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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking at a 2003 K1200GT which appears to be in excellent condition with 32000 miles for a little over $3K. I know about the airbox issue. What should I be looking for prior to purchase?

Thanks for any input.

Walt Max
 

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TL;DR Brakes, brake lines, shocks, clutch, final drive bearings, saddlebags present.

I bought my K1200GT last February with 26k for a little over $4k, so it sounds to me like yours could be a really good deal. What I know about this applies to mine (September 2003 production date, 2004 model year); others can help clarify if any of these things don't apply to yours.

The first thing to check is whether the ABS brakes work. When you turn the key, the "brake failure" lamp should flash fast for a couple of seconds, then go to flashing slow. It won't stop flashing until it sees the speed above 3 mph or so. If it keeps flashing fast, or if it's on solid, that indicates a problem. If there is a problem, the easiest thing to check first is that the brake light switches aren't stuck on - my rear switch initially had a tendency to hang up once in a while, but cleaning and lubricating the brake pedal pivot cured that. If the brakes aren't working right, it can be expensive and time consuming to fix, and if it's a full system failure it may be beyond economic repair. There are ways to bypass the ABS, but you obviously lose the advantages of ABS.

Next, look at the brake lines. If they're rubber, they've probably never been changed, and that's something you'll want to do in the interest of safety. There are a number of threads here on how to do that; I didn't find it extremely hard, but it's a PITA to do the first time. If you do it yourself, it'll take you a fair bit of time, and if you pay someone else to do it, it'll cost you quite a bit.

The next thing I'd look at are the shocks. If they have white springs, they're probably the factory shocks, and you can expect them to be worn out at 32k. Nonetheless, if they're not leaking, you can ride with them until you upgrade. My front was leaking, and it took a lot of the fun out of riding the bike until I replaced it. Aftermarket units will set you back a minimum of about $900 for front and rear, and some of the high-end units go for twice that.

Next, look at the right side, where the transmission attaches to the engine. There are two seams there where cases come together, and if you see any fluid weeping out, it can mean your clutch is getting wet with oil from the engine (or possibly the transmission - the engine is the usual culprit) or brake fluid from the hydraulic clutch slave cylinder. There's an O-ring on the back of the engine that's notorious for failing and sliming the clutch with engine oil, and replacing the clutch is a pretty big undertaking. Again, there are threads here about how to do that, and you can also find some good Youtube videos on the subject. I'll point out here that mine had this leakage when I bought it, and I decided I'd ride it until it fails. I've put 20k on it so far, and it has yet to slip. I can't say that my experience is going to be typical, but at least in my case a little fluid doesn't appear to have been an instant death sentence. Then again, maybe mine failed and the PO put an oil resistant clutch in it - I don't have any service records, so I just don't know.

Speaking of service records, see if the PO has any. If the clutch has already been replaced, that would be good to know. Likewise, you'd like to know when the brake fluid was last changed (it really should be done annually to help minimize the chances of problems with the expensive brake system).

One final check is to put it on the center stand, grab the rear tire top and bottom, and try to rock it. Play can indicate a final drive that's going bad. If you feel slight play, have someone hold the rear brake and try it again; if the play goes away then it's in the final drive, and if it doesn't go away then it's in the swingarm pivots. The swingarm pivots aren't a big problem, but if your final drive is going bad it's something you'll need to address or risk getting stranded. Although I haven't done mine, from what I understand it's not a horrible job. Used final drives are abundant on eBay - as I understand it, there's a minor difference between early and late ones having to do with mounting the ABS sensor, but I'll let someone more knowledgeable tell you what years would actually fit your bike.

Beyond that, look for accessories (hard bags are very difficult to replace, especially the color-matched GT ones), manuals, and a tool kit. If you have to replace something, be sure you know about it up front and are willing to account for the cost of it when you're figuring out how much you're willing to pay for the bike.

For reference, beyond consumables (tires, air and oil filters, oil changes and a set of new brake pads), I've put about $300 into braided steel lines, $300 into a Sargent seat (used - new ones are available but more expensive), $100 into saddlebag liners (used), and several hundred into a used set of Ohlins shocks. That puts me at nearly $6k invested to get a bike that is exactly what I was looking for. It's been worth it for me, but as always, YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
TLA - Thanks for such a detailed reply. This gives me a lot to check which will help me make a final decision. The seller is the third owner but says the previous owner had it serviced at our local BMW dealer. So that gave me the idea of calling the dealership and they said if I had the VIN, they could look up its service history.

Glad to hear you love the bike. And thanks again.
 

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Thanks LTA, that was great. I picked up a 2003 GT last year and did the clutch replacement (it is a pain, but doable with the instructions and a bit of confidence). I'm planning on upgrading the brake lines to steel-braided this winter partly because I have no idea when the brakes were serviced last and partly to make it future-proof. I'll vouch for the difficulty in finding side cases; mine didn't come with them and I was lucky enough to score a set from a member of this forum but I haven't seen any since.

