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1994 K1100 LT

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Andrew_88, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. Hi there,

    Looking at buying a 94 K1100 LT, wondering if anyone here has one and what I should be looking for in a prospective purchase inspection / test, as I tend to fall in love quickly and ignore danger signs.

  2. I haven't owned a 16-valve K but I've had (still have) a brace of 8-valvers and a later R1100 so i've got a fair bit of general experience of the technology that went into them.

    BMWs of the era are robust, well engineered bikes without too many specific weak spots. The major mechanical components are all good for 400,000+ km given reasonable care and a modest amount of luck. Contrary to popular belief they are also easy to work on and, as long as you go to independent specialists like Munich Motorcycles, MotoHansa, Motobins etc. the spares prices are generally comparable to Japanese stuff. Some bits are cheaper, some are ball-shrinkingly expensive for no apparent reason, but that's generally stuff you don't usually need to buy, or can be substituted with much cheaper things.

    The 16-valvers got the excellent paralever rear suspension, which also eliminated the driveshaft//final drive spline which was the bete-noir of the 8-valvers if it wasn't lubed regularly, so that's one thing less to worry about. However, the suspension does have a lot of joints and linkages in it so listen for creaks and clunks and get the bike up on the centrestand (also vastly superior to the one on the earlier bikes) and give the back wheel a vigorous wiggle in all directions to feel for play. Although not part of a pre-purchase check, if you buy the bike I'd recommend making sure the rear wheel retaining bolts are properly torqued. I had the back wheel almost fall off my paralever equipped R due to neglect of this point by the previous owner.

    I assume the bike you're looking at has ABS. Make sure the brake discs are in good nick 'cos they're one of those ball-shrinking bits I mentioned. Also make sure the ABS warning light behaves itself, coming on and going off as it should as ABS bits in general aren't cheap. Do be aware, however, that a low battery can make the warning lamp stay on after a cold start. If so it should reset to OK after a bit of a run and a stop and restart with a bit more juice in the battery. If you get the chance on the test ride, try provoking the system to kick in by jumping on the brakes at ~20 kmh. You should feel it pulsing (it's quite primitive compared to modern systems but does work). Don't, however, try this if you're not confident of not dropping the bike if it doesn't work.

    Again, put the bike on its centrestand and run the engine at a fast tickover (that's what the "choke" lever is for) until the coolant gets good and hot and the fan kicks in. If it doesn't, it's seized and probably burnt its motor out. Replacement is a pain 'cos the fairing has to come off. Cost of a fan and motor was about $250 last time I did one, which sounds steep but, IIRC, was about comparable with the same component for a 250 Ninja at the time.

    While you're waiting for the temperature to come up, have a look at the combined water/oil pump housing under the front of the engine for leaks. Also keep an ear open for any misfires as the engine warms up. Ignition pick-ups can fail when they get warm. BMW want loadsamoney for replacements but I've discovered that Jaycar Electronics do identical opto-switches for $25 a pop so it's not the end of the world. Good bargaining point tho'.

    Older 8-valve Ks could develop a knock in the engine output gears which is a shitload of work to fix, requiring a major engine strip to reach them. I gather that later bikes don't get this so you should be OK.

    Oh yeah, don't worry too much about a bit of exhaust smoke after the bike's been on its sidestand. It's a function of the engine layout and "they all do that sir". It should, however, clear after a decent run.

    If you haven't ridden a BMW before, you will find the gearbox very clunky and awkward, with missed gears galore. This is normal and can be overcome by shifting firmly and deliberately, upon which the box will reward you with a lovely "mechanical" feel and reliable gear selection. Beware anything with massive lever travel though. If your ankle won't articulate far enough to get the next gear there's a problem.

    The other riding experience which can be a bit odd for the BMW newbie is the very soft, underdamped feel of the forks (depending on which of several fork types is fitted). Again, this is normal, although could also be exaggerated by lack of recent fork oil changes. It feels weird at first but you quickly realise that it doesn't actually stop the bike from going pretty much exactly where you point it so you stop worrying about it. Or you can stick in aftermarket springs if it really bothers you.

    Bear in mind that BMWs require a certain amount of acclimatisation. Things like the indicator controls are awkward at first then, after a couple of weeks, you wonder why all bikes don't do it this way.

    That's about all I can think of in the way of specific checks. Treat the rest as you would any other used, watercooled bike with lots of accessories.

    Good luck with it.
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Winner Winner x 1
  3. You have received very solid advice above, all I can add for a 16v K bike is check the clutch. If it slips it's a big job to replace. The hole in the bottom pf trans case will show oil if the rear main seal is leaking, this is another big job and can also lead to a contaminated clutch so if it leaks, fix it ASAP.
  4. About the only thing I can add is that K bikes aren't real BMWs :p
  5. I have a R as well ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Wow thank you very much for such a comprehensive reply PatB, I very much appreciate it! It's a '94 with 73,000kms on the clock. Fingers crossed that it is ok when I get to see it in the flesh!

  7. 73,000kms.. it is barely broken in..
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Seriously, it'll continue to get faster and smoother for at leavinleast another 100, 000 :D.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Good luck, and top marks Pat for yet another informative and amusing resume of the device!!

    (If you want to be REALLY entertained, look up Pat's thread on his ride back from Brisbane on his new URAL sidecar!!)
  10. That is like all things when maintenance is maintained.
  11. Ok, update -

    I've spoken to the bloke and identified a couple of seemingly minor electrical issues -

    1. The electric screen no longer works
    2. Both the fuel gauge and temp gauges play up

    He also mentioned that there is a slight clunk sound from the engine when the bike first kicks over however it disappears when it warms up.

    He's had the bike for ten years and only done a few hundred kms each years at most.

    It was originally a Police cycle, and being a Police officer (ironically looking at an ex Police cycle) I know that wiring gets played around with left, right and centre when they enter and exit service so I dare say this may play a role in the electrical issues, however the extent to which it has been played around with may impact upon a resolution to them I guess.
  12. None of those sound terminal. The gauge wiring is not especially complex and so shouldn't be too hard to trace and fix as necessary. Not sure about the electric screen on the K, but when I had a bout of "screen-not-going-up-and-down-ness" on my R, it turned out to be dirty contacts in the switch. Inevitable really, as it's a control that doesn't get used that often and the contacts come together by pressure rather than a wiping motion and so don't self-clean. Not saying that's what's happened on yours but it's quite likely.

    An engine "clunk" is difficult to diagnose without hearing it. However, if it doesn't continue when warm it seems unlikely to be something like the output gears. Could be normal (as noted above, I'm not fully qualified on 16-valvers), could be throttle bodies in need of a balance, could be something else.
  13. You Gentlemen are far too good. Thanks you for the advice, I will see how i go with it and no doubt become a regular on here when I get her!