Brake Failure - - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 13th, 2006, 7:20 pm Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Brake Failure

Last Saturday I had a brake failure on my 2005 K1200S while riding on the track (Buttonwillow Raceway in California). During hard braking in third gear setting up for the approaching corner, the brakes seemed to just release and the bike rolled free for about a second (perhaps 20 feet worth) - then, they locked up for an instant, enough to get the bike sliding, then released again. As I struggled through the corner, thoroughly shaken, I noticed the "brake failure" light and the "emergency triangle" light had come on. I pulled into the pits, parked the bike, then restarted it to see if the fault light had cleared. It had. So I rode the bike out to a remote section of the pits and tried the brakes - they worked fine. I tried about ten hard stops - enough to get into the ABS, and everything worked OK.

Despite the brakes seeming to work again, there was no way I was returning to the track. I took the bike to the dealer on Tuesday and explained what happened. They said they'd put the bike on the computer to analyze the situation, and that there was a recall issued on the brakes to address a problem similar to what I described. The recall fix, of course, is the "banjo bolt" designed to reduce front brake pressure and reduce the power draw on the battery during hard braking. Didn't sound to me like this was going to address my problem, but I left the bike hoping the computer would log some other sort of fault.

Today when I talked to the dealer they said the computer showed "excessive front brake pressure" as the fault, and that they had called the BMW customer representative, who seemed confident that the "banjo bolt" would fix the problem. The dealer explained that the customer rep didn't think riding on the track provided enough battery charging to replace the power drain due to hard brake use! This is ridiculous!

Before I continue, a little background. My bike now has 14,000 miles on it, and I have taken it to six track days with never any problem concerning the brakes - if track riding does not not provide enough charging, why didn't I have this problem on the first track day? And if I had run the battery down on the track, how did it miraculously recover by the time I restarted it in the pits three minutes later? This sounds to me like a failure (intermittant, of course) of the ABS/Servo Electronic Unit! The "banjo bolt" won't do a thing for that! But apparently the customer rep says "we'll try this first before we do anything else and if it happens again we'll rethink the situation." You mean I have to lose my brakes again in a critical situation and perhaps crash the next time before BMW decides to fix my brakes right?

So, my bike is still at the dealer, and I'm trying to find out more information on how to deal with this. So I call a friend of mine who bought an R1200GS about the same time I bought my K1200S. They have the same brake system. Lo and behold, he's having an identical problem with his brakes, just riding on the street! Same thing, no brakes for a second, then they lock up, then release again. And the fault would clear after stopping and restarting. (Actually I don't think the brakes are releasing, it's just the servo going offline for a second then coming back on after you've begun to squeeze harder - but that would certainly cause exactly this kind of behavior). He said it had happened several times with increasing frequency, and that his bike is at the same dealer for repair.

The dealer is also telling my friend the banjo bolt will cure the problem and he doesn't believe it either. He's also concerned about "seeing if this works" before the electronic unit is replaced.

I did call another dealer who said he has had to replace some ABS/Servo Units, so these things do fail.

This does not sound like it's an uncommon problem. Anyone else out there having this problem? Why is BMW willing to risk the lives of it's customers to save a few bucks on a recall? Or am I missing something? Is there some way this banjo bolt idea would really fix this problem? Can anyone here offer some advice?
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 13th, 2006, 7:43 pm
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 45
Get in touch with BMWNA and raise hell. They'll listen and you'll get service. If you think your dealer is avoiding the issue, or just not telling you the truth, tell BMWNA. Make a big deal out of it without raising your voice or getting nasty. It will work for you. I've had some problems with the KS myself and took it ti the top. Not only was the problem solved but I was offered other "compensation".

Call this guy: Marek Balwas / Team lead customer relations / 201-263-8233 Ext 178233
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 13th, 2006, 10:09 pm
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 19
My self actuating brakes

I experienced something similar in my first 100 miles riding Mulholland Hwy on my new GT. It never happened again and I forgot about it until reading your post. I have over 1500 miles on it now. I've copied my original post below.


