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Discussion Starter #1
Guys, first time in. I have an issue starting my RS, 36 k miles. I turn on the ignition, wait for the spool up, hit the starter, nothing. It started a while back, but was intermittent and after a few on then off then on again trys, hitting the start button would work. To improve the start button, I got a new battery, carefully cleaned all the terminal connections, replaced the ignition switch back to the junction box under the tank, etc. Now it just will not start with the starter button. Lots of juice in the batt, but no crank. The interesting part is that if I hold the start button down after turning the key on, then cycle the key off and back on, it readily starts at the precise moment that power hits the dash and lights it up. Lots of crank, lots of power, flawless start. So I adjusted to this ad hoc procedure to finish out the season, but even now, I am needing to cycle it several times to get it to start by this ad hoc method. Anybody out there with a similar problem/solution?
 

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Guys, first time in. I have an issue starting my RS, 36 k miles. I turn on the ignition, wait for the spool up, hit the starter, nothing. It started a while back, but was intermittent and after a few on then off then on again trys, hitting the start button would work. To improve the start button, I got a new battery, carefully cleaned all the terminal connections, replaced the ignition switch back to the junction box under the tank, etc. Now it just will not start with the starter button. Lots of juice in the batt, but no crank. The interesting part is that if I hold the start button down after turning the key on, then cycle the key off and back on, it readily starts at the precise moment that power hits the dash and lights it up. Lots of crank, lots of power, flawless start. So I adjusted to this ad hoc procedure to finish out the season, but even now, I am needing to cycle it several times to get it to start by this ad hoc method. Anybody out there with a similar problem/solution?
What year is your K1200RS ?
Year is very important as the 2nd generation of K1200RS (having front nose facelift fairing AND lower pegs) came from factory with a very different Starter Relay. The 2nd gen are mainly 2001-2005 in Canada and 2002-2005 in USA. Earlier models had a regular (black colored) Starter Relay under fuel-tank - located in electical junction box.

This new so-called "smart Relay" is Blue and has electronic circuitry embedded into it so that the starter will not engage when battery voltage is roughly below 11.7 volts. In such condition it will not even make any click of any noise when you press starter button.

BMW has never published the official voltage value under which the newer Stater Relay will not engage, but various tests over the years have shown the theshold to be roughly 11.7 volts. IMPORTANT: this value needs to be measured at your battery terminal after igniton ON - wait 10 seconds - do NOT attempt to start - mesaure static voltage at battery. Because of the permanent headlights/rear-lights , dash and ECU all takes some power this value will be much lower that a static measurements with ignition OFF.

ALWAYS Double check your assumptions / tests with another good known VoltMeter.

FINALLY.... if you do have a 1st generation K1200RS (mainly 1997-2000 for Canada), then above might NOT apply.
HOWEVER, in parts catalog BMW has a so-called "retrofit kit" for the newer type Starter Relay to retrofit older 1st gen with this. So UNTIL you open the electrical relay box under fuel tank to check relay shape / color, you cannot be 100% sure what version you have. When a K1200RS was brought up to dealer for starter relay problems, the dealer would sometime recommend the owner to install the newer type on 1st generation.

See attached photos to identify older BLACK Relay and newer BLUE Starter Relay...

27968


27967
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Sailor, thanks, so mine is a 2002 K 1200 RS, USA model. I turned it on and measured static voltage after 10 seconds, 20 seconds, etc, 11.75 V each time, 2 meters. Sounds like that's pretty close to the lower starter relay engagement threshold based on your thread.

I also took/attached a picture of the starter relay, blue BMW tyco, part # 6135-7655540, same as yours. Terminals are a bit oxidised, but otherwise looks good.

So, sounds like a new battery?
 

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Hi Sailor, thanks, so mine is a 2002 K 1200 RS, USA model. I turned it on and measured static voltage after 10 seconds, 20 seconds, etc, 11.75 V each time, 2 meters. Sounds like that's pretty close to the lower starter relay engagement threshold based on your thread.

I also took/attached a picture of the starter relay, blue BMW tyco, part # 6135-7655540, same as yours. Terminals are a bit oxidised, but otherwise looks good.

