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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently purchased a 2001 K-RS and decided to do a complete fluid refresh including a radiator drain and fill. Prior to this I had only ridden the bike about 20 miles and did not take note of the operating temperature as delivered, but on the first post-service shakedown I noticed that the temp gauge was hovering about the midway point on a 75-degree day at 60mph/3800rpm. The temp warning light was not on so it didn't alarm me much except for the fact that I'm used to vehicles being in the lower half of the gauge range at normal operating temps. What alarmed me more was that the temp rose quickly to the ¾ mark in every other situation (stop lights and city streets), at which point the fan would come on. The fan seemed to be able to hold it at the ¾ mark, but I'm just not used to seeing a trouble-free engine operate that high in its range. The manual says that the midway point on the gauge is normal, but is it also normal that the temp would shoot up so quickly at idle, or on city streets?

I should also note that after a few minutes on city streets/stop lights, and an elevated mark on the temp gauge, the gauge will drop again to the halfway point as soon as I return to steady-state cruising at 60mph.

For some background, after I drained and refilled the radiator I started the bike and ran it up to operating temp. I observed that there was coolant churning in the upper chamber of the radiator which indicated that the thermostat had opened and coolant was flowing. I then shut the engine off and let it cool down. I re-inspected the coolant level and found that it had dropped so that the upper chamber appeared empty, so I refilled the radiator to just below the fill neck. After that, I filled the remote coolant reservoir to a point halfway between the Min and Max lines. I believe this is the proper procedure for a coolant drain and refill on a K-RS.

I also believe that if I somehow hadn't put enough coolant in the radiator it would have drawn from the remote reservoir, so after the shakedown ride I re-checked that reservoir to see if the level had changed and no coolant was missing. I'm pretty sure that I did put enough fluid in it unless I got the procedure wrong. Normally it would be easy enough to just pop the radiator cap and check, but as most of you know opening the cap to the radiator on this bike requires serious work removing body panels; a chore I would rather avoid.

I know the Germans do things a little differently so I may just be over-reacting. Does anyone have any thoughts on any of this that would allow me avoid the tedious chore of removing bodywork unless it is certain that this is a problem and that fluid level is the most likely cause. Such as, what I'm seeing on the gauge is nothing to be concerned with and that the bike is in no danger of overheating, or that the warning light is only real indicator of overheating. Endless praise and adoration is awaiting anyone who can put me at ease.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Recently purchased a 2001 K-RS and decided to do a complete fluid refresh including a radiator drain and fill. Prior to this I had only ridden the bike about 20 miles and did not take note of the operating temperature as delivered, but on the first post-service shakedown I noticed that the temp gauge was hovering about the midway point on a 75-degree day at 60mph/3800rpm. The temp warning light was not on so it didn't alarm me much except for the fact that I'm used to vehicles being in the lower half of the gauge range at normal operating temps. What alarmed me more was that the temp rose quickly to the ¾ mark in every other situation (stop lights and city streets), at which point the fan would come on. The fan seemed to be able to hold it at the ¾ mark, but I'm just not used to seeing a trouble-free engine operate that high in its range. The manual says that the midway point on the gauge is normal, but is it also normal that the temp would shoot up so quickly at idle, or on city streets?

I should also note that after a few minutes on city streets/stop lights, and an elevated mark on the temp gauge, the gauge will drop again to the halfway point as soon as I return to steady-state cruising at 60mph.

For some background, after I drained and refilled the radiator I started the bike and ran it up to operating temp. I observed that there was coolant churning in the upper chamber of the radiator which indicated that the thermostat had opened and coolant was flowing. I then shut the engine off and let it cool down. I re-inspected the coolant level and found that it had dropped so that the upper chamber appeared empty, so I refilled the radiator to just below the fill neck. After that, I filled the remote coolant reservoir to a point halfway between the Min and Max lines. I believe this is the proper procedure for a coolant drain and refill on a K-RS.

I also believe that if I somehow hadn't put enough coolant in the radiator it would have drawn from the remote reservoir, so after the shakedown ride I re-checked that reservoir to see if the level had changed and no coolant was missing. I'm pretty sure that I did put enough fluid in it unless I got the procedure wrong. Normally it would be easy enough to just pop the radiator cap and check, but as most of you know opening the cap to the radiator on this bike requires serious work removing body panels; a chore I would rather avoid.