"Today I was riding in the local canyons and the brakes self actuated twice in about one second with enough force to "chirp" the tires each time. This was very scary. The bike was decelerating into a corner under engine braking only and I was not on the brakes. It was a little rough but nothing unusual. The brakes actuated twice crisply and I upshifted to coast around the corner. I slowed down for awhile and didn't feel completely comfortable for the rest of the day although the brakes performed normally for the rest of the ride. Has anyone experienced or heard of this with the new K bikes? Any suggestions? There were no malfunction or warning indicators on the display."
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2006, 8:35 am
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Regardless of what anyone at BMW will tell you, I think there are still some major technical (if not quality control) issues with the brakes. Unfortunately, they seem to show up so rarely that they can sweep them under the rug. I've been fighting with them for three weeks over my own brake issues.
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2006, 9:26 am
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Haven't personally had the brake failure but I do have an interesting story. My KR, which is on the recall list, went in to have the banjo bolt, front rotors and pads replaced which has been recalled in order to eliminate the squeal problems. I also had asked, while they had it, that they look at the transmission because I was having an issue with the shifter.

While the technician was test riding the bike, before the recall work was started, he lost all the brakes. Apparently the ABS pump and potentially the servo went out. I am now without a bike for at least week, or more, while they get all of the parts in.

I'm glad the tech. wasn't hurt, but I'm glad it happened when he was on it so I would have to try and explain everything to him.

You know, between the shifter, clutch and brakes on this bike... I'm seriously considering selling the thing and buying a ZX-14.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2006, 10:16 am
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My buddy has a ZX14 - I've ridden it and liked it alot. Very fast, smooth, awesome brakes and nice instrument panel. Hell, I may join ya!
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2006, 11:57 am
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I had a similar experience w/ my K12R. My servo-assistance went out three times in normal city driving. I never had the wheel lock up, but then I was just rolling up to the light. It wasn't a complete failure, just that noticeable difference between power brakes and not power brakes.

I took my bike to the shop and apparently didnít explain what I was experiencing. They were going to try to do the banjo bolt recall repair at the same time but Ö decided to wait to do the warranty work until they could get the rotors in too (?). They ďcleared the fault codesĒ and said it might have been a dirty abs sensor. It didnít make any sense to me, but I presumed they knew what they were doing.

A week after I got it back it did the same thing. This time when I called, the tech actually listened to me and had me bring the bike in immediately. Theyíre looking at it now, but the armchair diagnosis was a (intermittently) failing servo. They expect to keep the bike in the shop for 7-10 days while the part is shipped from the fatherland.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2006, 12:47 pm
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Location: Lafayette, Louisiana, USA
Posts: 364
Exclamation Not Accepctable BMW!!

This is a good indication as to why BMW is going to be using the Cont/Tevis systemin the 2007 year models. I think BMW should recall all bikes and upgrade them to the C/Tevis ( of course only if it is better...more reliable) Brakes failing like that is totaly unexcusable. BMW needs to get it right before some one gets killed
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2006, 3:29 pm Thread Starter
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Question for mattlamotte

So, did the failure occur again AFTER the banjo bolt recall fix was performed? Or before? Your post is a little unclear. I'm being told that the banjo bolt installation will solve my problem - but it sounds to me more like I have an intermittent failure of the servo also.
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2006, 4:04 pm
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Sorry if I wasn't clear. I brought the bike in to the shop initially back in June for a number of reasons (oil change, ABS failures, ECU re-update, and banjo bolt recall work). When I got the bike back, they'd only updated the ECU, changed the oil and "cleared the codes." I was told they didn't do the banjo bolt work because they didn't have the rotors in and would perform that work as one job. I'm of the mind that these are two separate jobs, that they should have done the one, or they should have told me over the phone that none of the brake work was performed in order to manage my expectations, but what do I know. I only found out that the work was still pending once I got to the shop.

I told them before I dropped the bike off that this was all in preparation for a trackday. When I was informed of the still pending recall work, I asked the shop mgr whether I was at all compromised in light of my predicted hard riding. He said it would be fine and it was.

The 4th servo failure (or whatever it is) happened last week, again in city riding conditions.

When I spoke to the tech this week, I was scheduling my 6k service and mentioned that the banjo bolt/rotor work was still pending. They said they were still several weeks out on the parts (which seems to reflect very poorly on BMW's ability to manage a recall). When I described that the abs service in June didn't take and what I was experiencing, he wanted to get the bike right away. It didn't sound like their impression of what was failing involved the banjo bolts or the squeaky rotor recall.

I'll let you know what I hear from the dealer.
And, to Racegun: I haven't experienced brake "failure" per se. I could stop, it was just mushy and required a lot more squeeze.
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