So, sounds like a new battery?
Over 30 years maintaining my motorcycles and some others (friends), the average life of a battery has been 2 to 8 years depending on many variables. Of course the quality of the product / brand and type of usage (frequency) is key.

BUT BEFORE you spend any money on a new battery, I would try the following to confirm your battery is old / weak.
1) clean all Male contacts of the Starter relay and the joining large female connectors. Make sure each pin is making a good tight contact into female connectors. If you have a few spares Spade shaped connectors (in bulk) this will make testing each pins easier - sometimes a pin does not fit tightly or the joining female pin has moved out of its socket..

2) make sure both battery terminals are clean and tight. ALSO, make sure you do have 2 black wires attached to negatibe post of battery. On a stock k1200RS you should have 1 thick-large black wire AND a medium-thick black wire tied togeter on negative pole.

3) try the same start after a good battery charge. Watch out for some old / cheap charger that will trow too much amps (mainly car chargers) OR too much voltage during the charging process - it should not exceed 14.7 volts

4) if you have a good autoparts in yor area they may offer a service to "load test" the battery. In fact, you can buy your own load lester for about $US$ 50. Load testing gives a much better picture of state / age than only voltage testing can.

5) Any 12 volts car battery can be used (jumper wire method) to test a start with a good external battery. Do NOT try this if you are not familiar with proper battery jumping procedure - you could damage your ECU or even burn your whole wire harness.

CONCLUSION:
The goal here is to try one or several start with battery much above 11.7 volts (tested after ignition ON). Besides an old / weak battery (most probable cause) during last 15 years on 3 different K1200RS-LT forums we have seen 4 cases of defective blue stater relay as they get older. This is not common, but still a probability that will be easy to spot once you have a good battery.

IMPORTANT to REMOVE battery:
I have seen this mistake done so may times on forums, that it is worth repeating to avoid important damage:
When removing / disconnecting a battery:
A) ALWAYS start with Negative Post wire(s) - isolate this post wire(s) from touching battery
THEN
B) unbolt / undo the positive post wire(s)

Battery installation is reverse, so you attach Positive wire first.
 

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Over 30 years maintaining my motorcycles and some others (friends), the average life of a battery has been 2 to 8 years depending on many variables. Of course the quality of the product / brand and type of usage (frequency) is key.

BUT BEFORE you spend any money on a new battery, I would try the following to confirm your battery is old / weak.
1) clean all Male contacts of the Starter relay and the joining large female connectors. Make sure each pin is making a good tight contact into female connectors. If you have a few spares Spade shaped connectors (in bulk) this will make testing each pins easier - sometimes a pin does not fit tightly or the joining female pin has moved out of its socket..

2) make sure both battery terminals are clean and tight. ALSO, make sure you do have 2 black wires attached to negatibe post of battery. On a stock k1200RS you should have 1 thick-large black wire AND a medium-thick black wire tied togeter on negative pole.

3) try the same start after a good battery charge. Watch out for some old / cheap charger that will trow too much amps (mainly car chargers) OR too much voltage during the charging process - it should not exceed 14.7 volts

4) if you have a good autoparts in yor area they may offer a service to "load test" the battery. In fact, you can buy your own load lester for about $US$ 50. Load testing gives a much better picture of state / age than only voltage testing can.

5) Any 12 volts car battery can be used (jumper wire method) to test a start with a good external battery. Do NOT try this if you are not familiar with proper battery jumping procedure - you could damage your ECU or even burn your whole wire harness.

CONCLUSION:
The goal here is to try one or several start with battery much above 11.7 volts (tested after ignition ON). Besides an old / weak battery (most probable cause) during last 15 years on 3 different K1200RS-LT forums we have seen 4 cases of defective blue stater relay as they get older. This is not common, but still a probability that will be easy to spot once you have a good battery.