I know the Germans do things a little differently so I may just be over-reacting. Does anyone have any thoughts on any of this that would allow me avoid the tedious chore of removing bodywork unless it is certain that this is a problem and that fluid level is the most likely cause. Such as, what I'm seeing on the gauge is nothing to be concerned with and that the bike is in no danger of overheating, or that the warning light is only real indicator of overheating. Endless praise and adoration is awaiting anyone who can put me at ease.
UPDATE: I bit the bullet and uncovered the radiator cap and confirmed that the upper chamber was full. So the question remains: is it normal for a K-RS to operate at the temps I described above or is it an indication of a problem in the cooling system?
 

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Both of mine do exactly what you describe. The K-RS is known for running a bit hot, but once the fans on mine come on it never goes above the 3/4 point on the temperature gauge, even at outside temperatures well over 100F.

In stop and go city traffic, it heats up quickly until the fans come on because there's very little airflow over the radiators. As long as both fans are in good condition (I verify periodically that they're both spinning) they pull enough air over the radiators to keep things from getting any hotter. Once I'm back on the highway, there's enough airflow to bring the temperature down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I really appreciate your input. Would you say at highway speeds on a 75 degree day that your guage reads over one-half. Just did another test and my guage reads about 60% at 60mph. Seems very strange to me but OK. Now I'm wondering if there is a way to adjust the trigger point for the fans so they will spin up sooner. Or, just not worry.
 

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1/8" below the mid-mark is normal highway temp at ambient 70-80F.

Anything above that I'd guess the cooling fins are getting plugged by sand/bug guts/road tar.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
1/8" below the mid-mark is normal highway temp at ambient 70-80F.

Anything above that I'd guess the cooling fins are getting plugged by sand/bug guts/road tar.
That would be a good guess except for the fact that this is a showroom-fresh bike with 2K mi and not spec of dirt on it anywhere. The temp guage is definitely above the halfway hash mark at its best. That makes me think there is a problem. I wish I had paid attention before I did the drain/refill so I would know whether it was an existing condition or the result of something I did.
 

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That would be a good guess except for the fact that this is a showroom-fresh bike with 2K mi and not spec of dirt on it anywhere. The temp guage is definitely above the halfway hash mark at its best. That makes me think there is a problem. I wish I had paid attention before I did the drain/refill so I would know whether it was an existing condition or the result of something I did.
When troubleshooting we cannot assume anything... ;-)

As Pierre as posted (H96669), by far the most common issue with these K1200 is dirt / bugs over time blocking a good amount of the radiators capacity.

To go further we need look at the design of the K1200RS-LT as it is a bit particular: the temperature sensor located in the lower water pump only feeds the gauge on dash - the Motronic EFI ECU uses another sensor located in rearmost cylinder head. Both sensors have different curves although they both operate as thermistor common in automotive design - as their temperature goes up , their resistance goes down in a non-linear fashion.

Thus we need to confirm these facts - from simple to more complex:
1) does the connector at the sensor below water pump has a good connection (common to get dirt and water there)

2) is the resistance at the sensor, the same as where it leads into the dash (a loss on the way up would indicate a bad connection somewhere). The single wire goes thru a fairly complex path thru the front engine cover before going into the main harness. Then it goes to dash - see photo below...

3) We can measure the resistance at the sensor in the following way: ignition OFF , disconnect the single wire attached to sensor, and measure resistance between tip and a good ground on the engine block (not easy as most of engine is painted). This can be done at various engine temperature IF-AND-ONLY-IF you have a reliable temperature gun to compare real engine temp (since you cannot really measure coolant temp externally).

4) Another more reliable method is to remove sensor and soak it in a pan with hot water IF you have a reliable thermometer to compare.

5) To avoid removing the sensor (having to collect all coolant again) we can also trust the fact both sensors would rarely fail at same time: thus we can compare resistance value at the other sensor connector located under seat. The other sensor resistance can also be checked in a static way with ignition OFF , however it is a 2 wires connector. If needed I can furnish the curve as table values in another post.

