S and R Bike Problems? - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2006, 8:57 am Thread Starter
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S and R Bike Problems?

First, a little backgroune on me.
I sold my 03 K1200RS back in early spring (22K miles on it) because I really wanted a full on sport bike.
So, I bought an 06 GSXR 750. I can't speak highly enough of that bike. In many ways, it's a much better bike than my RS was. Don't get me wrong, I loved the RS. But the seat was never comfy (even the aftermarket Sargent), the throttle spring tension was ridiculously stiff (can't use cruise all the time), I had temp sensor problems, shuddering front rotor problems, radiator cap not to spec, fan problems etc. Nothing major, mind you, just enough to tick me off.
Anyway, I've got 3600 miles on the Gixxer so far, with not even a tiny problem.
I've been monitoring the forums here ever since I sold the BMW.
Have to say that the titles of a lot of the posts have me concerned. Here's just a sample of some from the S and R forums:

- K1200 S Transmission Failure
- Front End "loose noise"
- 05 & 06 K1200S Transmission Problems
- Throttle/Fuel Problems
- Metal Shards in Oil
- Notchy Shifting
- Brake Failure
- Residual off-throttle Problems on 7.0
- Warped Rotors: Anyone Else?
- Bike Won't Pull
- The Infamous CLUNK
- Frame Broken
- Squealing Front Brakes
- Headlight Issues
- Ticking Noise @ Idle and Low RPM
- Starter did not Engage
- Major K1200R Problems
- Tranny/Clutch not fully disengaged

I gotta say that I never see thread titles like these in any of the Japanese Sport Bike forums.
Now, I'm not trying to stir anything up here, or put BMW products down. As a matter of fact, I'd love to own a K1200S some day. I test rode one and was absolutely blown away. I'm just trying to educate myself.
I can only draw one of several conclusions from all this:
1- BMW's are inherently less reliable than Japanese bikes
2- BMW owners voice their opinions about problems (minor and major) more than Japanese bike owners because they have higher expectations of quality due to the higher prices
I'd like to believe in reason #2 above.
However, all my friends with Japanese bikes have had virtually zero problems.
And some of them have really run up the mileage.
And, from my own experience with my RS, I have had problems.
Please, I really just want to get to the bottom of this and I mean no disrespect to any BMW owners or the company.
Thanks for your input.
I'll go put my flame suit on now : )
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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2006, 9:27 am
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Fewer production numbers, year one(and two) teething problems, first really high powered 4 cylinder motorcycle BMW has produced, etc, etc...

Also only a handful of forums like this for ALL owners. Unlike thousands of forums for the japanese bikes magnifies the problems.

I had a 94 zx-11. Probably regarded as one of the great bikes of the last decade. There were daily complaints about conrod #3 failures, oiling problems, etc. These complaints eventually dissappeared.

I've had no problems even though I started some of the threads above. The ticking sound is common to bikes and I don't think anything to worry about, just annoying. Fueling problems are annoying but I haven't had the high idle and surging, just an abrupt on/off throttle. This has been common on earlier japanese EFI bikes. The transmission is my biggest complaint/concern. No problems so far, and hopefully never will, but it is horribly loud and clunky for a 2005,6,7 bike.

Last edited by JCW; Dec 4th, 2006 at 9:37 am.
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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2006, 9:59 am
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Well, say what U want (or need to), I have 29,000 miles on my 02 RS and have had NOT ONE issue with the bike since leaving the dealership!

And I have had numerous Jap bikes over the years as well, also without problems to report. So...maybe I'm lucky, or those that spend the extra $$$ on BMW's expect just a bit more out of their ride? As they should.
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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2006, 11:29 am
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I have to agree with Lenny, i owned a R1100S boxercup and it was a great bike, but surged loads, more than any other boxer i'd ridden before. I swapped it for a brand new '06 GSXR-600, which felt fast, was just as comfy (yes its true ((and im 6 foot tall!)), and had NO fuel injection issues. It was a great bike.
Then i set my sights on getting a bigger engined bike. I've always loved BMWs so i tested both the older K1200RS model, and the new 1200S. Both i and my girlfriend agreed that the KRS was better in every respect apart from looks. So i got rid of my GSXR for the '97 KRS - and it was the best thing i did, i have to say its by far the best bike i've ever owned. But... it has issues with surging etc, but i've been lucky compared to some of the nightmare problems i've read about on this forum.

I do intent to one day get a K1200S, but im going to wait longer until BMW sort the dreadful fuel injection out on it, that was the biggest turn off for me and it resulted in BMW not selling one to me.

i dont know what the magazines and reviews over in the states say about the bike, but here it gets brilliant reviews, but ALWAYS but ALWAYS the fuel injection lets it down. I do expect more from a bike costing a hell of a lot more than a jap bike.

So i think we all need to own a jap and a BMW and be happy!!!
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2006, 12:29 pm
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The fueling problems seem mostly resolved by the latest ECU software, which can be field installed by the dealer. Most of the reviews (both US and abroad) complaining about fueling were done before the 7.0 version was released.

The transmission failures are worrisome, but the total number reported on the various forums is fairly small -- maybe 8-15, depending on how you count/classify them.