IMPORTANT to REMOVE battery:
I have seen this mistake done so may times on forums, that it is worth repeating to avoid important damage:
When removing / disconnecting a battery:
A) ALWAYS start with Negative Post wire(s) - isolate this post wire(s) from touching battery
THEN
B) unbolt / undo the positive post wire(s)

Installation is reverse so you do step (B) above first.
Did I miss something? Have we already checked Voltage Drops to the Starter yet?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Sailor, I completed the 5 above steps. Starter relay connection good, terminals were good, old battery charged, but couldn't manage load (11.8 V after ignition on and wouldn't start), so tried good battery, it started readily so I bought a new battery, and it works fine now. BTW, new battery installed, battery volts with ignition off at 13 V, and with ignition on, 12.1 V. Thanks for the help Sailor. Also, guys, if you need to push start because of a similar battery issue, simply turn ignition on, wait for ABS pulse to finish, then hold start button on, turn key to off and back to on, should start right up for you, not sure why but worked well for me as an interim measure until I sorted this out, seems to by-pass the starter relay minimum voltage requirement, in a pinch.
 

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Hi Sailor, I completed the 5 above steps. Starter relay connection good, terminals were good, old battery charged, but couldn't manage load (11.8 V after ignition on and wouldn't start), so tried good battery, it started readily so I bought a new battery, and it works fine now. BTW, new battery installed, battery volts with ignition off at 13 V, and with ignition on, 12.1 V. Thanks for the help Sailor

Also, guys, if you need to push start because of a similar battery issue, simply turn ignition on, wait for ABS pulse to finish, then hold start button on, turn key to off and back to on, should start right up for you, not sure why but worked well for me as an interim measure until I sorted this out, seems to by-pass the starter relay minimum voltage requirement, in a pinch.
Thank you for the feedback / news on this. Glad you got this fixed.

Out of all request about "no-start / no-crank" condition on most modern bikes having lots of electronics, I would say the Battery is the cause in more than 50% cases. Many make the mistake to tell forum they have tested battery just after a charge and they see a good value (like 12.6 to 13 volts) - this test is worth little as I have explained earlier unless you wait 10 to 30 sec AFTER ignition ON to make the reading.

With a weak battery, modern cars / motorcycle often behave differently than older vehicule where you would hear a faint click OR a starter trying to barely turn slowly.

I fact your last paragrah is quite instructing as I had never tested this sequence on a K1200RS/LT equipped with newer "smart" starter Relay. HOWEVER, given the issues / consequences of starting with a weak Battery on the older Relay type, I would suggest to AVOID trying your trick again. In such scenario, the Relay contact will often weld together and not release - the only way to stop Starter from overheating is to grab wrenches and unbolt battery - the ignition OFF will NOT do it in such case. You have been warned... ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Over 30 years maintaining my motorcycles and some others (friends), the average life of a battery has been 2 to 8 years depending on many variables. Of course the quality of the product / brand and type of usage (frequency) is key.

BUT BEFORE you spend any money on a new battery, I would try the following to confirm your battery is old / weak.
1) clean all Male contacts of the Starter relay and the joining large female connectors. Make sure each pin is making a good tight contact into female connectors. If you have a few spares Spade shaped connectors (in bulk) this will make testing each pins easier - sometimes a pin does not fit tightly or the joining female pin has moved out of its socket..

2) make sure both battery terminals are clean and tight. ALSO, make sure you do have 2 black wires attached to negatibe post of battery. On a stock k1200RS you should have 1 thick-large black wire AND a medium-thick black wire tied togeter on negative pole.

3) try the same start after a good battery charge. Watch out for some old / cheap charger that will trow too much amps (mainly car chargers) OR too much voltage during the charging process - it should not exceed 14.7 volts

4) if you have a good autoparts in yor area they may offer a service to "load test" the battery. In fact, you can buy your own load lester for about $US$ 50. Load testing gives a much better picture of state / age than only voltage testing can.

5) Any 12 volts car battery can be used (jumper wire method) to test a start with a good external battery. Do NOT try this if you are not familiar with proper battery jumping procedure - you could damage your ECU or even burn your whole wire harness.