6) The radiator cap not maintaining proper pressure is a common issue with age on these K1200. Many K1200RS-LT need a new cap after 10 years or more. It is a 1.5 atmosphere cap as marked on top , thus about 21 PSI and a bit higher than most motorcycles. When this happens you either have (a) pressure / coolant being pushed into the overflow tank too early - before 22 PSI ...OR... (b) improper flow between overflow and radiator during cooling phase cycle. This does not affects what is shown on the gauge but it does affect the fact the radiator might have air instead of being always full of coolant.

Of course, the gauge on dash could also be defective but in 20 years on many K1200RS and L1200LT forum I have never seen such case. However I have seen many of the cases mentioned above: bad connection , defective sensor , defective radiator cap.

The values / curve should be close to this table
WARNING: temp are in Celcius

Temp (C) ........... Resistance (Ohms)
=============================
5 ................ 1360
10 ................ 1050
15 ................ 850
20 ................ 650
30 ................ 420
40 ................ 293
50 ................ 243
60 ................ 146
70 ................ 97
80 ................ 71
90 ................ 51 (about middle white mark on gauge)
100 ................ 39
105 ................ 34 (between middle white mark and red zone)
110 ................ 30
120 ................ 3 (beginning of red zone)




Organism Font Auto part Circle Diagram



Automotive lighting Steering part Automotive tire Steering wheel Motor vehicle
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
When troubleshooting we cannot assume anything... ;-)

As Pierre as posted (H96669), by far the most common issue with these K1200 is dirt / bugs over time blocking a good amount of the radiators capacity.

To go further we need look at the design of the K1200RS-LT as it is a bit particular: the temperature sensor located in the lower water pump only feeds the gauge on dash - the Motronic EFI ECU uses another sensor located in rearmost cylinder head. Both sensors have different curves although they both operate as thermistor common in automotive design - as their temperature goes up , their resistance goes down in a non-linear fashion.

Thus we need to confirm these facts - from simple to more complex:
1) does the connector at the sensor below water pump has a good connection (common to get dirt and water there)

2) is the resistance at the sensor, the same as where it leads into the dash (a loss on the way up would indicate a bad connection somewhere). The single wire goes thru a fairly complex path thru the front engine cover before going into the main harness. Then it goes to dash - see photo below...

3) We can measure the resistance at the sensor in the following way: ignition OFF , disconnect the single wire attached to sensor, and measure resistance between tip and a good ground on the engine block (not easy as most of engine is painted). This can be done at various engine temperature IF-AND-ONLY-IF you have a reliable temperature gun to compare real engine temp (since you cannot really measure coolant temp externally).

4) Another more reliable method is to remove sensor and soak it in a pan with hot water IF you have a reliable thermometer to compare.

5) To avoid removing the sensor (having to collect all coolant again) we can also trust the fact both sensors would rarely fail at same time: thus we can compare resistance value at the other sensor connector located under seat. The other sensor resistance can also be checked in a static way with ignition OFF , however it is a 2 wires connector. If needed I can furnish the curve as table values in another post.

6) The radiator cap not maintaining proper pressure is a common issue with age on these K1200. Many K1200RS-LT need a new cap after 10 years or more. It is a 1.5 atmosphere cap as marked on top , thus about 21 PSI and a bit higher than most motorcycles. When this happens you either have (a) pressure / coolant being pushed into the overflow tank too early - before 22 PSI ...OR... (b) improper flow between overflow and radiator during cooling phase cycle. This does not affects what is shown on the gauge but it does affect the fact the radiator might have air instead of being always full of coolant.

Of course, the gauge on dash could also be defective but in 20 years on many K1200RS and L1200LT forum I have never seen such case. However I have seen many of the cases mentioned above: bad connection , defective sensor , defective radiator cap.

The values / curve should be close to this table
WARNING: temp are in Celcius

Temp (C) ........... Resistance (Ohms)
=============================
5 ................ 1360
10 ................ 1050
15 ................ 850
20 ................ 650
30 ................ 420
40 ................ 293
50 ................ 243
60 ................ 146
70 ................ 97
80 ................ 71
90 ................ 51 (about middle white mark on gauge)
100 ................ 39
105 ................ 34 (between middle white mark and red zone)
110 ................ 30
120 ................ 3 (beginning of red zone)




View attachment 31553


View attachment 31554
Can't thank you enough for this info. These are all conditions that could cause this model to overheat, but others have said that the guage readings are actually normal. What is your opinion of that?

