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BMW R1200RT clunky transmission & vibrating mirrors

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by MalM, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. #1 MalM, Apr 19, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
    Am asking for feedback from owners of 2014-2015-2016 models only please. Am newbie here, so hoping I'm posting in the right forum?

    Returned to riding 2yrs ago with a Yamaha VStar1100 Classic then swapped to Suzuki VStrom 650 ... both very different.

    Now seeking sports-tourer type & after a LOT of research have focused on the BMW R1200RT. ALL the reviews were excellent - it won more accolades /awards than .... BUT, took a 25k used 2014 version for a ride today and was VERY DISAPPOINTED :-( ... BUGGA

    Yes, it had all the balance, grace, handling, acceleration, braking, gismos, etc, etc, but the gear change /transmission was just AWFUL (even with shift assistant pro) , and the faring mounted mirrors vibrated showing only a blurred guesstimate of what was behind.

    I have since trolled the internet re these issues and found many American forums with similar comments, but no substantive solutions.

    So far, most of the clunkey gears analysis seems attributable to the wet clutch system in this bike ... ????

    Really? ... is this a BMW or not? I have ridden several but none had the grinding thump & lurch forward this bike had today. Downshifting was not much better.

    And the vibrating mirrors seems an experience inconsistent ... yes, mine do ... or, no, mine don't ...???

    I am now seeking comments & info from Aussie sources please.

    Thanks in advance, MalM

  2. These are an exceptional bike, and the awards are well deserved. Whilst I don't own the 14-15 RT, I did spend a week riding a brand new bike in NZ late last year, and one of my fellow travellers had a 14 with 50,000km on it, which I also rode.
    The transmission has gone from being a separate box with dry clutch on earlier models to integrated with the motor and wet clutch design. They have been clunky since the boxer was first ever made. Whilst they seem clunky compared to some Jap bikes, I find they are actually solid more than clunky, and the shift is positive.

    You would have ridden one with the Shift Assist Pro, so quickshifter, and it is important to know how to use it correctly. When clutchless upchanging, hard throttle, 1st-2nd will be a bit of a clunk, but from there to 6th, pretty smooth. The bigger issue is downshifting and you have to shift with zero throttle applied, or it becomes difficult under foot to shift, and it lurches as it changes. If you roll completely off the throttle and shift down, it will auto blip to rev match, and I found it to be impressively smooth and balanced through all gears down to 2nd (You never shift to 1st when moving anyway).

    I did not notice any mirror vibration, and I suspect they need tightening. These are very reliable, durable, well equipped and proven machines.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. I had a couple of earlier RTs and have also had great fun riding the newer Wasserboxer model.

    Mirror vibration is one of those intermittent irrits that aren't normal across the model, nor across the Rev range. It could be something as obvious as the boxer engine not being properly in tune and the subsequent vibration finding an outlet in the mirrors, or could be the mirrors aren't fitted properly. It happens regardless of the manufacturer that some bikes aren't looked after by the owner.

    If you can, try another RT of similar age and see if the issues are extant in that machine too. Tweet is spot on the the Shift Assist; it takes some getting used to. But again, if the bike hasn't been well maintained that could contribute to the transmission not being as smooth as it could be; I can notice a difference in my K16 before and after a service and oil change so if not properly looked after the RT you rode could be fixed with a decent service.

    Nonetheless the BMW drivetrain is notorious for clunky shifts, but after a few days riding you will wonder why you were concerned as you get used to it and accommodate the idiosyncrasy!
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Thanks Tweet & Heli ... will follow up those suggestions & report back.
  5. #5 MalM, Apr 23, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
    Update ..... have now ridden 2 x 2014 models and 2 x 2016 models of the BMW R1200RT... my observations & additional research thus far .....
    2014 models: both had very clunky gears particularly 1st & 2nd, one of them was just awful, otherwise clutch-less shifting in higher gears moderately smooth. Both had vibrating mirrors. Again the 'bad' bike was the worst.
    2016 models: both rode exactly the same .... minor clunk 1st & 2nd, HUGE improvement overall. Clutch-less shifting very smooth. Minor mirror vibration when under heavy torque load, otherwise okay.
    Tweet & Heli advice above is spot on. A little bit of adaptive rider technique goes a long way ... if you attempt to drive a BMW like Mum's Honda .... ya, gunna have some issues :)
    The BMW R1200RT is an awesome machine no doubt, though it comes at a price. It flicks around the twists (30-40 kph hairpins) with incredible ease, it will tolerate urban commuting more than most, it stands up up like a stallion if your game enough to give it WOT, and it cruises like the Orient Express.
    So now my choices are:
    1. 2014 models low kms circa $26,000
    2. 2016 demonstrator $29,500 (looking like best buy)
    3. 2016 new out of the box $30,990 BMW promo price .... limited number of these units in Aus atm, then rack stock prices will likely be $33-$34k.
    I will post another new thread when that decision is made.
    (note: the 2016 versions are key-less and have lifetime free GPS updates)
    I have accumulated a heap more info, so please feel welcome to contact me if interested.
    Hope this helps, MalM