My bike didn't come with a tool kit, either. Does anyone out there have one and can list what all is in there? I'd like to put one together instead of shelling out the $200 or whatever the kits go for.
 

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Check out this thread, post #16 I think. Tool kit contents is in the service tech booklet download, page 19. You can sometimes find them on ebay with photos of the contents. It's possible they changed contents over the years and I'm pretty sure there are slight differences between RS/GT/LT models.. Mine has a couple of CO2 cartridges (not shown in contents list), but no inflator device. Don't know if the PO bought an inflator and then lost it or it came with the bike and then got lost.
 

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The one for my '04 GT has:

  • Lug wrench (17mm hex socket with L handle)
  • Extension handle for lug wrench - makes it about 12" long overall
  • Vinyl cap to protect side fairings during removal (see McMaster-Carr for an idea - mine is slightly deeper at 1-3/4", but the McMaster one should work if you can't find the BMW one)
  • Tire plug installation tool
  • Tire plug kit
  • 3 CO2 cartridges
  • 6-1/2" pliers with wire cutter
  • 8x10 and 10x13 open end wrenches (double ended)
  • 6mm flat / #2 Phillips reversible screwdriver with handle
  • 5" Extension for reversible screwdriver
  • 3mm flat screwdriver
  • T45 and T25 Torx keys (L shaped)
  • 6, 5, 4, and 3mm Allen keys (L shaped)
  • Fuse puller with spare fuses (mine has 4A, 7.5A, and 10A fuses, but should probably contain more)
  • Tool pouch

There's a little adapter in the tire plug kit that lets you attach the CO2 cartridges to the tire valve, but I've never tried it. I've also added some more traditional plugs to the oddball ones that BMW has in its kit, which again I've never tried.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just to let you all know that I bought the 2003 K1200GT. Upon inspection it seemed to be in excellent condition. No leaks or obvious problems. It does seem that the shocks may be a little soft (original) and that LTA's suggestion that at 32K miles, they may need replacing. Also, the original brake lines should be replaced at some point in the near future. But for now, I'll just get to know the bike better before making any changes.

Originally, I wasn't sure about getting the bike home given the approach of winter, but yesterday with temperatures in the low sixties, I couldn't have asked for a better chance to ride the 75 miles back home. Eighty mph on Montana's autobahn with cruise control - sweet! Even with occasional high winds, the bike was rock steady. My only issue is that my legs seemed to be splayed out more than any other bike I've owned and thus a bit uncomfortable. I'm curious as whether anyone else has experienced this and what to do about it. Maybe I just need to find some new yoga poses to stretch out the kinks!
 

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Glad you like your bike. there is so much information on that series on this site. Well geeze, Montana...horses, splayed legs. You will look just right when you walk into the bar after a long day of riding the great roads there. :)
 

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That's interesting. One of things that disappoints me about this bike is the fact that I can't grip the tank properly with my knees. I'm 6' 2". Sit on a ZG1000, and that's how I want my lower body to engage with a bike. Mind you, I found my inner thighs getting cold with a full tank of gas.
My inner thighs make contact with the edges of my Sargant seat, so I'm not really sure why I put tank grip pads on there. For looks I guess. But I can't actually rest my knees there. Hmmm.
 

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I'm 6'4", and that's not a problem I have - my knees nestle nicely in the cutouts, and while my thighs touch my Sargent seat, it's not in the way of getting my knees in there. Maybe different leg to torso ratios, or different pelvic bone widths.

I agree the bike is pretty wide. I don't notice it anymore - I suppose I've gotten used to it.
 

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Just to let you all know that I bought the 2003 K1200GT. Upon inspection it seemed to be in excellent condition. No leaks or obvious problems. It does seem that the shocks may be a little soft (original) and that LTA's suggestion that at 32K miles, they may need replacing. Also, the original brake lines should be replaced at some point in the near future. But for now, I'll just get to know the bike better before making any changes.

Originally, I wasn't sure about getting the bike home given the approach of winter, but yesterday with temperatures in the low sixties, I couldn't have asked for a better chance to ride the 75 miles back home. Eighty mph on Montana's autobahn with cruise control - sweet! Even with occasional high winds, the bike was rock steady. My only issue is that my legs seemed to be splayed out more than any other bike I've owned and thus a bit uncomfortable. I'm curious as whether anyone else has experienced this and what to do about it. Maybe I just need to find some new yoga poses to stretch out the kinks!
Before it gets lost in the discussion about ergonomics, congratulations on getting the bike! I hope you enjoy yours as much as I've enjoyed mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the suggestion but I fear my basic problem is an old body on a new bike. Ironically, I have the same issue with my Honda Rancher ATV and so on that, I simply sit sideways. This is fine for the ATV because as I'm getting on and off constantly feeding our livestock; its not an issue. I don't think I can do that on a motorcycle.

On a happy note, we're suppose to get another 60 degree day tomorrow so I'll have a chance to stretch out the bike's legs (and my old body).
 
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