If not normal then, of the conditions you mentioned, the sensor wire connection and the radiator cap are the 2 most likely. But does either of these mean that the engine is actually running hot, or just that the guage is inaccurate? I'm asking because I'm planning on taking trip on the bike beginning 8/2 and won't have time to address them. I only need to know if the engine is in any danger of actually overheating, or only that it appears that way. I'm also curious to know which sensor is activating the "temp warning light" on the dash and if that is still a reliable indicator of the running temp. Hard to imagine that there is anything more serious going on considering that the bike only has 2K mi on it.
 

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That would be a good guess except for the fact that this is a showroom-fresh bike with 2K mi and not spec of dirt on it anywhere. The temp guage is definitely above the halfway hash mark at its best. That makes me think there is a problem. I wish I had paid attention before I did the drain/refill so I would know whether it was an existing condition or the result of something I did.
Temp light sensor is also the main engine/ecu temp sensor.Light should come on as soon as needle touches the delieaneted in red overheat zone.

It does take a good long while at times for the temp to stabilise down to below the mid-mark.Even more so if traffic on the road is blocking the air flow.Semis on the road and yes the gauge will creep up beyond the mid-mark.

Mine was also minty when I bought it.Mid-mark was normal the first summer but then I found out that the narrow fins were a perfect trap for bugs/grit and that removing the rads and looking through was the only way to see the blockages.~20% blocked,cleaned that up even had to tediously push grits out with plastic tool and gained 1/8" down on the gauge.

Find some open roads at 70-80 mph?
 
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The extra red mark I put on my gauge is where the fans come on.Associated temp is in the manual,that is temp spec at which the fans come on.Just as the needle touches the extra mark,fans on then gauge won't go any farther.

I don't remember temp at mid-mark from when I checked temp progression with the GS911 but that was nothing to worry about.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
View attachment 31555

The extra red mark I put on my gauge is where the fans come on.Associated temp is in the manual,that is temp spec at which the fans come on.Just as the needle touches the extra mark,fans on then gauge won't go any farther.

I don't remember temp at mid-mark from when I checked temp progression with the GS911 but that was nothing to worry about.
View attachment 31555

The extra red mark I put on my gauge is where the fans come on.Associated temp is in the manual,that is temp spec at which the fans come on.Just as the needle touches the extra mark,fans on then gauge won't go any farther.

I don't remember temp at mid-mark from when I checked temp progression with the GS911 but that was nothing to worry about.
Your added red mark is also where my fans come on, and the fans do hold it at that mark, it would appear that everything is functioning as intended. Even though my cruising temp is above the white hash mark, I think I need to assume that this is more or less normal for this design. You're right in that I haven't yet run it up to 80 and beyond to see what effect that has, and that the weather so far has been on the warmish side. But for someone not used to it, it is a little alarming to see engine temps jumping around so much but I'll get used to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Your added red mark is also where my fans come on, and the fans do hold it at that mark, it would appear that everything is functioning as intended. Even though my cruising temp is above the white hash mark, I think I need to assume that this is more or less normal for this design. You're right in that I haven't yet run it up to 80 and beyond to see what effect that has, and that the weather so far has been on the warmish side. But for someone not used to it, it is a little alarming to see engine temps jumping around so much but I'll get used to it.
I'd also like to ask you about a mushy rear brake pedal. Only 2K on brake pads, and a fresh brake bleed with high-grade fluid didn't improve the situation. I had a '98 K-RS about 10 years ago and seem to remember the same thing. Is this also a "feature" of this model? Seems that the rubber brake lines are short enough that they shouldn't be the cause.
 

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I'd also like to ask you about a mushy rear brake pedal. Only 2K on brake pads, and a fresh brake bleed with high-grade fluid didn't improve the situation. I had a '98 K-RS about 10 years ago and seem to remember the same thing. Is this also a "feature" of this model? Seems that the rubber brake lines are short enough that they shouldn't be the cause.