There's always the issue of "selection bias", which is users experiencing problems are more likely to report than those not. OTOH, the total production run of K1200S bikes is likely tiny next to Japanese sport bikes, so as a % of the production, the # of failures are likely quite high. If the same % of GSXRs had transmission failures, those boards would be clogged with reports, and they're not.

On my '06 K1200S, 7.0 fixed most (though not all) of the fueling problems. My transmission failed at 7,500 miles, fully replaced under warranty.

You get used to the clunky shifting, certain techniques can mitigate it. It's just 1-3, not 4-6. Don't know why it's that way, maybe because BMW used straight-cut (not helical-cut) gears. Straight cut gears are stronger for a given size, alternatively allowing a more compact gearbox for a given load factor. However they don't shift as smoothly. If that was the decision process, it seems a poor tradeoff, as shift feel is a key tactile quality impression customers get on every ride. Just speculating here.

Do I wish these issues never existed? Yes. IMO it was an idiotic BMW management decision to release the K1200S in its initial state, then pull it from the market, then have to release several software fixes to achieve true production quality.

If there was another bike close to the K1200S features and capability, I'd have considered that, but unfortunately there's not. Honda quit making the Blackbird, Hayabusa is chain drive, no factory luggage and no ABS, ditto the ZX-14, VFR is underpowered (relative to KS), new Kawasaki Concours 1400 (1400 GTR) looks interesting but isn't available yet.

The KS ABS and ESA systems are great, dealer experience is a cut above some Japanese dealers who also sell ATVs, chain saws and personal watercraft. However BMW had better not rest, as the competition is continuously improving. Prematurely releasing an unfinished product gains a few sales but hurts the product and company reputation, which can take years to undo. I hope BMW learned from that.

In general the K1200S is a great bike, fortunately most of the serious problems seem fixed or understood. If I was buying again today, I'd still get the K1200S, as there's no close alternative, depending on how you weigh the importance of various features.

If Honda ever does an upgraded VFR literbike or Kawasaki puts ABS on the ZX-14 (in the US) or the Concours 1400 turns out well, those might be future alternatives.
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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2006, 12:33 pm
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It's pretty much an indisputable fact that BMW motorcycles are more expensive and less reliable than Japanese models.

Frankly, modern BMWs are quite a bit less reliable than modern Harley Davidsons.

I think the most serious issue, however, is that both the -S and -R have been released to market with serious design flaws in their ECU/fuel mapping system and transmission that are the root causes of said unreliability in these two models.

The "we don't want to do any" attitude of BMWNA and its dealers towards customer service (evidenced by the difficulty of getting ECU software upgrades for bikes with known problems) isn't helping.
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2006, 10:34 pm
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I gotta say that I never see thread titles like these in any of the Japanese Sport Bike forums.
I don't see thread titles like the ones you cite very often here, except for a few of the feeding frenzy ones. Riding several Asian sportbikes the past couple of years, I see the same kind of problem mania threads... from poor paint, to regulator/rectifier and stator threads, not to mention frame stress and crack problems. One would be reluctant to buy an Asian sportbike from forums posts I've seen.

FWIW, in your list, the only one I've experienced with the '05 K1200S here is "The Infamous CLUNK", but it is only in 1st and 2nd gear, with slightly higher RPMs. And FWIW, had the same clunk in an R1200RT rented overseas last year. Have no other issues with the '05 KS here. Perfect.
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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 5th, 2006, 6:17 am
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Can't agree fully. There is no ideal bike, AFAIK.
Before I bought my GT I had been considering VFR and FJR. (There is great forum of VFR owners).
And both had weak points, even "from-the-birth" deseases: electric goblins + VTEC for VFR and valve ticking + heat management for FJR. The issues were not addressed still.
Finally everything depends on your emotions - the "my-bike feeling", IMHO. This is why there are so many makes and models.
Glad that you found what pleasures you. I am thinking about Gixxer as a track bike - just do not know what is better:600 or 750? Could you please provide me with a useful link? Want to compare it to R6'06 - one sweet bike!

Take care!

'06 K1200GT Blue (sold)
'09 F800GS Grey
'07 F800ST Blue - wife's(sold)
'09 F650GS Blue - wife's

Last edited by easyman05; Dec 5th, 2006 at 6:26 am.
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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 5th, 2006, 7:37 am
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gsxr vs R6

hi, i dont know which is practically better for a track... all the reviews over here say the 750gsxr is the best all rounder for the road, but the new R6 is a track animal... Then again, these guys who do the reviews are good on a track!!! not like me or the majority of us!!!

Take them all for a spin mate, over here you can sometimes get the dealers to let you do track days on certain models you like. I would say that practically on the road, i didnt find too much of a difference in power between the 600 & 750 gsxr. So i went with the 600 and it was a great great bike. Apparently the new ones are even better so give them a whirl and enjoy!
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old Dec 5th, 2006, 11:31 am Thread Starter
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As much as I love my GSXR 750, I'd recommend the Daytona 675 for the track.
It's more of a race bike than either Suzuki. And that's saying a lot.
Gotta get me a test ride on one of them soon.
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