Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia
For my two cents worth, I would say starter motor armiture is dirty (probably black) and not earthing correctly. I have had a few debates over this issue, but the proof is in the pudding as they say... Symptoms in order of appearance, and severity are:
1) Indicators that act erratically usually only coming on for one or two flashes rather than the set 16 or so while on the move
2) If you pay very close attention to the headlight it may flicker or pulse a little around 3500 revs. Instrument lights will also flicker
3) When the starter motor engages and the load shed relay cuts power to the headlight. When the lights come back on, they flicker several times before remaining bright.
4) When starter button is pushed and the motor fires, the speedo needle moves up to about 35kph/20mph and back to rest.
5) Eventually, IF this is your problem, the starter will only click when the button is pushed. A firm tap with a screwdriver will allow the brushes to engage and the starter to turnover.
During the gremlin attacks I had, I worked out that if I gave the bike a good blast to very high revs in a few gears, the symptoms vanished - for a while, but always to return. Eventually I took the bike to an auto electrician who successfully diagnosed a poor earth in the started motor in less than 1 hour. BTW this guy is an automobile electrician with no specific BMW motorcycle diagnostic equipment. Just plenty of knowledge in vehicle electrics and high quality automotive diagnostic gear. Also, I had discussed this problem with BMW New Zealand who stated that it was very unlikely to be the starter motor as the bike was only a few years old with about 60,000km on it. Once the starter motor was removed and cleaned, the problems vanished, and at 110,000km, all is well. BTW points 2 and 3 are easily checked at home after dark on the driveway.
Lots of the symptoms point to all sorts of things like a faulty load shed relay or indicator flasher unit, but ultimately, it comes down to an earth issue, and unfortunately a lot of the electrics earth through the starter motor.
Also, and this is pertinent, the two serious gremlin attacks occurred several days after exposure to a high sea salt environment. First was a ride through a seaside valley that had a huge on shore wind carrying a lot of salt and the second was a violent ferry crossing - No more will be said about that... One possible explanation is the starter motor has two small holes in the outer casing and I believe salt laden air has entered and caused the corrosion.
All said and done, if the starter motor needs to be removed there are ways to achieve this without following Clymer, and can be done in a couple of hours with very few tools. Both H and myself have cone up with a method of removal that most of us are more than capable of performing. Personally, I would ask a local auto electrician to confirm the starter as the cause, once removed I would ask him to spin it on his lathe to clean it up perfect. Brushes last for ever and are unlikely to need replacing.
2002 K1200RS Owned from new. Pacific Blue, Ohlins. 183,000km’s
2016 K1300R Black, Remus hexacone. 6000km’s
The family history
1951 AJS 500 single - my Dads
1916 Triumph Type H, Western front, France WW1 - my Grandads