Mushy? On age alone them lines should be replaced with SS braided.But rear brake isn't that effective on them Ks,going all the way back to my then new 85 K100RS.
How is the MC pushrod adjustment?If too loose that may be it?Pushrod has to have some slack not to press in the piston but not too much.I just wiggle mine for checks,not sure what the manual has to say about that but I am sure BMW has a procedure and spec in mm.
 

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Can't thank you enough for this info. These are all conditions that could cause this model to overheat, but others have said that the guage readings are actually normal. What is your opinion of that?

If not normal then, of the conditions you mentioned, the sensor wire connection and the radiator cap are the 2 most likely. But does either of these mean that the engine is actually running hot, or just that the guage is inaccurate? I'm asking because I'm planning on taking trip on the bike beginning 8/2 and won't have time to address them. I only need to know if the engine is in any danger of actually overheating, or only that it appears that way. I'm also curious to know which sensor is activating the "temp warning light" on the dash and if that is still a reliable indicator of the running temp. Hard to imagine that there is anything more serious going on considering that the bike only has 2K mi on it.
I agree with all replies posted on what is normal or not (running a bit hot in traffic , fans starting point....).

The only reasons why I went into more details that you may want to check IS BECAUSE: your gauge needle shows above white middle mark when cruising at or above 60 mph / 100 Km/hr. In mild climate , between 70 - 80 F , if the system is clean full and as efficient as it can be, it should stay at the middle white line - even a hair below sometimes - as posted by H69996. In warmer climate (like 80 to 95 F) it will always stay a bit above middle white mark , even at highway speed.

When fall weather comes in , cruising a bit below 70 F , it should absolutely be able to go a bit below this middle white line at constant speed above 55 MPH.

Because the 2nd sensor located in rearmost cylinder head drives both of these (1) the fans starting point (2) the RED overtemp warning on dash - you are somewhat protected even if the front sensor is not telling exact values on dash gauge. If your fans start as described earlier by H96669 then you know there is a logical / appropriate relation between both sensors - at least in this section of the thermistor curve.

To confirm if CAP is OK, you should keep an eye for a while at the level of overflow tank BOTH when cold (before a ride) AND ALSO just after you have stopped the engine after a good ride. FIRST: It should go back to same level (between MIN and MAX) when cold before a ride. SECOND: it should be about 3/4 inch (18 mm) higher when hot after a good ride , if you have reached the fans starting point at least once.

Of course, you should expect cool fall riding temperature behavior to be a bit different as it may not even reach the fans starting point IF / WHEN you can avoid stop-go traffic. Here in the fall, I can ride on secondary / residential roads at constant 30-40 Mph (50-65 Km/h) for quite a while before reaching the fans starting point. In cooler climate, it is only when I have to slow down too long (few short stop signs in sequence OR a single long red light) that I will be able to hear / feel the radiator fans. Once every few rides, if I see the gauge in appropriate zone, I will put my hands on each side at a long red light to confirm both fans are in fact running together.
 

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Recently purchased a 2001 K-RS and decided to do a complete fluid refresh including a radiator drain and fill. Prior to this I had only ridden the bike about 20 miles and did not take note of the operating temperature as delivered, but on the first post-service shakedown I noticed that the temp gauge was hovering about the midway point on a 75-degree day at 60mph/3800rpm. The temp warning light was not on so it didn't alarm me much except for the fact that I'm used to vehicles being in the lower half of the gauge range at normal operating temps. What alarmed me more was that the temp rose quickly to the ¾ mark in every other situation (stop lights and city streets), at which point the fan would come on. The fan seemed to be able to hold it at the ¾ mark, but I'm just not used to seeing a trouble-free engine operate that high in its range. The manual says that the midway point on the gauge is normal, but is it also normal that the temp would shoot up so quickly at idle, or on city streets?

I should also note that after a few minutes on city streets/stop lights, and an elevated mark on the temp gauge, the gauge will drop again to the halfway point as soon as I return to steady-state cruising at 60mph.

For some background, after I drained and refilled the radiator I started the bike and ran it up to operating temp. I observed that there was coolant churning in the upper chamber of the radiator which indicated that the thermostat had opened and coolant was flowing. I then shut the engine off and let it cool down. I re-inspected the coolant level and found that it had dropped so that the upper chamber appeared empty, so I refilled the radiator to just below the fill neck. After that, I filled the remote coolant reservoir to a point halfway between the Min and Max lines. I believe this is the proper procedure for a coolant drain and refill on a K-RS.

