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Discussion Starter #1
I want to start off by saying this bike is new to me and I have put less than 10 miles on it. I have been riding for about 30 years and have had over a dozen bikes and ridden over 100k miles so motorcycles, in general, are not new to me. However, 98% of my miles have been on sport bikes or dual sports weighing less than half of what the LT weighs and the LT is by far the largest bike I have owned. I am having trouble with smooth starts. It seems to require much more RPM than I am used to for it to not stall and the clutch doesn't want to feather very smoothly at all. The friction zone is very short, almost on/off with not much in between. I am unsure if it is just my inexperience with this size bike and it just naturally needs more juice to get going or if there is something wrong with it. The clutch was replaced 4 years ago and I doubt it has 5k miles on it. It just seems like the bike doesn't want to do a smooth, slow, controlled start. Once moving, it shifts like I would expect it to and there doesn't seem to be any issues with the clutch or transmission. I am sure I will get used to it and it is rideable, it just isn't as smooth as what I had envisioned the BMW flagship to ride like. I wouldn't expect my Ducati Superbike to launch smoother than an LT.
 

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Wrencher Extraordinaire
2005 K1200LT
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The LT does take some getting used to. I fried my first clutch at 40 k pulling a trailer and reving the engine too much to get started rolling so don't do that. I now make it a habit to not exceed 1500 rpm as I release the clutch until it is fully engaged, then I can hammer it. Just keep working at it in a parking lot and practice starts. Learn to feel the clutch as it does have a very small friction zone. When you feel it just start to grab just hold that clutch lever position until the bike starts rolling then ease it out the rest of the way. You will eventually get the hang of it. Very different from a wet clutch.

Once you get past that you will fall in love with the bike. By the way after the clutch is fully engaged just roll on the throttle in first gear and take it to all the way to 8,500 rpm (you will be at 62 MPH when you hit the rev limiter).
 

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What John said, but I also wonder if your bike is running well otherwise. My LT developed a hesitation during launch a few years after I bought it.

I initially thought it was E10 fuel as it began to act up about the same time as my last gas station went to E10. However, when I had my bike apart for its clutch repair, I did several things and one of them cleared up the hesitation. The trouble is I am not sure which thing fixed it as I did several things that could have potentially been the problem. THe hesitation made smooth launches really challenging as the engine would bog as soon as the clutch began to engage. Any further engagement would stall the engine. It felt like I had a 120 cc engine instead of a 1200 cc one. I had to slip the clutch and blip the throttle to get enough RPM to launch. Once the hesitation problem was fixed, launches became pretty much a non-event again.

The things I did that might have impacted the hesitation:

1. Fixed the very leaky crankcase ventilation hose.
2. Thoroughly cleaned the carbon and varnish from inside the throttle bodies.
3. Replaced the oxygen sensor.

Do you feel any bogging or sluggishness in the engine during clutch engagement?

The dry clutch may have a little less friction zone, but it isn’t that much different. I had only wet clutch bikes before the LT so I wasn’t sure what a wet clutch really felt like after 11 years on the LT. However, last year I bought a KLR650 and now alternate between the two fairly often, sometimes in the same day. I personally think the wet vs dry clutch issue is much ado about nothing. My LT launches as easily as my KLR. The biggest difference between the two is that the wet clutch will take more abuse as it is cooled by engine oil which will remove the heat a lot faster than the air cooling of a dry clutch, particularly when the air is in an enclosed cavity.
 
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Is this your first dry single plate clutch bike? Feel is very different than the usual multiple plated wet (or dry) clutches on most bikes. Ride it - you'll get the feel of it.
 

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I have to disagree with the other replies. I've never felt the clutch was "on-off" or in any way abrupt. It feathers fine and 1st gear take-offs for me are not unlike any other bike.

Here's my guess--you say the previous owner replaced the clutch 5 years ago. What are the chances the clutch fluid is 5 years old? And what are the chances the last time the clutch got bled was 5 years ago? Also, it's a 2002 right? What are the chances the clutch line is the original 17 year old rubber line?

So that's the first thing I'd do is service the clutch with a new line and fresh fluid. Just to eliminate that as a possible contributing factor. Once that's done, and you still have a problem, let's talk.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What John said, but I also wonder if your bike is running well otherwise. My LT developed a hesitation during launch a few years after I bought it...

Do you feel any bogging or sluggishness in the engine during clutch engagement?
I did not notice any hesitation but I will pay closer attention to that next time I take it out. It didn't feel like it had full power but I figured it was just because my last couple bikes were high-performance V-twins with almost unlimited torque and almost 4 times the power to weight ratio. If I let the clutch out easy enough I could take off without giving it any throttle.

Is this your first dry single plate clutch bike? Feel is very different than the usual multiple plated wet (or dry) clutches on most bikes. Ride it - you'll get the feel of it.
It is my first single clutch plate bike. Most of my bikes in the last 15 years were dry clutch but they were multi-plate.

What are the chances the clutch fluid is 5 years old? And what are the chances the last time the clutch got bled was 5 years ago? Also, it's a 2002 right? What are the chances the clutch line is the original 17 year old rubber line?
I bled the clutch a few weeks ago. I replaced all the fluids, filters, plugs, plug wires, brake lines, fuel lines, fuel quick connects, etc. I did not, however, replace the clutch line but it looked ok. I guess that is something I can look into doing and add to my list for the next time I take the tupperware off.

Thanks for your input everyone. Sounds like it is probably functioning ok and that I just need to put some miles on her and get used to the different style. It was just so much different from what I was expecting that I wanted to make sure that I didn't have a mechanical issue before I get into the prime riding season.
 

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My take on it is that first gear on the LT is a little tall and can take a little getting used to. I'm better at it now but still on the rare occasion will stall on take off. I have to admit that I hate hill starts.
 

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My take on it is that first gear on the LT is a little tall and can take a little getting used to. I'm better at it now but still on the rare occasion will stall on take off. I have to admit that I hate hill starts.
I agree on the too tall first gear. I wish BMW had made it about 30% shorter and second gear about 15% shorter and 5th gear about 10% or so taller. Going 40 in first gear is plenty. 61 is just ridiculous! >:)

Sure would make two-up touring a lot more pleasant in many circumstances.
 

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My take on it is that first gear on the LT is a little tall and can take a little getting used to.
+1 on this, high first gear ratio as evident with jzeiler's comment of a 62 MPH 1st gear!
 

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62mph = 100kph
Seems to me bmw was trying to achieve some performance mark for acceleration. Reaching 100kph without a shift drops a tenth of a second or so.

With some saddle time, you will acclimate to the clutch/throttle. The bike is heavy so intuitively you'll want to slip the clutch more, but it doesn't need it as long as you are patient on the take-off. After the clutch is released....have at it.
 
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+1 on this, high first gear ratio as evident with jzeiler's comment of a 62 MPH 1st gear!
That is for a normal LT - I have a custom ratio rear drive that is 2.82 to 1 (2,62 is stock) so I can only hit 57 in first gear now but my two up, trailer pulling, launches are better now.
 
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