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"Is the recommendation for Dot 5.1 agreed by all? Or do I use the Dot 4?"

Oh boy! Now you've done it. I suspect this may descend into a debate about preferred brake fluid depending upon whether you use synthetic or mineral engine oil and what brand/model tire you have.

Just one man's opinion, but if the manual says DOT 4, that's what I'd use. DOT 5.1 may be a marginally higher performance fluid but I have never heard of a case where the difference between 4 and 5.1 mattered to a street rider of a well maintained bike.
 

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Always stick to what the brake cover reads. Moving to a different number not specifically mentioned by the OEM can cause a lot of problems. Brake fluid is cheap. Stick with the number on the master cylinder.
 

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I would stay with DOT 4 unless you need the higher boiling point of DOT 5.1. ie you race or use your brakes a lot. It has the same service interval anyways.
 

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My 2014 R1200RT-LC says DOT4.
So that's what goes in......no experimenting.
 

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I have never used DOT 5.1. I understand that it's the improved version of DOT 4 in areas of high temperature tolerance, if my memory serves. I feel that DOT 4 is quite fine, especially if you do flush the fluid on the recommended 2 years interval. Just make sure that you do NOT use DOT 5 fluid! DOT 5 is a silicone-based fluid, and from what I have read, if used in a DOT 4 system, it can damage the system (probably the seals).
 

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NOT Dot 5.
Your manual recommends Dot 4.
Dot 4 and Dot 5 are NOT compatible.
SO...
Dot 4 OK!

170769
 

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Just to let you know the ultimate....
My dad bought a Packard new in 1955, one of the last. Our family still has it. It is 65 years old.
About 30 years ago we noticed the brakes were getting a little weak.
None of us had the time or inclination to work on it so it just sat in the garage. About 15 years later it got driven but had no brakes, so back into the garage for another 10 years. Finally my brother decided to work on it and checked the brake fluid and the fluid in the reservoir had turned to the consistency of dry grey clay.
It required all new brake parts. Not easy to do on a car that had been out of production so long.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Just to let you know the ultimate....
My dad bought a Packard new in 1955, one of the last. Our family still has it. It is 65 years old.
About 30 years ago we noticed the brakes were getting a little weak.
None of us had the time or inclination to work on it so it just sat in the garage. About 15 years later it got driven but had no brakes, so back into the garage for another 10 years. Finally my brother decided to work on it and checked the brake fluid and the fluid in the reservoir had turned to the consistency of dry grey clay.
It required all new brake parts. Not easy to do on a car that had been out of production so long.
In 65 years time I will be very old, very dry and Very grey and a bit clay-like. I’m already 70 for God’s sake. I don’t think I’ll get to 135 - nor will my RT. Luckily my DNA will still be in production - if a little changed. A lovely story based on the idea that no one can arsed to do a brake fluid flush when it’s needed......mmm.
 

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In 65 years time I will be very old, very dry and Very grey and a bit clay-like. I’m already 70 for God’s sake. I don’t think I’ll get to 135 - nor will my RT. Luckily my DNA will still be in production - if a little changed. A lovely story based on the idea that no one can arsed to do a brake fluid flush when it’s needed......mmm.
LOL
I like your style (y)

Your brake system isn't going to fall apart tomorrow because you didn't flush your brakes.
When you get a bit of time and you feel so inclined, have a go, otherwise in the next 6 months or so take it to a dealer and let them do it. It's normally not that expensive and that's a headache gone for another 2 years (or more).
You are on a forum where we all like to help resolve problems and encourage each other to do all kinds of work on our bikes ourselves. So the tendency is always to "push" others to "go for it" (that's a good thing). This can sometimes appear to pressure people into something that they might not feel comfortable about.

Now when everybody suggests that the job is easy.......sorry guys..no it is NOT.
Let me clarify
Get air in the system and you can be in a world of hurt. There have been more then just few who have run into that problem and spend a lot of frustrating time and anguish until it was finally resolved. I even know of a direct case where my brother in law did his wife's bike and got somehow air into the front brake system (a none ABS Suzuki). It took close to two weeks until it was resolved (and a very angry wife). Every time they thought it was fixed she would take it for a short ride and come back telling them that the brakes were still spongy on which he would take it for a run just to come back with a long face and start all over again. In the end we had 3 guys (all long term bikers having done their own maintenance/repairs, working on it.
It became quite a circus and a few of us were starting to turn this into an amusement event as we would sit on their balcony with a cold beer and watch the spectacle, with of course our expert opinions thrown in and lots of encouragement while snickering behind our hands.
To be honest, most of us were a bit disappointed when it was finally resolved and the show was over.
Why was it so funny? My brother in law owns with my father in law an engine recondition/engineering business and they are hands on. They are bikers and wrenchers through and through, while the brother in law is also a fully qualified Diesel mechanic...and they race bikes LOL:LOL:
To add insult to injury...the wife declared very publicly that he will never touch the brakes on her bike again and if she needs any brake work done, she will take it to the dealership......ouch !!!
The above expirience is why the brakes were the one job I would always find an exuse not to tackle myself, plus the screw up my dealer did twice on two different BMW bikes of mine.

The second part why it is not as easy as others might make it sound.
Brake fluid!!!! That stuff is like liquid acid.