I also believe that if I somehow hadn't put enough coolant in the radiator it would have drawn from the remote reservoir, so after the shakedown ride I re-checked that reservoir to see if the level had changed and no coolant was missing. I'm pretty sure that I did put enough fluid in it unless I got the procedure wrong. Normally it would be easy enough to just pop the radiator cap and check, but as most of you know opening the cap to the radiator on this bike requires serious work removing body panels; a chore I would rather avoid.

I know the Germans do things a little differently so I may just be over-reacting. Does anyone have any thoughts on any of this that would allow me avoid the tedious chore of removing bodywork unless it is certain that this is a problem and that fluid level is the most likely cause. Such as, what I'm seeing on the gauge is nothing to be concerned with and that the bike is in no danger of overheating, or that the warning light is only real indicator of overheating. Endless praise and adoration is awaiting anyone who can put me at ease.
Did you buy the BMW coolant or use something else? Your temps don’t sound ridiculously high but off brand coolants could cause a little higher readings.
 

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Possibly air in the system. I have purged a system by putting the bike on its side stand with the radiator cap open over night. In addition, there may be a purge valve by your water pump.
 

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Your system is normal. Mine runs about a needles width below up to mid 80's ambient then half way to two needles width in hotter temps.... Just ride it. You could chase the engine temp with spark plug heat ranges like 1-2 heat ramges cold in the summer then switch to normal range in the winter. This does work and will give you more practice on removing the tupperware too.
 

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Recently purchased a 2001 K-RS and decided to do a complete fluid refresh including a radiator drain and fill. Prior to this I had only ridden the bike about 20 miles and did not take note of the operating temperature as delivered, but on the first post-service shakedown I noticed that the temp gauge was hovering about the midway point on a 75-degree day at 60mph/3800rpm. The temp warning light was not on so it didn't alarm me much except for the fact that I'm used to vehicles being in the lower half of the gauge range at normal operating temps. What alarmed me more was that the temp rose quickly to the ¾ mark in every other situation (stop lights and city streets), at which point the fan would come on. The fan seemed to be able to hold it at the ¾ mark, but I'm just not used to seeing a trouble-free engine operate that high in its range. The manual says that the midway point on the gauge is normal, but is it also normal that the temp would shoot up so quickly at idle, or on city streets?

I should also note that after a few minutes on city streets/stop lights, and an elevated mark on the temp gauge, the gauge will drop again to the halfway point as soon as I return to steady-state cruising at 60mph.

For some background, after I drained and refilled the radiator I started the bike and ran it up to operating temp. I observed that there was coolant churning in the upper chamber of the radiator which indicated that the thermostat had opened and coolant was flowing. I then shut the engine off and let it cool down. I re-inspected the coolant level and found that it had dropped so that the upper chamber appeared empty, so I refilled the radiator to just below the fill neck. After that, I filled the remote coolant reservoir to a point halfway between the Min and Max lines. I believe this is the proper procedure for a coolant drain and refill on a K-RS.

I also believe that if I somehow hadn't put enough coolant in the radiator it would have drawn from the remote reservoir, so after the shakedown ride I re-checked that reservoir to see if the level had changed and no coolant was missing. I'm pretty sure that I did put enough fluid in it unless I got the procedure wrong. Normally it would be easy enough to just pop the radiator cap and check, but as most of you know opening the cap to the radiator on this bike requires serious work removing body panels; a chore I would rather avoid.

I know the Germans do things a little differently so I may just be over-reacting. Does anyone have any thoughts on any of this that would allow me avoid the tedious chore of removing bodywork unless it is certain that this is a problem and that fluid level is the most likely cause. Such as, what I'm seeing on the gauge is nothing to be concerned with and that the bike is in no danger of overheating, or that the warning light is only real indicator of overheating. Endless praise and adoration is awaiting anyone who can put me at ease.
Hello WAYFAST.

This is not related to your fluid refresh post, but I was curious if you have side cases for your 2001 K1200RS. I sold my 2001 K1200RS recently and kept the side cases as well as a Chicane tailbag and mounting plate. Would you be interested in them? Ken 214-912-9909
 
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