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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, all. I'm new to the forum, and just bought an '04 K1200GT.

I've wanted a BMW since I had my first bike (an '82 Suzuki 450) and had to walk past all the BMWs at the dealership to get to the parts department. I had sold my last bike (a VFR) in '07 when I suddenly found myself as a single parent and needed more practical ways of transporting kids. Now that they're all driving themselves, it was time to get another bikes. I started out looking for an R1200RS, but after lots of research I realized that the K-GT was really the bike I wanted - smooth, stable, and able to stack up big miles. I used to love to get up on a Saturday, get on the bike, and get back Saturday night with 800 miles added to the odometer, and the R-RS just didn't seem like the right bike for that. I thought about various LTs, but that's just not a type of bike that I've ever personally wanted.

The week before last, I started calling around to places listing K-GTs for sale. There were a few that were in nicer shape than the one I ended up buying, but with a 17+ year old bike I expect to have to replace various seals and whatnot, which ended up making me a little hesitant to pay a bunch more for a low-mile example. I found the one I ended up buying near Chicago, about 1300 miles from Albuquerque, and after talking with the dealer about it, I put a deposit on it and started making plans to go pick it up. I had thought about shipping it, but that cost about the same as making the trip, and I'd rather pick something like that up so if it was seriously misrepresented I can still back out of the deal.

Last Thursday morning I rented a pickup, and after work a friend and I headed to Chicago. We drove all night and arrived at the dealer around 3:30 PM Friday. The bike was largely as promised and exactly as expected - they hadn't mentioned (and I doubt they knew) that the front shock is leaking, the final drive is leaking, and there's fluid (oil or brake fluid) coming from the engine/transmission joint, but those are all known trouble spots on the K1200, or on older machines in general, and nothing was a deal breaker. We'd planned to spend Friday night in Chicago and return Saturday, but after we got the bike strapped down to my satisfaction, I looked at the weather forecasts for the return route and decided that we needed to get on the road immediately. We left at 7:30 PM and arrived back in Albuquerque Saturday at 3:30 PM.

The bike needs a fair bit of work before it's ready to go. I plan to change the clutch disc, which I assume is oil-soaked because of the fluid leakage, and while I'm in there I'll do the rear main seal and O-ring, front and rear transmission seals, and final drive seal. It's still got its original rubber lines, which I'll change to braided stainless, then make sure the ABS has fresh fluid in it. New shocks front and rear may wait a little while, but I'm sure I'll be giving up some handling because of the leaking front and the 26k miles of wear and tear on the rear. There's a bit of paint touch-up to do - a fairly typical number of chips and scratches, and evidence of a minor tipover on the right-side fairing, pannier, and rear brake pedal. Beyond that, the only thing I can find that needs to be done is that the right heated grip isn't getting warm, so I'll have to figure out what that issue is.

In real life I'm a mechanical and controls engineer, and at my current job I primarily work on repairs, preventive maintenance, and upgrades to older factory equipment. When I'm not working, I also fly hot air balloons, which is one of the more relaxing forms of aviation and one of the main reasons I love living in Albuquerque.

I'm sure I'll have lots of questions as I do all the work to get the bike ready to ride, and I look forward to being on the forum!

Dave
 

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Sounds like a good adventure! I also just recently got a clone on your bike, 04 KGT w/ 14k on it. Snow and crap cold weather have kept me off since I bought it in January but I've done about 600 miles on it and it's awesome!

If you have the studder at cold idle its the crappy ECU, you can upgrade it. Kinda a pain in the arse to do but not terrible.

Good luck with it Dave!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm still questioning my sanity in buying an older bike, though that'll pass once I get a few projects done. I just ordered new brake lines, and I'll get new pads ordered today. Everything works ok (except that the ABS is giving me a low fluid warning, which should be easy to fix).

It's supposed to be decent weather here over the weekend, so I'm going to get a ride in on Saturday. I can't wait to start to get to know the bike.