Until 5 years ago, I had the dealer do the brake flush. One of the reasons my bike won't see this specific dealer anymore is the brake fluid damage done first on my Hexhead and then on my new Wethead RT.
On the Hexhead, they managed to not put the top lid of the front reservoir on correctly and caused brake fluid damage to the paint of the reservoir and the entire assembly. This turned into a real shit fight as I forced them into replacing the entire right hand assembly. Every painted metal part and every piece of plastic was damaged from the brake fluid.

Enter stage two.
The Wethead needed the brakes flushed after the 1st year as per manual.
Yep,, they did it again. Didn't properly clean up all the brake fluid and I had damage on multiple plastic parts which I insisted of having replaced as the bike was just 6 months old and in pristine condition.

So having finally done it myself it took me most of the day (5~6 hours). That included replacing all Bleeders with Speed Bleeders (best thing ever..thanks for the suggestion PadG). Removing the old bleeders that must have been tightened with a crow bar by the dealer (I am amazed that they didn't snap them off). Thoroughly cleaning the working area with soapy water (just use car wash shampoo) and a long bristle brush during the job followed by copious amount of water out of a bottle as I finished each stage. Then followed by a thorough bike wash with particular attention paid to the brake areas and the wheels.
I am about to do the brakes on my wife's bike today.....
 

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I suppose I am thinking ‘can I leave it to next year and have BMW do it?’. I do most things on the bike just haven’t done the brakes - abs system and kit looks a bit complicated.

If you're not riding to the extreme...track days or heavy traffic riding 2-up or lots of canyon carving without using the gears... and it doesn't sound like you are, just let BMW change it at the end of the riding season.

Riding it is better than sitting because the moisture gets moved around the system a little. When it sits in one place, you get corrosion...You don't want that in ABS pumps.

BMWs have teflon lines now. Since that change, the interval changed from 1 year to 2 years.

If you store the bike indoors, it's better. Moist conditions mean quicker absorption of water.

I do a lot of my own maintenance but I let BMW do the brakes...on schedule. These ABS pumps are pricey.

Here's a tip I hope and doubt you never need.... If your brake fluid boils during a hard stop, your lever will go down all the way and the bike will not stop. PUMP, PUMP, PUMP and the brakes will come back. If you KNOW this, you will react in the right way. This usually happens when you need brakes badly and don't have a lot of time to think...so drill it into your brain.
 

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"Is the recommendation for Dot 5.1 agreed by all? Or do I use the Dot 4?"

Oh boy! Now you've done it. I suspect this may descend into a debate about preferred brake fluid depending upon whether you use synthetic or mineral engine oil and what brand/model tire you have.

Just one man's opinion, but if the manual says DOT 4, that's what I'd use. DOT 5.1 may be a marginally higher performance fluid but I have never heard of a case where the difference between 4 and 5.1 mattered to a street rider of a well maintained bike.

AGREE. DOT 4 DO NOT MIX DOT 5.anything with DOT 4.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Wise advice from everyone. Thank you all. I decided to let CW Motorcycles (sadly no longer a designated BMW sales centre - don’t know why) with its 40 years of BMW experience to do this just to make sure it’s done properly. I’ll photograph around the brake reservoir so I have a record in case of potential spillage. I am sure they will be as careful as they are experienced. Fingers crossed. They will do it tomorrow, Saturday. It’s a nice ride there and back but nowhere safe to eat/drink while I wait. Ho hum, C-19 has changed the world.
 

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I decided to let CW Motorcycles (sadly no longer a designated BMW sales centre - don’t know why) with its 40 years of BMW experience to do this just to make sure it’s done properly.
From CW motorcycles:
"Our involvement in the sale and service of BMW bikes in Dorchester spans more than four decades and although we no longer offer new BMW bikes we are still currently authorised for BMW Service and Parts."

I had an email from them just this week explaining that BMW has granted them permission to continue as an official BMW Service centre even though they no longer sell new BMW's.
So Iscadean, you are fine!

I think CW motorcycles are the only outlet in the UK with permission from BMW to not sell bikes but be a fully accredited BMW motorcycle service centre (with all the kit, and know how).

I am still gutted that they no longer are BMW dealers. I have perused their Royal Enfield new stock and the finish on those bikes is appalling and match the price. The price is enticingly cheap, but the fit and finish is disgustingly cheap!
 

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Discussion Starter #37
From CW motorcycles:
"Our involvement in the sale and service of BMW bikes in Dorchester spans more than four decades and although we no longer offer new BMW bikes we are still currently authorised for BMW Service and Parts."

I had an email from them just this week explaining that BMW has granted them permission to continue as an official BMW Service centre even though they no longer sell new BMW's.
So Iscadean, you are fine!

I think CW motorcycles are the only outlet in the UK with permission from BMW to not sell bikes but be a fully accredited BMW motorcycle service centre (with all the kit, and know how).

I am still gutted that they no longer are BMW dealers. I have perused their Royal Enfield new stock and the finish on those bikes is appalling and match the price. The price is enticingly cheap, but the fit and finish is disgustingly cheap!
thanks Andy. The sad line up of Royal Enfields and the Covid-19 measures, signage and barriers did nothing to dispel my feelings of loss. However, CW did a great job today and what had been a bit spongey turned into a solid biting braking experience. The colour is now a transparent light yellow so it needed doing. I checked and it had been three years almost to the day since the last time. Thanks again to everyone here who helped me make that decision.
 
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Discussion Starter #38
Oh, and it was Dot 4.
 

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Good to hear that you got it done and seen a real improvement. Just done my wife's bike as well and her brakes improved. They are now a lot more direct.
 
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