanks to the many Dinosaurs who gave their lives so we could indulge in the pleasures of motorcycling.
 

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DrSuess said:
That would be a shame! Do you think the new final drive they put on would have been one of the new "fixed" FD's?? Not sure when they started building FDs with the better bearing????
There is no "better bearing".
2004 is pretty much past the plume of crownwheel bearing failures which were most likely caused by improper preload shim thickness. Odds are that is a good FD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
CharlieVT said:
There is no "better bearing".
2004 is pretty much past the plume of crownwheel bearing failures which were most likely caused by improper preload shim thickness. Odds are that is a good FD.
Cool! Thanks for the info. Just remembered they also gave him a $300 gift certificate along with the new FD. Pretty nice gesture I guess...
 

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DrSuess said:
Hello,
I'm a noob that just got a 2004 K1200LT from my uncle. I asked him if the FD had ever gone out on it and he told me he had it replaced after only 200 miles (he bought it new on'04). I thought that sounded wierd so today I called the dealer where he bought it to check on maintinance records etc. and they confirmed that they replaced his FD after the first 223 miles because it came from the factory with no oil. The tech said it was a first for him in over 32 years! Anyway- just a good story. Love the bike and thanks to all the tech info from you gurus!!
One would thing that checking ALL fluid levels would be part of the dealer prep before the bike was sold! Not excusing BMW, but I think the dealer owns half the blame here also.
 

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In the BMW service & repair manual there is actually a pre-delivery section. I'll check tonight to see if there is a specific point addressing fluid level checks. I would think there should be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Voyager said:
One would thing that checking ALL fluid levels would be part of the dealer prep before the bike was sold! Not excusing BMW, but I think the dealer owns half the blame here also.
I asked him about a pre-delivery check and he said they don't do one.
 

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Late 2002 and 2003 and early 2004 had changed to a different bearing. I can't say if it was better or worse but also that time the was a drop in failures. Then they changed back, not sure when exactly.
 

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mwnahas said:
Late 2002 and 2003 and early 2004 had changed to a different bearing. I can't say if it was better or worse but also that time the was a drop in failures. Then they changed back, not sure when exactly.
The change to the French 17 ball bearing occured around the time that the drop in failures started, but that bearing wasn't the "fix".

When the "plume" FD crownwheel bearing failures on the early model year bikes first became evident BMW changed from the German made 19 ball bearing to a French made 17 ball bearing. The "new" bearing had a different part number and the price was significantly more in the BMW parts system (Approx $130 vs $85). After a while BMW went back to the German made bearing.

Anyone outside BMW know why this change was made? Probably not.

Lots of speculation on this board as to why BMW went the the French 17 ball bearing:

One idea suggested was: One of the first things noticed about failed bearings was that the retainer was broken and retainer shards tore the seal causing lube leak. The theory was that fewer balls made more room for bigger, stronger retainer. This theory is probably incorrect, the retainer really isn't beefier in the 17 ball bearing, and the retainer failure wasn't a primary cause anyway. The retainer fails secondary to stresses placed on it due to breakdown of the balls and races. My theory, pretty well substianted at this point, is that excess preload shim thickness causes ball and race degradation, which then leads to retainer failure.

Another theory was that BMW suspected a batch of defective bearings and went to a different supplier.

Another theory was that with all the failing bearings, supply from the German bearing manufacturer couldn't keep up and BMW went to a different source.

No one really knows, take your pick of the above theories, or formulate your own. ;)

We don't know that BMW ever actually assembled a FD with the 17 ball French bearing at the factory. Lots of people assumed that they did because that bearing was in the BMW parts supply system; I've never seen or hear of a BMW factory assembled FD with the French 17 ball bearing.

BMW did figure out that having dealerships just replace a failed bearing with another one didn't work for long. After a point in time, folks who experienced a FD failure learned that the dealership wouldn't fix it; the failed drive was shipped back to Germany and a few FD was installed.