I've checked my vin for work recalls and didn't find anything. Mine is a September 2003 production date (if memory serves, which these days isn't a sure thing) so there's a decent chance that I have the bad ECU, though I haven't started the bike enough to know if it's got a rough cold idle. What's involved in upgrading that?
 

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I'm still questioning my sanity in buying an older bike, though that'll pass once I get a few projects done. I just ordered new brake lines, and I'll get new pads ordered today. Everything works ok (except that the ABS is giving me a low fluid warning, which should be easy to fix).

It's supposed to be decent weather here over the weekend, so I'm going to get a ride in on Saturday. I can't wait to start to get to know the bike.

I've checked my vin for work recalls and didn't find anything. Mine is a September 2003 production date (if memory serves, which these days isn't a sure thing) so there's a decent chance that I have the bad ECU, though I haven't started the bike enough to know if it's got a rough cold idle. What's involved in upgrading that?
Swapping the ECU unit (BOSCH Motronic) is not difficult if you are: "a mechanical and controls engineer " as you have posted. However most of fairings parts PLUS the fuel-tank need to be removed. If it is the 1st time time then you may need some guidance - the CLYMER replair manual is better than the BMW factory repair manual and is cheaper (available on Amazon). There are also some videos on YouTube to help you remove all fairing parts.

Finding a complete proper ECU (version 296) is not so easy as most of the used ones on EBAY (from parted bikes) are either older verision (232 or 477) or the improper "buggy" version (166) as delivered on most 2003 and a few 2004.

There are also a few folks on EBAY selling only the chip - in such case you need to open the sealed ECU and swap this multi-pins chip. Although some of these sellers on EBAY have quite few positive reviews, I have also seen some nightmares so I would stay away and buy a full unit "296" used.

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Discussion Starter #5
Swapping the ECU unit (BOSCH Motronic) is not difficult if you are: "a mechanical and controls engineer " as you have posted. However most of fairings parts PLUS the fuel-tank need to be removed. If it is the 1st time time then you may need some guidance - the CLYMER replair manual is better than the BMW factory repair manual and is cheaper (available on Amazon). There are also some videos on YouTube to help you remove all fairing parts.

Finding a complete proper ECU (version 296) is not so easy as most of the used ones on EBAY (from parted bikes) are either older verision (232 or 477) or the improper "buggy" version (166) as delivered on most 2003 and a few 2004.

There are also a few folks on EBAY selling only the chip - in such case you need to open the sealed ECU and swap this multi-pins chip. Although some of these sellers on EBAY have quite few positive reviews, I have also seen some nightmares so I would stay away and buy a full unit "296" used.
Good thought on the manual. I just ordered that.

I read several of your older posts on the ECU issue (and thanks, BTW, for putting all that information out there!) Assuming mine has the 166, I'll start looking for the 296 unit, but it sounds as though it's mostly an issue of poor cold-start behavior and lower fuel mileage, so something I can keep an eye out for and swap at my leisure. I suppose that I could buy a spare and swap just the chip, which would give me the option of simply switching back to my old ECU if there's any problem with it, but to be honest, I loathe desoldering ICs, so I'll probably skip it. :) (Well, and I suppose there's the possibility of it failing on the road, which invariably happens far from home, at night, in the rain...I'll definitely skip it.)

Lots of work ahead of me on the various projects, but should be fun. I won't have the brake parts for this weekend, so maybe I'll dive into the left-side switchgear - my electric windscreen goes round and round with the down button, but the up button doesn't work. Minor issue, but I'm kind of pedantic about having stuff work right, at least when I first get it. Later I get more pragmatic about what works and what doesn't.
 

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Good thought on the manual. I just ordered that.