    PS: ..... Mods, could you please reinstall the BMW R1200RT in the thread title so that others may be able to find relevance easier, cheers
  6. For the $1400 difference Mal, I would buy the new bike.
    Full 2 year warranty and full year Rego, but most importantly, never thrashed by test riding tyre kickers from new and dead cold.

    To me $1400 for the new one is a no brainier.
  7. First time I have seen this. I must have missed it. I have a 2014 R1200RT with now nearly 17000 km on it. I haven't ridden a 2016, but I have ridden an S1000RR and a K1600GT. Mirrors don't vibrate more than other bikes I have had, but it took me a long time to work out how to change gears smoothly. 3 - 4, 4-5, 5-6 with the shift assist (clutchless) are fine up and down. Smooth and no clunks. (I think I roll off the throttle a bit before changing. Possibly not necessary.) Anyway, 1-2 and 2-3 gave me a lot of problems with clunks if I tried to ride it like a normal bike, and it took a long time to work out a system that works (for me, might be right or wrong, but it works for me) . Firstly I have the clutch at the "1" adjustment. When I change from say 1-2, I deliberately put some upwards pressure with my foot on the gear lever, then just move the clutch about 1 mm and simultaneously shut the throttle and it pops into 2nd as smooth and fast as any bike I have ridden. Same with 2-3. Coming back down, just a bit of pressure on the top of the gear lever, shut the throttle and touch the clutch and it pops into gear. I have never thought of this as defective or a problem etc, just a matter of learning how to use it.
  8. Tweet, I also considered that, however the dealership concerned keep a tight rein on demo rides & routes plus prep the bike before outings & check after.
    The other issue is that the BMW promo priced new bikes @$30,990 ride away are all but gone. E.g. when I put my deposit down on the demo 2weeks ago, there where only 4or5 available to QLD ... now none.
    The next batch are expected to be priced circa $32-$33,000 but am told that BMW have not yet confirmed with AUS dealers ... or they are not disclosing it yet. They might throw in a few minor sweeteners like accessory discounts so those who have missed out wont feel so miffed.
  9. Agree totally and per earlier post .... A little bit of adaptive rider technique goes a long way ... if you attempt to drive a BMW like Mum's Honda .... ya, gunna have some issues :)
    Am not a mechanic though understand the primary reason for going from single plate dry clutch to the multi-plate wet clutch system in this model was to accommodate the shift assistant pro (auto) transmission.
    I humbly confess, I first thought some of the current model gizzmos were going to be as useful as an the proverbial ashtray on a motor bike ... how wrong I was.
    Notwithstanding my earlier comments re the 2014 models, the shift assistant pro (auto) transmission is fantastic, especially in gears 3-6. It is smooth and with adaptive riding becomes silky.
    That provides more bike stability, balance and rider control. On one of the 2014 bikes (private sale) I was able to slip into some local hills and realised that I could negotiate tight bends smoother and easier using auto downshifting. As per conventional rider school wisdom, this is not a recommended technique for beginners. Okay, I'm not a beginner and not a pro ... maybe an advanced novice. In addition to the legendary BMW handling, this auto feature gives the bike more tail squat, effective expanded wheelbase. rear stability with a simple tap of the toe whilst simply thumb rolling the right hand slightly ie two easy, small & fast movements turn this baby into a glued slot car on rails .... WOW !!! All of a sudden I'm a junior pro .. woohoo. Add a little back brake for personal taste. I think you'd have to ride it like a maniac to get any decompression rear wheel skip or imbalance.
    Another feature that surprised me was the hill start assist (aka park brake) Just pull up at the lights /whatever on sloping ground and squeeze the front brake and relax (in neutral of course). It will also auto release but must use more revs to avoid stall. Very, very convenient.
  10. I agree about park assist. You can also disengage it by a quick squeeze of the brake lever.
  11. Interesting thread. I've just sold an R1100S, which I used to think had a clunky gearbox, but I've now got a K1200S and that is so much clunkier. I definitely have not yet mastered any technique that creates smooth changes. It's a 2007, so doesn't have any of the shift assist gizmos.