CONCLUSION:
The goal here is to try one or several start with battery much above 11.7 volts (tested after ignition ON). Besides an old / weak battery (most probable cause) during last 15 years on 3 different K1200RS-LT forums we have seen 4 cases of defective blue stater relay as they get older. This is not common, but still a probability that will be easy to spot once you have a good battery.

IMPORTANT to REMOVE battery:
I have seen this mistake done so may times on forums, that it is worth repeating to avoid important damage:
When removing / disconnecting a battery:
A) ALWAYS start with Negative Post wire(s) - isolate this post wire(s) from touching battery
THEN
B) unbolt / undo the positive post wire(s)

Battery installation is reverse, so you attach Positive wire first.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sailor, I seem to be back where I started. I followed through on your five suggestions above, eventually leading to a new Yuasa battery installation (which was due). New batt in, got a few good starts, no problem. Then, next day, no joy on restarts.

So I used a good quality charger to top the new batt off overnight. Then reinstalled and checked battery, all readings with ignition on, post spool up, 12.1 V plus. Attempted start, a few worked then not.

Disconnecting head lights gives a bit more power, and seems to help with bike starting up no problem, but volts at start are then 12.5V plus, which is getting to be a pretty high battery power threshold. You mention in your Conclusion that once one has good power that issues with the blue starter relay (in my bikes case) while uncommon are easily spotted. How so? Do blue started relays fail in such a fashion?
 

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Sailor, I seem to be back where I started. I followed through on your five suggestions above, eventually leading to a new Yuasa battery installation (which was due). New batt in, got a few good starts, no problem. Then, next day, no joy on restarts.

So I used a good quality charger to top the new batt off overnight. Then reinstalled and checked battery, all readings with ignition on, post spool up, 12.1 V plus. Attempted start, a few worked then not.

Disconnecting head lights gives a bit more power, and seems to help with bike starting up no problem, but volts at start are then 12.5V plus, which is getting to be a pretty high battery power threshold. You mention in your Conclusion that once one has good power that issues with the blue starter relay (in my bikes case) while uncommon are easily spotted. How so? Do blue started relays fail in such a fashion?
It would be VERY IMPORTANT that you clarify if you still have the old behavior where the starter will not even attempt to engage. If it does engage but is too weak to start, then the problem is certainly not the starter Relay.

Let me re-phrase my last paragraph you have quoted above to make it clearer:
Once you have eliminated all connections related to starter-battery AND have also proven that a good strong battery will not cause the same behavior as you had before (not even a faint click or attempt for starter to turn over), THEN the next most probable is the so-called “smart” 2nd generation starter-relay (although they do not fail often).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It would be VERY IMPORTANT that you clarify if you still have the old behavior where the starter will not even attempt to engage. If it does engage but is too weak to start, then the problem is certainly not the starter Relay.

Let me re-phrase my last paragraph you have quoted above to make it clearer:
Once you have eliminated all connections related to starter-battery AND have also proven that a good strong battery will not cause the same behavior as you had before (not even a faint click or attempt for starter to turn over), THEN the next most probable is the so-called “smart” 2nd generation starter-relay (although they do not fail often).
I still have the same old behaviour, good battery, but once I hit the start button, nothing, no sound, no click, nothing. And, since my last post, I attempted to start the bike. I hit the starter, and it started, but was quite loud. After a minute of trying to figure out what was causing that, I hit the kill switch to off, engine stopped, but starter was still running. Never had that happen before! So I turned ignition off and got all stop. A little googling suggests a starter relay cause. Apparently I can try measuring ohms across the relay lead and earth, anything above 5 means it's toast apparently.
 

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A loud starter engagement and also starter seemingly staying engaged may indicate a sticky starter clutch. I had both happen on my high milleage bike.

I hopefully took care of that with crankcase cleaner to remove the sludge.And pulled the sump to further clean.Hopefully......only 7Ks since but so far so good.

As for the starter relay, yes mine went dead a few years ago.And yes there has been a few the same over the years.Usually traced back to previous attempts at starting with a lowish battery.Doing that will shorten the life of the blue starter relay.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ah, very interesting, thanks, never a shortage of new tasks to do on these machines!
 
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