I read several of your older posts on the ECU issue (and thanks, BTW, for putting all that information out there!) Assuming mine has the 166, I'll start looking for the 296 unit, but it sounds as though it's mostly an issue of poor cold-start behavior and lower fuel mileage, so something I can keep an eye out for and swap at my leisure. I suppose that I could buy a spare and swap just the chip, which would give me the option of simply switching back to my old ECU if there's any problem with it, but to be honest, I loathe desoldering ICs, so I'll probably skip it. :) (Well, and I suppose there's the possibility of it failing on the road, which invariably happens far from home, at night, in the rain...I'll definitely skip it.)

Lots of work ahead of me on the various projects, but should be fun. I won't have the brake parts for this weekend, so maybe I'll dive into the left-side switchgear - my electric windscreen goes round and round with the down button, but the up button doesn't work. Minor issue, but I'm kind of pedantic about having stuff work right, at least when I first get it. Later I get more pragmatic about what works and what doesn't.
Most of what I have seen from owners of K1200RS-GT having this bad "166" ECU version is not enough to stop you from riding it for a while - thus you can probably wait to find a used 296. In addition, you ALWAYS have to keep in mind that the one you are buying might have been upgraded by dealer of original onwer - there was an internal Service-Bulletin to be apllied on a case-by-case basis if customer was complaining about poor cold start behavior.

To confirm what you have: you need to do EITHER of: (1) use a GS911 to read the ECU internal number (2) ask the dealer to do it with their computer (3) remove fuel tank and ECU to read the external label / sticker

If indeed you have the 166 version, depending on your climate the cold start issue can be quite annoying. When you have to wait 1 min idling before you can get going it is not so bad, but in colder climate (say 60 F or lower), you may have to wait for 2 to 3 minutes. Otherwise the engine will sputter or die when you open the throttle until it is warmed up a bit.

In other cases I have seen, the engine dies after the 1st try after 1 to 3 seconds, then you always had to make another run at the starter button - bad for battery and bad for starter on the long run. Some engine behave worse than other with the bad 166 ECU - partly cause by state of tune of a given engine.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm glad you mentioned the GS911. Is that a worthwhile diagnostic tool to get? I've thought about ordering one, but I don't know if it's something that's needed regularly for maintenance, or just a diagnostic tool that's useful in case of electrical problems.

As far as determining which ECU I have, I'll have the fairings and tank off when I put in new brake lines in a week or two, so I can find out then.
 

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I'm glad you mentioned the GS911. Is that a worthwhile diagnostic tool to get? I've thought about ordering one, but I don't know if it's something that's needed regularly for maintenance, or just a diagnostic tool that's useful in case of electrical problems.

As far as determining which ECU I have, I'll have the fairings and tank off when I put in new brake lines in a week or two, so I can find out then.
Unlike later frontal across-the-frame 4 cylinders from BMW (K1200S , K1300S, K1300GT) and also most of the R1200xx series, the older Motronic EFI are pretty simple. In addition, unlike these later models, our K1200RS-GT do not have any CANBUS system so the diagnostic value of GS911 is limited to:
  • reading / clearing faults for engine sensors(EFI system)
  • reading / clearing faults for ABS system (both ABS2 and iABS with servos)
  • reading real time engine EFI sensor data and saving them to a log file for later analysis. This is quite usefull for remote troubleshooting - at least I am not completely blind with only a vague description of owner about the problem ;-)


Is is worth buying a GS911 ?? It depends how long you keep your K1200 AND if you plan to buy / trade-in for another BMW in the future - as ALL the recent version of GS911 will support all models (old and new). In the worst case, if you go out of BMW motorcycles you can always sell it back later for about half the price - not a bad deal considering the price most dealer charge for troubleshooting anything related to EFI. If you were closer to me I could connect mine to your bike, but I doubt this will happen as I am located in CANADA.

By the way , keep in mind you might have some software / interface limitations with GS911 if all you have is an Apple tablet / computer. My G911 is an older version so I am not 100% sure what is the status on this now with newer GS911 - in the past it was mainly a Windows based software interface to see graph and data.
 
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