There are many fewer 17 ball bearings in FDs out there and I don't have a sense of the failure rate, probably no one does. I rebuilt a few FDs with the 17 ball bearing, and I've seen at least one failed 17 ball bearing.

If I am correct in believing that excess bearing preload shim thickness is the primary cause of most crownwheel bearing failures, and failed drives were rebuild with a 17 ball bearing without checking for proper preload, the 17 ball bearing will perform no better than the 19 ball bearing.

I suspect that BMW switched back to the German bearing as soon as they could. I imagine the folks at BMW swallowed hard when they first subsititued a French bearing for their German one. :histerica

17 ball French bearings are probably still available in the supply departments of dealerships with slow turnover. I once decided to order a bearing from a dealership other than my usual supplier, and they wanted to sell me the "new and improved" bearing for $130, this was years after BMW had switched back to the German 19 ball bearing.
 

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Curtis, the retainer being referred to, I assume is the cage. That being the case I can add the following if it helps - cage materials include pressed steel, machined brass, polyamide and a host of other plastic and composite derivatives specially made to cope with extreme speeds, heat and resistance to some PAO oils. That said, the purpose of the cage is mainly to accurately and reliably separate the rolling elements, can also have some bearing on lubrication characteristics. The cage is not intended to be a structural part of the bearing in regard to taking loads etc. The forces it must cope with are mainly acceleration forces during start-up and rapid speed changes (increase/decrease) and in some cases where design is incorrect, the cage must cope with constant partial acceleration as rolling elements enter and leave the loaded zone (in a skidding phenomenon). The other application requiring special cage design is shaker screen bearings where intentional imbalance exists and inertial forces are very high (outer ring guided and inner ring riding cages). On the issue of more/less rolling elements, in this case balls, that is mostly down to load carrying capability of any bearing, an issue the BMW FD would not come close to (design check could verify). I think you will have found failures of both bearing types (17 & 19 ball) if the preload was excessive. Hope this helps, Dennis.
 

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Fritz married a lovely French girl who happened to work at a bearing factory, owned by her uncle Francois.
They later divorced and Fritz cut all ties with the French, thus the return of the German bearing.

Hey, it could happen.
 

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Bearings that are relatively rare (and this one is) are made in production batches & inventoried by the manufacturer. I would suspect that it was simply the French turn to make that bearing. There may have been some fiddling with the cage details in someone's mind too.
 

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K100Dennis said:
Curtis, the retainer being referred to, I assume is the cage. That being the case I can add the following if it helps - cage materials include pressed steel, machined brass, polyamide and a host of other plastic and composite derivatives specially made to cope with extreme speeds, heat and resistance to some PAO oils. That said, the purpose of the cage is mainly to accurately and reliably separate the rolling elements, can also have some bearing on lubrication characteristics. The cage is not intended to be a structural part of the bearing in regard to taking loads etc. The forces it must cope with are mainly acceleration forces during start-up and rapid speed changes (increase/decrease) and in some cases where design is incorrect, the cage must cope with constant partial acceleration as rolling elements enter and leave the loaded zone (in a skidding phenomenon). The other application requiring special cage design is shaker screen bearings where intentional imbalance exists and inertial forces are very high (outer ring guided and inner ring riding cages). On the issue of more/less rolling elements, in this case balls, that is mostly down to load carrying capability of any bearing, an issue the BMW FD would not come close to (design check could verify). I think you will have found failures of both bearing types (17 & 19 ball) if the preload was excessive. Hope this helps, Dennis.
Thank you, Dennis! I had tried to make the same point about the function of the retainer in the past, and I am not sure that I had managed to convince many people..
 

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K100Dennis said:
In the BMW service & repair manual there is actually a pre-delivery section. I'll check tonight to see if there is a specific point addressing fluid level checks. I would think there should be.
Negative - Coolant, Transmission and Final Drive are not on the lsit.
 

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Krekt. Smack fingers of someone in the factory ! So much for QA systems, I bet the old tick and flick method had kicked in on that one.
 
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